Momentum Podcast: 855
What A-Players Really Want
by Alex Charfen
When you’re running a business, you obviously want to hire the best employees to work in that business. The challenge is that the best employees are the most difficult to retain. Maybe you’ve had the experience of hiring someone who had all the makings of an A-Player, but they left after six months for a better opportunity. How can you keep the best employees and make sure they have what they need to succeed?
The answer is process, structure, and routine. It is usually shocking when most entrepreneurs hear that. Ultimately, what A-Players want is to make a contribution in a secure place. In this episode of the Momentum Podcast, you will learn how to surround your team with a web of support so that A-Players make a massive contribution and feel safe along the way.
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Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast.
If you're an entrepreneur, then you want a-players on your team, people who perform at the highest level and hiring them, onboarding them, retaining them, and making sure that you maximize them is counter intuitive to what most entrepreneurs think a-players want. I want to help you understand what they really want today and how you can get the most out of the best people on your team.
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own wil. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate. There could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution. And we always will be.
In our company, we teach a quarterly planning and execution process that executes on a monthly basis. And as a result, we have an event every quarter in the last month of the quarter where our members are coming to town, where they join virtually, and we have a lot of really engaging discussions. And the reason we have that event in the last month of each quarter is we want people to leave our event grounded, present, ready to execute on the next quarter and maximize the growth that they can have for their company and move things in the right direction. And at the last event we had, there was a thread that was present in so many different conversations. It was this, this desire, this need, this want for entrepreneurs to be able to not only hire a-players, people who are going to be true believers, who are going to grow the company, who are going to show up in the way that you want, who are going to execute like crazy. But how do you not just hire them but keep them and have them maximized? Because in a lot of entrepreneurial businesses we are actually good at attracting a-players, but we are challenged to keep them. And there's a reason.
The reason as entrepreneurs, we have such a hard time keeping a-players or maximizing their efforts or making sure they're doing as much as they possibly can is because we treat a-players in a business the way we think we want to be treated in a business. Now, follow me here. You know, I've been doing this for a long time and I've seen this pattern over and over again. If you look at most entrepreneurs, we got into business because we wanted freedom. We don't want a lot of meetings, we want independence, we want to be left alone. And so this was actually a comment somebody made in the event was, you know, while I hire really good people and then I give them freedom and independence and I leave them alone and we don't have a lot of meetings and we don't have a lot of check-ins. And then they get frustrated and upset and over time they leave or they're really good at the beginning and then they don't produce after a while. Or I find that, you know, they're the type of people who show up in a way that is really compelling for everybody around them when we first hire them. And then over time, they're less and less engaged, they're less and less productive. They ask too many questions. They start to become kind of the thorn in my side. They start to become the frustrating part of my team, even though I know they're really good at what they do. And here's why. Now I want to help you with not only why does this happen with a-players, but how do you actually maximize a-players on your team? Here's what we need to understand as entrepreneurs is that the way we want to be treated is different. And what we get into business for the reason we become entrepreneurs, is different than why a-players go and get a job.
See, as entrepreneurs, when I asked everybody in the event, Tell me why you became an entrepreneur, here are the types of answers I got. I got independence, freedom of time, freedom of being able to travel, being able to do what I want, not having a boss, not having somebody else tell me what to do. Like all of the typical answers you would expect from an entrepreneur. And we assume that a-players have those same desires, but they don't. They're actually going to work in a company. They have different desires, they have different needs. And so when you look at what we want as an entrepreneur, let me give you what we think we're doing for somebody who's in a-player and what they actually feel. So when we leave an a-player alone, the a-player actually feels like we don't care when we give them freedom and we don't need to talk to them or connect with them. They feel like they want to be led. They want a leader. That's why they're in your company. When we don't have meetings, they feel like they're not seen or heard and they're not important enough to take your time. When we give them independence, they actually feel untethered, unimportant and insecure. I know that sounds crazy, but let me tell you why. When we leave them alone, here's what happens in a-player: They want accountability. And let me tell you what a-players want. They want accountability. They want clear outcomes and they want a clear understanding of whether they are successful or not. So when we leave an a-player alone, we are giving them the opposite of accountability. What they really want is they want to know exactly what they're responsible for. What is it that they need to do in the position that they're in to win consistently, not just to perform, but to outperform. So they want high accountability, which is the opposite of being left alone. They actually want to know what you want from them, when you want it from them. How can they perform at the highest level? How can they achieve what you want them to achieve?
Now, I'll say this here as I go through these these things in a-players want, you know, when you look at people who are working in an entrepreneurial business, the reason they come to a business like yours or a business like mine, a smaller company, is they want to be able to perform. They want to be able to work on Monday and Tuesday and see the results on Wednesday. They want to be able to move the bar. They want to be important on a team. Otherwise they go work for a large organization where they become a number and they become part of a huge system. And so when we get a-players on our team, one of the ways that we can keep them is by giving them accountability. Give them exactly what they're responsible for, what the people around them are responsible for. When they have clarity around this, they will perform at a very high level. Now, the next thing that a-players want is they want clear outcomes.
See, we think they want freedom and they want independence and they want to be left alone and no meetings. It's the opposite. They actually want effective meetings. We call them targeted interactions. They want effective meetings where they know exactly what outcomes they're responsible for, what goals, what projects, what policies, what processes are they responsible for in the company. And they want to know what success looks like? Here's why. a-players love running through finish lines. And I know that sounds like a cliche, but it's true. A-players love to achieve. They love to finish something. They love to be able to check a box. They love to be able to say, ‘Hey, we're done with this’. And we've made this happen. And if you don't give them clear outcomes, if you don't give them finish lines, if you don't set up a goal or an outcome, tell them exactly what's involved as far as accountability and then show them how they finish, a-players do not like the never ending story of not being able to finish something. And so the more finish lines you set up, the more accountability there is around those finish lines, the more clarity there is around those outcomes, the more you will not only retain a-players, but you will make them maximize their productivity.
And the third thing that they want– they want accountability. They want clear outcomes, they want clear measurement, they want perspective to understand if they're winning or not. You know, this looks like scoreboards where if a-players are responsible for numbers, they can actually see the numbers. They want to know if they are winning. And in the case of a-player specifically, what's really important to them is two things: feedback. If they're not doing well, if they're not hitting the outcomes that you, one thing you're telling them, ‘Hey, this is where we're not hitting what we want’. So they know where to put their focus and their energy and their effort to do the right thing for you as the entrepreneur. And they also want acknowledgment when they win, when they do something well, when they get something done, when they're moving the bar in the right direction, they want to know from you, ‘hey, you're doing the right thing’. You're doing a great job. You're doing what you should be doing.
And so for us as entrepreneurs, the mistake that we make consistently is treating the rest of the world like they're us. One of the things I have to remind people in our events and on coaching calls and when I'm talking to our members all the time is, ‘Hey, your team is not you. They don't want the same things you want’. You know, for an entrepreneur having complete freedom, not having to be in meetings, not having to talk to anybody. A lot of entrepreneurs really love that. Team members feel completely insecure when this happens. So when I said insecure, here's why. When we're given a-player too much independence, here's why it creates insecurity. If they don't, if they're not tethered to the company, if they don't know their outcomes, if they don't understand the measurement that is giving them perspective, whether they're winning or losing. a-players get anxious and insecure. They wonder themselves, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ They wonder themselves, ‘Am I doing a good job in this position that I'm in? Am I winning? Am I going to get a promotion? Am I going to make more money? Am I going to be successful? Am I going to help this company grow?’ Are the types of things that a-players are thinking when we don't give them enough information?
So to summarize, we think a-players want to be left alone, given freedom, no meetings and independence. But what really happens is when we do these things, they feel like we don't care. They actually want to be led. Not just give them freedom. They must, they feel like they must be seen and heard. It's so important for a-players to be seen and heard. It's so important for every human being. But as a-players, they want to stand out. They want to be seen and heard, and when we give them independence, they feel untethered, unimportant and insecure. And so the way that we fix this is we give a-players clear accountability. We tell them exactly what they're responsible for, clear outcomes. They want to get through the finish line, they want to finish something they want to achieve. And we give them clear measurements so they understand if they're winning. And I often get asked on this thing with measurement, like, ‘what if I have an a-player who's creative? What if I have an a-player who is producing things and I can't point to a sales number or I can't point to a growth number? Well, measurement doesn't have to be just in numbers with a-players who are completing tasks, completing projects, implementing policies and documenting processes in your business, onboarding new people in your business. The way that we create measurement is to create the milestones in any one of those. So we take a project, break it down into its steps, and then we measure how much, how many of those steps are getting done on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. And this creates a scoreboard for a-players.
And so if you want to maximize your a-players, remember accountability, outcomes, measurement,. They need to be seen and heard. They want acknowledgement, they want feedback. They want to know that they're doing the right thing by you. Don't treat in a-player like you with the same sensitivity that you have as an entrepreneur. They're different. They are very like us. There's a ton of similarities which throws us off. They want to achieve. They want to make things happen. They want to have time to work independently. They want to have time to go get things done. But they're not looking for the same things that we are as entrepreneurs. In fact, when we give them time, it will deflate them, make them start performing at a lesser and lesser level over time, and an a-player who is not giving accountability, clear outcomes and measurement becomes frustrating that because when they don't have these things, when they feel that insecurity, when they feel unimportant, when they feel untethered, when they feel anxiety, they start asking us way too many questions. They start coming to us way too often with interruptions and got 2 minutes a day.
If they're not getting feedback actively through part of what you're doing with them, then they start seeking feedback and way too much of your time. And so what often happens is a-players start to look like they're not that talented, like they're not that good, like they're not the right people because they're bothering us too much. If you have someone on your team that's bothering you too much, that's demanding more of your time, that's demanding more of your attention. They may be in a-player that's in a situation where they're not getting what they need. This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as an entrepreneur. And when I look back over time, you know, I've been running businesses now for over 30 years. I know that I've let go of some incredibly talented people that could have produced massive value for my companies because I didn't understand these things, because they became an irritation, because their performance started to lag over time. That was and when I look back, I blamed it on them at the time, but I now know I wasn't providing them with what they needed to be successful.
And now in the situation where I am today, where we have clear outcomes, accountability, clear measurement at our company, a-players thrive and they produce more than I expect them to on a consistent basis, and they will for you as well. If you're an entrepreneur who is growing and building a team, if you're ready to start growing your business without feeling like you have to do it all yourself, reach out to us. We help entrepreneurs with the process, structure and routine to consistently grow a business while you do less and less tactical and you step into more strategic activities so you can become a real visionary with a real business that's growing and has your team out in front of you where you call your shots and they help you achieve. This is what we all want. We can help you make it a reality. Go to SimpleOperations.com. Click on the button right there on the home page. Fill out a short form for my team, jump on a call with us and let us show you how we can help you predictably grow your business over time so that you achieve more than you ever thought possible. While you work less tactical time in the business, you produce more strategic outcomes. That's the way it works. That's how business grows and that's how we become true visionaries and build real organizations. Go to simple operations dot com. We look forward to talking to you and thanks for being a podcast listener. I appreciate you.