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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brad Smart knows what he is talking about BUT!!!!!!
I have read this book and conclude that most of the information is accurate in my experience. I think that Brad could TOPGRADE his style, however. The chest puffing gets tiring, his arrogance makes me gag and in general detracts from the potency of the book. This method is "no silver bullet" it works and can be difficult to implement. I also didn't care to...
Published on August 19, 1999

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110 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "OK", with reservations
"Topgrading" does have some insights, that are of some value, but keep in mind that this book is also a marketing tool for the author's services. The ideas here are not necessarily new; they're certainly not earth-shattering. The 'tool' for interviewing is most unlikely to be used by people in the real world, in HR or in the position of making a hiring decision. It is...
Published on May 16, 2006 by jds100


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110 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "OK", with reservations, May 16, 2006
"Topgrading" does have some insights, that are of some value, but keep in mind that this book is also a marketing tool for the author's services. The ideas here are not necessarily new; they're certainly not earth-shattering. The 'tool' for interviewing is most unlikely to be used by people in the real world, in HR or in the position of making a hiring decision. It is unweildy, excessivly long, and absolutely dependent on the ability of the interviewer to accurately evaluate the responses of the candidates. It is absurd to presume or assume that everyone -maybe even anyone- who reads this book will come away with that talent. I certainly would not want to make my company's growth and/or survival dependent on someone's consistent ability to accurately evaluate qualifications -and "quality"- over the course of using this 2-1/2 hour-long interview tool.

I also question whether or not the best candidates wouldn't get up and leave in disgust, or run as fast as they can from a company that would use this kind of interviewing tool.

The tone of the interviewing methodology seems, to me, to be adversarial and condescending, which will not generate the most accurate eveidence of talent of fit with a given organization. This is tedious, and excessive. It would not take a genius to BS his or her way into giving impressive answers. I question whether or not candidates, the best candidates especially, would not be offended at being asked these questions. I can imagine that candidates who are desperate would be happy to sit through this 'therapy session', but real professionals would more likely determine that a company using this method would not be a good fit. If you believe in making your candidates run a gauntlet of pain and fire, then be honest: set that up. The tool that is touted in "Topgrading" is at least equally as difficult for the interviewer as for the interviewee, especially given that the interviewer is expected to conduct multiple such interviews, while a candidate will endure only one interview. Can you really rely on the accuracy of the last interview of the day as compared to the first or second?

Despite claims for gaining special insight through use of this process, there is nothing special or unique here, other than the mass of what amounts to typical HR questions piled into one interview. The real 'secret' and value is in the ability, again, of the interviewer to assign purely subjective qualitative judgements to the answers. That's scary. It's not any more reliable, nor any more safe than any other systematic hiring approach that takes a little care and a little common sense.

I think most people who find themselves initially impressed are those who have not put much thought into hiring (the interview process) before now, and there is, therefore, a level of excitement at "discovering" a systematic approach. Anyone looking for a magic bullet for interviewing and hiring will think this is it for awhile, but they probably would have thought the same thing if they'd picked up 'that other book' instead.

The general ideas can best be adapted to specific needs, and can best be reduced in size. Add this to your library (or don't), and find the seeds of value in the book (or just bypass it altogether), but don't believe that this is the one true way. It isn't.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop looking for magic bullets, June 8, 2007
While Brad Smart offers some good advice for the hiring manager, we must keep in mind that the purpose of TogGrading is to make money for, uh, Brad Smart. It is every hiring manager's responsibility to select the best candidate for a position. Some instinctively do a good job at this, while others are simply clueless. Dr. Smart presents his methodology with a zen-like religious furvor. He insists that if everyone in the organization adopts his methodology and becomes a zealot, the organization will become wildly successful. Isn't pretty to think so. My company jumped on the TogGrading bandwagon three years ago, because we had high turnover in a two departments. Now our hiring process is adruous, time-consuming and expensive. The results? Those managers who had low turnover rates still have low turnover rates. Those who had high turnover rates still have high turnover rates. The bottom line: TopGrading doesn't work any better than any other of the various magic bullet methods hawked to managers over the years. There is no one-size-fits-all methodology for selecting top performers. If your company is failing at attracting and retaining "A players" you'd do better to carefully examine your corporate culture than to jump on the latest fad method. If one manager excels at hiring and retaining good employees, allow him to mentor the managers who don't. This is cheaper and far more effective than turning your HR process upside down and hoping for a miracle cure.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beware, July 11, 2001
By 
Greg (Dearborn, MI USA) - See all my reviews
Be very careful using some of the information in this book or you risk creating an HR nightmare for your company. Ford Motor Company is in the process of defending itself against law suites brought on by employees who have been exposed to the "A, B, and C, Player," environment. The Top Grading system is viewed by many as arbitrary, unfair, and discriminatory. Even the most vocal practitioners of this system, General Electric, will admit the process can destroy moral.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money, March 19, 2000
By A Customer
Brad is arrogant. His style is hard to read, and his conclusions lack evidence. He claims to have used over 4,000 interactions for his book. There really are no specific or scientific use of the data he claims to have. The method may serve to give a prospective candidate practice interview questions. Any senior person would be insulted at his methods and would go to another company. But Brad is high on himself!
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brad Smart knows what he is talking about BUT!!!!!!, August 19, 1999
By A Customer
I have read this book and conclude that most of the information is accurate in my experience. I think that Brad could TOPGRADE his style, however. The chest puffing gets tiring, his arrogance makes me gag and in general detracts from the potency of the book. This method is "no silver bullet" it works and can be difficult to implement. I also didn't care to read about Brad's property investment property and how he has Topgraded his help. .....Please lighten up Brad.
Woody Daroca Denver, Co.
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41 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Management by Contempt, January 28, 2006
By 
M. Sulborski (Westford, MA USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an interesting book, which can be summarized in a few sound bites: 1) steal all the "top" people you can from other organizations; 2) if you don't have a rock-solid track record, don't bother applying here (sorry - no mommy trackers or career changeovers need apply); 3) the only HR skill a manager needs is unbridled contempt.

An interesting aspect of this book is the emphasis on HIGH SCHOOL behavior as a critical success factor. By the end of the book, I was convinced Topgrading originated as a hiring manual for hourly-workers. With the decline of factory jobs in the USA, this book appears to have been "Topgraded" to sell into the professional marketplace.

This is not a manual for improving or leading a workforce - it is a manual for cherry-picking. It is demeaning, demoralizing, and degrading. Based on the philosophy that the employee is completely expendable, this book succeeds in "Topgrading" worker exploitation.

The company that "Topgrades" is the company you want to own. It is not the company you want to be employed by.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do the math, June 7, 2006
By 
Just A Reader "-CW" (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition (Hardcover)
There are 500 Fortune 500 firms. Do you think 450 CEOs of the Fortune 500 will recognize that they aren't "A" Players?

Or maybe the 1800 of the 2000 Russell 2000 Firm CEOs will realize they're not "A" players.

Remember, you rank against people in that job level. CEOs are compared to CEOs. CFOs to CFOs, CIOs to CIOs, VPs to VPs, clerks to clerks.

As typical, these books are popular with the "I think I'm an A Player and everybody else holds us back."
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to Hire People Book, August 13, 2006
This review is from: Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition (Hardcover)
This book is great with ideas, checklists, and disciplines on how to take time and care in the hiring process. If anything the book tell you to slow down when hiring and and be constructive.

But having a bunch of A players with a B/C Executive Management at the top, will get you no where. I think the writer trys to project, or accredit, all or too much of the accomplishments of the companies in his book to his hiring approach. Also the writer seems to spent a lot of time, pumping topgrading. After a while I got sick of hearing the word Topgrading over and over throughout the book. All that is here are some very sound hiring practices, nothing unique or earth shattering.

Hiring A players without the proper culture first, is a waste of time. A players are high achievers, and Management has to set the culture first.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Long winded is an understatement, September 10, 2010
This review is from: Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition (Hardcover)
After 50 pages of 450, I gave up. Everything in the first 50 pages could have been written in a 2 page pamphlet. It's all self-promotion. Don't waste your time.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Work for those who are growing a business!, April 3, 2000
By 
Alan James (Ft. Collins, Colorado) - See all my reviews
This book is an important work for me. As an entrepeneur, the book contained the information that I needed. A major part of the achievement puzzle.
For those who read this review, the three pieces of knowledge I deemed most valueable are as follows:
1. Hire the top 10% of the people out there who are willilng to work for the wage offered. This book helps pinpoint characteristics of people most suitable thru a long interview section in the back of the book. I think its pretty darn accurate.
2. A players. B players. C & D players. Some B players cannot be converted to A. Some B are only B. C players cannot be converted to a B player. D players are D players pernamently. Certain personal characteristics of thinking indicate if you are A, B,C or D. Great Stuff! After reading this book I fell out of love with all the people around me, and proceeded to top grade my company. I strongly disagree with who ever the perplexed indivdual was who wrote in the customer review that this book - not to waste your money. Well, this book helped me waste my money all the way to the bank!
3. In general you should employ fewer people, and pay them more, to do more.
Read the interview guide. I never considered spending 5 hours with a person to really dig deep and elicit characteristics with leading questions. I always thought an hour interview would be a long one. The book can be a yawner at parts but it gets going after the first few chapters. Great Book! The book has value.
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