“Role Player” vs. “Star Player”

Shawnee Love   •  
May 20, 2011

During a recent hockey game, I heard the term “role player” used to describe a hockey player who wasn’t a superstar but had an important job to do. It struck me as the perfect term to use in companies too. In any team, role players are necessary to get things done. Star players may take the big shots, but role players set them up, win the face offs, pump them up in the locker room, and sometimes role players simply ensure their jerseys are clean and ready to go. The most important point is that without these role players, the star players couldn’t work their magic.

Companies often struggle with how to pay those role players, because they clearly don’t deserve the outrageous pay cheques the stars expect, but on the other hand, those role players are necessary and valuable.  Lose a few role players and your star becomes completely ineffectual.

The role player deserves respect. Chances are he won’t expect to make the big bucks, but if you forget that he deserves to be paid fairly and/or forget to say thanks for all the work he puts in behind the scenes or against the boards, you will lose him. Since he is the one who makes your star shine, that loss would actually hurt more than just losing your star.