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The No-Nonsense Way to Hire "A-Players": The Scorecard

This article is the second installment in our High-Impact Team Series. If you would like to read all installments of the series, click here.

Your ability to accomplish exceptional, game-changing goals hinges on having the right people by your side: The "A-Players."

What makes an A-Player? They:

  • Are inspired by the future that inspires you.

  • Get excited by the challenges you put before them.

  • Have just the right on-the-job behaviors to deliver results.

  • Share your values.

If you have ever fallen short of a goal and asked yourself, “What am I doing wrong?,” consider that you may have the wrong people working to accomplish what you need. In Who: The A Method for Hiring (it’s a quick read — only 170 pages), the cost of a poor hire is estimated at 15 times their salary! The dollar impact alone is a good reason to learn how you can get the right people on board, and how you can use the same approach to evaluate your team.

Armed with copious research and thousands of interviews, the writers of Who structured an orderly process for hiring team members intentionally and skillfully. It facilitates a targeted, consistent, and streamlined interview process using a scorecard that defines each role based on its contribution to your mission; sets expectations for key outcomes and requirements for success; and promotes alignment with your culture and values. The importance of such a process cannot be overstated. As Peter Bregman says in Execution Is a People Problem, Not a Strategy Problem:

“To deliver stellar results, people need to be hyper-aligned and laser-focused on the highest-impact actions that will drive the organization’s

most important outcomes.”

For today, let’s start with the scorecard: Pull up The Team Success Navigator tool now to follow along so you can create your own.

To hyper-align your team, share a unifying purpose

From Gallup: "A deeply felt sense of purpose in life leads to excellence. Human beings want to belong to something of significance and meaning. They want to know they are making a difference, contributing to an important endeavor.”

Why do you do what you do? Why is it so important? Where do you see your firm in the future? How will you get there? The answers to these questions must rev up your engine — and they’ve got to rev up your people, too! Start with an inspiring mission, then break it down into distinct missions for each role. This stuff isn’t pablum; get it down pat if you want your entire team marching to the same drummer.

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”

– Steve Jobs

Get laser-focused on outcomes and essential competencies

Dump the job description with the endless list of tasks — rather, what outcomes will the person need to achieve to fulfill the mission of the role? Be ambitious! Ambitious outcomes will challenge and engage A-Players and intimidate B- and C-Players. It's instant self-selection.

To achieve the role’s outcomes, does the candidate need to be resourceful or strategic? Assertive or results-oriented? The nuance is intentional. You’ll grade your candidate throughout the process on the competencies they bring to the table. Get specific about what you need, or you’re unlikely to get it.

Make your culture and values known

Have you ever felt that nagging disconnect with someone? It's so hard to put your finger on…you just don’t see eye-to-eye, no matter what you try. If you have experienced that feeling, then your values and the other person's values were likely misaligned.

You want a team member that fits and, believe me, your candidate wants a culture in which she can thrive, as well. If what you need is someone who believes in collaboration, excellence, and stewardship, say so! Find the words that describe your culture — your non-negotiable, fundamental, driving forces for how you operate — and grade your candidates on each one.

With regard to your existing team...

If you already have people you like and value, prepare a "Navigator" for every role and see how your current team fits in. If someone quakes at the ambitious outcomes you set out, you may find they’re in the wrong role, or at the wrong firm. Or, happily, you may find that you have the right people. As a team tool, the Navigator clarifies the specific outcomes that each team member is striving toward and includes a simple performance grading system.

Yusuf Abugideiri, CFP® at Yeske Buie, a bi-coastal RIA, tells me they’ve adopted some of these principles to improve their recruiting and hiring: “Doing so has enabled us to take an evidence-based approach to growing our team and has yielded immediate and significant benefits: We’ve added three members to the team since receiving your recommendation, and they have each been incredible additions."


This is the second installment in Developing a High-Impact Team. The first installment and links to the rest of the series are here.

What hiring challenges have you encountered? Are there other aspects about building an A team you’d like to see covered?

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