A Player Defined

men in suits shaking hands at table

For four decades Topgrading, Inc. has applied and taught managers how to achieve 80%+ hiring success, with success defined as an A Player. We have refined the definition of an A Player, and hope this blog helps you focus on just hiring A Players.

In my early books on Topgrading, the ones that highlighted how Topgrading helped GE become the most valuable (market cap) company in the world, here was the definition for an A Player:

A Player: Someone in the top 10% of talent available for any job, at a given salary level. This was a very practical definition for companies hiring dozens or hundreds of people for a job like Store Manager. Those companies would conduct Topgrading Interviews and develop profiles that made it easy to reject candidates (using the Topgrading Snapshot). But for companies NOT constantly hiring for a job, they’d say, “How the heck can I KNOW which candidates are in the top 10?” Good question. So here’s an easier definition:

A Player: High performer. Our Topgrading Professionals have asked 12,000 candidates about every managerial job they have had, and specifically, “What percent of high performers did you inherit in that job?” Candidates have no hesitation to answer. They can relate to “high performer.” Typically their answer is, 25%. The trouble is, typically only 25% of the people they hire turn out to be high performers – A Players. So, they have to MIS-HIRE 3 people before they hire that one high performer. Ugh! Here’s an equally useful definition:

A Player: Someone whose boss rates his/her performance Excellent or Very Good, NOT just Good. Suppose a candidate told you, “I’ve had 6 bosses and not one would rate me Excellent and let me think …. hmmmm ….. not one would rate me Very Good either. I guess all 6 bosses would rate me Good!” Would you think that candidate is an A Player, a high performer? NO WAY!

Candidates completing our Topgrading Career History Form realize THEY will have to arrange reference calls with former bosses, and on the form they give the name of every boss and estimate how each and every boss would rate their overall performance on a scale of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor. When the candidate pushes Send, the hiring manager or Human Resources first looks at the Topgrading Snapshot (the pic of the person’s career) and specifically they look at boss ratings. Hundreds of thousands of candidates have been screened this way and here are conclusions clients have made:

1. A Players – high performers = candidates who say bosses would rate them Excellent or Very Good (usually 50% Excellent, 50% Very Good).

2. B/C Players – mediocre performers = candidates who say bosses would rate them Good or worse.

Stay tuned — the next blog will show common competencies of A Players.

To learn more about the Topgrading method download our FREE eGuide! 

Scroll to Top