Thirty years ago Wiley published my first book, Selection Interviewing: A Management Psychologist’s Recommended Approach (out of print),which introduced the Topgrading Interview with this narrow message:Here’s my interview approach, it works pretty well for me, and if anyone out there is interested, maybe it will work for you. A lot has happened since then!
This article summarizes the “state of the art” in Topgrading, with the innovations featured in the 3rd edition of Topgrading, which in 2012 made the New York Times and Wall Street Journal best seller lists and for a short period of time was the #1 best seller of all 17 million books sold in the US, beating out 50 Shades of Grey (no comments, please). If you already have the book, skip this Topgrading Tips article!
What’s New in Topgrading: The Proven Hiring and Promoting Method That Turbocharges Company Performance. A lot is new—so much that I completely rewrote the book.
- As the subtitle suggests, this edition proves that Topgrading companies perform better. The first edition (1999) of Topgrading said, “Here are the methods I’ve used professionally, and companies improved their talent because I picked the winners, and by the way, maybe you can copy what I do and improve your results.” Only a few managers seemed to do it. The second edition (2005) said, “I’ve taught leading companies such as General Electric, Barclays, Honeywell, and American Heart Association how to use Topgrading, and they are hiring and promoting a lot more high performers, so you can, too.” Preparing for this third edition I asked, “So what? Does better talent really make a difference?” “Of course,” Topgraders unanimously say. However, to my knowledge there has never been a book or article that, like this book, quotes dozens of CEOs who say Topgrading has made their company more successful.
- Topgrading is for all companies, large and small. Tiny, small, and medium-size companies can afford fewer mis-hires than big companies, and all of the Topgrading methods work perfectly well in all companies. It was my fault that the image of Topgrading became “big company.” In earlier Topgrading books I cited many leading companies that embraced Topgrading, and of course they are very big companies. They dominated the 2005 edition of Topgrading. This edition showcases extremely diverse organizations—big, small, growth, entrepreneurial, domestic, and international—in well over 100 countries.
- Human Resources can launch Topgrading. Until very recently CEOs would engage my company to assess and coach the top team, and screen replacements. All managers, starting with the top team, participated in 2-day Topgrading Workshops. The company invested in a license to use all the Topgrading forms and guides, and boom! Topgrading was launched. The head of Human Resources almost never was the driver of Topgrading, because if peers balked at Topgrading and ran to the CEO, and if the CEO did not support HR’s wanting thorough Topgrading Interviews or candidate-arranged reference calls (or whatever), the legs were cut out from under HR. Today HR can launch Topgrading by quietly introducing powerful online screening tools … which get better candidates in for interviews … and print out Topgrading Interview Guides … which inspire managers to ask HR, “How can I learn more about how to conduct Topgrading Interviews?”
- There are now 12 very clear, very proven Topgrading Hiring Steps. This book fully explains why all 12 steps are crucial to better hiring and how to implement them.
- Abbreviated, simplified Topgrading methods enable companies to dramatically improve hiring for entry-level jobs. Several case studies share their abbreviated forms and guides. Since the book was published several months ago, a retail company has figured that by Topgrading the part time stocker and checker jobs, 10% fewer can be hired with abbreviated Topgrading methods. And get this – with 10% fewer workers, they are finding that the energetic workers do MORE work and get BETTER customer service ratings. And get this – that 10% savings annually will likely result in the stock price increasing 50% over its current price.
- A lot of advice comes from CEOs and heads of Human Resources. In previous books, 98% of advice came from the author (that would be me). In this edition, CEOs and heads of HR offer hundreds of suggestions for how to successfully roll out Topgrading. And they give their opinions regarding which Topgrading methods can be tweaked and how to do so for unique situations. Who’d a-thunk it?—executives implementing Topgrading might be smarter and have deeper insights than the author.
- Dozens of case studies show “how to do it.” The executives in these case studies are named, and you’ll read their words explaining how Topgrading made each of their companies more successful. Instead of half a dozen case studies (typical for a best-practices book), there are case studies in 41 companies, encompassing businesses of all sizes, diversified industries, and regions all over the world. You should have no difficulty finding several Topgrading case studies that are very much like your organization.
- Case studies are presented in a unique way. In this book (chapter 5) there is a Master Chart showing talent improvements in current and former case studies, and an appendix has half-page mini summaries of all the case studies. Here’s what’s unprecedented: we’ve launched a Web site, Topgrading Case Studies where long versions of the case studies are not only available but will be revised and updated indefinitely. So in 2020, for example, a reader of this book might be interested in a case study, and realize, “I can go to Topgrading Case Studies to get the 2020 version!”
- There is the totally new Topgrading Snapshot. It’s a one-page multi-color picture (“snapshot”) of a candidate’s career, making it possible to literally screen someone in or out, accurately and validly, in seconds. It may seem tacky to sell a book that sells a product—sorry, but we are convinced the Topgrading Snapshot will prove to be the most valid, powerful, simple-to-use, and least expensive preselection tool on the planet. (And you can get two Topgrading Snapshots free.)
- Fifty competencies are now color coded. Topgrading professionals agreed on which competencies are difficult to improve or overcome, and we’ve color coded them: green (relatively easy for people to improve; e.g., experience); red (relatively hard for people to improve; e.g., integrity, passion); and yellow for competencies that fall in between the extremes (e.g., Topgrading). So now hiring managers can rate candidates on various competencies with an instant reminder of whether low-rated competencies are those they can probably help the candidate improve.
- This edition is shorter than the almost 600 pages in the second edition. Are you a busy, somewhat hyper manager who prefers to skim reading material? I am, too, so I cut the book to (328 pages).
- A lot of free resources. Visit our Topgrading websitewhere there are free resources including a trial of the Topgrading Snapshot, a 79-page e-book (Topgrading 201), videos, invitations to bimonthly “Chat with a Topgrader” conference calls, and more. My personal goal in revising Topgrading is to help every reader, anywhere in the world, enjoy a more successful career by adopting Topgrading methodologies.
Summary: Topgrading is forever evolving, mostly because Topgraders are highly resourceful and never stop offering great insights and suggestions. That is not false modesty – I dedicated the book to the hundreds of Topgraders that in fact did push me to adapt Topgrading to small companies, entry levels, etc.
For years I’ve ended recordings of Topgrading Tips with, “Topgrade your team and you will Topgrade your profits.” That is a well substantiated claim now, and looking ahead in 2013 we stand committed to gleaning fresh insights and advice from you, Topgraders!
Topgrading: 3rd Edition (in first week of release it became #1 Barnes & Noble best seller). The 3rd Edition of Topgrading was 100% written from scratch, with all sorts of practical innovations, and more than 350 bits of wisdom and advice from – Topgrading executives. An unprecedented 40 case studies of large and small companies provide insights into how they averaged more than tripling their success hiring high performers. Along with the book you receive a recorded webinar summarizing the most innovative and practical Topgrading methods and you can download a Manual showing how to implement them.
Click here for more information and to order Topgrading: 3rd Edition.
Published January 3, 2013