Top Grading Your Organization


photo credit: Victor1558 via photopin cc

In the past I’ve written about leading Generation iY in the workplace. Last week, my good friend Steve Moore and I were talking about hiring new team members at our organizations. He reminded me of a book called, Top Grading, by Bradford Smart. It’s a leadership book about the kind of team members every organization needs to hire and develop. Top-grading means filling every role in your organization with “A” Players. “A” players are the top 10% of the people available for the position you need to fill.

McKinsey research shows the difference in performance between top performers and average performers in salespeople is up to 250%, and in knowledge workers it is 100%. The stakes are higher than ever regarding getting the right people in the right roles on the job. Author Larry Bossidy writes, “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day you bet on people, not on strategies. This is the job no leader should delegate; having the right people in the right place.”

You don’t necessarily save money by hiring less expensive team members. They may cost you if they don’t generate both mission and money by their performance.

So, just what do “A” players look like?  A short list would be:

  • They make things work
  • They push for progress
  • They come up with solutions
  • They are magnets for other content
  • They can exist at all roles / levels of the organization

Further, you should know that “B” and “C” players:

  • Impede an organization’s performance
  • Resist change and even encourage status quo
  • Stifle creativity
  • Tend to hire people like themselves who don’t threaten their job which further weakens the organization.

So, What Do You Do as a Leader?

  • Determine what actions you must take to support and grow your “A” players
  • Re-deploy “B” and “C” players to other roles where they can become “A”s.
  • Don’t let low performers consume most of your management time.
  • Instead, proactively invest time in your “A” players.
  • You must have the courage to remove low performers…fast.
  • Consider the legal obligations you have and be humane and life-giving.

Tomorrow—we will review the single most important competency you need in every new team member in your organization.  Talk to you then!

Top Grading Your Organization