Along with a sellable product or service, organized systems and effective leadership, having the right employees is crucial to the overall success of a company. To be the best, you need to have the best.
This was the problem facing my company a few years ago. I found that our traditional hiring methods were not getting us the right team to take our business to the next level and as a result, our corporate team didn’t have the ability to handle the complexity of our company after five years of rapid growth. We had to develop a plan for our company to build the best team by developing a process of defining, identifying and attracting the best possible candidate for every position. We dedicated the next year to overhauling our hiring process and getting the company back in a position for rapid growth.
Through introducing a disciplined method of hiring called "Topgrading" at my company ShelfGenie, we have built the tools to conclusively define the traits of top performing employees -- the A players -- and put systems in place to attract, hire and effectively lead a team of top performing employees. With 28 percent same store growth and a huge 40 percent overall retail sales growth during the last 12 months, the results of this process has been self-evident.
Defining the A player
The first step in hiring a team of A players is defining exactly what that means to you and your company. The definition I find to be most accurate is from George Smart in the book Who, in which he describes an A player as a candidate who has at least 90 percent chance of achieving an outcome that only 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve. There are four necessary traits held by every A player: being a self-motivator, having self-discipline, having an attitude of ownership that brings with it accountability and a realistic mindset.
That being said, a key to creating the best team is assembling a group of people with complementary skills and personalities. Hiring too many people with similar strengths and personality traits will not create the well-rounded, highly skilled team needed. Using the DISC assessment, each person’s personality is evaluated as a Driver, Innovator, Conscientious or Steady one, or a combination of multiple traits can be used as a descriptor. It allows us to grow a team of similarly motivated and proactive people who each bring a different perspective and attitude to the table. This assessment is useful both before and after the hiring process to hone in on how an employee may interact with teammates to be the most productive.
Identifying and hiring the A player
The interview process at ShelfGenie is lengthy and comprehensive, ensuring the chosen candidate will hit the ground running. All applicants at entry level start with an hour-long group interview that primarily evaluates how each candidate communicates and how well they do so. Analyzing how each person conducts themselves through a long group interview and identifying those who remain poised and consistent helps to pinpoint potential A players of the group.
Once hired, even the most intelligent and motivated candidates will struggle to thrive in a position if the requirements of their role are not clearly spelled out. To begin, the manager responsible for the position details the requirements and personality traits that would work best in their role in what is called a "positional agreement." Each new candidate is presented with a Predictive Index Survey assessing behavioral qualities and matching them to those that the position requires. With a detailed analysis of both the position and potential candidate, hiring managers are better equipped to evaluate the job fit and potential challenges. Expectations are clear from the beginning, so the employee found to be the right fit is set up for success.
Leading a team of A players
Assembling a team of A players is not the final step in the process. If the leadership does not know how to correctly lead a highly-skilled and motivated team, they will continue to experience lackluster performance and consistent employee turnover. Hiring an executive coach was necessary for me to be able to successfully lead a strong team. Lloyd Fritzmeier, C-level leadership coach and strategic advisor, administered a 360-degree evaluation of my leadership traits and that of my team. Through a detailed analysis of my team’s view of my leadership, we determined what makes me effective, what undermines my effectiveness and what I should start doing to grow and become a more successful leader.
A true A player likes to be measured against clear objectives to ensure they continue to be a high-performing, integral part of the team. Taking the positional agreement from the beginning of the hiring process and measuring each employee against it to develop their SMART goals -- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound -- gives me and my team an accurate and actionable assessment of their progress.
Attracting, hiring and retaining a team of A players takes a tremendous amount of work. Through developing clear goals, expectations and identifiable benchmarks, this process will become streamlined
and the benefits will be undeniable. Growing and nurturing your team of A players will ensure your company is able to both formulate and execute well on the strategies necessary to constantly evolve and achieve consistent, strong growth.