Remember that person who you really wanted to hire but they took a job somewhere else? Now is the time to reconnect. Through no fault of their own, great talent is being displaced due to the pandemic. Now is the time to proactively hire and raise the level of performance through opportunistic hiring! This crisis will pass. And when it does, emerge as a much stronger organization and be positioned to crush your competitors!

Our guest today: Jeff Erle, Former CEO of MobilityWare

Jeff has held numerous C-level positions throughout his career.  His experience spans across start-ups, small privately-held and large public enterprises including ADP, Western Digital, MobilityWare and most recently as the COO at Blast.  

Jeff focuses on building high-performing teams and evolving award-winning cultures focusing on multi-generational workforces, developing/coaching key executives, and helping companies develop strategies to scale for growth and/or exit. 

Today we discuss

  • Why it is a great opportunity to hire
  • A-players: what are they?
  • How to identify and elevate your company performance during this downturn

Why is this important evaluate and proactively hire now?

  • Talent is your #1 asset
  • You now have the opportunity to upgrade your talent 
  • Missing an amazing opportunity to settle for the first people to knock on your door
  • Now you have the ability to find an abundance of a players

Obviously, the Covid-19 virus has changed the world’s landscape like never before in our lifetimes. In particular, for businesses of all sizes, the nature of the workforce has and will continue to evolve, especially given the looming changes to the large number of workers that will be looking for work. Whether already or soon to be unemployed, or working for a company whose business model has been adversely impacted, millions of people will be applying for open positions later this year unlike anything we have seen in a very long time.

What's an A-player?

  • top 10% of experience, capability,  for the compensation you are willing to pay for the role. 

Given that, for most companies, people are their greatest assets, the challenge will be to retain your A-players. And the opportunity would be to use this historic dynamic to “upgrade” your team and your organization. We’ll focus today on the latter, using the talent either already available or soon to be to assure our businesses come out of this cycle stronger than ever before. 

Rick’s Input

  • SalesForce, CEO Marc Benioff (tweet- 2200 jobs open…… prioritizing referrals of friends & family who have lost jobs. 
  • A-player - right profile (builders/startups), cultural alignment
    • Desire should be workable

How do we start?

First step is to develop a definition of what an A-player looks like for your organization.

  • One who is among the top 10% “available” for the open (or too be upgraded) position
  • “Available” means: they are willing to accept an offer given the compensation level offered, in a culture such as yours, in your particular industry and location, with the resources available to them, with specific accountabilities/responsibilities, and reporting to a specific person
  • Discuss examples...

Second step is to take an inventory, or a snapshot of your people assets and the level of their quality on an individual basis:

  • Identify the “Pioneers” (A-players), “vacationers” (maintainers), and the “prisoners” (those always complaining… but they never leave; they feel handcuffed...)
  • Methods to accomplish this include: (1) performance management tools (reviews, feedback, etc.) commonly used at year end for merit increases, and/or (2) “force-ranking” individuals either within departments, or if small enough, across the entire organization. (NB: There are numerous views/debates of the efficacy of force-ranking… but I have used it successfully, especially in circumstances such as this, when economic times demand tough decisions around headcount.)

Last step is to assure your recruiting strategy, methodologies and capabilities can fulfill this goal

Be diligent

  • Shift focus to finding the best; this may mean balancing identifying and vetting “passive” candidates with “active” candidates.
  • This means you cant be lazy. Its easier/faster to work only with the myriad of resumes and candidates that will be applying to your company this year, but they may not represent the best pool of A-players available to you.
  • Ways to assure this include:
    • If you have internal recruiting teams, assure they are aligned with your remit of seeking passive candidates as well as active.
    • Get a good third-party recruiting partner to find the passive A-players and focus on presenting those people to your hiring manager(s).

Embrace increased volumes and/or new modes of interviewing

  • Phone screens
  • Video interviews (zoom, skype, etc.)
    • Learn best practices on how to do these; many do’s and dont’s lists now available
    • Teach managers how to do an appropriate phone screen and video interview
    • Pre interview prep and internal alignment amongst interviewing teams
      • What are the top key capabilities you all want for the role?
      • Who is vetting which ones?
      • Who is determining cultural fit?
      • Who is making the final decision? Is it unilateral, consultative, or consensus?
      • Agree on Who is “buying”, who’s “selling” during the process?


  • The more time you spend up front the less time you spend in the interviews themselves
  • Poor managers don't want to do the work up front to coordinate
  • You need to stand out to be the memorable company to attract the A-player. 
  • People go to work for good leaders/managers (converse of that's what they quit), not just good companies. 

Rick’s Nuggets

  • Build a list and say Hi

Key Takeaways:

  • Now is a great time to re-evaluate your talent, your greatest asset, and upgrade as necessary 
  • To do so, you will need to embrace new internal areas of focus and philosophies, and your org will need to embrace and/or learn new ways of defining, finding, vetting and attracting A-player candidates
Share | Download
Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App