3 September 2020

Top-performers-based hiring in scaleups: This matrix helps you do it the right way

Your team makes or breaks your scaleup success. And that’s simply because of the fact that scaleups spend on average 72% of their total budget on their team, so poor team performance has an enormous impact on financial health – and eventually company existence.

So, we all want to hire the best of the best in order to get the most out of these costs – and the most logical way to ensure successful hires seems to be searching for candidates who are look-alikes of your top-performers. If you have for instance an Emma or Steve in your Sales team who is highly successful, I do understand that it seems to make sense to select the candidate who comes closest to either Emma or Steve. 

In this blog I explain why this approach is not successful for your company in the long-run and how to approach top-performers-based hiring the right way.


The copy-paste effect

If you have read other Equalture blogs, you will likely be familiar with this concept: The copy-paste effect. This means that, when hiring people, we tend to search for look-alikes of top-performers we already have in the team.


Why this is a dangerous tactic 

Implementing this copy-paste effect, however, can seriously danger your team performance. Here’s why.

Firstly, the fact that some of your team members are the best performing ones doesn’t mean that they are also the very best ones out there. Your top-performers might be top-performers given the fact that they master skill A and B, but it could be that skill C is also an important contributor to their performance. By only focusing on what your top-performers master, you might unconsciously eliminate a huge part of your talent pool, mastering that skill C. 

And that brings me directly to my second reason, which is all about neurodiversity. Neurodiversity, in contrast to demographic diversity, is the type of diversity that is challenging to reveal, since this focuses on invisible, neurological differences in our brain. This is the type of human characteristics that for instance determine someone’s creativity, self-reliance, innovative thinking, resilience and self-control. 

Research has shown that scaleup teams that lack of neurodiversity are more likely to fail, since a low level of neurodiversity indicates a limited representation of skills and personality traits in a team – while you often need a larger set of traits in your team in order to solve complex problems together and come up with creative ideas. 

By only focusing on traits that your top-performers have and your mid- and low-performers don’t, you will keep hiring for the exact same skill set and personalities, resulting in lacking neurodiversity. In this blog you can read the consequences of lacking neurodiversity in your team


Top-performers-based hiring approach 2.0: The TP-MLP Matrix

I do believe that it’s smart to focus on traits that distinguish top-performers from mid- and low-performers. However, I also believe that it’s not the only thing you should focus on as you have to keep stimulating neurodiversity. That’s why I would love to introduce the TP-MLP Matrix to you.


TP-MLP Matrix

The TP-MLP Matrix divides traits that are considered to be important within a specific team into four categories. These are the two categories we recommend our customers to focus on:

  1. The traits which top- performers master, but mid- and low-performers don’t. These traits are considered to be success predictors for top-performers and therefore it’s important that new team members master a minimum required level of this trait.
  2. The traits on which both top-performers and mid- and low-performers have a low score. These are the traits that, although they are marked as relevant for this team, are currently not represented. Hiring team members who master these traits will diversify your team and therefore increase neurodiversity, ultimately leading to better team performance.


How to use this TP-MLP matrix

Now let’s provide you with an example that shows you how you can use this matrix. 

For this example, I will focus on hiring Sales Development Reps. Let’s say you have 6 SDRs in your team now, of which 3 are top-performers and 3 are mid- or low-performers. This is how to apply the TP-MLP Matrix to your process of hiring a new SDR.


Step 1. Create an overview of the skills and personality traits you find important for this position

For all positions here at Equalture, we have an overview of the traits that are important for this specific position. I need to be honest here: Given the fact that we use our own Team Composition Technology and neuro-assessment games, we have a significant advantage. However, it’s highly doable to create a list of important traits per job – the internet is full of these kinds of lists.

Here you can for instance find an overview of important skills for both Sales Development and Business Developers.

Once you have created an overview, you are ready for step 2. 


Step 2. Rate your team members on these traits and split top-performers and mid- and low-performers.

The next step is rating your team members on these different traits. And to keep it simple, you can only choose between high, medium and low. Our customers use our neuro-assessment games to execute this rating objectively, but to start simple, just doing it yourself is also possible.

After rating your team members, make sure you split them based on top- or mid-/low-performance. 


Step 3. TP-MLP Matrix

Now the last step is categorising the traits based on the rating of your team members. After completing this, you now only need to focus on the traits in the left part of the matrix. 

Here again, assessments are very helpful to make sure you can assess candidates on these traits objectively, but structuring your interview questions based on these traits is also a great first step. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are aware of the set of traits to focus on in your hiring process.

And that’s it. You can now continue to focus on top-performer indicators, while also preventing yourself from downgrading your neurodiversity more and more. 

Cheers, Charlotte
Co-Founder & CEO