Four Actions to Create Your A Team in 2018

My New Year’s promise to you:  follow the 4 steps in this blog and you will have a dramatically better team in 2018!

This is the 3rd in the series on how to create your A Team.  Blog #1 explained how to rate your team members A, B, or C Players.  Blog #2 took it one step further – how to convert those ratings to a solid ranking of your most valuable team member the least valuable.


  1. Inject the Topgrading Truth Serum. Let all candidates know at every step in the hiring process, that the final step before a job offer is for THEM (not you) to arrange personal reference calls with former bosses.  For decades this little tidbit has brought honesty to a basically dishonest approach in which C players easily hype their positives and conceal their negatives.
  2. Conduct a Basic Topgrading Interview. Ask for complete career information for the past decade.  The Topgrading Interview is the most important Topgrading step.  It’s a chronological interview covering education years, ALL jobs, and plans for the future.  But if you haven’t used it, maybe start with this basic version:  Tell candidates, “Let’s start with your job at Acme, which you joined 10 years ago and come forward to the present.  For each job tell me:

a. What you did – your responsibilities and accountabilities

b) How you did – details about every major accomplishment and success as well as failures and mistakes

c) What your boss was like and how he/she would, in a call you might arrange, describe your strengths and weaker points and overall performance, and

d) Exactly why you left.”

 To learn even more, use a second interviewer.  General Electric under Jack Welch improved from 25% to 50% high performers hired; they embraced the tandem Topgrading Interview (2 interviewers) and their success shot up to 90% … and these were the years when GE became the most valuable and most respected company in the world.

  1. Make those reference calls.  Ask the candidates you’re still interested in to arrange confidential, personal reference calls with former bosses and any others YOU want to talk with.  A Player candidates email you within a day saying, “Done – the six people will be happy to talk with you and here are their available times and mobile numbers.”
  2. Use the Topgrading Snapshot.  The Topgrading Snapshot tells you the MOST important information you could possibly want about a candidate before even talking with them. Here is how it works:
  • Candidates are asked to provide information about their most recent 2 jobs. (Takes them 5 minutes).  Of course it contains the Topgrading Truth Serum you just learned about.
  • You get the Topgrading Snapshota 1-page, multi-color picture (“snapshot” if you will) showing how bosses would rate their performance, the real reasons they left jobs, and their salary expectations (unless prohibited). You quickly screen out candidates who:
  • are too high or low in comp,
  • are job hoppers,
  • have low supervisor ratings, and
  • who have been fired more than once.

Best of all, you screen only the best candidates for interviews.  The result is more efficient hiring (you don’t waste time screening low performers), hiring better performers, and a huge reduction in the costs of mis-hires!

Note: Almost all of you reading this have at least some understanding of Topgrading.  But if not, you might want to download the free eBook Topgrading401.  Or if you want to skim through the most dramatic case studies in hiring history, the hiring method that has enabled hundreds of companies to more than triple their success hiring high performers, go to for dozens of examples.

I’d love to hear about your Topgrading success stories or if you have any questions about the Topgrading solution.


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