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How to Measure Hiring Success Within Your Executive Team

Providing A-players with measurable goals will motivate the entire team to reach success.

By Allan Young


Franchisors often struggle with how to hire top performers and keep executive team members productive throughout their tenure. Complacency and accepting “okay” performance are big risks to a franchise system’s growth. However, there are steps leaders can take, including implementing effective hiring and coaching practices that emphasize productivity and meet strategic objectives.

A hiring technique that has helped transform ShelfGenie’s executive team is Topgrading, a method created by hiring expert Bradford D. Smart, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Topgrading, Inc. The approach has assisted in creating a team of A-players and as the franchise system has continued to grow nationally and throughout Canada, the Topgrading method has resulted in increased productivity and revenue. The tactic is extremely effective toward ensuring that the company is establishing a culture of excellence and hiring people who embody the characteristics of an A-player.

The approach continues beyond hiring and helps the home office staff and franchise system better evaluate and measure hiring success by having expectations clearly defined for every person on the team. Constantly focusing team members on the right goals and evaluating performance in a measurable way will drive a cultural shift that recognizes those who are dedicated in driving the company towards further progress. By communicating a vision with the team and clearly defining goals for each employee, business leaders establish a positive growth rhythm for their business and have objective measures to reward the results driven by their team.

Is Your “A” Team in Place?

A huge obstacle for business leaders to overcome is being able to identify the right A-players for their team and being able to properly motivate them and hold them accountable. ShelfGenie has taken cues on what makes an A-player from Geoff Smart, author of “Who: the A Method for Hiring.” Smart defines the A-player as the candidate who has at least a 90 percent chance of achieving a set of outcomes that only 10 percent of possible candidates could achieve. They are the employees who accept responsibility and don’t make excuses.

Topgrading can aid in identifying candidates who will thrive in a highly-demanding and complex environment. Once they have completed the interview process and are offered employment, metrics should be established to define and determine their goals. To properly measure success, franchisors must start the process from the moment the employee is brought on board.

Furthermore, ShelfGenie gives new employees a behavioral survey called the Predictive Index. It sets the tone of excellence from the beginning and puts them on the right path toward professional development. The candidate completes an online questionnaire that results in a quantifiable behavioral assessment that highlights the similarities and differences between the candidate and the ideal behavioral requirements of a job, at any level. Another benefit of the survey is that hiring managers are better able to evaluate how well a candidate will fit with the current team and how to best communicate with them, which results in setting better upfront expectations so the employee is set up from day one to succeed.

Accountability is Key

The Ladder of Accountability is a great tool business leaders can leverage to help employees understand the characteristics they need to demonstrate in to be considered an A-player. The ladder includes eight levels of accountability. Below the accountability line are the bottom four levels which describe someone who sees himself as a victim and blames others in situations, while the top four levels above the accountability line describe an employee who is results-oriented. The following is a breakdown of the top four levels that ultimately depict how an A-player should conduct himself on a daily basis.

Acknowledge Reality.  When A-players are put in particular situations, they realize there are tasks that need to be done and that people are relying on them to do their part. Furthermore, they can sort the facts from fiction and realize that something needs to change to reach the end goal.

Own It. A-players take ownership of situations. If they are put in an undesirable situation, they take complete ownership in their role in the problem-solving equation and do not make excuses or blame others.

Seeking Solutions.  Once an A-player takes ownership of a situation, he actively seeks solutions to get the task accomplished. Also, A-players recognize that there is typically more than one way to approach a task so they are proactive with brainstorming multiple solutions.

Make It Happen.  Once A-players have owned the situation and have come up with solutions to accomplish the task at hand, they put their solutions into action. A-players love to execute and continue to problem-solve through or around any obstacles put in their path during execution.

Once the ideal team of A-players is created, team members will be aware of the things they are accountable for and understand expectations for helping the organization achieve its defined goals.


A-players like to be measured and they are also attracted to clear objectives. Franchisors can present each team member with a positional agreement, which can be thought of as an upgraded version of a typical job description. It’s very clear and breaks down each part of the job by detailing specific daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly tasks and goals.

Furthermore, at the executive level, ShelfGenie has put in place a series of group and individual quarterly SMART goals that are tied to both their performance evaluation and bonus. The SMART goals are unique to each team member and the goals tie directly to our strategic objectives for the quarter. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Every goal each senior team member sets for himself must fit inside these parameters. SMART goals are set quarterly in a group meeting with the rest of the senior executive team so everyone, not just the CEO and team member, who owns the goals, has a chance to give input on the formation of the goals.

Often an employee isn’t engaged in the evaluation process because the leaders aren’t proactively involving him.  Also, senior leaders can be unaware of what other department and leaders are focused on doing. By creating evaluations and goals that are contingent upon both supporting the company’s strategic priorities and gathering the input of the entire senior team in a group, goal-setting environment, the process enables employees to understand their unique importance within the organization, work together as a coordinated team and to execute with a sense of purpose.

Ready to Motivate

As franchisors begin the process of identifying personal and company objectives, it is crucial to maintain communication and transparency about performance and expectations. Being open and forthright with team members about measuring performance can lead to a more cohesive and positive office environment. To set a franchise system on the path toward productivity, motivation and results, it is important to implement the following key steps that have been discussed throughout this article:

  • Committing to hiring only A-players and using the Topgrading process to ensure everyone meets the A-player criteria.
  • Setting employees on the right track with an action plan based on a clearly written positional agreement and Predictive Index Survey.
  • Creating cultural shift using the Ladder of Accountability to create a culture of excellence.
  • Establishing team and individual S-M-A-R-T goals for quarterly evaluations and bonus structures.

The hiring process can be a time-consuming process. However, taking actionable steps toward improving team culture and providing A-players with measurable goals will motivate the entire team to reach success.

Allan Young is the CEO of ShelfGenie, a company that provides custom designed shelving solutions with more than 160 locally owned and operated franchise locations operating throughout 22 states and three Canadian provinces. Find him at

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