The A-Team: Hiring Top Talent in the Post-Covid Era

By Linda Ratner, RN MBA

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Recruiting the right team is a cornerstone of any successful business venture. In a rapidly changing business environment, the personnel you choose to bring on board can profoundly impact your organization’s trajectory. As a business coach and business owner, I lean on two key philosophies to guide the leadership teams I work with: Jim Collins’s concept of “the right people in the right seats” and Brad Smart’s methodology of recruiting ‘A Players.’

Jim Collins’s groundbreaking work “Good to Great” introduced us to the transformative concept of getting “the right people in the right seats.” The ‘right people’ are those who align with the company’s values, exhibit a passion for the mission, and bring valuable skills and experiences to the table. They aren’t merely employees but strategic partners in the business, contributing their talents, creativity, and commitment toward helping the organization flourish.

‘The right seats’ represent roles that best utilize these individuals’ unique strengths. They aren’t just job titles but platforms for productivity, satisfaction, and personal growth. When a person’s role matches their aptitudes and aspirations, they are more likely to excel and contribute significantly to the company’s success. The thing is, you have to have both. Right people in the right seats.

Brad Smart’s “Topgrading” methodology offers a distinct but complementary perspective. He identifies ‘A Players’ as those individuals who live the company values consistently and rank in the top 10% of talent for a given role at a particular salary level. ‘A Players’ stand apart from the rest with their exceptional motivation, high competency, and adaptability. They consistently deliver superior results, fit seamlessly into the company culture, and have a track record of continual progression in their careers. ‘A Players’ can do the work of 3-4 people and like being around other ‘A Players.’

There are distinct parallels between these two philosophies. Both advocate for individuals who not only excel in their roles but also fit well within the company culture. Both emphasize the alignment of personal and organizational goals and highlight the importance of performance. Indeed, often, the ‘right people’ in Collins’s framework would also qualify as ‘A Players’ in Smart’s methodology.

As a business coach, I’ve seen firsthand how these philosophies can revolutionize hiring strategies. However, effectively implementing these strategies requires powerful tools, one of which is the Predictive Index (PI). The PI is a scientifically validated tool that offers insights into a candidate’s core behaviors and motivations. It aids in identifying whether a candidate could be the ‘right person’ for the ‘right seat’ and also if they exhibit the traits of an ‘A Player.’

But the hiring process isn’t just about identifying potential ‘A Players’ or placing the ‘right people’ in the ‘right seats.’ It involves strategically creating accurate job descriptions and advertisements to attract suitable candidates. It requires leveraging technology, like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and professional networks like LinkedIn to manage applications and reach a broad talent pool. Predictive Index (PI) Job Targets can be game changers in the hiring process. By outlining the behavioral and cognitive requirements for each role, they streamline the selection process, reducing workload and preventing ‘square peg, round hole’ scenarios. This scientific approach increases the probability of identifying candidates who are ‘right seat fits,’ enhancing hiring efficiency and overall team success.

In summary, successful recruiting isn’t about simply filling a vacancy. It is a deliberate and strategic process of investing in your business’s future by ensuring the right people are in the right seats and recruiting ‘A Players.’ As we navigate the dynamic world of business today, having the right team in place sets the foundation for innovation, growth, and long-term success.

Intrigued about how these philosophies can transform your hiring process? Eager to learn more about how to attract ‘A Players’? Write to me at to connect or join me next issue as we delve deeper into the art of the interview and learn how to utilize tools like the Predictive Index to identify potential ‘A Players’ and find the ‘right people for the right seats.’

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