Seven Tips To Hire Top Performers For Your Small Business

Seven tips to help you hire top performers for your small business.
Seven Tips To Hire Top Performers For Your Small Business
Richard J. Bryan is a speaker, executive coach and the author of Being Frank: Real Life Lessons to Grow Your Business and Yourself. For more information, visit

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Your business doesn’t run itself. The quality of your organization depends on the quality of your team — a motivated, energized staff is the key to companywide success. You want “A players,” employees who contribute disproportionately to the advancement and profitability of the business.

In the same way that the Pareto Principle states that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of your employees (based on research by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in the early 1900s), your A players have a measurable impact on your bottom line.

The Pareto Principle is often used in a sales environment, but it applies equally to a variety of industries. If you can build a team of A players around you, then your job as a business leader or owner becomes much easier because you do not have to deal with endless crises and can work more intentionally on developing the future strategy for your company.

So how do you find A players for your team?

The funny thing is that you can find them in the strangest places. A few years ago, James was running a car dealership that was lacking in quality salespeople. He received a call from his wife while she was out shopping for strollers, and she asked him to meet her at the store.

“I want you to meet Louise. She has a great attitude, and I think you’ll like her.”

Ten minutes later he was walking into the shop to meet Louise. She was a class act and spent the next half hour asking them lots of questions about their lifestyle. Once she had all the information she needed from them, she launched into a brilliant sales demonstration of various products. She was impressive.

They ended up spending over $1,000 in the shop that day and were thrilled with their interaction with Louise. James was particularly impressed by her enthusiasm, her energy and her ability to listen intently to their needs and then repeat this information when closing the sale. Too many salespeople believe that selling is about talking, but in reality it is about the ability to listen to their customers in order to truly understand their needs.

A few days later, James offered her a job. He wasn’t sure that selling cars had been on her career plan, but she took a risk and joined the team the following month. Initially Louise struggled a bit because she had no product knowledge, no customer base and was the only female on a sales team of 30 people. However, after support from James and the upper-level staff and a combination of hard work and a positive attitude, she began to flourish. By the end of the year, she was the top salesperson at the dealership.

When you are seeking A players for your business, don’t just look for skills and experience. Start by looking for someone with a great attitude.

Here are seven tips to help you find your own A players:

  1. One-page plan. Have a simple plan that you can share with future employees. This plan highlights what you have achieved as an organization during the past year and what your vision is for the next three to five years. “A players” are motivated as much by being part of a company that has clear goals and aspirations as they are by salary and benefits. They want to be part of a business that has a purpose.
  2. Think outside the box. Don’t just look in the same old places for new employees. Think about going outside of your industry for people with the right attitude and a track record of success. You can always train skills and product knowledge.
  3. Telephone screening interview. Consider having a 15- to 20-minute telephone interview with potential candidates. This can save a lot of time and expense before a more formal interview is arranged, and enable you to meet more candidates.
  4. Personality profiles. Use a personality-profiling tool (Google “DISC behavior profile” for examples) to make sure a candidate is a good fit for the position your company is offering. Different fields require their own unique brand of skills.
  5. Watch the body language. Always have another person interview the candidate with you and if possible get him or her to ask the questions, so you can concentrate on listening to the answers and also observe the body language to make sure it’s consistent with what is being said.
  6. References. Always insist on speaking to a former boss for a reference. Sometimes it is not what is said about the candidate but the way in which it is said over the phone that can alert you to potential problems and provide clues to the positive aspects of the candidate. Written references are usually brief and not very helpful.
  7. Staff referral program. Have a program in place that rewards current employees if they recommend a qualified person for a position. For example, you could offer a cash bonus to staff members if their recommended candidate is hired and another bonus if the candidate is still with you and performing well six months later. This has the added benefit of ensuring new employees have a mentor looking out for them during their initial six months.


Try some of these tips and see what works best for you. If you can surround yourself with a team of A players who have great attitudes, are motivated by achievement and are strong in areas where you are weak, your role as a manager or business owner becomes far easier. You can concentrate on setting goals for your company while your team achieves amazing results.


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