Since 2008, through Topgrading, our A Players have increased Education, Inc.’s shareholder wealth significantly and made us competitive on a national stage. We now operate with fewer, better people who have changed the game in EI’s favor. Topgrading changed my business, and as a small business owner, by extension, Topgrading also changed the quality of my life.
- Kenneth Munies, CEO
The Company: Education, Inc.
No. of Employees: 130
Industry: For-Profit Non Traditional Education
- Using Topgrading, improvement from 12% to 75% A Player teachers hired.
- Using Topgrading, 87% of corporate staff hired turned out to be A Players.
- Using Topgrading, we save on average 15-20 hours of time each recruitment cycle by not screening low performers.
- A Player teachers drive each other to be As.
- Proof that company is more profitable with As than Bs.
- Teachers required to do professional development to become and remain A Players.
Company History: Education, Inc., provides teachers for children with physical or emotional disorders. Upwards of forty hospital systems outsource to Education, Inc., in 8 states; the company has 130 employees, including 20 at Corporate.
The teacher position is the heart of the company, and is a very difficult job to fill, because the teaching challenges are vast: 4 hours of teaching and 4 hours of necessary administrative work; “classrooms” are oftentimes multipurpose rooms, a shared space where other activities are run with the patients at the hospitals; in a typical class, 6 students are being taught their own school’s curriculum and the other 6 students are being taught a core subject at 3 different levels; some children might disrupt the class by throwing books or otherwise act out.
Topgrading Methods: Founder/owner Ken Munies read Topgrading in 2008, and he and Kathleen Egger (Chief Talent Officer) began training managers and teachers (for Topgrading interviews) in 2009.
To hire a teacher, ads are run, perhaps 50 resumes are received, and calls to all candidates explain the detailed job; 25 candidates might be asked to complete the Career History Form, 15 phone screen interviews are conducted by teachers (who are trained by HR), 5 teacher candidates are invited in for the tandem Topgrading Interview, 3 are invited back for a day in which 4 observers show them what a day is like for a teacher and in which the candidate does some teaching, and 1 is hired.
- Measurement. (done)
- Job Scorecards. (done – is the basis for performance management)
- Recruiting through Networks. (Not working well, perhaps because there are not many teachers and the A Player teachers simply don’t know others who could handle such a demanding teaching job.)
- Career History Form. (used – Topgrading Snapshot to be tried)
- Phone Screening Interview. (done)
- Competency Interviews. (done)
- Tandem Topgrading Interview. (done)
- Feedback to interviewers. (done regularly)
- Report draft. (not done, but executive summary and ratings on key competencies being considered)
- Candidate arranges reference calls.(done)
- Coaching. (done extensively with training maps in which new hire prepares lesson plans, composes IDP, is paired with another teacher for feedback)
- Annual Measurement. (annual teacher talent reviews done)
Topgrading Results: In the first year that Education, Inc. began with Topgrading, 25 teachers were hired, and 3 (12%) turned out to be A Players. After six year of using Topgrading, we ended 2015 with the following statistics. Throughout 2015, 68 teachers were hired, 52 (76%) turned out to be A Players/A Player potentials.
For Corporate staff: Prior to Topgrading in 2008, 9 out of 40 staff (23%) were considered a Player/A Potential. Finishing 2015, 16 out of 21 (76%) Corporate staff are A Players/A Player potentials.
With more A Players we have been able to talk with prospective customers — hospital systems – and it is easier to earn their contracts, because we can show we have A player teachers and manage them effectively.
Business Results since beginning Topgrading 7 years ago:
- Increase of 5% to annual profit margin
- Significant increase in shareholder wealth
Education, Inc., is growing; every day on average we tutor 1,000 students across 8 states. Our vision to be nationally recognized as a leader in hospital instruction is coming true. We are now providing hospital instruction at over 40 hospital locations. Topgrading has allowed us to hire an A Player teacher. With extraordinary people, we can now expect extraordinary results. Everyday our teachers change the lives of students around the nation.
Revenues are higher because we have been able to get more hospitals on board. Topgrading has opened doors to generate more revenue because more A Player teachers perform better and the results have enabled us to generate more billable hours of instruction.
—Kathleen Egger, Human Resources Director
EI has recognized that we are not just a company that teaches children in the hospital. We are a company that strives for constant improvement. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned as CEO is that constant improvement is only possible through people who are tough, smart and share the desire to not stop until the goal is reached. Topgrading has allowed EI to recruit, train and retain A Players who share our passion, and redeploy those who did not meet those high standards. Your process has redefined our expectations and we find that what we thought was the top one out of ten employees a few years ago, actually don’t meet our current standards for personnel in roles one or two compensation levels below that role.
—Kenneth Munies, CEO
Topgrading Keys to Our Success
- A Players wanting to work with other A Players. It made sense in the beginning, but we only had a handful of people we considered A Players. The more A Players we have gotten on the team, the more A Players only want to work with other As. If someone isn’t doing their part, others wonder why. A Players attract other A Players and they motivate non-As to either perform better or leave.
- We learned to prove A Players are superior to B Players. EI is a for-profit organization; we track teaching hours like billable hours in a law firm. We are able to prove that B Player teachers produce fewer teaching hours than A Players. The kids can choose to come to class or not. When you have A Player teachers who have a good curriculum, superior rapport with the hospital, and excellent rapport with the kids, the funding of our organization increases through higher billable hours. A Player teams hit their budgeted hours, and mixed teams don’t.
- We post a ranking of all teachers across the company to motivate people to be A Players or leave. The first ranking was in 2008, when we had only 3 A/A Potential teachers out of 25. Initially, it didn’t go over very well. It was a pretty aggressive move for us. Since then, we let teacher candidates know this is our policy. Teachers know that if they can’t hit the performance goals, they don’t belong in the organization. It has become a motivating factor – they want to get a really high score. We now include competencies on the scorecard that reflect our culture. Initially, people could deliver results, but not necessarily be aligned with our values and culture. We spent 2 years calibrating it and now the Teacher Job Scorecard includes all of what it takes to succeed – hard numeric accountabilities and minimum ratings on competencies.
- Teachers are required to work on professional development. Their individual development plans are reviewed weekly. It is written on a monthly basis and discussed weekly. Three items are identified with tangible action items weekly. Professional development of our players allows us to move forward with cross training initiatives to maximize efficiency on payroll expenses and increase the level of service to our clients.
Best advice to would-be Topgrader from Ken and Kathleen:
1. The Topgrading Snapshot is a wonderful tool. It clearly identifies if the Career History Form is of a person who is an A Player. It helps our staff new to Topgrading understand if they are looking at a quality person. We have made some modifications with the help of Topgrading professionals and now it feels like an EI document that produces a guaranteed result.
- All companies can benefit from Topgrading because it is all about finding people that meet the personal competencies for a position. To be successful first understand what competencies align with the organization’s values and expectations, then be committed to finding the top 1 out of 10 candidates for every position from the top down. Moreover, never stop Topgrading because A Players want to surround themselves with A Players.
- Topgrading has helped EI Management check excellent references. A good reference check can tell you what a candidate has actually been observed doing, rather than what they tell you they have done. We have asked the candidate to set up the reference check calls and we have seen how this simple task of asking has either moved this person to be A Player or redeployed them out of our interview process. A Players get it done and with good results, B and C Players simply can’t get the task done.
- Topgrading has created a Performance Management System for EI Sr. Managers to really hold onto for the long haul. The scorecard allows us to evaluate all teachers on a regular basis using the same criteria with the same accountabilities. It has set the bar for A Player teachers to live and work by each day. If you score a 92 on the EI Scorecard you are considered an A Player. We have high expectations, but teachers do reach it and they are very proud of their accomplishments.
- Topgrading is an amazing tool. It’s great for small companies who need utility players to do hiring, coaching, and evaluation. It offers a framework that all can be taught and results that can be expected.