November/December 2019

Leading and Developing Your Firm’s A Players

Even your best employees can sometimes be a challenge.

Andrew Elowitt

It’s easy to assume that a firm’s highest-performing employees—its A players—are also the easiest to manage and lead.

After all, if they are already doing a great job, how much guidance, attention or support do they really need? Isn’t it better to take a hands-off policy toward them, let them be productive and profitable, and instead focus on clients and underperforming firm members?

For many high performers this management approach works well. But other A players—especially insecure, perfectionist or narcissistic ones—may need more careful and frequent supervision than their less accomplished colleagues. Skilled firm leaders and managers rely on five methods to not only retain their A players but to also keep them engaged and performing at high levels by:

  1. Offering A players authentic, personal and specific praise.
  2.  Recognizing and rewarding A players through compensation, challenges and interesting assignments.
  3. Being clear about desired results and the scope and extent of what is expected from A players.
  4. Helping A players avoid burnout.
  5. Teaching A players how to lead, develop and collaborate with other firm members.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

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