An ‘A’ player in a ‘B’ team.

Its a tricky position to be in.

Well, let me define the situation a little more.

‘A’ player is one who is typically smart and effective. Has more than one solution to a problem, where other team members hardly understand the problem. Never ever do you need to follow him to get work done, in fact, he keeps the team on their toes. Takes initiative, and often undertakes more work than he can handle. Inspires people and has a following of some kind.

‘B’ team is one which either comprises of too many senior folks who find ways of not getting out of their comfort zone or folks who’re not competent enough to solve the problem, leave alone solving it well. Both look to choose the easier route, one which is closer to their intellectual reach and doesn’t stretch them.

So, what do you do in that situation..

1. Take advantage of the situation:

Well, since you’re few steps ahead of the team, take advantage of that to finish work early and make up more time for other activities that you like. Contribute to open source, work on a part-time project, etc.

2. Try to pull the team up:

Try to motivate others by your effort and dedication. Coach them, mentor them, push them.. set higher bars of excellence. Show them the way.

Easier said than done. Most teams don’t react well to peers’ advice. They’re a ‘B’ team for a reason. But one can certainly try it out.

3. Get that promotion, you missed last time:

There’s no better opportunity to do lot of work and get that desired promotion. However, need to be careful with the team politics. You may be overloaded with work, and eventually blamed for things (since you were the one who did it).

4. Shut up, and go through the flow:

Chances are you won’t do it, but the probability is high. Just get through this project and move on to another one, quickly.

5. Run as fast as you can.

After trying out above things for a while, if you don’t see any improvements or changes. Move out. Its not worthwhile to spend effort on a team that has no motive to excel. Look around for right people and projects, in certain case companies too.. and run as fast as you can.

Well.. I could only wish, you never get into one of those situations.. But if you do, tackle it with some care. Your action or inaction, can have lasting effect on your career.


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