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Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People

by Bradford D. Smart
Prentice Hall Art, 403 pages, $19.80

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The ability to hire the best people is one of the factors distinguishing premiere companies from mediocre firms. Topgrading puts a system in place for decision makers who seek to gain an edge in this critical process. Investing time in this book will save you unpleasant surprises and headaches down the road once a new hire comes onboard.
Topgrading is defined as filling every position in the organization with an A Player, at the appropriate compensation level. “Instead of paying top dollar for talent, get top talent for the dollars you pay,” advises Smart. Characteristics of A Players are that they contribute and innovate more, work smarter, display more resourcefulness, and implement change more effectively. One of the biggest obstacles to topgrading is that C Players don’t hire A Players. Smart suggests that managers require the C Players to and oversee the process themselves to ensure they get top talent.
The section on evaluating core competencies lays the groundwork for finding people who will excel. Topgrading’s Five Most Critical Core Competencies are:
  • Innovative Outlook – the ability to see new business opportunities not evident to others
  • Power of Analysis – breaking complex problems down into simple elements
  • Ability to Communicate – interacting lucidly and forcefully, both verbally and on paper
  • Leadership Capability – the ability to inspire people to give their utmost toward a group objective
  • Ability to Manage Change – creating in others the willingness to ardently embrace and drive change

Mis-hires cost companies in different ways. They disrupt your business and when you hire a C Player you are wasting a business opportunity. Smart’s extensive Chronological In-Depth Structured Interview Guide (CIDS) combines with other assessment tools to help you put together a superior work team. Topgrading is essential reading for any businessperson who wants to get the most out of their recruitment process so they will eventually get the most out of their hires.

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