Los Niños Case Study

A Players Drive Company Values

"Topgrading is the #1 reason for our company’s success. We’ve hired people who share our core values, especially to provide ‘wow’ customer experience. It’s also the main reason we have won many “best company” awards. People on our team become like a family."

- Scott Mesh, Executive Director

No. of Employees: 300
Industry: Special Education Private Company


  • Improved from 50% to 85% A Players/A Potentials hired
  • Numerous “best company” awards attract more A Players
  • Assess teacher candidates through group exercise

Company History

Los Niños offers special education services to children under 5 years of age through 3 programs: Early InterventionPreschool Special Education, and Private Services. The company mission is to be of great service to others, helping young children and families learn and grow well. There are approximately 300 staff, 90 FTEs and 200 part time employees. The company was founded in 1998 by Scott Mesh and Edita Diaz, both psychologists.

Mesh and Diaz attended several Topgrading programs sponsored by the Entrepreneur’s Organization and took their management team of 8 to a Topgrading Workshop in New York City. They contacted Chris Mursau, President of Topgrading, who helped them develop a rollout plan including training all managers on an ongoing basis, creating Job Scorecards for teaching and other positions, and measuring Topgrading ROI.


The core, full-time staff participate in most Topgrading steps including 3-hour tandem Topgrading Interviews and 6-8 reference checks arranged by candidates. Part-time employees go through a simplified Topgrading process with a 1 ½ hour Topgrading Interview and three 15-minute reference calls with their managers.

In order to judge whether a candidate possesses the core values of Quality, Teamwork, Respect, and Continual Self-Improvement, candidates participate in a team exercise in which they hear a role play of a difficult client situation, rate the case manager’s ability to handle the situation, then discuss as a group to try to learn from one another. With the benefit of the group discussion they are then asked what they would do differently to see how much they have learned from others and if they are self-improvement oriented.

Approximately 50% of hires come from internal referrals. There is no financial award, but pride in the company produces many referrals. Since Topgrading, Los Niños has won numerous “best company” awards, which has strengthened their recruitment since A Players want to work with other A Players.


Prior to Topgrading, only 58% of full-time employees hired at Los Niños turned out to be A Players or A Potentials. After Topgrading, this number improved to 87%. These results have been benchmarked for Best Company Award applications.

Awards Los Niños has earned since Topgrading include:

  • Best Companies To Work For In New York State
    Los Niños Services was recognized as one of the Best Companies to Work for in New York State which for three years in a row. This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in New York, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses.
  • Human Resources & Leadership Best Practice Award
    The New York Enterprise Report Small Business Awards is the annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of the 500,000+ small businesses throughout the tri-state area.
  • Crain’s Best Places to Work In NYC
    To find the companies for Best Places to Work, Crain’s partnered with Best Company Group, an independent research firm, which conducted 13,131 surveys of employees across New York City. To be eligible, businesses had to employ 25 or more workers in the city.
  • MAP Presidential Award.
    Los Niños Services has been honored to receive the Presidential Award. Recipients of the award represent exemplary businesses that have succeeded and excelled by embracing the MAP Management System™.
  • Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award.
    The New York State Psychological Association awarded Los Niños Services an Honorable Mention for the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. This is presented to organizations due to their efforts in the following five areas: Employee Involvement, Work-Life Balance, Employee Growth and Development, Health and Safety, and Employee Recognition.

Advice from Executive Director Scott Mesh

  • Topgrading is the biggest time saver we have. Taking extra time up front to really get to know a person ensures we determine if we have a strong match for the position and company. This saves hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars compared to a hiring mismatch.
  • Hire for company values (not just skills) because a person's values drive his or her behavior and performance.
  • One of the keys to Topgrading success is to focus on a person’s past performance because this is the best predictor of future performance. Don’t waste too much time asking people what they would do in the future.

Topgrading can help you achieve similar results. Contact us today.

The Topgrading tools and processes together are a proven hiring methodology for recruiting, hiring and developing high performing teams. Hire more A players and decrease the number of mis-hires with Topgrading. Contact us to learn more about the Topgrading hiring process and start achieving better hiring results now!

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