The Definition of an A-Player: A Complete Guide

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Posted by: David Garcia November 23, 2021

Your ideal team is chock-full of the most talented, most dedicated, and hardest working people imaginable. In HR terms, these employees are your A-Players.

You know the type — shows up early, stays late, asks how they can help, offers support to other employees. In brief: your dream hire.

There’s no world in which everyone you hire fits that mold, though. Some people will inevitably be B-Players and even the occasional C-Player will slip through the cracks.

Can C-Players move up to A? Can A-Players fall down the ladder? How does the team dynamic change based on employee personality? Let’s answer these questions, dispel some myths about A-Players, and get you the straight facts you need.

Hiring is hard enough as it is, why ever shoot for second best?

What Is an A-Player?

A-Players are the cream of the crop. In general, they are the top 10% of talent available for their position.

These are the people who bring in the money and make the company shine. You probably always give them a glowing performance review and expect consistent good work out of them.

These people aren’t always leaders, although leadership is a valuable trait. Instead, they are employees who excel in their role, whatever that may be.

A-Players tend to value work above all else. Those who spend more time at the office than they do with their families will stop at nothing to succeed.

What Are the Characteristics of an A-Player?

Ok, so we know an A-Player is a stand-out employee. But how can you pick them out of your team?

Look for these characteristics and traits, and you’ll know who your A-Players are.

A Perfect Culture Fit

You’d be happy with your A-Player on the cover of your company’s brochure. They are the idealized version of an employee who embodies the company’s values and speaks on their behalf.

The A-Players make you excited to come to work and encourage the team to work toward a common goal. They don’t just shine on their own, either. Their dedication helps lift up their colleagues and help others realize their full potential.

Potential and Capacity for Growth

Quick—make a mental note of all your employees and think about who you would keep and who you would let go of if you could start all over again.

Anyone you picked to stay on is an A-Player. Interestingly, this person isn’t always the one with the most impressive resume. They may have lacked the specific work experience or education coming in, but they grew with the company once they started.

The capacity for growth and the intelligence and initiative to accomplish the task at hand are what make a candidate you’d want to hire tenfold.

A Person of Their Word

When an A-Player says they will have their work finished by EOD, they always do.

It is alarmingly rare these days to find employees who follow through on their promises.

These are not the people who ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ (you can see right through those employees).

These are the employees who can lay out a plan and accomplish it efficiently.

What Is the Value of Hiring A-Players?

Once you begin nurturing your star performers, the results are as clear as day.

The emotional and financial benefits of hiring only the best will make your business soar.

A-Players Punch Above Their Weight

A single A-Player will deliver double the productivity of two or three B-Players.

An A-Player’s salary will still be less than two B-Players. You save on the overhead and end up ahead in terms of output.

Even several 10% raises for a single top A-Player still puts the company ahead of hiring sub-par employees.

They Attract Top Talent

The applications will come pouring in once the word gets out that your company is a hotbed for top talent. Your reputation as an A-Player environment invites more competitive talent to join.

A-Players also stick with their kind. When you need fresh blood, always ask your top team members for their recommendations. They tend to be attracted to colleagues who push and challenge them.

They Push The Company

A-Players are the ones who see the flaws in the business. But most importantly, they seek ways to fix them and improve them.

An A-Player may challenge specific business policies and strategies with their own ideas. Listen close—these ideas may come in handy sooner than you think!

Open communication often breeds growth.

Common Misconceptions about A-Players

While there are clear parameters of what makes an A-Player stand out, it is not carved in stone. Watch out for these misconceptions.

All A-Players have a Type-A Personality

A Type A personality is exacting, competitive, and success-oriented. Type A people are also associated with conniving tactics, deceit, and even toxic masculinity.

A-Players often do not reflect this aggressive personality. Some are charming leaders, but others are introverted and quiet.

Instead of subjective information and personality, always refer to metrics when determining A-Players. Numbers speak more than brash confidence.

Your best employees are the ones who have something to show, not just the loudest.

They Have Top Marks for Experience or Education

It’s easy to let an education at a top-ten school or a fast-track to management distract you from the actual candidate.
Hiring strictly for experience isn’t always the right tactic. Sometimes, the candidate with the best resume will plateau or even fall behind.

The capacity for growth in the future rather than accomplishments in the past is what determines whether someone will become an A-player at your company.

Once an A-Player, Always an A-Player

An A-Player can become complacent over time. It is management’s job to keep training and encouragement high. A-Players need a challenge to keep improving.

On the other hand, B-Players can rise among the ranks to join the A-Players. Good management makes everyone want to be their best. A rising tide lifts all boats.


Hiring is tough. And finding your A-Players can be a long process.

Countless interviews, piles of recommendations, workplace challenges, and more all paint a picture of your candidate. After weeks or months of this, are you ready for the arduous background check?

If you’re busy enough as it is, let ScoutLogic handle the background check!

If a candidate seems too good to be true, ScoutLogic’s thorough vetting will get into all the details and reveal the truth! Find the A-Players today.

Get in touch with ScoutLogic!

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