6 Characteristics of Employees You Need to “Topgrade”

You might be familiar with the concept of “topgrading” in regards to personnel management and hiring.

If you’re not, there’s an underlying philosophy regarding topgrading. That philosophy is also referred to as “The 20-60-20 Rule.” That rule states the following:

  • 20% of an organization’s employees are superstars.
  • 60% of its employees are competent, but not superstars.
  • 20% of its employees are underachievers.

“Toprading” advocates getting rid of the bottom 20% of an organization’s employees and hiring superstar candidates to replace them. This makes sense, especially if topgrading is a consistent part of your hiring process. Eventually, your bottom 20% will be performing better than the middle 60% of your competition, which is exactly what you want.

This leads us to the next question: how do you identify those employees that fall into the bottom 20%? While this may be obvious in some instances, it’s not always clear which employees should stay and which ones should be replaced.

With that in mind, below are six characteristics of employees you need to top grade:

#1—They put forth the minimum amount of effort.

Minimum effort does not drive company growth and profitability. Going “above and beyond” is what gets the job done. Somebody who arrives late and leaves early does not display the commitment necessary to help their employer reach its goals for growth.

#2—They’re uncooperative.

When a team effort is needed to complete a project or meet a deadline, an “all hands on deck” mentality should prevail. These employees habitually make themselves scarce during critical situations.

#3—They’re hostile to co-workers and customers.

This type of behavior can be disastrous, both within the organization in terms of company culture and also outside the organization in terms of employer branding.

#4—They make excuses.

The bottom 20% makes excuses to explain away poor performance. In the worst-case scenario, they blame their co-workers, “throwing them under the bus.”

#5—They complain.

Breeding negativity by complaining can be like a cancer in the workplace, especially during high-pressure situations associated with a deadline. Complaining contributes nothing positive; it only brings down the rest of the team.

#6—They do not invest in themselves.

Employees should continually seek out new training and similar opportunities to better themselves and add to their skill set. When they do that, they become more valuable. When they don’t, their stock within the company falls, and ultimately so do their contributions.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.