Don’t focus on hiring A-players

Having A-players on your team can make or break your company. In fact, I would credit all the success we have as a company to our employees who are passionate, determined, results-oriented, and fun to be around. They are our top performers, leaders the rest of the team look up to, and they are our A-players. To be more specific, Jack Welch defined them as:

  • filled with passion
  • committed to “making things happen”
  • open to ideas from anywhere
  • and blessed with lots of “runway” ahead of them,
  • have charisma, the ability to energize themselves and others,
  • can make business productive and enjoyable at the same time.
  • and exhibit the “four E’s” of leadership:
    • very high Energy levels
    • can Energize others around common goals
    • the “Edge” to make difficult decisions,
    • the ability to consistently Execute, or deliver on their promises

There are dozens of articles that talk about how to recruit or hire A-players, but I would challenge that no hiring process could effectively identify ALL these qualities upfront. In fact, you likely would not find out if he/she is an A-player until weeks or months AFTER you hire him/her.

At my company, The1stMovement, I define our A-players as simply the ones who produce results consistently, while adhering to our company core values. The model is similar to that of Jack Welch’s:


We have an extensive hiring process, but I would be the first to admit that it is not perfect, and it does not guarantee we are hiring A-players. We hope the people we hire would turn out to be the A-players, but we focus on setting clear performance goals and alignment with our company’s core values, to ensure they are the A-players we need to move the business forward.

“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” – Jim Collins

A good hiring process can help you filter out the B or C-players, i.e. getting “the right people on the bus”. But that is only part of the success equation. The trick we have learned in recruiting is that A-players attract other A-players. Instead of focusing all the energy on how to find or hire them, spend the time and invest in your training, development and retention programs. That will ensure you are grooming the A-players your business needs to succeed for years to come.

Ming Chan

As founded and CEO of The1stMovement, Ming was named as one of the "Top 10 Asian Entrepreneurs" by Inc. Magazine, and has led the agency to numerous accolades including 3-time Inc. 500 "Fastest Growing Private Companies in America", 3-time "Best Places to work in LA", and 5000% growth in 5 years with his passion for innovation and company culture. Follow @mingAtT1M

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