Talents are always finicky. Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric) and may of his followers place greater emphasis on hiring and retaining “A” players. But I often think the mind and soul of companies are in the classic “B” players. Let me explain and to be fair to Welch, probably an over simplification.

“A” players are the super productive, hyper energetic, and often the true innovators and change agents in organizations. They are vital for growth and change. In Welch’s school of management, award them disproportionately.

“B” players are solid performers and they are strong contributors that are valuable for any organization. But they are not super stars like the “A” club. Award them accordingly, but nothing like the “A”.

“C” players are those that can be improved, so worth retaining when time is good. But otherwise, they go.

“D” players and lower should be let go. Hire new people to replace them.

The whole idea of putting employees in these rankings are so you can always lift them to the next level when possible.

This is perhaps a gross simplification, but as an elevator pitch, I think it’s good enough. Now let’s go back to the article.

My management philosophy is rather different. First, I think it is demeaning to grade people. Human beings are far too complex and most of us are “context-driven”. This means that in the right situation, we perform differently. So excel, others do not. But what’s important for management is to find the right context. (There are always some poor performing employees, and here I clearly agree with Welch as they should go.)

If you build your organization on superstars that are finicky and ready to jump ship the first instance, then your firm will always be at the risk of losing them. Methodologies are only as only as good as the people who know them. I used to work for one of the largest software companies in the world, and they have a huge library of “re-use” assets. Guess what, very rarely are they re-used. So my point is that you cannot rely on methods.

I think the better strategy is to look for solid professionals,what Welch would call “B” players and award them proportionally. Provide them with the right work environment (context) and encourage them excel. You are not going to keep everyone, but probably enough to retain a critical mass of knowledge.

Te Wu’s comments on the below article:

David Cotgreave for Project Accelerator writes:  In a fairly recent ESI Talent Survey, 67% of UK executives expressed concern about losing top project talent to other organisations.

It’s a statistic that I’ve meditated on quite a lot since I first read it back in December. I’ve been looking for a solution, an oasis of calm for almost seven out ten bosses, something that they could do to avoid all the worry of their PMs defecting to other opportunities. After much consideration, I’ve come up with a plan.

Don’t worry!

OK. Not much of a plan in itself but as the title of this blog states “Retaining Project Managers Is Hard – Be Smart Retain Project Management Capability Instead.” Create stable PM capability within your operation and not only will you find the secret to a good night’s sleep, you will also find a way to not sweat over key talent going AWOL.

Find out how before the end, first though, let’s weigh up the reasons why your star player may want to leave you.

Let’s start with some external influences and pressures.

i) They talk! The PM community is like a village, a village where everyone talks and knows each other’s business. If your PM is connected on LinkedIn to someone who has left their old position and is currently relishing a new opportunity then it’s human nature for your PM to start wondering if the grass is greener elsewhere.

ii) The market is really working for PM talent right now. Since the recession some positions are offering more attractive remuneration packages. You should be careful that your mindset is not still locked in austerity mode. Talented PMs who have sailed PMOs through shallow waters of shoestring budgets are now having their heads turned by agile players with a bit more money to play with.   SNIP, the article continues @ Project Accelerator, click here to continue reading….