Think about your best-performing employee. For this example, we’re going to call her Lola.
Lola is an expert at what she does. She understands your business objectives and prioritizes the tasks that help achieve these.
You never have to worry about hand-holding her or wonder whether things are getting done as they should. The results of her work speak for themselves.
Not to mention what a great team player she is. She’s an excellent example for the rest of the team to follow, too.
Simply put, Lola is an A-player. And just the thought of running your business without her makes you uneasy.
Sure, your business could continue without her. But would you want it to? Probably not.
Now imagine that instead of having only one Lola, you had a team full of A-players just like her.
How would that improve your profitability? What would it mean for your peace of mind? And how would that boost your customers’ satisfaction?
We’re betting that it’d do wonders for you, your business, and the people you serve.
But too many business owners and hiring managers hope to find someone like Lola instead of intentionally looking for someone with the same A-player characteristics.
Sure, this can seem easier said than done. And many times, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But once you know what makes A-players, they’re much easier to find and hire.
Here are a few signs that someone is (or isn’t) an A-player
Reference these when screening potential hires and even when assessing your current team members’ performance.
1. They’re outcome-driven.
A-players aren’t interested in checking things off their to-do lists. They care about achieving measurable results that tie in with your business goals.
KPIs, metrics, OKRs, etc., are their love language because they know that what gets measured gets done. Be sure to know what specific outcomes are important to you and find someone who matches your vision of success.
For example, let’s say you’re hiring a new sales agent. An average candidate might say, “I performed great at my previous job, and I met all my sales targets.”
But an A-player would say something like, “I generated $500k in sales, grew our client-base by 10%, and helped double the business in three years”.
BOOM. Now that’s the kind of talk you want to hear.
2. They have narrow but deep expertise.
Jack-of-all-trades might be what you need in some rare cases. But most of the time, you’re hiring someone to fit a specific need and accomplish a particular outcome in your company.
So hire the person with the particular expertise you need, not the person who can dabble in a bit of everything.
Think of it in sports terms. You wouldn’t make a quarterback play defensive linemen. Or hire a waterboy to coach the national basketball team.
Each has their expertise and belongs in their respective roles.
Don’t be charmed by the all-arounder.
Ask candidates the questions most relevant to your needs. Give them relevant examples to understand how they’d perform in real-life situations. That’ll help you find the expert or specialist you need.
3. They don’t like being micromanaged.
Frankly, the only people that need micromanaging and hand-holding are the less than competent employees who lack the willingness or ability to get the job done. They are, by definition, the complete opposite of A-players.
A-players have the expertise, attitude, and confidence to deliver results. But they need you to trust in their ability to do so.
It’s not to say that they’ll never need your help or guidance. But A-players need space and freedom to do their best work and develop new skills. They want to be able to make their own decisions because that’s why you hired them after all.
So test the waters to see how much hand-holding a candidate expects or needs. That’ll help you understand whether or not their A-player material.
4. They’re productive.
A-players know the difference between busy work and actual productivity.
They’re interested in maximum efficiency, and they try to get more done with less. But that doesn’t mean they cut corners.
Instead, to use a popular cliche, they aim to work smarter, not harder. They’re interested in optimizing processes and leveraging the right tools for the job.
And they know where their focus should lie and how to execute things effectively because they prioritize according to your business objectives.
Explore candidates’ definition of productivity and get closer to finding your A-players.
5. They seem like a good fit for your company culture.
A-players are not divas. They understand the importance of working in harmony towards common goals.
They’re not “that’s not my job” people. They’re “let’s get this done” people.
They treat everyone on the team with respect, avoid gossip, and act transparently. They uphold your company values and encourage everyone else to do the same.
Of course, no one is perfect. So don’t expect any A-player to be without fault.
But as long as their imperfections don’t impact their ability to deliver results or impede anyone else from doing the same, don’t hold it against them.
So be sure to define what your company culture actually is and have a clear picture of the type of person that can do well in it.
You don’t want to hire a highly qualified professional to find out that they don’t uphold your team values.
Now that you know some of the key traits of an A-player, you’re ready to build a world-class team.
Just think back to your “Lola” and how much value she brings to your organization. Lola meets our A-player criteria and then some. She’s:
- Outcome driven
- A specialist, not a generalist
- Allergic to micromanagement
- An excellent fit for your company culture
But this isn’t an exhaustive list of what makes an A-player. Because in addition to the obvious things, like having a positive attitude and a proven track record of success, A-players vary from role to role and company to company.
And while no two A-players are the same, they will share similar traits, especially those that matter most to your business.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go out there and build your dream team. And if you need any help building your team, schedule a free 30-minute strategy call with us today to see how we can help.