If Topgrading can help companies like GE and Honeywell be the best, then it would make sense to model and implement into your organization. 

Topgrading, a recruiting methodology developed by Brad and Geoff Smart in the U.S., has found great success with many blue chip companies for the past 30 years. The process systematizes how to hire and retain employees that are “A Players,” rather than accepting B and C Players, which are often classed as mishires and then later, after spending much energy, time, and money, are fired.  When you want to hire sales professionals, Topgrading really brings the best sales professionals to the forefront. 

Here are 5 simple steps from Topgrading that you and your Human Resource’s department can start using right away. You won’t find anything too surprising here. The challenge, like changing any habit, is to execute consistently, practicing with discipline and improving over time.  

1. DEDICATE. 

Dedicate yourself and your company to hire only the best people for your organization. The mindset that you will only hire the best, A-Players, comes from the President down. Everyone in the organization must buy into this concept and ruthlessly apply it.

2. DOCUMENT.

Document what constitutes an “A-Player” in your organization. More than a job description, this document, what Brad and Geoff Smart call a Scorecard, captures in writing the accountable aspects and the competencies required for each position.  In contrast to a typical job description listing only duties and skills, a Scorecard ties in metrics so that a person knows exactly what entails success and failure. When I show examples of Scorecards to managers, they often smile and say, “This is exactly what we have searched for.”

3. SCREEN.

After you have a Scorecard, you now have an excellent idea of what you are looking for to help build and drive your organization. When you see a resume that looks like an A-Player the next step is to conduct a screening interview. This is a brief interview, often done by phone, which determines the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate. In short, you’re interviewing about their previous positions to quickly determine that this candidate is an A-Player whose past accountable performance demonstrate the competencies your Scorecard requires.

4. INTERVIEW.

The Topgrading Interview is the core of the system. What makes a Topgrading interview different? First, it’s rigorous—you’ll feel confident that you understand the person you’ll hire. Second, it is based on past performance, not on hypothetical situations.  One manager told me she was surprised at how simple, but effective this interview was.  When I train managers and HR professionals through the system they have a chance to watch successful interviews, practice the process, and get feedback on their interviewing skills. One HR Director told me that this practice alone helped his organization hire better. 

The questions themselves are fairly simple, though methodically applied: 

    1. What you hired to do (for each position)?
    2. What were your accomplishments (in each position)?
    3. What were your failures or mistakes and how did you learn from them?
    4. What was your team like?
    5. Why did you leave the company?

This is then followed by my favorite portion of the interview—the threat of a reference check. This is the litmus test of the interview where you find the true aspects of the candidate. First, you ask what the candidate’s immediate manager’s full name. Then you say, “Should we go through to an offer stage, I will conduct a reference check. When I speak to So-and-So Former Manager, what will He say you were good at? What will He say you need to improve?” You ask this for every job the candidate had. The results will astonish you. 

5. REFERENCE CHECK.

After the interview, if you will proceed forward, you will then take the information you’ve gleaned from the interview and have the candidate set up 2 or 3 reference interviews for by phone for you and the candidate’s previous managers to speak. Often companies skip this critical step. Don’t.  For A-Players, you’ll find that what they told you in the interview and what their former managers say correspond. When discrepancies appear, then you have an opportunity pass up a B or C Player before they are hired, and in the long run, saving you and your company much time, energy, and money. 

These 5 steps are the bare bones of creating a recruitment process for your organization that our clients say attracts and retains the top talent.   

 

Dr. David Sweet, consultant, author, and speaker with 20+ years of human resources experience, has spent over a decade assisting companies in Japan to improve how their recruit. His recent book, SweetSales helps companies grow their sales. He currently is the managing director of FocusCore Group. For more information on improving how you recruit, including consulting, training, and up-coming seminars, contact him on info@FocusCoreGroup.com.