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Topgrading (revised PHP edition): How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching and Keeping the Best People Hardcover – Apr 12 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; Revised edition (April 12 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591840813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591840817
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.5 x 5.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 839 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5 2007
Format: Hardcover
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 players" is greatly inflated. The methodology has made a nightmare out of our hiring process. And, because managerial effectiveness is measured by how well they "Topgrade," managers are reluctant to admit that a new hire was a mistake. Instead they tend to keep an employee that they would otherwise terminate before the end of the evaluation period. Topgrading is based on what appears to be a one size fits all premise. I believe that it is quite useful for hiring sales staff and for other positions requiring extraverted personalities, but is inadequate for techological postions. While the CIDS interview does provide you with a wealth of information, one must ask oneself if there is any pertinence in what a 40 year old, highly experienced and accomplished professional did in high school or college. Indeed, even early work experience has little relevancy for such a candidate. Yet Topgrading insists that it does. We have put several candidates through the long and arduous interviews, only to find that in the end, our compensation offer is not acceptable. So hours and a lot of expensive managerial efforts were wasted. We have also been told by candidates who were rated A players that they had no interest in working for a company that is so "over-the-top" on its hiring practices. I can understand this, since I would be very wary of any company that Topgrades were I subjected to it as a candidate. I would fear that the company is strident and inflexible in all its practices to the point of being toxic. I do not see that Topgrading has really allowed us to select the best employees.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
... 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. Smart notes that "A players" can (and should) exist at every level. Every CEO, every acountant, every sales rep, and every Wal-Mart greeter should be best in class -- and they should be required to stay competitive in their skills. That's not ruthless. That's natural. But this book goes one step farther, making the compelling case that -- left to their own devices -- the "C players" in any organization will destroy value over time, whether they intend to or not. Accordingly, Topgrading is essential.
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By A Customer on March 13 2004
Format: Hardcover
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 effective is GE. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many I've spoken with in my world, GE's products are not superior...so this makes me wonder
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Format: Hardcover
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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