How to Invest in Your ‘A Players’

Do you have A players on your team? What’s your plan for retaining them?

Your A players come to work every day and pour themselves into advancing your vision for the business. They deserve a similar investment from you in their hopes, dreams, goals and ambitions.

This creates a mutually beneficial relationship, which is something greater than the typical transactional relationship A players have with their employers. It’s an opportunity for you to stand out as an employer of choice for the A players you want to attract. 

The No. 1 reason A players leave is a better opportunity elsewhere. We can prevent that by making sure that the opportunity with us is as good as it can possibly be. 

In my research with more than 230 entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that the majority are not putting effort into developing A players:

  • Eight out of 10 lack a system for retaining A players.
  • Eight out of 10 are not developing their teams.
  • Two out of three are not providing one-on-one meetings for employees.
  • Two out of three are not paying attention to employees working from strengths. This is a significant oversight in small businesses, as the No. 1 struggle small-business owners identify is hiring A players. While it’s a significant oversight, it creates a tremendous opportunity for you — if you are willing to invest in developing your A players. 

Be intentional to get to know your A players: 

  • What is important to them?
  • What are their hopes and dreams?
  • What are their ambitions?
  • What drives them?
  • What do they value?

Look for ways to support them. Identify training opportunities, mentors, books, podcasts, etc. and share these with them.

At Tap the Potential, we use A player development plans that are accessible to the employee as well as members of our leadership team. This creates the opportunity for multiple leaders to have awareness around the dreams and ambitions of our A players, engage in mentoring conversations and share resources.

Identifying clear opportunities for advancement that align with your A players’ strengths and ambitions is another key to retention. You might be surprised that while you see opportunities for your A players to advance, many A players are unclear about their advancement opportunities in your business.

Clarify and share your vision for the next three years. Identify roles that will become open as you grow the sweet spot of your business. Share these roles with your employees and inquire as to which roles interest them. Identify the skills your A players need to move into those roles, and collaborate to create an action plan for how they will acquire those skills. Break this down into an 18-month career development plan, with goals each quarter for your A player to accomplish. Track and update their progress quarterly. 

You might start with a kickoff meeting to introduce your intention to support their development, followed by quarterly 30- to 45-minute meetings. Be mindful that this is only for the A players on your team. It’s not something to do with all your employees. 

This is a significant investment of your time and other resources and, as such, will pay back dividends. A players are 900% to 1,200% more productive than warm bodies. They are sources of ideas and innovation. When you invest in developing them, they will be with you longer and create more opportunities for the business to develop, perhaps even more than you can envision.


This article originally appeared in Arkansas Business and is part of a monthly series of commentaries by Sabrina Starling, the Arkansas-based author of the “How to Hire the Best” series, founder of Tap the Potential LLC and host of the “Profit by Design” podcast. Learn more at


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