determining whether someone is an A-Player

It is almost impossible to determine if someone is an A-Player until you’ve worked with them for two months. Afterwards, it is really easy to determine.

6 thoughts on “determining whether someone is an A-Player

  1. Adam Young

    The term A player really doesn’t do it justice. A lot of determining whether or not someone is going to be an “A player” is the environment. THe assumption that certain programmers just product more is a little skewed by the success stories.
    High productivity is based on a couple things. Enthusiasm and knowledge of the technologies are certainly part, but a lot depends on the development philosophy of the organization, and whether it matches that of the coder.
    Thus, it can fall back onto the manager to turn players into higher producers based on getting them tasks they are suited to do, as well as to get the recruiter to get the best people.
    I’ve often seen people that are considered A players because of the quantity of functionality they crank out that I would not hire due to the quality of what they produce.
    I’ve seen people burnt out by previous jobs come back to life because of the inspiration theyve gotten from working in a place that “gets ” them and their style.
    Thus: Your A Player may actually just be someone who likes working for you.


    Amen Adam Young! Culture and the ability to manage is essential to the success of people, organizations and society. … as the saying goes “sh*t rolls down hill”.
    I would venture to say there is no such thing as an “A Player” – ability so succeed requires a sophisticated matrix. When we recognize we are not alone, life becomes a much richer and more authentic experience.

  3. Barry Deutsch

    I agree with you. Most CEO and Senior Executives equate an “A” player with someone who has a stellar academic background and has a well-known rise through major corporations. This is misguided.
    We’ve done a lot of original research in this area and published it in our book “You’re NOT The Person I Hired”. What we’ve basically done is take 25 years of executive recruiting experience, over 1500 executive searches, interviews with well over 200,000 candidates, and found simply that academic background and work experience (the type of stuff on a typical job description) is worthless as a tool to predict future performance.
    The NUMBER 1 problem in hiring – that leads to failure – is the fact that companies do not define success. If you want to hire a top 10% marketing vice president – what are the outcomes, deliverables, expectations, and results this person must achieve in the short term, medium term, and long term for the company to be successful. Someone who can do that is a top 10% player. Not defining results and outcomes and instead relying on outdated methods (ie, the job description listing of attributes, behaviors, education, and years of experience) is an abdication of being a manager or leader.
    The obvious second step (and one that most companies again fail with) is then having a rigorous process to validate the ability to deliver your expected results. Another step in the process that leads to failure is that most companies take whoever shows up at their doorstep as the candidate pool vs. having an intensive process to fish deeply in the right pools to identify the right talent.
    Take these three factors into consideration and it’s a miracle companies can hire top talent. I content hiring great talent in most companies is more a function of luck and hope than having a systematic process to do it over and over again.

  4. barleyguy

    I would venture to say there is no such thing as an “A Player” – ability so succeed requires a sophisticated matrix. When we recognize we are not alone, life becomes a much richer and more authentic experience.
    I disagree with the concept of there being no such thing as an “A Player”. Working environment definitely has an effect. An ideal cultural fit can turn a B-Player into an A-Player, and bad management can turn an A-Player into a B-Player. But the point of article seemed to be that layoffs have caused the number of C-Players in the market to greatly increase, which I think is a very valid point. In my experience, the C-Players will find a position where they are tolerated and are getting a steady check, and stay there for as long as they can. Generally they can even get fairly good at what they do if they stick around long enough. In a normal job market they aren’t out in droves. When a higher unemployment rate is in place, separating the wheat from the chaff can take more effort.

  5. Dave

    I think the same thing goes for the employee when they go to work for a company. It is entirely possible that you sign on to work with a company, thinking you are taking a step in the right direction only to find out that you have quickly joined the Titanic.


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