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Hiring? Promoting? How to Pick an A Player

(Editor’s Note: Last week at #TChat Events, the TalentCulture community explored best practices in candidate screening with Chris Mursau, Vice President at Topgrading, and Jean Lynn, VP of HR at Home Instead Senior Care. Afterward, some of our participants expressed interest in learning more about how the Topgrading method works. In response, Chris shared this post.)

Do you have difficulty determining if a job candidate (or existing employee) is an A, B, or C Player? If so, you’re not alone — only companies with highly sophisticated HR methods have perfected that process. However, this article helps by providing an explanation of how Topgrading experts evaluate current and prospective employees. These distinctions offer a measurable way to assess talent and build a winning team.

In many companies, “A Player” refers to someone highly promotable. Topgrading definitions of A, B, and C are different. “A, B, and C” grades refer to current ability, not promotability. However, Topgrading takes a deeper look within the A Player category to assess promotability. Here’s how:

A Player: The top 10% of talent available for a position. In other words, an A Player is among the best in class. “Available” means willing to accept a job offer:

At the given compensation level
With bonus and/or stock that corresponding to the position
In that specific company, with a particular organization culture (e.g. Family friendly? Highly political? Fast paced? Topgraded and growing?)
In that particular industry
In that location
With specific accountability levels and resources, and
Reports to a specific person (e.g. Positive A Player or negative C Player?)

In other words, if you’re a terrific leader, many more candidates will be “available” to you than a lousy leader.

A Player Potential: Someone who is predicted to achieve A Player status, usually within 6-12 months.

B Player: The next 25% of available talent below the A Player top 10%, given the same A Player criteria listed above. These employees are “okay” or “adequate,” but they’re marginal performers who lack the potential to be high performers and are not as good as others available for the same pay. B Players are unable, despite training and coaching, to rise to A Player status. If they can qualify for a job as an A Player, they should be considered for it.

C Player: The next 35%, below the A Player 10% and B Player 25%, of talent available for a job. C Players are chronic underperformers.

The only acceptable categories are A Player and A Potential. We further categorize A Players by promotability:

A1: Someone who is promotable two levels
A2: Someone who is promotable one level
A3: Someone who is a high performer, but not promotable

Example: The not-promotable store stocker, sales rep, or first-level supervisor who is an A3, is a high performer, an A Player — but just not promotable. These employees are high performers because they achieve their A-Player accountabilities, plus they’re terrific with customers, they’re totally reliable, they achieve excellent results, they’re highly motivated, super honest, and very resourceful at finding ways to be more effective in driving the company mission.

It’s important to value all of your A Players, including the many who are the heart and soul of your company — including the A3s who are terrific, but are just not promotable.

How Do A, B and C Players Differ On Key Competencies?
The following chart is a bit simplistic, because not all A Players are this great on all competencies, and not all C Players are this bad on all competencies. Also note: for management jobs, Topgraders look at 50 competencies — this chart features only 8. However, it provides some insight into the methodology:

Topgrading_Competencies Example

The Best Way to Identify As, Bs and Cs:
If you know the story of Topgrading, you know that this methodology has long been considered one the “secret weapons” Jack Welch used to improve General Electric’s success at picking A Players. In fact, the company’s success rate improved from 25% to well over 90%, using Topgrading to assess candidates for both hire and for promotion.

The methods are similar. Two trained interviewers conduct a tandem Topgrading Interview — and if there are internal candidates for promotion, rather than talking with outside references, the interviewers talk with bosses, peers and subordinates in the company.

It’s important to look for patterns of success. Bottom line, the “magic” of Topgrading comes from understanding how successful a person was in job 1, job 2, job 3, and so on, with the greatest weight given to the most recent jobs.

Summary: Extensive research shows that 75% of people hired or promoted turn out NOT to be A Players or A Potentials. Yet, Topgrading methods regularly achieve 80%+ success. For more real-world understanding of how this approach is applied, see case studies that demonstrate how companies improved from 26% to 85% on average, in hiring and promoting A Players.

Have you used Topgrading or other methods of assessing employee potential? What did you discover in your experience? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments area.

Mursau Bio Photo(About the AuthorChris Mursau is Vice President of Topgrading, Inc. He has been practicing, teaching and consulting with companies and individual managers on how to pack their teams with A Players since 2001. He has conducted over 2,500 in-depth assessments for internal and external candidates, helped hundreds of people achiever their A potential, and trained thousands of people in all things Topgrading.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter and G+ conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Work: Employees Rewrite The Script #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you seeking highlights and resource links from this week’s #TChat Events? See the #TChat Recap: “New Rules of Employee Engagement.”)

Have you heard the news?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave far removed from the HR grid, you know that employee engagement is alarmingly low — only 30% in the U.S. and 13% globally, according to 2013 reports.

Many workplace experts have examined these engagement trends, considered the causes and suggested solutions. But there’s more to the story than that.

The definition of work is being turned on its head. People are bringing a whole new set of expectations to their jobs today.

This shift is real. It’s a force that even the most successful employers can no longer afford to ignore. And according to Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal of Bersin by Deloitte, this reality is supported by hard data from companies around the globe. As he said when he declared 2014 The Year of the Employee:

“The war for talent is over, and the talent won.”

So, what is really driving today’s workplace transformation? And what are its implications for talent strategies in high-performance organizations? That’s the topic the TalentCulture community is tackling this week at #TChat Events, as Josh Bersin shares new insights from rigorous research his team just completed.

Sneak Peek — The Year of the Employee

To frame this week’s discussion, I briefly spoke with Josh in a G+ hangout, where we talked about the fundamentals that are driving workplace change:

Related reading:
China Gorman: A Cutting-Edge Strategy: Developing Business Leaders as Talent Leaders
Aberdeen Group: HCM Trends 2014: Developing a Critical Eye for Talent
HR Marketer: What Will Happen in HR in 2014 — Perusing the Predictions

This topic is vital for talent-minded professionals everywhere, so we hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas!

#TChat Events: Are Employees Finally In The Driver’s Seat?

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, Feb 26 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Josh Bersin about the key talent and HR technology trends that are shaping 2014 and beyond. Tune-in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Feb 26 7pmET / 4pmPT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and our guests will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community.

Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: How are high-performing companies improving the way they recruit and hire?
Q2: How do talent analytics help employers understand workforce performance?
Q3: What are the key engagement initiatives for employers today?
Q4: As competition heats up for top talent, how are employees leveraging their influence?
Q5: What issues do employees face today that are shaping the future of work?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

What Drives Social Influence? Insights From Recruiting Circles

Written by Carter J. Hostelley, CEO, Leadtail

Marketers change jobs a lot. So every few months I hear from someone who’s job hunting again. Typically, we get together to grab coffee and chat about their situation. And at some point, they ask, “Hey, are there any recruiters you’d recommend I talk to?”

Now, imagine you’re an executive recruiter sitting nearby and listening in. Wouldn’t you like to pull up a chair and join our conversation? Sure you would. And maybe you’d also wonder how to influence me, so that I recommended you.

Social Listening Isn’t Enough

These days, you don’t need to hang out at coffee shops to listen in. You can just tap into your favorite social media news feed to discover what’s being discussed and shared at any moment. But pretty quickly you’ll get overwhelmed. Why? Because you don’t know which conversations to join, whom to engage, and how to influence them.

Without context, social listening isn’t helpful. To make social media more relevant and actionable, you need to tune-out ambient noise. In other words, you need to move from social listening to social insights.

Case In Point: How Do Recruiters Engage on Twitter?

Let’s say you’re an executive recruiter who wants to know what other recruiters are up to on social media. Or maybe you work for a company that sells to recruiters. In either case, you’re looking for social insights about recruiting professionals.

That’s exactly what ERE.net asked my company to do recently. So we developed a report: How Recruiters Engage on Twitter. It summarizes how 557 North American recruiters participated, engaged, and were influenced on Twitter, from June-August 2013. During that time, our sample of  recruiters generated 173,903 tweets, 106,343 shared links, and had a total of 1,533,429 followers.

Why look at Twitter activity? Because it’s a good proxy for social media behavior overall, and offers an advantage over other data sources (such as surveys, polls and focus groups), because it reveals what people actually do, versus what they say they do.

Leadtail Chart Social Influence (2)For example, here’s a visual representation of the people who are most retweeted by recruiters we analyzed:

This report also provides other useful social insights, including: most popular hashtags, most shared content sources, and the top 25 industry publications shared by these recruiters.

Best Practices of Top Influencers

Exclusively for this post, we dove even deeper into Twitter activity among the five people who influence recruiters most. They are:

@MeghanMBiro — Meghan Biro, Founder & CEO, TalentCulture
@blogging4jobs — Jessica Merrell, Editor of Blogging4Jobs
@jimstroud — Jim Stroud, Director of Sourcing and Social Strategy, Bernard Hodes Group
@YouTernMark — Mark Babbitt, Founder & CEO, YouTern
@GlenCathey — Glen Cathey, SVP Talent Strategy and Innovation, Kforce

What did we discover by examining the behavior of this elite group?

•  Influencers tweet a LOT. 4 out of 5 of these top influencers tweet 15+ times a day. (Meghan blows them all away, with an average 107 tweets/day!)

•  Influencers develop a “brand” of their own. Each top influencer has a style and focus that’s unique. For instance, @JimStroud focuses on social recruiting and job search strategy, while @GlenCathey’s approach is decidedly more tech-and-data driven.

•  Influencers don’t lean on retweets. All 5 of the top influencers go light on the RT, keeping them to less than 15% of overall tweet volume. Instead, they share lots of links and often mention other folks.

•  Influencers embrace the community. 3 out of 5 of these influencers will most likely follow you back (they follow 70%+ of those who follow them), and 4 out of 5 include an “@” mention in most of their tweets.

•  Influencers tweet with a goal in mind. Whether it’s to get the word out about their next event, to sell their services, or to grow their audience, these folks tweet links that drive traffic to their other online channels (websites, other social media sites, etc.) 10%-50% of the time.

While these “best practices” come from observing the Twitter activity of only 5 key influencers, they also provide insights into how you may want to consider approaching Twitter and social media to boost your influence.

Tips To Increase Your Social Influence

How can you move from social listening to social insights (and perhaps have an impact on the right people)? Here are 5 tips:

•  Listen to your target audience. Who cares what anyone and everyone is saying? Instead, listen to what’s on the minds of customers, prospects, and key influencers.
•  Be where the right conversations are happening. So many social networks, so little time! Invest your efforts in the social platforms where your target audience is active.
•  Talk about relevant topics. What issues, news, and events have captured the attention of the folks you’re looking to engage? Shouldn’t you be talking about that, too?
•  Discover who’s doing the influencing. Which publications and people do your buyers read, share and interact with? Pay attention to who is popular and influential, and how they engage.
•  Work the aisles. Just being present in social media is not enough. You must cultivate relationships with a community that you develop over time. Eventually, you’ll be in a position to influence those who matter most to you.

Now, imagine we’re back in that coffee shop, where you’re listening to my conversation with my marketing colleague. Let’s say you decide to introduce yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if I said, “Thanks for coming over, I actually follow you on Twitter! I love your comments and the content you share.”? That means you’ve done a great job of influencing me, before our conversation even begins!

Now It’s Your Turn

How are you generating social insights today? What strategies have you found successful in becoming more influential on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments area.

Carter Hostelley (2)(About the Author: Carter Hostelley is the Founder and CEO of Leadtail, a B2B social media and insights agency. He and his team have developed and implemented social media programs for leading business brands and technology startups including WageWorks, Alcatel-Lucent, Symantec, Adaptive Planning, NetBase, and PunchTab. They also publish periodic social insights reports on senior marketers, HR professionals, and recruiters. These reports have been covered by publications such as: Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, ERE, MarketingProfs, AllTwitter, and Social Times. Carter also has over 15 years experience working with venture-backed technology startups in numerous executive roles, and is a contributing author at CMSWire. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.)

(Editor’s Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome for events, or to join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

HR Data: What's The Big Deal? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full overview of this week’s events and resources? See “HR Data: What Really Counts? #TChat Recap.”)

(Also Note: Have you heard the news? Now there’s another reason to look forward to Wednesdays!  STARTING THIS WEEK #TChat Radio moves to Wednesday nights at 6:30pmET — just prior to our popular #TChat Twitter event at 7pmET. So tune-in live, and then join us on stream!)

Better Data = Smarter Choices

Past performance can be a good indicator of future performance, right? Well, when it comes to HR decisions, not necessarily — according to a recent New York Times profile of workforce science practices.

Advances in data collection and analysis are shattering preconceived notions about how to find and manage talent. Increasingly, HR practitioners are looking to data for answers to important business questions. The possibilities span a broad spectrum:

  • Talent Pool Viability
  • Skills + Competency Analysis
  • Hire Quality + Cultural Fit
  • Employee + Contingent Engagement
  • Hiring vs. Workforce Development
  • Workforce Growth Rates + Costs
  • Talent Retention + Turnover
  • Overall Business Impact

So how can you effectively apply data to HR practices? That’s a question we’ll discuss at #TChat forums with two HR data experts:

#TChat Sneak Peek Video

To kick-off this week’s conversation, Christene joined me for a quick G+ Hangout, where she helped clarify the meaning of “Big Data” and its relationship to HR management:

#TChat Events: The Big Deal with HR Data

What do you think about workforce data and its role in business management? Whether you’re an organizational leader, an HR practitioner, or a job-seeker who wonders how data analysis will influence your career, data is increasingly relevant to professional life. So bring your point of view, and join us to share your questions, ideas and opinions to the table this week!

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, June 26 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Christene and Andrew join our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, for a LIVE 30-minute discussion to examine this topic up-close.

#TChat Twitter — Wed, June 26 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

We welcome anyone with a Twitter handle to join our open, online community, as we exchange ideas live on the #TChat stream to explore this week’s questions:

Q1: Why is Big Data a bit of a misnomer when it comes to HR analytics?

Q2: What’s the difference between data, metrics and analytics?

Q3: What metrics and analytics should HR focus on, and why?

Q4: What can HR leaders do to make a business case for predictive analytics?

Q5: Why should we stop using spreadsheets to analyze talent management data?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

HR Data: What’s The Big Deal? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking for a full overview of this week’s events and resources? See “HR Data: What Really Counts? #TChat Recap.”)

(Also Note: Have you heard the news? Now there’s another reason to look forward to Wednesdays!  STARTING THIS WEEK #TChat Radio moves to Wednesday nights at 6:30pmET — just prior to our popular #TChat Twitter event at 7pmET. So tune-in live, and then join us on stream!)

Better Data = Smarter Choices

Past performance can be a good indicator of future performance, right? Well, when it comes to HR decisions, not necessarily — according to a recent New York Times profile of workforce science practices.

Advances in data collection and analysis are shattering preconceived notions about how to find and manage talent. Increasingly, HR practitioners are looking to data for answers to important business questions. The possibilities span a broad spectrum:

  • Talent Pool Viability
  • Skills + Competency Analysis
  • Hire Quality + Cultural Fit
  • Employee + Contingent Engagement
  • Hiring vs. Workforce Development
  • Workforce Growth Rates + Costs
  • Talent Retention + Turnover
  • Overall Business Impact

So how can you effectively apply data to HR practices? That’s a question we’ll discuss at #TChat forums with two HR data experts:

#TChat Sneak Peek Video

To kick-off this week’s conversation, Christene joined me for a quick G+ Hangout, where she helped clarify the meaning of “Big Data” and its relationship to HR management:

#TChat Events: The Big Deal with HR Data

What do you think about workforce data and its role in business management? Whether you’re an organizational leader, an HR practitioner, or a job-seeker who wonders how data analysis will influence your career, data is increasingly relevant to professional life. So bring your point of view, and join us to share your questions, ideas and opinions to the table this week!

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

#TChat Radio — Wed, June 26 at 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Christene and Andrew join our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, for a LIVE 30-minute discussion to examine this topic up-close.

#TChat Twitter — Wed, June 26 at 7pmET / 4pmPT

We welcome anyone with a Twitter handle to join our open, online community, as we exchange ideas live on the #TChat stream to explore this week’s questions:

Q1: Why is Big Data a bit of a misnomer when it comes to HR analytics?

Q2: What’s the difference between data, metrics and analytics?

Q3: What metrics and analytics should HR focus on, and why?

Q4: What can HR leaders do to make a business case for predictive analytics?

Q5: Why should we stop using spreadsheets to analyze talent management data?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!