North American Nursing Education

Growth and Success Attributed to Hiring 87% A Player Deans

The Company

North American Nursing Education (NANE) has 4,500 employees across 70 nursing schools in the United States and Canada. As a people-intensive business, their success relies in large part on the quality of the nursing instructors at each site. The selection of school deans is vital, as the dean is responsible for building culture, managing people, leading instruction, and hiring teachers – all critical to the success of the school.

No. of Employees: 4500
Industry: Nursing Education


  • Percent A Player deans improved from 19% to 87%
  • Used Topgrading resources to review and analyze mis-hires
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In a talent review before implementing Topgrading, less than 50% of NANE’s instructors and only 19% of deans hired had turned out to be A Players. The cost of mis-hiring a dean was estimated to exceed $1 Million and resulted in a 10% decline in school enrollment. With the average school having over 700 students, the losses were potentially huge.


The Tandem Topgrading Interview has been hugely beneficial not only because it has allowed NANE to hire better, but because it allows the hiring team to review all interview notes if a hiring mistake is made to see what was missed and adjust the process to prevent future mistakes.

Alice Johnson, NANE’s VP of People Development, reminds other Topgraders or future Topgraders to follow through on reference checks using the Topgrading Reference Check Guide. “We learn as much through reference checks as we do through the interview,” she says. NANE understands that successful deans genuinely care about the people they manage, have a strong achievement drive, and are resourceful. Some failed deans seemed to be very people-oriented in interviews, but reference checks disclosed problems. Johnson states, “People can fake warmth and caring in interviews, but if recent references only rate the person Good rather than Very Good or Excellent, we’ve found that Good is not Good enough.”

Once candidates are hired, NANE uses Topgrading methods in their talent reviews. Johnson explains, “The talent review is used to track our hiring success, but also to call us to action with individuals who are underperforming expectations as well.”

I believe that a focus on talent with Topgrading as a foundation has been foundational to our growth and success over the past seven years.

- Alice Johnson,
Vice President,
People Development


After 5 years of Topgrading, the number of A Player deans at NANE had increased from 19% to 87%. Their capacity utilization set records and academic achievement metrics increased steadily. Employee satisfaction ratings improved as the percentage of A Players in the organization increased and NANE ensured they had the right leaders in place.

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