Topgrade Your Organization: What’s the Best Way to Keep the Right People?

SESSION RECAP: Topgrade Your Organization: Hiring “A” Players. What’s the best way to hire, coach, and keep the right people? A Private Advisory Board session led by hiring expert and seasoned entrepreneur Russell Basch tackles that topic.

Theme: How can you “topgrade” your organization with “A players” — those who have at least a 90 percent chance of succeeding in a role that only the top 10 percent of possible candidates could accomplish?


How do I decide whether to hire based on someone’s industry knowledge, or skill set for this job (sales)?

Why It’s Important

It’s very rare to find candidates who excel at both factors. This company is in a niche industry and is finding it difficult to get people with industry knowledge and sales experience.

Financial value isn’t easy to measure, but it ultimately has a big effect on training protocols, as well as basically every aspect of the business.

Clarifying Questions

  • To what extent is your industry knowledge a teachable skill?
  • How do you go about finding people to hire in the first place? Where do you look?
  • What are your current criteria for success in sales roles at the moment?
  • To what extent should you really define candidates in terms of either/or?

Action Plan

Eureka! In the course of the conversation, this leader had the breakthrough that, based on the philosophy of topgrading the hiring goals as stated may be the wrong approach. The answer isn’t how to choose between two skill sets, but how to seek out and hire “A” players in the first place. More on how to do that as the session moves on …


How do I become more effective in recruiting, hiring, and retaining top performers?

Why It’s Important

It takes tremendous amounts of time to hire the right people, empower them for success, and retain them long-term. And typically, younger workers leave after just a few years of this, meaning the entire process needs to be started over with a new employee. How can this be avoided? What are new and more effective ways to recruit, hire, and train employees?

Clarifying Questions

  • What is the industry’s retention rate, and what is your retention rate?
  • What are you learning from your exit interviews?
  • Have you designed questions specific to your company’s cultural values?
  • To what extent are your benefits inhibiting hiring and retaining top talent? Are there plans to remedy this?
  • Have you examined what will better motivate different generations of employees — millennials versus baby boomers, for example?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • Better identify opportunities for growth for team members to keep them interested and engaged and challenged by their role.
  • Think how to compensate employees on what motivates them — flex time, wellness programs, etc.
  • Consider making sales professionals and account managers separate roles to better match a team member’s skills to their role.
  • Consider honing talent through internships and “shadowing” new team members to best determine their long-term commitments.

Action Plan

This leader will execute a plan based on much of the suggestions overheard, particularly shadowing and the splitting of job responsibilities,

Takeaway: So what DOES it take to hire an “A” player? It starts with determining your outcomes and then creating a scorecard based on those needs. Discover this method with “Topgrading,” by Brad and Geoff Smart
Session date: Sep 18, 2012
Originally published: Sep 26, 2012

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