Three Definitions of an A Player

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The term A Player has been tossed around a lot and causes a lot of confusion. Here are 3 of the most useful definitions I’ve found.  In some circumstances I use all 3:

  1. High Performer. Topgrading Professionals have conducted tens of thousands of chronological interviews, asking managers 10 questions about every job. One of those questions is:  what percent of high performers, A Players, did you inherit, and what percent did you end up with.  Managers can relate to “high performers” without further description.  But their definition of high performer/A Player might be a lot higher or lower than yours.
  2. Excellent or Very Good performer. Our software has a “truth serum” built in and candidates for hire are asked to guess how every boss would rate their overall performance on a scale of Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, and Poor.  Literally millions of reference checks with bosses they arrange calls with (no phone tag!) have proven that candidates are amazingly accurate when they guess how their performance will be rated.  Across hundreds of companies and several decades, we’ve learned that A Player = High Performer = Excellent or Very Good performance ratings.
  3. Top 10% performers at a given salary level. Aha!  You would love to hire people in the top 10% for the compensation you can afford, right?  So, do your comp studies to see how much experience seems to coincide with various comp levels.  What clients learn is that to hire an undisputed high performer, A Player, they have to pay a lot.  “Undisputed” means experience and huge accomplishments.  If they can’t afford top dollar, they hire people with less experience (but high potential), or sometimes recently retired 55-year olds who were top dollar and now would take less for a less demanding job.

I hope this helps!

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