Hiring "A" Players

Several clients are hiring and it’s time to share some guidance on how to hire “A” players.

First, how are we doing right now?

Not well. The typical business, when they rate how well their people perform their job functions, finds that they have perhaps 10% “A” players — people who are exceeding expectations and doing excellent work. The typical distribution of employees (as ranked by their peers) is:

A – 10%
B – 15%
C – 50%
D – 25%

The “D” players have often been in this role for 10 years or more.

Since we also know that the top 20% are typically delivering 80% of the results, we see a great opportunity for improvement — if we know how to proceed.

Unfortunately, there seems to be zero correlation between sincerity and results — plenty of people are very sincere about hiring the best, and few of them can figure out which applicants really are going to be top performers in their organizations.

For guidance, consider the advice of Lynn Taylor, creator of the Taylor Protocols.  Lynn ran a turnaround practice and was the CEO of 8 to 12 companies at a time, working closely with a partner who was CFO of those companies.  Lynn became extremely interested in our topic, Hiring “A” Players, because he needed to do that in order to better execute his turnarounds.

And Lynn approached this problem with a unique skill set — he’d previously created sophisticated algorithms for performing the first non-invasive cardiac monitoring and then some of the first speech-recognition software — both of which required him to tease out signals from amidst noise, while handling lots of data.

Mr. Taylor then spent over a decade defining and refining his system for finding the best folks.  In his turnarounds, he really couldn’t afford even one bad hire — a bad hire will cost your firm the equivalent of one year’s salary, due to the disruption, the demoralization of the rest of the team, and the distraction of managers who have to deal with this low performer when you’d be better off focusing on optimizing your best performers.

Lynn studied the writings of Maslow, and learned that the secret was to find out the “inner, unchanging nature” of each person — what it is that taps into and releases the energy of a person — and use that information to direct each person to the best role for that person.

The result is the “Core Values Index” first created in 1991, and used in multiple Fortune 500 firms as well as smaller companies, testing and proving the effectiveness of that tool.

Studying the 14,000 brokers of a large financial services firm, he found the bell curve there was even worse — 2-3% were “A” players, 5-6% were “B”s and 70% or more were “D” level non-performers.  That experience helped really prove that the Core Value Index can identify the innate nature of a person and can predict their fit to a particular role at a particular firm.

After five years of proving the system, and a further 5 years of longitudinal studies with small teams of 20 to 200 people, Lynn now says he can double or triple the number of “A” players in a given role within a year’s time.  This capability went on sale to the broader public in 2006 as The Taylor Protocols.

How can someone take advantage of this system?

One way is with the Human Capital Audit — this assesses the fit of each member of the senior staff to their current role — most firms are operating at less than 33% efficiency of fit between the nature of the person and the nature of the work.

Most resumes are written to cover Responsibilities, Assignments, Functions, Experience, and Skills.  That’s good as far as it goes.  However none of that speaks to each person’s innate drives, passions, interests, and preferences — none of it taps each person’s drive to be themselves, or taps their life energy.

Compare the methodical accountant who loves making things be orderly and in conformance with a set of known rules, and another accountant who is highly creative.  The creative one would be perfect for a startup that didn’t yet have a Chart of Accounts designed for them and that needed systems created, and the more methodical one would be perfect for that same firm 5 or 10 years later when it was more established and the main need was for someone to run the established accounting systems.

These two accountants could have identical looking resumes, yet would have wildly different levels of success in those two roles.

This means it’s vital to understand the nature of the role you’re hiring for.

The CVI is unique, Lynn says, because it has a 94% “Repeat Score Reliability” — a measure of how good an assessment test is at producing the same result for the same person, when taken twice on two different days.  Most assessments are in the low 70s over a 90 day period, and the CVI is 94% consistent across decades.

The difference comes from what’s being measured — where personality tests measure personality, behavior, and emotional tone, the CVI measures the “innate unchanging nature of a person” — and it’s that innate nature that really correlates best with what it is in you that tells you that a job is worth doing.  This drills all the way down to the task level — either your core value energy flows through those tasks, or it does not.

If it does not, you try to stop doing that task as soon as possible.  If it does, you love doing it and you’ll do it all day, it’s an expression of your self so you’re proud of it and you’ll naturally want to do an excellent job, and so you won’t need much management.

When you connect the innate nature of the person and connect it to the innate nature of the tasks, you end up with an “A” Player.

Today, according to Gallup, about 24% of the work force is “engaged” at work — their innate nature is well aligned with the nature of their job and its tasks.

How do I harness the CVI for my firm?

  1. Spend an hour (in a structured, facilitated process) profiling the nature of the job into which you want to hire.
  2. Profile the applicants, screening out 90%.
  3. Create a short list of the people who have the closest fit between their innate nature and the nature of the job

Do this, says Lynn, and you’re guaranteed to get “A” and “B” players.  This achieves a 98% hit rate on “A” players and a miss gives you a “B” — not bad.

In over 300 hires over the past two years, there were two misses — and in both cases the business owner wrote to say “you gave me exactly what I asked for, and I just didn’t realize what I needed.”

In a case like that, Lynn will redo the profile at no additional charge.

An alternate approach is, rather than profile the job, is to profile all the people in that job today.  Then the client defines the criteria that makes a person a top performer in that job.  Finally, Lynn uses his medical diagnostic algorithms to distinguish what aspects of a person’s innate nature that correlate with being a high performer.

The CVI distinguishes between three axes of preferences:

  • Creative -vs- Practical
  • Intuitive -vs- Cognitive
  • Community -vs- Independent

Underlying these are four core values that define basic human energies.

The big promise here is that, for any human being, there exists somewhere a job that is the perfect fit — in essence, just about anybody can be an “A” player somewhere.  This process of matching people and roles leads to increases in productivity “beyond what most people believe is possible,” says Lynn, “and we have over 200 turnarounds to prove it.”

Visit the Taylor Protocols here.
Listen to the interview here.

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