How To Spot An A-Player

Every  employer has her own definition of an ideal employee.  But, most would probably describe an A-player as: intelligent, dedicated, energetic, independent, focused, organized, kind, and with excellent communication skills.  Do these employees exist?  This morning I spent an hour on the phone with Sears’ representatives trying to understand why they kept canceling my online order for dryers.  They had no explanation.  And no solution.  The company has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for years.  And its employees cancel the orders without explanation or care!

An outstanding employee, or an A-player, can transform the company: generate obscene amount of revenue, mitigate many dropped balls, reverse a massive negative trend.  A team of outstanding employees can conquer the world. A few years ago, the Hawaiian Telecom company had been struggling to adapt to the new times (just like Sears and many other companies that didn’t make it).  Fortunately they had a bright idea to assemble the team of business executives-Avengers from all different fields, regardless of their experience with telecom or logistics.  The results were outstanding and the company is thriving once again.

At Superb Maids we go through thousands of applications and hundreds of interviews on a regular basis.  And trying our best to select the top candidates.  Initially, we were hiring anyone with a pulse.  But we quickly learned how expensive and draining the wrong hires can be and started optimizing our hiring process.  Also, we have a number of fantastic clients and acquaintances who are the top players in their fields.  Here are our top tips for spotting an-A player which may apply to other types of companies:

  1. Great personal presentation.  Yes, you have to be a bit shallow on this one and judge the book by the cover.  A-players run their lives well.  And that shows in every aspect of their appearance.  When we were interviewing one employee a year ago - she brought a leather folder with questions, had a really neat hairstyle- I still remember the perfect side-part- and clean clothes.  She worked her way up from cleaning to management and was amazing at every step.  

  2. Attention to detail. Recently we were hiring an intern and placed an ad on Indeed with the instructions to shoot a short video about themselves and e-mail it to us.  Hundreds of applications poured in.  And only 1 (yes, that’s a one!) video as requested. He was immediately interviewed and hired and has been exceeding our expectations since.  What does the attention have to do with an A-status?  It’s the attitude.  If someone really puts an effort into applying for a job - he is more likely to put a similar effort into the job itself.  My executive assistant  similarly applied with attention to detail, initiative, follow-through and intelligence - and these same qualities make her a fantastic part of our team now.

  3. Loyalty.  In a house cleaning business and I suspect in many other businesses, things can go “a little bit” off the planned path.  Tires pop, kids get sick, dogs bite, etc.  The A-players will jump in and help you to put out the fire.  They will come in and work when others let you down.  You won’t feel like you’re alone.  They will prioritize your business situation over their personal life.  And in exchange you should respect and support their personal life too.  (When you’re not on fire!)  That’s all great and all, but how do you recognize that quality in a person you’ve just met?  A good sign is when they give a proper notice to their current employer and work with it for a smooth transition.  One of our managers took two full months to help her prior employer to transition properly.  Was she worth the wait? Absolutely!

  4. Humility.  There are two types of high performers - the ones who know they are brilliant and the ones who do not.  The first group will give you the list of demands and special care instructions. They won’t do the job that’s “beneath” them.  Don’t hire them. You will have to listen to them going on and on about how awesome they are and how everyone else is not awesome.  The other group - they will open doors, make coffee, clean the toilet, build a rocket.  And these are the ones we want.  I’ve seen too many times how the humbly brilliant people quickly rise to the very top - and that’s the least surprising thing ever.  During the interview it’s natural to brag about one’s accomplishments so it’s not hard to spot the peacocks and the divas and filter them out.

  5. Giving.  If I could only have a penny for every time an applicant asked what we can do for her...  Obviously, in a job search it’s important to know what benefits, compensation, working conditions, etc. are one is applying for.  But, to look at every interaction with others through the prism of “what can this person do for ME?” is short-sighted.  Any smart employer will give the moon and the stars to an employee who makes the business thrive.  But the employees who ask for stars first, just for showing up, are not the A-players.  

These are the main hallmarks of an A-player.   There is also a quick list of disqualifiers: racists, sexists, generally bigots, people who hate animals and the world in general, and people with a victim attitude.  At Superb Maids we are very fortunate to have a high concentration of the A-players (and -to be honest - a few divas!).  This factor - more than any other - has contributed to our rapid growth and outstanding customer experience.  Excellence is a rare quality that’s always in high demand.  Being able to spot the excellent employees is one of the most important qualities for any business.   

If you're interested in starting a cleaning business, I put together an online course.  It captures everything I did right (and not all the stuff I did wrong!).  And it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.  Let me know if I can help with anything.