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Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Revised and Updated Edition Hardcover – April 7, 2005
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The key to building a superior company, an increasing number of observers now agree, is the ongoing ability to recruit and retain superior personnel. In Topgrading, industrial psychologist and global consultant Bradford Smart expands upon this idea by examining in great detail exactly how today's premier organizations have assembled such top-level employees, and then showing precisely how others can do it, too. "Simply put, topgrading is the practice of packing the team with A players and clearing out the C players," Smart writes. "'A players' is defined as the top 10 percent of talent available at all salary levels--best of class. With this radical definition, you are not a topgrader until your team consists of all A players. Period." Essentially a best-practices manual for developing this outstanding personnel pool, the book is based on more than 4,000 interviews and case studies conducted by Smart at major corporations like General Electric as well as fast-growing high-tech companies and small family-owned firms. He further bolsters its effectiveness by including his extensive "Chronological In-Depth Structured Interview Guide," along with other assessment tools and hands-on strategies for assembling an ideal work team. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Topgrading is the definitive manual for becoming an A player and for recognizing those traits in others. (Larry Bossidy, coauthor of "Execution")
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We do differ from the Smarts' method in one way: we send out all the questions in the structured interview ahead of time and ask our interviewees to come to the interview with all the answers already written down. That way they aren't searching for information as we do the interview, and we can still do lots of "tell me more" that gets them off-book and into the truth.
Good stuff, and it improved our hiring process measurably.
Keeping high talent and motivating the workforce is quite challenging.
Topgrading provides a way to do so. However, let us remember that
performance evaluation itself has problems, it's a very inexact practice.
Also, if people realize how to play the system, you may end up with C players dominating and kicking out the A players.
There are many business that have a protective culture. Once an employee, they are entitled to keep their job. As Dr. Smart points out, your company cannot afford to continue to mis-hire and/or keep the "B & C" employees on the payroll. Business is simply too competitive.
The book is well written and covers the subject in depth. The book is long and it can be slow reading. However, as Brad points out, you do not need to read all the details. It is designed so that you can read the bullet points and delve deeper in those sections that are of particular interest to you.
The book is primarily written for those hiring managers in larger companies. The most value to be gained will be from those companies that fit that category. However it is well documented that the cost of mis-hires and the percentage of mis-hires is too high for any employer to ignore the information in this book.
There is a wealth of information in the appendix. Most people will say that hiring this way takes too much time and cost too much. To that anyone who understands the process would ask, how much time and money does it cost to make a hiring mistake and how much to do it over.
In today's competitive environment, business owners do not have the luxury to allow "B & C" employees to run the ship. If you truly want to run a top notch company, you will only achieve that with "A" employees.
Everyone knows that the quality and growth of your business will depend on the quality of your employees. This is a wonderful manual for getting 90% "A" players on your team.
A must read for anyone responsible for hiring in their company - no matter the size of the company.
If you're into "topgrading", be sure and do some research into what companies are doing it and what their affiliations are with the author.
It answers probably 75% of the nagging questions I've had over the years in dealing with employees (hiring, coaching, performance management/evaluation, and yes, firing). And it does so comprehensively and cohesively.
What I like best is that Dr Smart's methodology is fully integrated: the (comprehensive) information collected before hiring is the SAME info used to coach an employee to greatness. The SAME measures are used to evaluate growth, and the SAME measures are used to determine if it is time for an employee (or myself!) to move on.
I only wish the content was available 20 years ago... and that the Appendices (interview forms, evaluation forms, etc) were available online or came on a CD with the book. :-)