How to Avoid the Consequences of Having a Team of C-Players


Top performers can increase your revenue and advance your business goals. Does that mean C-players in your team are costing your company? Learn how to identify C-players, reduce mediocre performance, and hire more A-players.

What is a C-Player?

When you hire a new employee, you’ve likely chosen from a pool of talented people. You may be expecting them to contribute to a high-performing team. Unfortunately, many companies hire C-players without realising it.

C-players are not just people with a low level of competence. Smart people can be C-players if they procrastinate or lower the performance of your team. For example, are they delivering results within a reasonable time or boosting the morale of the team?

Inadequate performance, low employee engagement, and many other markers can help you identify C-players before you hire them. With a strong hiring strategy and consistent execution of the strategy, you can strengthen your teams and results. Mint Kulca can help you develop and improve your hiring strategy today!

Why is it Important to Deal with C-Players on Your Team?

When your team consists of strong performers (or A-players), it really benefits your organisation. A top performer has the capacity to work hard, get results, and generate big returns.

Even strong teams will, however, have mixed levels of skills, work ethic, and employee engagement. Some will be average performers (B-players) or subpar in performance (C-players). While average performers can often keep up, C-players can hold the entire team back.

Are there ways to help your C-players improve, or is it best to hire an A-player to see improved results? Here are some tips that can help you deal with poor performers in your teams. These tips come from members of the Forbes Coaches Council.

10 Ways to Deal with C-Players in Your Team

1. Investigate

To avoid the knock-on effects of C-players on the team, it’s important to give the matter attention immediately. Poor performers can often demotivate the team. When you investigate the issue, the important question is why they are underperforming to begin with.

To safeguard your entire team, it’s important not to “let it be” until it’s too late. This means you may have to ask hard questions and take strong action. Sometimes, supervisors misinterpret bad behaviours or issues that could actually be addressed. Can the issue be addressed? If not, you may need to reposition or retire them.

2. Address Issues

Motivation issues and lack of skills are frequent causes of poor performance. If you discover, through investigation, that the employee is under-motivated or under-skilled, you can address these issues immediately.

Find out what would motivate them better and take action. Sign them up for classes or training to increase their skill levels. Sometimes, all it takes is a little investment to turn a poor performer into a top performer.

3. Increase Accountability

Don’t let the C-players in your organisation influence the energy of your team. You can avoid this consequence by holding them accountable to specific predetermined goals, behaviours, and key performance indicators.

At this point, it’s important to understand what success in their role looks like and where they are falling short. You may need private “think time” to determine how you will approach the KPIs in your discussion with the employee. An effective hiring strategy should lay out clearly what this looks like.

4. Be Honourable

While it’s true that C-players can have a negative effect on your entire team, it is also true that keeping people in positions not suited to them dishonours them. To avoid this, it’s important to have a good hiring strategy that identifies the best person for the role to begin with. That way, you can be sure you’re hiring the ideal candidate.

If you’ve already hired someone that isn’t well suited to the position, you can avoid skills atrophy and low self-esteem in this employee by being honest with them about their performance and their unsuitability in the role. You may find a better suited position for them in your organisation, or otherwise you may need to let them go. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a negative process. Instead, you can put thought into arranging a mutually beneficial send-off or repositioning.

5. Be Honest

Sometimes, honesty can help a poor performer improve on deliverables. This is why it’s important to be brutally honest in frequent communication with them. Let them know when something they’re doing is ineffective. Let them know what behaviours they need to change and how.

It’s important to continue to be respectful in your honesty, with the motive of improving their efficacy in the role. Most employees appreciate honest leadership over dishonesty, as it presents them with opportunity to improve and grow. At the same time, you may find this process only affirms your view that the employee is incorrectly positioned for their potential.

6. Vary Your Approach

Sometimes, a C-player can perform well in positions that support A-players. There may be tasks that top performers don’t enjoy, which you can assign to C-players. You may find that they perform better at these tasks and can even do them better than A-players. The biggest caution to this approach is ensuring they aren’t holding back the team with a negative attitude.

7. Find Their Strengths

A high-performance team can be the result of recognising the strengths and potential in each member and how best to motivate them. Not everyone has the capacity to be a top performer, but sometimes when you reposition them, their performance results increase.

Take time to assess your team performance, looking for gaps and strengths within the team that could fill these gaps. Individual contributions to the team’s performance, when strategically aligned, can lead to better results. The secret is to identify employee strengths and use the right motivation, accountability, and empowerment to help these strengths flourish.

8. Change Their Role

A strong team consists of employees working in their ideal position and environment. Nobody wants to be an underperformer, but this can happen if someone is hired for a position they aren’t suited to.

If you’re sitting with this issue, your options are to attempt to improve their performance through empowerment, repositioning, skills development, accountability, and investing into their strengths. Or let them go and hire better the next time around with a more effective hiring strategy.

9. Ask “Am I the Problem?”

Sometimes, according to social psychology, our beliefs about a person can influence their performance. In other words, can you change what you think about this person? And are you willing to take the necessary steps to help them improve? Are you willing to do things differently?

10. Improve Your Hiring Strategy to Hire Better

The most important step you could take to ensure your teams have more top performers and fewer underperformers is to improve your hiring strategy. A hiring strategy helps you clarify what success in the role looks like, streamline the steps, and remove human biases. With our help, you can hire top performers 90% of the time!

Find out more about Mint Kulca’s method of discovering the perfect candidate for the position. We help you develop and apply effective strategies alongside applicant tracking software. The results are entire teams of effective, engaged employees and less poor performance.

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