91% A-Players: What’s Your Number?

“Leadership is having a compelling vision, a comprehensive plan, relentless implementation, and talented people working together.” Alan Mulally, former CEO, Ford Motor Company

Imagine reviewing all the key people in your company and saying, without hesitation, that 91% of them are A-Players. By that, I mean those who fit the culture of the company very well and almost always deliver as expected – and often more or better than expected.

Knowing that a typical company has between 25% and 30% who meet the A-Player standard, 91% would be an incredible accomplishment – and one that doesn’t come easily. That takes a different commitment.

In one of our first client planning sessions of 2019, I sat in a room with a team I’ve worked with for many years, to review their talent. Again and again, each one was an ‘A’ and the total came to 91%. Before this, the highest I’d ever seen was 73%, so this was the best, yet. This is an absolutely incredible accomplishment that has hours and hours and hours of hard work and tough conversation to make it happen.

Now you may think that they mark people too easily or that these talented people must be very expensive. The reality is that an A-Player doesn’t have to be more than you are willing to pay – it just means they are exceptional versus good.

It was also interesting, as we reviewed other company numbers, to see that they hit revenue goals and they were close to being 10% short-staffed. So how can you be 10% short-staffed and still hit your revenue and profit goals? Only with very, very talented people.

How did they do this?

  1. A few years ago, they set a goal to get a higher percentage of A-Players
  2. Key people attended a Topgrading workshop to learn the skills to keep the right people and to only hire top people
  3. They became disciplined at letting people know when they weren’t the meeting or exceeding the expectations of the company
  4. When people didn’t fit or couldn’t perform at a high level, they gave tough feedback and made tough decisions to ensure the team got stronger.

Now the company will catch up with hiring and, as we look forward to the next few years, we can only imagine what the company can achieve, with higher productivity and talented high-performers who fit well into a great working environment.

We all make a strong correlation between talent and performance, but most companies don’t make the commitment to only allow A Player talent to be in their most important roles and talk themselves into expecting mediocrity for all kinds of crazy reasons.

The Challenge

  • What percentage of the people on your team are truly exceptional?
  • What would have to happen to get that number closer to 70 or 80% – never mind 91%?

PS – If you want to learn more about how to make this happen in your company, reach out to find out about our next Topgrading™ workshop (October 29 and 30 in Vancouver); and one-on-one private sessions, as you screen candidates for important roles.