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12 Steps to Topgrading – Scaling Up Summit (San Antonio)

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, May 22, 2017

2017 Scale Up Summit .pngEver been in a situation where you’re working on something, when suddenly more information arrives to help you?

It’s Synchronistic

Friday I spent about 4.5 hours with a customer interviewing two candidates for a new position, Operations Resources. We conducted a Competency interview from Topgrading, in tandem. The intention of the interview is, having identified the core competency this position requires, discover whether the candidate fits.  Questions for each competency are provided by Topgrading through their Snap Shot web link.  Certain Competencies will not change, and those identified as critical to the position should be the first you interview for to ensure the candidate can meet or exceed this expectation/behavior.

Three leadership/management positions took turns in tandem with me to interview the two candidates.  Each had experience interviewing and did a remarkable job interrogating these two very qualified candidates.

topgrading_logo-300x155.pngWe spent about 30 minutes prepping since it was their first time doing competency interview and then about an hour reviewing the process, what they’d learned, and evaluating each of the candidates on whether they qualified for the position and a second longer interview (CID’s – Comprehensive, In-Depth, Structured). In this case both candidates are scheduled for a 2nd interview.  [BTW Topgrading changed the CID’s name to Tandem interview since CID’s has a negative connotation to it to do Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.]

In the evaluation period one of the leaders mentioned how much he liked this process. A benefit from the interview process, he felt, would be on-boarding would be enhanced.  Knowing the candidate better through their competencies would make it easier and faster to work with them to get them integrated. He and several of the other leaders mentioned the scoring system for ranking the candidate on each competency. It provides a measuring platform to make it easier to identify their strengths and weakness to help coach and bring them up to speed faster. 

He also mentioned since he is just getting immersed into the Topgrading process he’d like to see the steps to it and have time to review and discuss.  Wade, it just so happened today at my Coaches Growth Summit the major topic in our Midwest region was Topgrading.  The coach leading this provided 12 steps to Topgrading.  So for Wade and everyone else unfamiliar with the steps to Topgrading, here’s the list:

12 Steps to Topgrading

  1. Talent review
  2. Job scorecardsInterview Funnel.png
  3. Recruit from networks
  4. Screen with Career History Form
  5. Telephone screening interviews
  6. Competency and behavioral interviews
  7. Tandem interviews – chronological in-depth
  8. Interviewing feedback form
  9. Go/No Go
  10. Reference calls
  11. Hire and coach
  12. Measure enthusiastically rehire at 6 months

The Right People

“Nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field.”  ~ Jack Welch, Former Chairman of General Electric

The customer I’m working with is growing fast.  From my work with them for just over a month I’ve discovered they have exceptional people.  Growth and exceptional people are unmistakable signs of success.


How much time as CEO, or in your leadership role, do you invest in recruiting?  

People - Would you enthusiastically ReHire Everyone on Your Team.pngAs sales manager for several radio stations I learned quickly the wrong time to start recruiting for sales people was when one resigned, or when I discovered they couldn’t do the job. To succeed I needed a virtual bench to replace this person’s place before I needed them.   A radio station has a benefit many other businesses don’t. 

In public and private workshops when we discuss the People Decision we ask our customers, “Would you enthusiastically rehire your employees?"

One coach in today’s meeting provided a follow up question, “If not, why are you still paying them?”

Do you know the number one reason most employees leave?  It’s their managers!  And the next reason is just as culpable to leadership.  Employees leave because they see underperformers receiving the same pay as they are, yet doing less. They ask, "Why am I doing more than him/her and getting paid the same?"

Poor performers eventually make your best performers leave.  They require more hand-holding, more negative and positive attention, and they lower morale and engagement.


How do you keep employees from leaving for this reason?Employee Eval - Performance Matrix.jpg

Look at step one.  Determine how many A players you have first. In Your Hiring Batting Average – The NFL Draft Standard we share a scoreboard one of my customers uses to measure his leadership team’s performance and behavior against the company’s Core Values.  It’s an important place to start to ensure leadership isn’t chasing away your employees.

Getting the right people on the field, as Jack Welch offers, means ensuring you have the right people there now.

Are you asking questions to ensure your candidates live your Core Values? A coach in our meeting reminded us to use Patrick Lencioni’s method of, “Scare them with Sincerity.”  In Lencioni’s book The Ideal Team Player, he recommends informing the candidate, “We live these core values.  We believe you will as well, if not you’re going to really struggle here.  It will be the worse six months of your life if you don’t.“

Does your business need to hire better?  Getting People right is the first step in building a growth company.  It’s the first and most important of the Four Decisions.  If you need help growing your business with People, Strategy, Execution or Cash, contact Positioning Systems, authors of Strategic Discipline, at


The coaches portion of the Scaling Up Summit continues tomorrow before the Summit begins on Tuesday.  Verne Harnish will address the coaches, plus we’ll have breakout sessions. I’ll be sharing what I learn in tomorrow’s blog.

Topics: People Decisions, Growth Summit, Topgrading, Topgrading, People Decisions,, Scale Up Summit San Antonio

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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

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