1 Simple Strategy to Find Great Employees

Recruiting and retaining top talent is important for achieving a solid competitive advantage in any industry.  We would all like a team full of A-Players. For small business owners in rural America, finding A-Players to fill positions is a significant challenge.

What is an A-Player?

A-players are not your average employee. Rather, A-Players are those highly dedicated employees who go out of their way to help your business achieve its goals.  They deliver high-quality work, earn trust, display resourcefulness, take initiative, implement change effectively, demonstrate great teamwork and display an ownership mentality, finding ways to get the job done in less time with less cost. Ultimately, resourcefulness is the distinguishing feature of an A-Player (Smart, 2012).

What Does an A-Player Do Differently?

What’s the difference between an A-Player and a C-Player employee? Imagine a loyal customer walks into your car dealership. Confused and upset, the customer reports a problem with the car’s steering. He bought the new car less than a month ago. An A-player employee quickly understands the company’s reputation is at stake and why the customer is upset. The A-player assumes full responsibility to sort out the problem. He apologizes to the customer and tells him he will work with him to rectify the problem. In the meantime, he arranges for a loaner vehicle so that the customer can go about his day. The employee apologizes for the customer’s frustration and inconvenience. Within a couple of hours, the employee calls the customer with full details about the cause of the problem and how it will be resolved.  The employee even goes the extra mile (with the permission of the manager) to offer the customer a discount on future servicing of the vehicle. In every interaction, the A-player employee is professional, tactful and resourceful.

In contrast, a marginal employee likely deals with the problem differently.  These employees do not have high regard for the job they do.  Their knowledge and understanding of the business’ goals and products are marginal at best.  They do not feel part of the company’s success. As such, they are not willing to take up responsibility or go the extra mile.  In the case where a customer comes with a problem like the one highlighted above, the employee may respond rudely and distance himself from the problem. The customer will leave upset and it is likely your business may lose that customer for good.

How can my business attract A-Players?

As any business owner in small town rural America will tell you, it’s difficult to find and attract A-Players. However, you can greatly increase your chances of finding and attracting great employees by adopting strategies within your recruitment process to make your business attractive to A-players.

In all likelihood, you already have at least a few A-players in your business. These employees hold clues to finding more A-Players. A-Players know more A-Players. As a general principle, A-Players “hang” together in their social circles. To find more A-Players, get to know your best employees better. Discover and tap into their networks.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. When you first applied, how did you hear about us and the position opening? [clue to referral sources for future applicants]
  2. Why did you come to work for us? [clue to what would make it attractive for an A-Player to work for you versus another employer]
  3. What do you like most about your job and about our company? [more clues for what makes your business attractive to A-Players]
  4. What clubs and community organizations do you belong to? [Pay attention—this is where to start networking and recruiting]
  5. What social media sites do you use? [Discover where A-Players are connecting. Show up there and add value to their network]
  6. Who are the A-Players you know? [Keep in mind, these people are likely employed and are not seeking work right now. However, they may be seeking better opportunities. Connect with them. Build a relationship. How can you add value in their world so they come to see you as an employer of choice within their circle?]

The next time you have a job opening, recruit from your network of A-players. As a small business in rural America, you are better positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities with each A-Player you add to your team. With a bit of innovation and organization, you’ll become more effective in recruiting the best employees.

The good news is that one A-Player is the equivalent of 9 C-Players and 12 D-Players. It’s well worth the investment of your time and energy to attract more A-Players!

Smart, Bradford (2012). Topgrading, 3rd Edition. Penguin.

Sabrina Starling, Tap the PotentialWritten by:

Sabrina Schleicher

1 reply
  1. Rodrigo Laddaga
    Rodrigo Laddaga says:

    Great comment Sabrina! this is so important! it is important to remember to “fire fast, hired slow”. Most of the time Small Business Owners do the opposite, they have the urgency to fill some spots on their business but you have to remember that the cost of hiring a not A players is huge! between 8 and 12 months of monthly wage of the position. Just think on the cost you will be incurring not hiring the right person since you will be training that person, having to subsidies her/his work because he is not doing everything he/she should be doing, solving the problems with other employees that will came along if the person does not fit with the culture of the business, etc. etc. It worth to be patient in order to hire the right A player.

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