A-Players Are Not the People You Like the Most

Every company needs to find the right people and put them in the right seats if they want to be successful. And while it might sound easy, figuring out who your good people are and who your best people are is critical to success. A great employee can often be two to three times more productive than just a good employee, yet the difference can be subtle.

star-employeeHere are eight factors that I use with my clients when doing talent reviews to see who we should be going to all lengths to keep and who we might be okay accepting a resignation letter from. A company who has the vast majority of their key roles filled with people who score very well on these parameters will be a force to reckon with in their industry.

1. They Understand the Role and Expectations

Your top people know what’s expected of them in their role and what’s outside their scope. Someone who is given a clear description but still has to ask questions or be reminded of work they need to accomplish is not in the right position. Similarly, someone who repeatedly extends themselves beyond their role can create problems and is unlikely getting more important work done.

2. They Demonstrate the Ability to Perform

The best people can perform their role functions with a high level of skill. While they may have room for improvement in a few areas, they are highly capable and have mastered the majority of their tasks. If someone is struggling for an extended period of time on a core part of the job function, they are probably not a good fit for that role.

3. They Are Hungry to Learn and Continuously Improve

Top performers are always looking to improve and get better. They have a growth mindset and are continuously setting new targets and striving for higher levels of achievement. Once they have mastered their current job functions, they will naturally start working on the next higher role and training themselves.

4. They Cooperate Well with Others

While different roles require different levels of collaboration, all top performers can cooperate with others in a win-win outcome whenever needed. They don’t keep score and don’t hold out for a quid pro quo deal. They know that in the great game of business karma is more powerful than an IOU.

5. They Focus on System–Not Local–Optimization

Great performers know when they need to rise above their local situation and do something for the good of the team rather than what’s just easiest for them. They seek to understand the bigger picture and they work to find improvements to the larger system, even if is means their job gets a little harder.

6. They Are Easy to Manage and Coach

The best people know that feedback is critical to getting better. They welcome observations on their performance and suggestions for how they can improve. And they don’t just ‘yes’ you, they ask clarifying questions and want details.

7. They Have Passion and Desire for the Role

Beyond the ability to execute well, your best employees will bring a high level of energy, excitement, and drive to the role. They celebrate wins and dig deep when there’s a problem. And not everyone needs to be an extrovert. Passion can be subtle and private, but you’ll find it if you look for it.

8. They Live the Company’s Core Values

Last, but not least, you best people will be aligned with your company and your team’s core values. They will naturally embody the way your organization works and chooses to make decisions. Someone who likes to be a lone wolf in a company that values teamwork will never be a top performer, regardless of how we’ll they execute on their role.

Finding and keeping the best talent is not easy. While attracting and recruiting are key to creating a good pipeline, if you aren’t continuously reviewing and top grading your current team, you are either watering down your talent concentration or you won’t have any where to put great people when you find them.

Bruce Eckfeldt

Bruce Eckfeldt

Bruce Eckfeldt is an entrepreneur, a former Inc 500 CEO, and member of the New York City Chapter of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. He is an expert in organizational performance and coaches startups and high-growth companies on leadership and management.

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