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  • Writer's pictureTim Carlo

Hire and Coach “A” Players

When I was a kid, I played a lot of sandlot and middle-of-the-street sports with the kids in my neighborhood. We chose two captains, and they took turns picking their teams. The players with the most talent for that sport, the hardest working, and most likely to help their team succeed were chosen first—they were the A players.

cat in sunglasses, pink suit and bow tie


Improved operations and profitability are controlled by your team and are essential to grow your business. As an owner or manager, your single biggest threat of failure—and the easiest way to fail—is your people. Your team makes or breaks your business. You need A players.


Let’s do the math on this: If you have three people on your team doing B+/A-/90% work, then you take 90%*90%*90% and you will have a team that achieves 72%. That is unacceptable C work.


Your quest should be to define and hire A players for your team, and coach existing team members to elevate them to A status.


Define Your Company’s A Players


To define A players, you do not need to look any further than inwards. As you hire you should use a company-specific formula that goes beyond the job description:


  • Core values: What are yours and how does a candidate demonstrate that they are a good fit?

  • Department needs: What kind of person does the department need now to achieve its goals?

  • Specific skillset: Education and credentials are important, but what skills—soft and technical—are needed to be an A player for this position and advance the organization?


Elevate Team Members Through Coaching


Let’s be honest—not everyone on your team is an A player. Remember former GE CEO Jack Welch’s famous “20-70-10 vitality model”? He believed that the top 20% of your workforce is most productive (what I call “A players”), and 70% (the "vital 70") work adequately; the other 10% ("bottom 10") are nonproducers and should be fired.


If/when you identify less than A players on your team, you need to make sure that their manager has the knowledge and skills to elevate that employee through coaching and is spending adequate time doing so. 


To grow your business and improve profitability, invest in your people.




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