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Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  670 ratings  ·  26 reviews

Great companies don’t just depend on strategies—they depend on people. The more great people on your team, the more successful your organization will be. But that’s easier said than done. Statistically, half of all employment decisions result in a mishire: The wrong person winds up in the wrong job. But companies that have followed Bradford Smart’s advice in Topgrading h

Hardcover, Revised and Updated Edition, 592 pages
Published April 7th 2005 by Portfolio
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Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book has some valuable information and ideas about how to improve your odds of hiring keepers, but it is also painful to read.

First the painful part – The book shamelessly plugs its own brand and company and this borders on nauseating at times. The methodology explained in the book is labeled "Topgrading" and if had a dollar for every time this term was mentioned in the book, I could retire. His success is self-evident because of the adoption his processes, at companies such as GE, however
Aug 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
Didn't find this book as ground-breaking as other readers. Yes, the main concept was interesting, but it seemed like a one long promo for his childrens' consulting busineses. ...more
Phillip Bryant
Jul 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Way too long!
Apr 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Almost entirely self-promotion. Rather than spending most of the book explaining how to Topgrade, Smart instead brags about Topgrading’s success and occasionally promotes his (likely very expensive) Topgrading workshop.

That’s too bad, because many of the core concepts of Topgrading are reasonable: interviewing should take a good deal of time, questions should be prepared, questions should be deeply probing, there should be a note taker, etc.

GE and Jack Welch play prominently here. If you’re stu
Chris Holland
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The first time I interviewed someone, I had no idea what I was doing and the candidate could clearly see that.

If I had read this, that would not have been the case at all. While most case studies are focused on large and medium sized companies- this is a critical handbook for hiring whether you’re increasing your team by 1 or 100 people.

I started this book with a highlighter that had post it flags attached to it. I used the entire highlighter up and almost all the post it flags while annotating
Onkar Singh
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books read.......

This book is a must read for every executive, Manager, senior Manager, General Manager, CEO...... It's a Shre shot success pill.

Jan 05, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Useful information but the majority of the book was spent selling the concept instead of teaching it. Could definitely be reduced down to about 100 pages.
James Centenera
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good insights but written in a very corporate way
This is a terrible book, based on hiring practices that are meant for intimidation under the Industrial Age rules.
Kiri Masters
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Topgrading is a hiring process that is supposed to increase the percentage of “A Players” from 25% to 90% in your company.

The principle are that you keep job candidates honest through thorough reference checks on their background, extremely clear KPIs for roles and other principles, and you either weed out or convert B and C players into A players. A lot is focused around principles for large companies, which have actual HR departments and more than 1 person in a role so that position descripti
John Boettcher
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was good, as was the concept behind it, and the data that supports it. However, I think that the book was a bit long for what it was trying to prove, and they should have perhaps just stuck with teaching businesses how to conduct meaningful interviews and how to identify good employees and separating them from the bad.

Besides the length and a little bit of fluff in the book, I gave it 5 stars because anyone that has ever given an interview, or anyone who has ever had to write question
Sue Learn
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
There are some good nuggets of best practices scattered throughout the book but the author's amount of self promotion makes them easy to overlook. My CEO asked me to lead a book club at my company to discuss this book and senior leaders were so focused on the amount of times Smart used the word "Topgrading" that many were not able to focus on the value of best practices such as interview standardization, using reference checking as a legitimate tool and doubling up for team interviews. Additiona ...more
Leader Summaries
Desde Leader Summaries recomendamos la lectura del libro El valor del capital humano, de Bradford Smart.
Las personas interesadas en las siguientes temáticas lo encontrarán práctico y útil: recursos humanos, atraer, motivar y retener a los empleados.
En el siguiente enlace tienes el resumen del libro El valor del capital humano, Cómo identificar a los empleados excelentes: El valor del capital humano
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management
This book was on the shelf in my old boss's office, so I borrowed it just to see what she was reading. Thirteen years later the lessons in the the book have stuck with me.

Most of the book is about why the hiring decision is so important, and why it's important to retain top talent. The reason I still have it on my shelf though, is the great section on how to properly conduct an interview. See p. 226 "A short version of the CIDS interview."

I highly recommend it for anyone making a hiring decisi
Charlane Brady
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it
A must read for anyone hiring anyone. It is hard to think of an organization in any field that cannot benefit from this book. After working in the hi-tech start-up industry for 10+ years (Silicon Valley + International) I agree with about 99% of this book.

Many just cannot get the people thing right.
Apr 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
May have had some good points... I don't know, because I didn't make it past the 2nd cd. It seemed like a giant advertisement for his company. ...more
Guy Byars
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very good and important concept, absolute slog of a read.

Read the first two chapters and stop.
R.W. Clark
Oct 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Catchy title in the category of management tool of the month.
Book was good but not groundbreaking. The concept is sound but maybe should've been shorter in length and explained in simpler manner. ...more
Colin Keeley
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it
The book has great ideas but 90% of the pages are wasted trying to convince the reader to follow the program. Should be ~100 pages.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for work - very interesting concept for "upping" the talent at an organization. Principles can be applied, but really needs to come from the leadership down in order to be effective. ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Thorough if perhaps overly long. Its prescription for extended interviews helped us steer clear of some potential hires. Would that I had read it sooner!
Cris V.
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a great book, top notch for people who want to lead HR in a different way. Highly recommended.
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
The importance of 'A' level employees and why the 90/10 rules is always true ...more
Greggy Licos
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Jun 14, 2015
Josette Russell
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Jan 26, 2018
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Jul 11, 2017
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