Do You Know What to Look for in New Hires That Will Double Your Success?

Oftentimes, in the hiring process, we get off track looking for skills in a job rather than at the person and the qualities they bring to the table. As part of the Rockefeller Four Decisions work, strategic planning includes setting a purpose for the business, naming core values that are alive in the business, and creating a brand promise. In addition, what brings inspiration and excitement to every day is the BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) that acts as the North Star to create a clear path to success.

Purpose, Values, Brand Promise and the BHAG create the foundation of strategy and execution, which of course is driven by the people in the company. In the past, and currently in some businesses, the process of creating roles, job descriptions and skill-sets has left out the most important aspect of employee success within your business.

Today, on the eve of the New Year, I am encouraging you to take a different approach to your hiring process. Consider the qualities you are looking for in a candidate, and make those qualities the most important aspect in hiring new employees. In a recent newsletter published by Gazelles International Coaches, they highlighted an article in Harvard Business Review, “How Southwest Airlines Hires Such Dedicated People”. The Southwest Airlines premise is that “we talk about hiring not for skills but for three attributes, a warrior spirit (that is desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate); a servant’s heart (the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers); and a fun loving attitude (passion, joy and an aversion to taking oneself too seriously).”

The following attributes correspond to a list developed from Jim Collins and through Gazelles International Coaches. The definitions are based on my experience with leadership teams and on the descriptions I have developed for these qualities that are essential in hiring for success.

  1. Will –  which would include success, focus on solutions, accountability and the willingness to do what it takes to achieve goals on a daily basis.
  2. Values – matching core values to the values and culture of the organization.
  3. Results – clearly knowing what the results expected of the role are as well as what qualities are essential in the individual to achieve results.
  4. Skills – last on the list because these can be coached and trained.

I’ve talked a lot about Top Grading as a way to look at the leaders, managers and staff within your organization, and I’ve found it to be a very helpful tool in the hiring process. (For more information on Top Grading I recommend Brad Smart’s Book, “Top Grading (How to Hire, Coach and Keep A-Players”) The most important aspect of the book I’d like to highlight for the purpose of this article is seeing how A-players, B-players, and C-players are described and how you can use the system practically to create an A-player corporation:

An A-player is high in performance and in demonstrating core values. A B-player is high in core values but lower in performance, a B/C-player is high in performance and low in demonstrating the values, and a C-player is low in both.

There are challenges and methods for bringing B and C-Players up to the A level: B players can be coached for better performance and demonstration of core values; B/C players need to be warned about bringing up the demonstration of core values; and C-players may have to be let go unless there is immediate and significant improvement. But spending time to encourage and bring up performance and core value awareness and action must have a limit so that results can be achieved.  Avoid the C-player trap which is defined as spending an inordinate amount of time trying to bring that person up and often neglecting the expansion and challenge for A players.

Recently, during a Leadership Team Workshop, I  worked with a team  of leaders using this process to help them define the performance and value demonstration of their teams, and gain a clearer idea of how to proceed for better results. They found the process extremely valuable as it gave them a precise road map for creating greater success, accountability and cultural strength within the organization and alignment in their teams.

So, again, I strongly encourage you to incorporate the Top Grading process into your hiring and strategic planning process for the New Year to create greater results for your organization in 2016. In the meantime, I’ll be continuing the discussion in future articles, so please stay tuned.

As always, if you have a question, challenge, or success story you would like to share, please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia


Would you like to join a leadership class to discuss and to learn more about Topgrading and its implementation for your organization? If you are interested contact me to learn more about the format and results that are possible.