How many times have you heard the phrase “I only hire A players”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself! We all like to think our teams are the bees knees, and while that might be true for some businesses, it’s notoriously tricky to really know what an A-player looks like during intake.

“83% of talent say a negative interview experience can change their mind about a role or company they once liked.”

Companies these days are bending over backward to attract top talent. Organizations such as Salesforce are sending ‘thank you’ notes to their interviewees, not the other way around! Thus, the problem of a competitive jobs market is compounded by an equally competitive hiring process!

Despite all of this, many firms haven’t given a huge amount of thought to who and how they hire. On The Rankings Podcast, Chris Mursau from Topgrading, share insights from his career helping organizations find A-players and hold on to them.

Here are a few key concepts to consider when you’re questioning the value of your recruitment strategy, and how important it is to hire well.

Why Should You Care So Much About Recruiting?

“32% of global executives rate the onboarding they experienced as poor.” – Harvard Business Review

You know this already, but it’s always worth reminding yourself: your people are your firm. Period. This old age but it stands up to scrutiny. In fact, the skillset of employees accounts for 85 percent of a company’s assets. For personal injury firms, client experience is key. When your employees win, you all win, and when they lose, you all lose.

A recruitment strategy shouldn’t be put on the back burner or handed off to someone else. If you want to fill your team with A-Players, you’ll need to put the hours in to make sure it’s up to your own personal high standards. Chris Mursau believes you should devote as much time to your hiring process as you would any other important business process.

A sound recruitment methodology has plenty of benefits:

  • Boosts diversity and inclusion – great for you, and for prospective hires, 67% of which told Glassdoor that a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers
  • Provides consistency – in fact, organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new-hire productivity, according to the Society for Human Resources Management
  • Gives your firm credibility and proves your values – 66% of candidates believe interactions with employees are the best way to get an insight into a company
  • Paves the way for highly-skilled hires – which is the reason we’re all here in the first place!

Crucially, the interview process isn’t just about getting a read on your prospective hire. They’re also vetting you! According to Software Advice’s recent survey, a massive 63% of job seekers will likely reject a job offer because of a bad candidate experience. Don’t lose the players before the match has even started!

The Astronomical Costs Of Hiring Wrong

So, you’ve hired an attorney who’s not as great as they made out to be in the interview, but they’re ok. How bad can it be? Hold on top your hats, folks, because this might shock you!

Every single wrong hire is going to cost you money, whether you’re thinking about the cost of mishiring at entry-level or an executive. When Topgrading studied hiring mistakes from the top to the bottom of an organization they discovered that:

  • Hiring wrong at the lower level – say a cashier at a grocery store – costs 1X their annual compensation
  • Hiring wrong at the executive level costs, on average, around 24X that person’s base salary

The figures are astounding! If you’re still not convinced of the damage of hiring wrong, you should check out Topgrading’s ‘Cost of a Bad Hire Calculator‘ which breaks those costs down into segments.

So, Who Are The A-Players?

An A-Player has a couple of key components that should help you to spot them a mile off.

  • Firstly, they’re a high performer. That means delivering the results expected, and then some. A true A-Player will exceed your expectations and contribute more than you perhaps imagined.
  • Secondly, they fit your culture. They contribute positively to your team and they share the values of your company in a real, tangible way.

Chris Mursau from Tograding explained that the technical definition of an A-player is:

“Someone who is in the top 10% of talent available for the pay.”

The pay piece is also very important, Chris specifies. It’s not saying that you have to shell out at the top of the global pay range for a particular role. Instead, you’re calculating what you can afford, connected that with your business goals, and then finding someone in the top 10% of available talent willing to do the job for that amount of compensation.

Can You Develop An A-Player?

If top candidates aren’t rocking up to your interviews and you’re *sure* that your hiring strategy isn’t to blame, then there is another way! Chris Mursau explains that it is possible to hire B or even C players and train them to be the rockstar you need! It all depends on what the immediate competency requirements are.

  • Got ample time and resources? Then B-players are go! Chris says you can use a developmental culture to help new hires rise to another level quickly. Mentorship is key here, but with the right attitude and resources, you could soon have an A-player on your hands.
  • No time? No resources? Or, perhaps too much waste? Forget about it! It sounds like you need an A-player to get the job done right now. Hiring someone who isn’t prepared for the role won’t bring you the results you seek, and it isn’t fair on the candidate.

As a general rule, Chris Mursau suggests actively bringing people into lower-level positions and grooming them for mid-manager positions. The time and effort will pay off in the long run, you’ll be able to craft a role for the individual to truly shine in, plus, they’ll contribute to fostering that all-important company culture along the way. Speaking of which…

Help, My A-Player Is Toxic!

Every attorney can come up with at least one example where they’ve hired someone who was technically great at their job, but terrible for culture. A toxic person in the workplace doesn’t just affect that one employee. In fact, they can take down the entire workforce. It leaves you wondering if rockstar employees are really worth the hassle. Cy Wakeman of Reality-Based Leadership makes the excellent point that a truly valuable player will respect the team dynamic:

“High-value players respect and nurture team dynamics. Although success requires individual traits like gumption, initiative and resilience, its ultimate expression can only be realized in the context of a team.”

However, there is a balance to be struck. Would you keep on a team member who is excellent at their job, but just an OK culture fit? We’re dealing with individuals here, and your firm culture is unique to you so you’ll ultimately need to assess the damage. However, a truly toxic contributor to the firm environment should be removed swiftly and professionally, without taking anyone else along for the ride.