Human Resource ABCs - Slicing Pie

Human Resource ABCs

Many managers think of their employees as “A, B or C” employees. In some cases, companies actually get rid of “C” employees on a regular basis. I’ve never seen anyone actually define what it means to be an A, B or C employee so I took it upon myself to outline how I think it breaks down:

A employee- takes the company forward in a meaningful way. Goals are benchmarks, not the end game. Puts the needs of the overall business first with an understanding that personal rewards follow corporate gains. Bolster’s team spirit through optimism, energy, creativity and respect.

B employee- maintains the status quo, serves the business well, strives to meet goals. Focuses on personal compensation, but is happy when the company succeeds

C employee- has a negative impact on the overall growth and expansion of the team’s efforts. Brings negativity and skepticism to the process, builds walls in an attempt to protect their job knowing that it may be in jeopardy. Blames others for failure and lack of advancement.





Measuring personal success Business results Hours on the job, effort expended Not getting fired
Management Works independently Relies on manager to make big decisions. Wants people to tell them what to do Blames manager for problems
Meetings Challenges others, is comfortable debating issues until it’s resolved. Accepts and supports the decision of the team Participates, but mostly takes notes looking for to-do items, keeps opinions to themselves. Resents team decisions that don’t align with their own. Tries to avoid new responsibility and accountability. Keeps mouth shut
Mistakes Brings them to management’s attention and is prepared with possible solutions Looks to manager for resolution Covers tracks
Initiative Looks for what needs to be done and then does it to the best of their abilities. Does what is asked, but fills in the blanks to deliver a complete final product Does minimum asked, sits and waits for next assignment
Job satisfaction High satisfaction Sufficiently satisfied Considers job a grind, lacks fulfillment
Compensation Understands that high performance brings rewards, comfortable with performance-based compensation Focused on current compensation, doesn’t mind benefiting even when company struggles, believes bonuses are outside their control Focuses on cost-of-living adjustments. Wants more money for doing same work
Priorities Puts the needs of the overall business and investors in the center of all decisions Places emphasis on rewards for themselves and their personal relationships Looks out for themselves
Productivity Goes above-and-beyond to deliver results Performs as expected by job requirements Puts forth minimum effort
Work schedule Works a full week and is available after-hours, pitches in where help is needed Counts hours and avoids more than 40 hours per week unless absolutely necessary Counts minutes, asks for extra compensation for extra work
Change Embraces change and looks for ways to improve performance. Understands that better always means different Avoids change but will try new things if requested. Reverts back to old ways quickly Avoids change, blames new ideas for problems
Attitude They think of themselves as optimistic They think of themselves as “realistic,” which is silly because nobody can really know what’s going to happen. They are pessimistic
Teamwork Sees themselves as an important part of the team Sees themselves as a cog in the machine Looks out for #1
Priorities Corporate/Investors/Owners Co-workers Self

Values and develops relationship skills and finds ways to bring people together. Becomes a student of the industry, shares new learning with others Concentrates on domain expertise and completing tasks Learns minimum to perform job
Information Disseminates information throughout organization Uses information to do job Hordes information to protect job
Problem solving Is energized by creative problem-solving Brings problems to others for solutions Complains about problems
Relationships Works effectively across all levels and departments of organization Forms solid, positive relationship with peer groups Brings others down, tries to get them on their side and against the organization
Feedback Asks for feedback and accepts constructive criticism as an important part of their future. Accepts and appreciates complements Avoids feedback, will make specific changes if asked. Acts defensive when receiving negative feedback. Expects rewards for positive feedback
Hindsight Learns from mistakes, looks for patterns in decision making that can be improved Avoids taking responsibility for poor decisions Adopts an “I told you so” attitude, uses mistakes to justify status quo
Company performance Is invigorated by corporate success and happy to provide a positive return to investors Celebrates success with others, looks for ties to personal compensation Indifferent to success or failure of company beyond any impact it may have on them
Initiative Looks for opportunity and takes it upon themselves to make improvements or organize others Usually waits until they are assigned a specific task Does not take initiative, avoids extra work
Territory Build coalitions within organization Is protective of their turf Cares only about their tasks
Social Is respectful and kind to others Is tight with immediate peer group Avoids relationships on the job


  • David Ernst says:

    Wow! What a fantastic way to think about this. This is great!! Makes so much sense to define these qualitatively from the organization’s perspective by who is contributing the most to success.

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