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Topgrading (revised PHP edition): How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People [Hardcover]

Bradford D. Smart Ph.D.
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 12 2005

Great companies don’t just depend on strategies—they depend on people. The more great people on your team, the more successful your organization will be. But that’s easier said than done. Statistically, half of all employment decisions result in a mishire: The wrong person winds up in the wrong job. But companies that have followed Bradford Smart’s advice in Topgrading have boosted their successful hiring rate to 90 percent or better, giving them an unbeatable competitive advantage.

Now Smart has fully revised his 1999 management classic to reintroduce the topgrading concept, which works for companies large and small in any industry. The author spells out his practical approach to finding and managing A-level talent—as well as coaching B players to turn them into A players. He provides intriguing case studies drawn from more than four thousand in-depth interviews.

As Smart writes in his introduction, “All organizations, all businesses live or die mostly on their talent, and any manager who fails to topgrade is nuts, or a C player. . . . Those who, way deep down, would sooner see an organization die than nudge an incompetent person out of a job should not read this book... Topgrading is for A players and all those aspiring to be A players.”

On the web: http://www.topgrading.com/

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Topgrading (revised PHP edition): How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People + Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm
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From Amazon

The key to building a superior company, an increasing number of observers now agree, is the ongoing ability to recruit and retain superior personnel. In Topgrading, industrial psychologist and global consultant Bradford Smart expands upon this idea by examining in great detail exactly how today's premier organizations have assembled such top-level employees, and then showing precisely how others can do it, too. "Simply put, topgrading is the practice of packing the team with A players and clearing out the C players," Smart writes. "'A players' is defined as the top 10 percent of talent available at all salary levels--best of class. With this radical definition, you are not a topgrader until your team consists of all A players. Period." Essentially a best-practices manual for developing this outstanding personnel pool, the book is based on more than 4,000 interviews and case studies conducted by Smart at major corporations like General Electric as well as fast-growing high-tech companies and small family-owned firms. He further bolsters its effectiveness by including his extensive "Chronological In-Depth Structured Interview Guide," along with other assessment tools and hands-on strategies for assembling an ideal work team. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Great companies are made, not born. The secret is hiring the right people -- the "A" players. This is, of course, easier said than done. Statistically, half of all employment situations result in mis-hire: the wrong person for the wrong job. And with the cost of a mis-hire at twenty-four times salary, the financial drain can be staggering. Compare that with Brad Smart's 90% success rate and you'll understand why topgraded organizations such as General Electric and AlliedSignal consistently beat the competition.

In this unparalleled work, Dr. Smart introduces the Topgrading concept -- how and why it works. Managers at every level and at companies large and small will learn how to implement his proven fool-proof method. The author spells out his practical hands-on approach and provides intriguing case studies culled from his file of more than 4,000 in-depth interviews.

Further, Topgrading's expert coaching techniques turn "B" players into "A" players.

The lesson is simple: managers who topgrade become leaders -- "A" players -- achieving success not only for their companies but for themselves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Filter what you read, January 7, 2007

I finished re-reading a book this morning called "Topgrading - how Leading Companies Win by hiring, Coaching and keeping the Best People" by Bradford Smart. The thesis of the book is great companies always look to upgrade their people and that a top 10%er can way out perform someone less.

One challenge I have with the book is it is never black and white. Most people have some good and some challenge areas. I also suggest that we can never truly grade people due to the complexity. This is the problem with most incentive systems. By nature they are short term and therefore wrong. The only true performance should be measured over a decade or decades. A quarter or a month is a ridiculously short time to try to measure performance on.

I also think it is crazy to think companies can figure out in advance who will truly be their top performers. I do agree that past performace can be an indicator but companies vary tremendously so it has to be a mix of the person with the company and environment.

One area that I need to up my game in is coaching. I can likely get good returns by investing more here. At the same time as I write this, I have concerns that coaching can be arrogant. I have seen many leaders not add value by meddling in other peoples' areas. Just because someone is a leader does not mean they know how someone else should do their job.

My belief is the success of people is largely determined by the company. Great companies set themselves up to maximize talent and build themselves to take advantage of each individuals' unique gifts.

And of course while reading it, I cannot help but think how I can make myself into one of the top 10 percenters. I have now added this to my goal list and will be charting a plan.

Overall it is a good thought provoking book even though I disagree with some of the theories he expounds.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on this Topic in 21 Years Oct. 21 2003
I have been a professional recruiter for over 21 years. Topgrading is the best book that I have read on the topic of selecting impact performers. This book is a valuable read for both hiring managers and candidates. The appendix is worth the price of the book by itself.
I have recommended this book to my clients on my recruiting contracts because many have never been taught how to conduct a structured interview. Consequently, they tend to ask one set of questions to one candidate and another set of questions to another candidate for the same job. How will they be able to compare the two candidates? Brad Smart gives them a nice track to run on.
My only major difficulty with the book is the amount of time between the initial interview and the final interview a month later. In my experience as a professional recruiter, that is too long between interviews. In recruitment, time is your enemy. There are too many companies who are searching for A Players. You could lose an A Player easily within a month to another, more efficient company. As our economy moves from the Baby Boomers as the primary workforce to the Gen X'ers, we are about to experience a shortage of workers. If you wait too long to extend an offer, the Recruiterguy will get them!
On the other hand, Brad's reference checking information is so valuable that I have been teaching my clients to use it. I agree with him that it is important for the hiring manager to conduct the reference checks. It's simple psychology. If I call the manager of a candidate and identify myself as a recruiter, the former manager will give me some information about the candidate. However, their perception is that I am not their peer (unless they know me from a previous relationship).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Billy Strayhorn was right: "Take the A Train" June 4 2003
Smart formulated what he calls the Chronological In-Depth Structured (CIDS) interview approach. After studying 4,000 managers in relation to (on average) ten different jobs per manager, he arrived at a number of conclusions. They serve as the core material of this book in which he explains how both companies and individuals can gain and then hold a competitive advantage which Peter Drucker identifies as follows: "The ability to make good decisions regarding people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage, since very few organizations are very good at it." As Smart carefully explains, topgrading is the practice of packing any team with A players and clearing out the C players. "A player [italics] is defined as the top 10 percent of talent available at all salary levels -- best of class. With this radical definition, you are not a topgrader until your team consists of all A players [last three words in italics]. Period." Those who read this book and then apply the principles, strategies, and tactics which Smart recommends will be well-prepared to (a) hire only A players or those almost certain to become one and (b) those who are or wish to become A players and need expert guidance to achieve that objective.
For me, the most stunning revelations in the book are found on page 50, in Figure 3.2, "Cost of Miss-Hire Study Results." According to the results of Smart's research study of more than 50 corporations, the sum of costs of a mis-hire (on average) are as follows:
Base salary Less than $100,000: 14 times salary
Base Salary $100,000-250,000: 28 times salary
All Salaries: 24 times salary
Now go back and re-read those statistics while keeping in mind that, for various reasons which Smart briefly explains, "the numbers are probably conservative.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Just another magic bullet solution to sell books and consulting...
We've been using Topgrading for about 18 months now. While there are some useful ideas in the book, it's claims of its ability to provide you with a fool-proof way to identify "A... Read more
Published on March 5 2007 by A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Manage an Organization as Nature Would ...
... with the neither malice nor pity. That's the gist of this excellent book, and it's not offensive to the concept of human dignity. To the contrary, Dr. Read more
Published on June 15 2004 by H.C. Joiner
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interested, until...
After reading the reviews of this book, I wanted it...but there's one hesitation.
One company the marketers of the book hold up as an example of why the author's work is... Read more
Published on March 13 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The #1 source for world-class hiring and coaching processes
As an HR consultant and executive coach, Topgrading is my bible. It's taught me skills that have really worked to help clients hire nothing but A players and coach their B players... Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2003 by Consultant and Coach
5.0 out of 5 stars The #1 source for world-class hiring and coaching processes
As an HR consultant and executive coach, Topgrading is my bible. It's taught me skills that have really worked to help clients hire nothing but A players and to coach their Bs to... Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2003 by Consultant and Coach
2.0 out of 5 stars Ruthless and scary
Great for tips and forms that help you interview more effectively, if you can find candidates who don't mind spending a few hours in a single interview. Read more
Published on July 18 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting approach
Smart comes off like a pretty hard nosed SOB in the first half of this book. He doesn't seem to talk much about how to correct problems other than firing people. Read more
Published on May 23 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Topgrading Works!
Dr. Smart has provided the definitive guide on how to acquire and retain elite talent. His approach is not only logical and well researched, but also highly practical. Dr. Read more
Published on March 4 2002 by Roman
5.0 out of 5 stars Topgrading is a terrific mechanism
While focussing attention on our people is not a new concept for us, Dr. Smart's Topgrading principles have provided a terrific mechanism to deliberately develop our organization's... Read more
Published on March 4 2002 by M. Cass Wheeler
5.0 out of 5 stars Its Elegance is in its Simplicity
I don't think Dr. Smart has written a book whose attraction lies in it being so cutting edge, ahead of the curve, prototypical, etc. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2002 by Jay Avelino
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