Small Business | Coaching | Consulting | Positioning Systems | with |Doug Wick

Strategic Discipline Blog

Rockefeller Habits 4 Decisions Tools – People Continued

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Feb 9, 2015

What can managers do to improve their people?  Our review of the resources and tools that Rockefeller Habits and Positioning Systems can provide your growing enterprise continues with a look at the remaining tools we provide our customers with to improve People. You can read the first group of People tools and resources at Rockefeller Habits 4 Decisions Tools – People.

A reminder that decisions equal success – and there are four decisions, in growing your business, that you must get right or risk leaving significant revenues, profits, and time on the table. describe the imageThese four decisions are: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.

Getting each of these Four Decisions right results in a significant impact to your business.  In the case of People the outcome is a harmonious culture of accountability.

Let’s continue then with People and one of the best tools that we recommend from Brad Smart who worked with Jack Welsh at GE to prefect a hiring process that helped General Electric achieve 95% A players in their leadership teams.

Topgrading: Here is a very important question: How do leading companies hire, coach and keep the best people? Topgrading tools help answer this question AND help you create success by hiring the right people, “A” Players!

In their research, Brad Smart (and his son Geoff), found that the typical hiring success rate is 25% – only 1 in 4 hires continue over time as successful contributors to the organization hired into. Additionally, they have developed a calculation – based on research with real companies – it shows that the total cost of a management mis-hire can be up to 15 times their base salary. The 3 primary factors that contribute to this 15x figure are:

  • Lost productivity and performance
  • The cost of hiring in hard dollars (actual expenditures)
  • The damage to the organization

What is the key point here? That the total cost of a mis-hire to an organization is MUCH higher than leaders think, that it can be estimated, and it is rarely considered in the hiring process. A tool that can prevent these will have a strong ROI and become a competitive edge.

Having difficulty figuring out whether someone in the company, or a candidate for selection, is an A, B, or C Player? Only the companies with the most sophisticated human resources methods have it “nailed.” In many companies, “A Player” refers to someone highly promotable. Topgrading definitions of A, B, and C are different. “A, B, and C” to Topgraders refer to current ability, not promotability. Then break down just the A Player category into promotability levels.

A Player: One who qualifies among the top 10 percent of talent available for a position. An A Player, then, is best of class. Available means willing to accept a job offer:

•        At the given compensation level;

•        With whatever bonus and/or stock comes with it;

•        In that specific company, with a certain organization culture (Family friendly? Having dirty politics? Fast paced? Topgraded and growing?);

•        In that particular industry;

•        In that location;

•        With specific accountabilities and resources; and

•        Reporting to a specific person (positive A Player or negative C Player?)

In other words, if you’re a terrific leader, you’re going to have a lot more candidates “available” to you than a lousy leader.

A Player Potential: Someone who is predicted to achieve A Player status, usually within 6-12 months.

B Player: The next 25%, below the A Player top 10%, of available talent given the same criteria above. These employees are “okay” or “adequate,” but marginal performers who lack the potential to be high performers and are not as good as others available for the same pay. B Players are unable, despite training and coaching, to rise to A Player status. If there is a job in which they can quality for A Player, they should be considered for it. 

C Player: The next 35%, below the A Player 10% and B Player 25%, of talent available for a job. C Players are your chronic underperformers.

Customers using Topgrading show improvement from 26% to 85% high performers hired and promoted.  High performers results in a dramatic improvement in your business success! To learn more about Topgrading visit

MANAGERS – TEAM – LEADERS: We’ve focused on the senior leadership team (Rockefeller Habit #1: The leadership team is healthy and aligned) and the importance of selecting the right people for the frontlines and ensuring they are both productive and living the Core Values.

Now let’s turn our focus to the (middle) managers in a company: the leader-managers that energize the frontline employees with the strategic direction and priorities from the senior leadership team. Let’s begin by learning what the #1 attribute of great managers is.

ONE ON ONE COACHING: describe the imageGoogle conducted a management survey and the data was clear and compelling on the #1 key to being considered an effective, successful manager in employee’s minds; what do you think that key attribute or action might be?   The attribute and action that the most successful managers take is conducting regular one-on-one coaching with their direct reports.

If the #1 action for strong employee engagement in a manager is regular one-on-one coaching, then what other attributes are indicative of successful managers? Here are the top 5:

  • Hire fewer people pay them more
  • proactively recognize show appreciation
  • Set Clear expectations, “line of sight”  Help their overall team, and individual team members, grasp where their roles, actions and results feed into the company’s ultimate ability to reach their BHAG…it is showing them a “line of sight” between their daily performance and the “big picture” attainment of the company’s purpose, BHAG and KPIs
  • Dehassle, not demotivate
  • Discover strengths of team

Once you’ve established the one on one coaching relationship the next step is to make sure you’re working on areas of strength rather than depleting your energy focusing on areas you’re not your best. 

Love or Loathe Exercise: A strength is something (an activity) you are good at AND that gives you strength when you do (perform) it. Think about a traditional definition of a strength…”something you do and are good at it” – the challenge here is that there are some things that each of us are individually good at but frankly dislike doing and it drains our energy level when we do it. Does anyone have a personal example to share?

Now, think of modifying this traditional definition to add “AND it gives you energy when you do it.” As a contributor, will you be more productive day in and day out, and over the long term, if you focus on what you do well? Or focus on what you do well AND brings you energy? Use this definition of strength. 

To keep things very simple and accurate, we define a weakness as something (an activity) that when you do (perform) it, it drains energy from you (and it becomes something you don’t look forward to doing)

Determining which activities energize you and which drain you, and delegating the latter where you can will make your team much more productive!

Grow Your Team Onboarding Coaching Development: How does your company treat and onboard new talent when they join your company? Do you do what the vast majority of companies do to new employees…”welcome, now get to work and you are already behind!”  Shouldn’t the decision to join your firm be a celebration and delight to your new team member? Shouldn’t the first week be one of the most positively memorable weeks of their lives?

Let’s look at 3 key areas to not only welcome but grow your talent so they become the A performers that will help you succeed:

  • An energetic Orientation process
  • Focus on Culture, Values, People
  • Build a quarterly personal plan

Research is beginning to show that one of the very best ways to grow talent is through authentic, continuous coaching with direct reports, focusing on situational leadership, direct feedback, and by providing accountability to change and grow. For coaching to be effective, the environment must be one of safety (trust) and done on a regular basis (typically weekly or monthly).

Few companies get the onboarding process right, yet to fail to welcome new employees and provide them with the proper foundation with an understanding of your business culture sets them up for failure and the strong likelihood you will not retain them.  

Next blog we’ll take a look at the resources and tools we use at Positioning Systems and as Gazelles coaches to achieve strong topline revenue growth through the Strategy Decision. 

Topics: Business Growth, People, Four Decisions, Topgrading, One on One coaching, Orientation and Onboarding

Challenges of Scaling Up a Business 







New Call-to-action


New Call-to-action


New Call-to-action

Subscribe to Email Updates

Click below to Schedule a Free 30 Minute Discovery Appointment NOW: 

Positioning Systems Brand Promise

1. Priorities: Determine your #1 Priority. Achieve measurable progress in 90 days.

2. Metrics: Develop measurable Key Performance Indicators. 

3. Meetings: Establish effective meeting rhythms. (Cadence of Accountability)  Compounding the value of your priority and metrics. 

(BRAND PROMISE GUARANTEE): We will refund all compensation if our disciplined coaching and proprietary tools fail to meet your expectations.

Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

Latest Posts

Browse by Tag

see all