Improve your talent in 2018: A Quick Talent Assessment Blog #2 of 3

I hope 2018 is off to a productive start.  Based on the positive response I received on last week’s blog, improving talent and establishing better hiring practices is on top of the list for resolutions in the New Year. Blog #1 in this series provided descriptions of A, B, and C Players.  Understanding how A, B, and C players perform across critical competencies is essential for the Quick Talent Assessment, the topic of this blog.

Regardless of company size, you probably spend dozens of hours each year following or discussing your company’s method of assessing talent in the company.  After all, your company needs that information for succession planning – does the company have the talent to achiever the strategic goals?  And they figure that YOU need to know how good your team is in order to lead it to achieve your goals.  These processes can be complex and time consuming!  There are “6-box” and even “9-box” models in which you are asked to rate your people across dimensions such as competencies, skills, knowledge, actual performance, culture fit, and a lot more.

Fortunately, decades ago we at Topgrading hit on a very simple method which can give you a remarkably accurate “bottom line” on who are your A, B, and C Players.   We HAD to find a quick method because in Topgrading Interviews we ask managers to assess their teams in all their jobs, and we can do it in only a few minutes.  YOU can use the same method to get a quick overview, to get a sense of just how loaded with talent you are … or if your team is “talent challenged,” what you’ll have to do to improve talent … to meet your goals.

Step 1: Understand the differences among A, B, and C Players.  Done – this was the first blog in this series.

Step 2:  Rank your highest performing/most valuable employee to the lowest, and then rate them all using the categories: A Player, A Potential, B Player with/without A Potential, C Player, C Player with/without A Potential.  The only 2 “good” categories are A Player and A Potential.  All the others are people who do not meet your expectations.  They are not high performers, not A Players, not people you’d enthusiastically rehire, and not showing the potential to become an A Player in any job.  So, draw a line under the lowest ranked person WITH A Potential.

Here’s a brief example:


Joe YES 1 A Player YES
Pat YES 2 A Potential YES
Sue YES 3 B Player NO
Jim NO 4 A Player NO
Chris NO 5 C Player NO

If your goal is to have an A Team, you’d draw the line under Joe and Pat, and then you have several choices:

  • “live with” them
  • “Replace” them
  • Fire but not replace them
  • Develop them

As for Sue, Jim, and Chris, you might want to let them go – maybe replace them, maybe not. But like so many managers we’ve worked with, if your success hiring A Players is only 1 in 4, the odds of replacing someone with an A Player are not very good.  That is the big spoiler of New Years’ Resolutions to improve talent in your team.


The “bad news”: almost all managers are successful hiring high performers only 25% of the time. If your hiring success is only 25%, 2018 doesn’t look like a talent improvement unless replace or fire your Cs.

The “good news”:  Blog #3 (the next one) will show you how to hire 75%+ high performers, to help replace not only your C players, but also any Bs that lack potential.

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