During a recent client leadership team session, the topic of Top Grading was discussed at length. The conversation centered on ways in which the team could define what distinguished “A,” “B,” and “C” players. A team member suggested one word to begin the discussion: hurdles.
Here’s their take. Suppose your employee is entered in the 400-meter race (that’s once around a typical running track). A little way into the race, they encounter a hurdle. Clearly, this hurdle is not supposed to be there (the hurdles are a different event in track and field), but there it is. What does the employee do?
Some employees, upon encountering the unexpected hurdle, will stop and contemplate the hurdle. They will decide that since this is something totally unexpected, it is understandable and acceptable that they stop and await further instructions. Some will stop, remain in place, and may actually feel a sense of relief that the hurdle gives them a built-in excuse for stopping and waiting. Still others will see a hurdle off to the side and drag it onto the track, directly in their path so that they too may have a reason to stop running, in effect, manufacturing their own hurdle. After all, no one told them what to do if they encounter a hurdle.
But some, upon encountering the unexpected hurdle, will leap over it, go around it, under it, or simply push it out of the way. In other words, they will do whatever is necessary to stay on track and finish the race. This, according to this team member, is one of the many positive traits of an “A” player. Not bad!
The search for “A” players takes many forms. How to distinguish these exceptional individuals can present a unique set of challenges. A pretty good place to start is to determine whether and to what extent they are critical thinkers and problem solvers. Overcoming unexpected hurdles is a good indication of team members who will add significant value to any roster and will serve as a positive example for their colleagues.
For more ways to identify “A” players for your organization, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.