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Why Your Team NEEDS More A-Team Players

On a call earlier this month with a fellow dentist, I was talking about how DSOs need talented folks — or as I like to call them, the A-Team players — more so now than ever to build a quality organization. In a sports organization, if you're growing through free agency you may pay more to hire certain types of people because you know the high-quality of the person or ’player’ you’re hiring. However, any acquisition-driven company, as many DSOs are, is going to run into an array of different people within their offices. Some of which are great brand ambassadors and passionate about the work they do and others who are just looking for a paycheck. 

Resolving this issue means empowering your A-team players, building up your B-team players and understanding how to help the C-team players to give them a chance at success.

What type of players do you have on your team?

To break things down, here’s what I’m referring to when I say A, B, and C team players:

A-team players: 

- Purpose and mission-driven

- Great brand ambassadors

- They’re able to lead and train by example

- Overall team players

B-team players:

- These are the "diamonds in the rough" because with mentorship and guidance they can perhaps become A-team players

- Motivated but influenceable. Meaning they could also turn into C-players over time.

- Their work is Inconsistent. It’s great sometimes but mediocre at other times.

C-team players:

- The cancers of organizations; proliferate quickly

- Will look to sabotage for self-gain

- They embody the "misery loves company" philosophy

- Just looking for a job and a paycheck

I always preach spending time in the field and getting to know your employees as people versus sitting in your C-suite office and making decisions purely based on data. Though it may be apparent what type of team player some are, it will require a bit more digging on your end to understand your team as a whole. 

Ask people what obstacles are preventing them from doing their job efficiently and where they feel they excel. You’ll start to see trends in answers and probably learn a few new things too. Really take the time to dig into their work on a qualitative and quantitative level (ie: tracking performance — data doesn’t lie!). From there you can build out long term training programs around actual issues people are having not the ones you assume they’re having.

Put systems in place

The way I see it, people are either trending up to A or down to C; people typically don’t stagnate. Regardless of which way a person is trending, having the training systems in place to help along is key. 

For example, the goal is to keep the A-team motivated so they are able to lead by example and to then get the B-team players into a system where they are able to learn what it’s like to be an A-team player. It could be as simple as helping the two collaborate. Or providing an incentive for an A-team player to help train. 

For A-team players, it’s a matter of training and coaching them upwards. Their baseline is great, not just good. And they need to know there is room for growth and that you will help them get there. Often times, training for A-team members becomes curated to their specific skill sets such as one-on-one mentorship or customized continuing education courses. 

Is the C-team doomed?

You’re probably wondering whether or not the C-team is doomed. The short answer is: You can change a C to a B but you need to figure out why they aren’t doing their job properly.

Is something going on in their lives? Did they have a bad manager previously? Whatever it is, tough conversations are going to need to be had. From there you can create a tailored training or mentoring program to try and help turn things around. 

Set a time period to measure their performance after these conversations, like a 30/60 day re-evaluation period, then track whether they are trending up towards A or remaining stagnant. This will not only open the door for improvement but it will help you determine how coachable this person is. Sure, at times it could mean that the person is just not a good fit for the job but that shouldn’t be decided before you put in a decent amount of time trying to help or solve the issue.

Feedback is your friend

In addition, to training and mentoring systems, there needs to be consistent feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. Especially if you notice an employee trending downwards into C territory. 

As I like to say: Compliment in public, criticism in private. Remember to let people know their strengths regularly. Sometimes they don’t know. Don’t underestimate letting people know they’re valuable and worthy. If you know your people you know when you can push them.

In a relationship built on trust, one where your employees know they can count on you and you’re there to help, people are much more receptive to feedback. That’s also when you can organically squeeze out 10% more and push people to the next level. Not for your own good or to boost your P&L but because you truly want them to succeed (and they know it).

When you don’t encourage a healthy feedback loop or give people an environment where they can be the best versions of themselves and be nurtured, one of two things happen. They stop communicating with leadership about what they need or you become known as a chopping block organization. That’s when you scare people into leaving because they lose their sense of job security — then you start losing A and B players too. Typically, the C-players whether any storms until they’re selected out.

Step back and evaluate

If you’re an organization that’s scaling you have to have training programs and systems in place — period. Not all people are self-starters and it's your job to empower them. They need to understand their expectations, know they’re valued and have access to a consistent feedback loop. 

Most people don’t have malicious intent and just need help becoming the best version of themselves. It’s up to you to give them the arena to be able to shine. But you’re not going to have all the answered without talking to your people first.


Thanks for your interest in DSOs and private-equity backed healthcare providers like Dr. Ro. For more information, feel free to get in touch, I would love to hear from you!

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