Argo is more successful as a company because Topgrading has resulted in a higher percentage of A Players.

- Mark Watson, CEO

The Company: Argo Group International Holdings, LTD.

No. of Employees: 1,300

Industry: Global Insurance


  • Improved from 51% to 96% A Players hired/promoted in management (AVP and above).
  • 15%+ compounded stock performance since Topgrading
  • Mark Watson took over the company in 2000 with $200 million in sales; by 2020 the company had $3 billion in sales

Quotes from interview with Mark Watson, CEO:

  • Topgrading is something I’m very passionate about. We’re a very capital intensive company, but a lot of our capital is intellectual capital, our people, and so much of our success is really making sure we have the very best people that we can have.
  • We use Topgrading at all levels of the organization.  It starts with me.  I’ve done Topgrading Interviews on every single employee that reports to me directly — even incumbent employees on my management team.  I expect all managers to do the same with their subordinates and cascade it all the way down through the organization.
  • Topgrading taught us to measure the costs of all mis-hires … and of course we’ve had a few, even after launching Topgrading. The costs are always way above what we initially thought – the financial costs and the time wasted.  That exercise motivates us to stick with the Topgrading disciplines.
  • With Topgrading, you don’t need as many people. Instead of 12 on a team you might just need 8 people – and at least 7 are A Players. Not only are As more productive individually but they work better as team players.  And A teams are happier – they like working with one another and like being in a successful company, where there are growth opportunities.
  • Just because somebody is a C Player – assuming they’re committed to the company – just because they’re a C Player in the role they’re in doesn’t mean that you can’t retool them into another role in the company where they would be an A Player. We use Topgrading methods to assess and coach a lot of people, and not only have we transferred some Bs and Cs into jobs where they became As, a few Bs and Cs were coached and became As in their current job.
  • We Topgrade in all the countries we’re in. Initially there is resistance but as soon as they see the results managers everywhere get on board.

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