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From The Blog

WANT TO WIN? First, you must identify and unleash your top two percenters. (Hint…they might not be on your management team.)

True talent-driven organizations understand, practice and insist on scaling up their best talent to not only meet market demands, but to anticipate them. I wrote in last month’s blog post that talent practices within many organizations remain deeply entrenched in the 20th century, making them increasingly irrelevant. These outdated practices were effective then because environments were more predictable and people were managed through organization charts.

But to outperform our competitors—and, more importantly, ourselves—the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) must be able to identify the top 2 percent of talent according to the book, “Talent Wins” by Ram Charan, Dominic Barton and Dennis Carey.  And once they do, it’s vital to know how to scale them up, give them the freedom to make exponential impact within the organization and, of course, reward them appropriately.

There are two key points that need to be addressed before anything as idyllic (yet required) as this can be accomplished.

  1. In order for human resources to influence the strategic direction of the organization, the CHRO must serve as a business partner who is empowered to help drive the top-level finances of the organization in collaboration with the CEO and CFO.
  2. The CHRO must be able to identify, recruit and scale up the talent that is required for an organization to accomplish its mission. And, this person needs the right tools to be able to objectively assess possible new recruits, because having a sixth sense for recognizing talent is far from consistently successful.

I discussed in the last post that when the CHRO is given a seat at the conference table, your talent practices can become integrated with your business strategy—both short and long term. A financially adept CHRO will then be empowered to hire and train talent to drive the organization forward.

Part of this also includes freeing your CHRO to influence compensation practices for the top 2 percenters. In talent-driven companies, it’s fairly common to see mid-level talent earning up to five times that of top-level management, or even more. In “Talent Wins,” there are several such examples. So, if you’re not committed to adapting your corporate culture to one where the rainmakers are rewarded for results, and where you give the CHRO the flexibility required to compensate them appropriately, you risk handicapping everyone.


The talent-driven CHRO knows that its first job is to identify the top 2 percent of talent already employed within the organization (and these may not be on the management team), what makes them a top 2 percenter, and how to intuit, match and measure those very traits in potential new recruits. The second role that the CHRO holds is to scale up this talent and match them to the roles in which they can drive exponential value. It’s all about increasing capacitation. Underpinning the success of both of these points includes the CHRO’s ability to successfully gain the trust of the CEO and CFO by consistently showing the financial wins these top 2 percenters bring.


To truly develop a talent-driven organization, according to “Talent Wins,” CHROs need to be able to judge and match recruits to the positions where their impact has the potential to be exponential. They also need to identify the talent that is most heavily contributing to an organization’s success and have a proven system for objectively assessing the combination of skill sets and behaviors driving it so that potential talent can be reliably compared. This is what allows them to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

The PXT Select™ allows CHROs to focus on ideal traits by assessing the highest performing employees and compiling the results to create a benchmark of job and culture fit. They can use this benchmark during the screening process to identify those who are a close match.

When using assessments, think about your culture as a whole, but also pay careful attention to each role. Let’s look at a specific example. In most sales positions, a top performer scores between a five and an eight on the competitiveness scale of the PXT™ (an assessment that measures job fit with cognitive, personality and interest scales). But perhaps your industry and culture are extraordinarily competitive, and you find your top sales people score between a seven and a 10. By having this data, you’re in a better position to identify sales people who have the right traits to succeed as a top 2 percenter.

Once you know who to hire, you still need to quantitatively assess how well potential candidates fit with the role today and their ability to adapt to the role as it evolves. The PXT Select™ offers reports that assist in this mission, by providing strategy-based position profiles that can be used for continuous talent development.

Identifying, recruiting and scaling up 2 percenters is not only possible with the aid of pre-hire assessments, but it’s required for organizational success. If you need help identifying your top talent first, so that you can undertake such a strategic change within your organization, we can help you benchmark your top. Contact Valerie Oldre at 952.470.0162 or email to learn more today.