We have all seemingly become accustomed to the term, “A-player.” It is pretty common vernacular these days. Everyone wants them, everyone thinks they can identify them, and if you ask, everyone will tell you that they are great at hiring them.Sorry to burst the bubble. There’s a whole lot of truth that’s being stretched out there.
The fact of the matter is, the success rate for typical hiring methods is a shockingly paltry 25%. That is, only one in four hires continue over time as successful contributors to the organization into which they were hired. One in four!
So let’s start with the definition of an A-player. According to Topgrading, Inc., (with which I am associated as Canada’s first, and currently only, Certified Topgrading Coach), an A-player is someone that is in the top 10% of talent in the pay band that a company is willing to pay. They tend to be smart and savvy, driven to succeed, trustworthy, consistent high performers, able to adjust to different personalities, resourceful, and down-to-earth.
And how do you get these A-players?
Build a practice that takes the success rate from 25% to upwards of 90%. (Nobody’s perfect, after all.) Establish a process that clearly articulates what’s expected in a role, screens candidates with diligence, effectively digs into someone’s history and uses it as a measure for how well they will perform in the future, and checks reference appropriately. In my mind, it is putting into place and consistently using the Topgrading methodology. For you, it might be something else.
Whatever it is, stick to it and don’t waver. Make sure you solve for the four hiring problems that plague typical hiring processes.
Hiring Problem 1: Vague Job Descriptions
Forget the soft talk and nebulous responsibilities. Focus on building job scorecards that describes exactly what an A-player “looks like” for each role. It should identify your mission, measurable accountabilities, and key competencies required for the role.
Hiring Problem 2: Screening From Resumes
As author and philosopher Stanley J. Randall once said,
The closest anyone ever comes to perfection is how they represent themselves in their resume.
Use a tool that gets complete career information, make sure candidates understand that you will contact the references of your choosing (we call this TORC, Threat of Reference Check), and then conduct a preliminary phone screening interview to make sure you’re only meeting face-to-face with the right candidates.
Hiring Problem 3: Interviews Are Easily Faked
Behavioural-based interviews are so common that any candidate even moderately prepared will expect questions about integrity, communication, teamwork, and initiative. (Do a search for interviews questions and see how many resources come up.) Shift to conducting chronological, in-depth, and structured interviews that highlight a candidate’s education, work history, plans and goals, and a self-appraisal.
Hiring Problem 4: Candidates Can Exaggerate . . . And Lie
Of all the steps in the hiring process, reference checking is often the one that receives the least attention (and wrongfully so). Typically, the candidate provides references (that will all be positive, of course), you try (often in vain) to chase them down, and many times they won’t talk, redirecting you to the HR department. Instead, have candidates arrange calls and make them with bosses (and even peers, customers, and direct reports) from the past few years. Use your truth serum!
As a Topgrading practitioner, my goals is to help companies build teams consisting of at least 90% A-players.
As a leader and manager, ask yourself if you are truly committed to doing the same and how you will go about doing so.