Topgrading’s MOST Important Competency

Suppose we were sitting together on a plane and you asked, “Brad, I understand the basics of Topgrading, but what is the one thing that I could do to get the most out of Topgrading methods to turbo-boost my hiring success?”

Hmmm.  I’d say, “Of 50 competencies Topgraders track on candidates for managerial jobs, Resourcefulness is THE most important, so here’s my advice:  Look for evidence of Resourcefulness 100% of the time as you evaluate candidates.”

Topgrading systematically scrutinizes dozens of competencies because if someone is Only Fair, Poor, or Very Poor in any one of them, that candidate will not qualify as an A Player.  “But,” you say, “50 competencies? That’s a lot of competencies to keep in mind!”

So first I’ll try to convince you that you CAN track dozens of competencies and accurately rate them, and then I’ll explain why we believe that Resourcefulness is BY FAR the most important competency, and what you can do to NAIL that competency.

You can track and rate 50 competencies!  In the opening moments of Topgrading Workshops we ask, “How many of you believe you can objectively, fairly, and accurately rate a managerial candidate on 50 competencies, so that a year later you’ll find out your ratings were accurate?”  Not one hand goes up.  “I have trouble keeping five competencies in mind during an interview” is typical.  But take heart: Day 2 is devoted to conducting the tandem Topgrading Interview, and when they are done, all the interviewers are sure they can track all 50 competencies, because they just did it!  By chronologically reviewing every KEY success, failure, relationship, and decision, you get 1,000 data points and the PATTERNS that emerge across a person’s career give you deep insights into all 50 competencies.

There is one über Competency, and that is Resourcefulness. A Players are very strong in resourcefulness.  It’s so powerful that if a candidate has “it,” then almost certainly that candidate is very strong on many other competencies.

What is Resourcefulness? It’s a combination of drive, passion, analytic ability, decision making, perseverance, resilience, integrity, tenacity, and energy that, when applied, snatches success out of the jaws of defeat.  Resourcefulness is figuring out how to get over, around, or through barriers to success, and then doing it.

Resourcefulness is the opposite of coasting along, giving up, running to bosses to solve problems, whining, making excuses, and then giving up some more.

Why are A Players so Resourceful? 
 In the last 6,000, five-hour interviews I’ve had with managers the vast majority of them came from the other side of the tracks.  Spoiled or entitled kids usually turn out later to become B and C Players, because they never were motivated to become Resourceful.  Kids from the other side of the tracks became Resourceful because they had to, to survive.  They became “street wise” to not get kicked around and, more positively, to eke out successes that made them happy.  They didn’t expect mommy and daddy to wipe their nose, fight their battles, do their science projects, or, later in their teens, implore the cops, “Hey, give my kid a chance; kids will be kids, right?”

At some point — maybe in high school, maybe when they turn 40 — most A Players figure out that although life is tough and unfair, if they work hard and develop good people skills, and if they become Resourceful, they can soar. They can realize their dreams.

Just having that epiphany, however, is not sufficient.  That’s just the awareness.  That doesn’t make them automatically an A Player.  The key to every A Player’s success is Resourcefulness, which is not just understanding how to figure things out but doing it — surmounting obstacles to success, in their career, and for many, in their relationships, their finances, their fitness, you name it.  A Players are self-correcting success machines.  Yeah, they fail at a lot of things; everyone does.  But with Resourcefulness they learn from their mistakes, grit their teeth, and they learn how to bounce back.

How to Spot Resourcefulness in Topgrading. 

Every moment in every aspect of how you evaluate a candidate, keep your antennae attuned to indications of Resourcefulness … or lack of it.  For example:

  • When you review the candidate’s Topgrading Snapshot, look to see that in recent years boss ratings have been consistently Excellent or Very Good, there has been job stability, and there has been increasing compensation.
  • As you conduct the Telephone Screening Interview, A Player candidates say they want a job with challenge and the opportunity to grow, whereas C Players just want a job for the compensation.
  • In the Topgrading Interview, A Player candidates show they were repeatedly Resourceful in achieving things.  They exude passion, they don’t just give up, they figure things out on their own, they are flexible, they tried things, whereas C Players have “successes” mainly achieved by others and maybe they were part of the team.  C Players tend not to admit mistakes or if they do, they show a pattern of not learning from mistakes; they tend to blame the down economy, bosses, lack of resources, and unfairness, but what’s clear is their mediocre results.
  • In the Reference Check Interviews, when you’re talking to bosses, constantly look for signs that the candidate was independent, anticipated problems, prevented problems, quickly fixed problems, had that energy and drive, that Resourcefulness… or whether the boss had to do a lot of the “figuring out” and too much time was devoted to fixing problems the candidate caused.

There’s another way of looking at how to spot Resourcefulness.  Pretend that you have magic glasses that register through the lens whether the candidate is, at this moment, revealing Resourcefulness by flashing green … or  flash red for lack of Resourcefulness.  I’m making the point that Resourcefulness is not a competency you first think of after the interview while you’re reviewing your notes.  You must constantly ask yourself, “Does that example, what I’m seeing, what I’m feeling, what I’m hearing, whether it’s in a Telephone Screening Interview, Competency Interview, or tandem Topgrading Interview show Resourcefulness, or lack of it?”  And during the reference call interviews you are constantly looking for evidence of, or lack of, Resourcefulness.

So if you had those magic glasses they would be constantly flashing from bright green to dull green to bright red to dull red, etc.  But the point is, never stop thinking about evaluating the candidate through the lenses of Resourcefulness.

One of my favorite quotes is by Emerson:

Use what words you will, you can never say anything but what you are.

Conclusion: What this means is that in Topgrading, you’ll be smart to look at every word, every gesture, every fact through the lens of one question:  What does this tell me about this candidate, about how Resourceful this person has been in the past, is today, and will be tomorrow?

Published April 1, 2014

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