Topgrading Today

Our vision is simple: Topgrade the World (no kidding!). To realize that vision we assist both for-profit and not-for-profit companies topgrade, encouraging a top-down approach to hiring and promoting only A Players.

Brad Smart

With the release of the Third Edition of Topgrading: The Most Proven Hiring and Promoting Method to Turbocharge Company Performance, Topgrading moves beyond demonstrating how it is the best method for hiring. Forty case studies have CEOs of large and small companies all over the world stating clearly that Topgrading improved talent so much that they are certain the company is more successful. Indeed, the average improvement in hiring high performers for the 40 companies is reported ranging from 26% to 85%. Topgrading, Inc., can help you hire and promote better – much better – and dramatically reduce the huge costs of mis-hires by:

We’re full steam ahead with the development of more online Topgrading Resources, Topgrading Online Solutions (TOLS) and other innovations to help organizations of all sizes, all over the world, dramatically improve their success hiring for every job.

Topgrading for Not-For-Profit Organizations

As Cass Wheeler said when he was CEO of the American Heart Association, “Topgrading saves lives.” Royalties from Topgrading books (and other sources) help us contribute Topgrading tools to not-for-profits (NFPs) such as the American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, Feed the Children, World Vision, Jane Goodall Foundation, Foodbank, The Heritage Foundation, 600 schools in China, and National Academies. If you know of any NFPs with a talent-oriented, A-player CEO, encourage them to contact us!

How Topgrading Evolved: A Brief History

The history of Topgrading is simple but powerful. In college Brad Smart worked in what were then called personnel departments, administering hiring tests. Two things struck him:  One, how shallow and superficial hiring methods were; and two, how bad the hiring results were. For most managers their worst headache was … talent!

Brad Smart

In Brad’s Ph.D. work, he read thousands of studies and was disappointed to discover that most companies had terrible results hiring people and practically no studies focused on how to hire high performers. At that time, companies screened candidates from questionably honest resumes, ran candidates though easily faked competency interviews, and willingly let candidates control which people they could contact for references.

After graduate school, Brad joined a group of psychologists and was disappointed that about two-thirds of the candidates recommended for hire turned out to be adequate but not the high performers expected. From his first month on the job Brad was passionately committed to doing better, so he worked hard to get more clarity in job descriptions, to ask questions about every job the candidate had held — every success, failure, key relationship, and key decision.  In addition, he insisted that clients talk with past supervisors. Thus Topgrading methods were born.  Almost all candidates recommended for hire or promotion using these initial Topgrading methods turned out to be A Players. Clients were so appreciative that Brad launched his own firm.

At one point, Brad met with the top Human Resources executives of the largest 100 companies in the world, who admitted that only 20% of managers they hired turned out to be the high performers they expected (and they felt they paid for). That’s a 80% mis-hire rate! The industry really hadn’t changed; companies other than Topgraders still used the same hiring methods and got the same poor results. Even technology such as applicant tracking systems were not helping solve the problem, but simply making flawed processes more efficient.

Fifteen years later Brad met Jack Welch and over a period of many years consulted with GE and figured out how all managers, not just Topgrading Professionals, could achieve 80% and even 90% high performers hired and promoted.  Since GE was the most respected company in the world and Jack Welch the most respected CEO, Brad received many requests to help companies Topgrade — as he still does today.  Companies large and small ask, “You taught hundreds of managers at GE to pick high performers over 90% of the time – please teach us.”

In the late 1990s, Brad’s son Geoff was completing his doctorate, and with his updated psychology background and his personal relationship with Peter Drucker, Geoff made some huge contributions:  He took Brad’s interviewing experience and helped create the conceptual framework for Topgrading, co-authored the first Topgrading article, created the PowerPoint for the first workshop featuring Topgrading, edited the first edition of Topgrading, co-authored the Pritchett Topgrading handbook, registered the Web site, and as CEO of, he and his professionals gave over 100 speeches on Topgrading. Thanks, Geoff!

Today, Brad and our Topgrading Professionals provide second opinion assessments of candidates for selection and promotion. And since 2000 we have worked with Global 1000 companies and hundreds of small companies, conducting public and on-site Topgrading Workshops to teach them the Topgrading methods. Our Topgrading, Inc., team includes client services staff and Certified Topgrading Coaches all over the world, all devoted to helping you get terrific results hiring and promoting people.

You can learn the common sense Topgrading methods.  You really can be like GE’s Jack Welch and thousands of CEOs and managers of small and growth companies that cured their biggest headache – talent – using Topgrading methods.