/ Why hiring ‘A Players’ should be your number one objective!

Knowledge Base Article
Article Type: Blog
Author: Bibi M

Why hiring ‘A Players’ should be your number one objective!

What makes a successful business? According to Bibi Martin of BM Interim Management, the biggest single factor in determining a company’s success (or failure) is the talent of its management.

A players

Bibi says: “Business success really only depends on four things: external factors, which are beyond the business’ control, the business strategy, its execution and management talent. Of these, management talent has the most impact.”

Bibi continues: “The question is who? not what? What refers to your business strategies, the products and services you sell, the processes you use. Who refers to the people you put in place to make the what decisions. Who is where the magic begins, or where the problem starts”.

A hiring mistake can cost 15 times an employee’s base salary in hard costs and lost productivity, so it is important to get it right – by hiring a A players.

What is an A Player?

·         An A Player is the right hire; a talented person who can do the job you need done, while fitting in with the culture of your company.

·         A candidate who has 90% chance of succeeding in the role.

·         A candidate who can achieve 90% of the outcomes that only 10% of possible hires can accomplish.

Find and hiring

▼ STEP 1: Use a scorecard

This document describes exactly what you want to accomplish with the role. It is not a role profile, but rather a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done. A scorecard must have:

  • A mission for the position: the essence of the job – why does the role exist? What is its purpose?
  • Outcomes that must be accomplished – define what must get done
  • Competences: ensuring behavioural fit – critical competences for A Players as well as cultural competences to ensure organisational fit.

A scorecard provides the link between the theory of the strategy and the reality of execution by translating the business plan into role-by-role outcomes. It creates alignment within your team, a unified culture and ensures people understand your expectations.

▼ STEP 2: Sourcing

Options include:

  • Referrals from your personal or professional network
  • Referrals from your employees – give incentives to encourage staff to refer somebody in their peer group.
  • Hiring recruiters – hold the recruiters accountable for the items on the scorecard
  • For more senior hires, consider hiring researchers to explore the market, identify sources of talent, and feed names back to you, without screening them. Ensure they fully understand your business and its culture.

Create a sourcing system that captures the names and contact information on everybody you could source from and follow up weekly.

STEP 3: Selecting

Use up to four types of interview to collect data and facts about somebody’s performance and the track record of the candidates:

  • Screening Interview – Culling the List (phone-based interview designed to clear out B and C Players).
  • Topgrading Interview – using the power of patterns for choosing who
  • Focused Interview – getting to know more (focused on the outcomes and the competences of the scorecard).
  • Reference interview – testing what you have learned.

Red flags

During the hiring process some behavioural clues may emerge that indicate potential risks. These are red flags and signal candidates who sound like an A player but once hired they sink down to B and C level. Pay attention throughout the process to identify when you need to ask more questions to help you validate the red flag. For example, if you ask candidates about their past mistakes and they blame other people for them it suggests that they do not take responsibility for their performance. Also, negative comments about previous colleagues are a warning sign. One of these colleagues could be you in their next interview. Also look out for candidates who:

  • seem to exaggerate their answers
  • takes credit for the work of others
  • speaks poorly of past bosses
  • cannot explain job moves
  • has never had to hire or fire anybody (for managerial hires)
  • seems more interested in the compensation and benefits than the job itself
  • tries too hard to look like an expert.

▼ STEP 4: Selling the role to the chosen candidate

Ways to seal the deal, the 5 F’s:

  • Fit – compare the candidate’s goals, strengths and values with the company’s vision, needs and culture
  • Family – if you are hiring candidates from abroad, or another part of the country, make sure you address the impact on their family ties to make the candidate feel that they are making a lifestyle shift, not only a career shift. Stress the positive impact to whole family
  • Freedom – autonomy the candidate will have to make his or her own decisions
  • Fortune – reflects the stability of the company and the overall financial upside
  • Fun – describes the work environment and the personal relationships the candidate will make.

Sealing the deal is a matter of understanding which of the 5 F’s really matter to a candidate and focusing attention to those to overcome a candidate’s concerns.

When to sell?

  • When you source
  • When you interview
  • The time between the offer and the candidate’s acceptance
  • The time between the acceptance and the first day
  • The new hire’s first 100 days on the job.


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By Bibi Martin, Founder of BMIM. Post originally published via ICAEW Resources – click here

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