What About Your C Players? The ABCs of Safety Leadership

what about your c players?How do C players land the job they have in the first place?  Some people talk a good game to get in the organization and don’t lay all their cards on the table until they settle in.  Others came in with an A or B player attitude, but then become disengaged and fell to the ranks of the C player.  Still others may have been hired by hiring managers who are C players themselves.

However they got in, once they are in, the goal is always the same: move them to a B-player performance level, move them to another position where they can become a B player, or manage them out of the organization.  But unless they have violated a zero-tolerance policy, it’s generally no easy task to take the third action, even though that might be the most desirable action.

Some of the more common barriers to removing a C player include:

Emotional attachment:  If the C player is a personal friend of yours (or the hiring manager) you may be hesitant to manage them out of the organization.

Empathy:  When you manage someone out of the organization it always represents a loss of income for that person, and almost no one wants to be responsible for creating a financial hardship for another person.

Sense of loyalty:  If the C player has been with the company for a long time, and has become an institution of sorts in their own world, it’s often difficult to be the bad guy and let them go.  For instance, if Jim if he has brought the donuts every morning for the past 20 years, even if he is a C player, that practice eventually becomes an institution that’s difficult to overcome due to a sense of loyalty.

Belief they can be developed:  This is usually based on a hope against hope that the C player can in fact be developed.  If the C player CAN be developed and raised to the level of a B player, then do it.  If you’ve already attempted this–and in many cases, attempted it several times–then you’ll need to come to the hard realization that not all C players can be developed into B players.

from compliance to culture safety leadership workshops

Now, all of these barriers are counter-productive to building a safety-leadership culture.  They result in procrastination, rationalization, and ultimately inaction–and inaction is always the enemy of a high-performance safety leadership culture.  Because to the extent that C players are allowed to stay in their positions (or in the organization as a whole) it impacts the rest of your workforce. We’ll look at just what that impact is in our next issue.

That’s it for this edition of Recordable INSIGHTS.  Until next time, be sure all your safety initiatives are built-in, not bolted on.


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About the Author

Eric Svendsen
Eric Svendsen, Ph.D., is Principal and lead change agent for safetyBUILT-IN, a safety-leadership learning and development organization. He has over 20 years experience in creating and executing outcomes-based leadership development and culture change initiatives aligned to organizational goals, and he personally led the safety-culture initiatives of a number of client organizations that resulted in “best ever safety performance” years for those companies.