When to Replace…or Keep…B Players


Topgrading is all about getting A Players, high performers, in EVERY job, from CEO to cashier. So Topgrading companies have raised the bar from only replacing C Players to also replacing B Players with A Players.

But there might be a good reason to keep your B Players.  B Players are rated Good, and A Players are rated Very Good or Excellent.  Huh?  There is a “good” reason to hire Bs, people who admits not one boss in 10 would rate their performance Excellent, or even Very Good?


Do NOT replace B Players until your hiring success is 50% or better (and Topgraders get 75%, 80%, and even 90%).

If your hiring success is 25%: Let’s start with the norm: Most managers say they inherit 25% As, 50% Bs, and 25% Cs. And they say their hiring success is about the same – 25% turn out to be As, 50% Bs, and 25% Cs.

They replace the Cs with 1 in 4 As, 2 in 4 Bs, and 1 in 4 turns out to be just another C Player. The odds are 3 in 4 that replacing a C will produce a better performer – not bad odds. But the odds are only 1 in 4 that replacing a B player will get them an A Player. NOT good odds. So don’t do it. The chaos and cost of firing 3 people in order to finally get an A Player is too much.

If you’re not learning how to Topgrade and these stats fit you, of course keep your B Players.

If your hiring success is 50%: Suppose you’re learning how to Topgrade and you’ve doubled your success hiring to 50% . Good for you! Suppose you start a new job with 3 As, 6 Bs, and 3 Cs. You’re an A Player and want a team of almost all A players and you set the common goal to have 80% As within a year.

So, you fire the 9 Bs/Cs and get 4 more As (for a total of 7 As out of 12 on your team). You fire the remaining 5 Bs/Cs and get 2 more As, for a total of 9 out of 12 As. You fire the 3 remaining Bs/Cs and get one more A, for a total of 10 out of 12 As. Good for you? Can you stomach all the chaos of firing? With a team of 12 you fired 17 people in your first year? What chaos!

I’ve known some managers who did just that, suffered through the chaos, and soared with their team of almost all A Players. While their reputation as turning over people hurt them, they kept assuring their As that they have his full confidence, and their jobs and company results would be terrific with a mostly A team. That was all true!  But too many managers quick to fire people regret it.

If your hiring success is, say, 80%. Let’s do the math. You fire 9, and get 7 As, for a total of 10 out of 12. You’re done! Or you fire the remaining 2 and get 1 or 2 As, leaving you with 11 As or all 12 As. Nice!

Summary: If you don’t Topgrade, keep your Bs. If you’re learning how to Topgrade but only achieve 50% success, either replace Bs (not just Cs) only if you can manager through firing every non-A. When you achieve 75% As hired, yes, replace both Bs and Cs.

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