Identifying employee capability levels

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2006

KEVIN MCKENZIE / Guest Columnist

Differentiation of talent is critical to the success of any talent management system. In real life, employees actually perform at varying levels.

Therefore, successful organizations must have a refined process that identifies top performers and those with potential to be top performers.

Even in today&8217;s ultra-competitive business environment, many companies still lack the courage required to initiate meaningful talent differentiation processes.

In today&8217;s business vocabulary, top performing employees are referred to as &8220;A players.&8221;

In his book, &8220;Topgrading,&8221; author Dr. Brad Smart defines an &8220;A player&8221; as, &8220;one who qualifies among the top 10 percent of those available for a position.&8221;

Available for a position means the person is willing to accept the position based on its merits (the compensation offered, performance expected, job location and other similar factors).

&8220;A players&8221; consistently perform at an &8220;exceeds expectations&8221; level. Ten to 20 percent of a typical company&8217;s employees are &8220;A players.&8221; At the managerial level, high performance organizations strive to have &8220;A players&8221; in at least 75 percent of these positions. The middle level, which comprises 60 to 80 percent of a typical company&8217;s employees, is identified as &8220;B players.&8221;

These employees consistently perform at a &8220;meets expectations&8221; level. A small percentage (under 25 percent) of Bs can develop into A players, but the majority lack the talent required to achieve &8220;A player&8221; status. Think of B players as being solid but not spectacular performers.

The bottom level of employees, 10 to 20 percent of a typical organization, are identified as &8220;C players.&8221; These employees perform inconsistently and routinely fail to meet performance expectations.

Companies must identify their A players so they can effectively engage their talents and focus on retention (top compensation, continuing developmental activities, challenging opportunities, etc.) on their As.

B players with A potential must also be identified so that they can be developed. Identification of C players is extremely critical. C players must be placed into roles where they can perform at B or A levels or they must be exited from the organization.