Brad Smart

  • Hire, Promote, & Retain The Top Performers
  • Motivational Speaker
  • Leadership Speaker

President, Smart & Associates, Inc., Brad Smart completed his doctorate in Industrial Psychology at Purdue University, entered consulting, and since the 1970s has been in private practice as President of Smart & Associates, Inc., based in the Chicago area. Brad is frequently acknowledged to be the world's foremost expert on hiring. As a consultant to many visible Global 100 companies, Brad introduced Topgrading methods.  Brad has conducted in-depth interviews with over 6,500 executives. He is author of seven books and videos, including:

·Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, by Dr. Brad Smart

·Topgrading for Sales: World-Class Methods to Interview, Hire, and Coach Top Sales Representatives, by Dr. Brad Smart and Greg Alexander

·The Smart Interviewer: Tools and Techniques for Hiring the Best, by Dr. Brad Smart

·Topgrading Toolkit, hi-def videos and books to train in the 12 Topgrading hiring steps, including demos of all the interviews

·Smart Parenting: How to Raise Happy, Can-Do Kids, by Dr. Brad Smart and Dr. Kate Mursau

Smart & Associates helps companies Topgrade by assessing and coaching teams, conducting Topgrading® workshops, and providing books, handbooks, and videos to help clients Topgrade on their own. The resulting improvements in company performance have been featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal, in many Fortune articles, and on CNN.

See Below for Full Bio

  • Speaking Topics:

    Hiring, Human Resources, Leadership, Motivation, Parenting / Family, Peak Performance, Sales

  • Travels From:

    Illinois

  • Price:

    $20,000 - $30,000

    Notes on Fees

  • Videos
  • Full Bio
  • Speech Topics
  • Books
  • Testimonials
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Topgrading Brad Smart Speaking Engagement

President, Smart & Associates, Inc., Brad Smart completed his doctorate in Industrial Psychology at Purdue University, entered consulting, and since the 1970s has been in private practice as President of Smart & Associates, Inc., based in the Chicago area. Brad is frequently acknowledged to be the world's foremost expert on hiring. As a consultant to many visible Global 100 companies, Brad introduced Topgrading methods.  Brad has conducted in-depth interviews with over 6,500 executives. He is author of seven books and videos, including:

·Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, by Dr. Brad Smart

·Topgrading for Sales: World-Class Methods to Interview, Hire, and Coach Top Sales Representatives, by Dr. Brad Smart and Greg Alexander

·The Smart Interviewer: Tools and Techniques for Hiring the Best, by Dr. Brad Smart

·Topgrading Toolkit, hi-def videos and books to train in the 12 Topgrading hiring steps, including demos of all the interviews

·Smart Parenting: How to Raise Happy, Can-Do Kids, by Dr. Brad Smart and Dr. Kate Mursau

Smart & Associates helps companies Topgrade by assessing and coaching teams, conducting Topgrading® workshops, and providing books, handbooks, and videos to help clients Topgrade on their own. The resulting improvements in company performance have been featured on the cover of The Wall Street Journal, in many Fortune articles, and on CNN.

1. World-Class Best Practices in Hiring Top Talent

Learn how leading companies like GE and American Heart Association dramatically improved their hiring and promoting success from 25% to 90%.

2. How to Create Your A Team: World-Class Best Practices

Build your high performance team by embracing best practices to recruit, hire, promote, develop, and keep A players.

3. The Topgrading® Advantage: Improve Hiring and Promoting From 25% to 90%

Dr. Brad Smart shares how leading companies like GE and American Heart Association dramatically improved their hiring and promoting success by following the roadmap set forth in Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, the Amazon.com #1 bestseller of 1,400 books on hiring for over five years.

4. Topgrading®: How Companies Convert their Mix of A, B, C Players to 90% A Players.

Many leading companies like GE, Honeywell, Hillenbrand, Barclays, and Lincoln Financial have dramatically improved their stock performance by embracing Brad Smart’s Topgrading® methods. Vivid, actual case studies dramatize the methods.

Jack Welch

"Brad helped us develop the tools to pick the best talent at GE."

How to Topgrade Those Pesky Millennials
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Introduction: For starters, stop referring to them as “pesky” or … spoiled, overly entitled, lazy, self-centered, lacking in loyalty, lacking in resourcefulness, afraid of accountability, hard to manage, and pesky (oops, already said that).

Topgrading, Inc., clients all over the world are struggling to cope with “Millennials” — employees mainly in their twenties.  To lessen hiring Millennials, some are hiring older people, retaining older workers longer, attempting to “train” Millennials to be more like their traditional workers, and … fretting a lot.  They just haven’t figured out a strategy to cope — much less a strategy to thrive.

Before I dive further into this article, I’d like to thank Chip Espinoza (Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce) for helping edit this article.

Millennials Are Taking Over The World. It’s simple demographics — populations of most western countries are aging, and the Millennials (those born approximately between 1983 and 2001) will dominate the workforce in the next 5 years. Millennials are all over social media, blogging 24/7 and letting their 1,000 “friends” know which companies are great to work for and which companies are stuck in the old ways that make working for them less attractive.

Bottom Line:  Embrace Millennial values or else you may end up hiring C Player Millennials.  Believe it, or not, you might see the C Players as more attractive to hire because you perceive them to “know their place.” The A Players want to have a voice from day one, and they want to make their mark on your organization. You can easily spot them because they are always challenging processes, strategies, and their managers. It may be time to make a concerted effort to alter your organizational culture by shifting the conversation about Millennials to a conversation with Millennials to get the best of what they can offer.  It is not only about recruiting and retention, but innovation, too! Do it … or suffer.

Why Millennials are “Different.” They have been reared by “helicopter” parents who told them they ARE very special. They got trophies whether they sat on the bench or kicked most of the goals. Mom and Dad helped with their homework and did their science projects for them. When they got in trouble, Mom and Dad would plead their case to teachers, principals, and police (“C’mon, kids will be kids”). Instead of mowing lawns or working at McDonald’s, and learning the value of work disciplines, they attended special camps to learn techie things and painting (for their fulfillment). Oh, and you know how techie they are – devoting hours and hours every day to Facebook, video games, and texting. Their texting ways has made them socially challenged when it comes to face-to-face communication. Okay, not every Millennial had helicopter parents or struggles with face-to-face communication, but all are perceived the same way in the workplace.

At job fairs, companies find they have to announce in advance that parents are not welcome, otherwise Mom and Dad increasingly show up to say to recruiters why their kid IS so special. Universities have “parent bouncers” on orientation day for the same reason. Once hired, you can bet your pension if Olivia is passed-over for promotion, Mom or Dad will call to convince you why your decision is wrong. Google has a Parent’s Day so you can bring a parent to work. Enterprise lets parents in on the negotiations when recruiting new hires. Adaptation is the name of the game.

So What Do Millennials Want? According Chip Espinoza in his forthcoming book Millennials@Work: The 7 Skills Every Twenty-Something Needs To Overcome Roadblocks and Achieve Greatness at Work, here is the Millennial Top Ten of what they want at work:

  • To be listened to
  • To be accepted
  • To be rewarded for work
  • To be promoted faster
  • To know how they are doing
  • To know what is expected of them
  • To have a good relationship with older workers
  • To have a say in how they do their job
  • To be recognized
  • To blend work and life

Millennials desire honest, frequent feedback, coaching, mentoring, the ability to use their tech skills, and they want to make a difference – save the world.  Having been praised 24/7 all their life, they want positive recognition, and they do not want anything resembling harsh criticism.

They do not want to be told they have to conform to traditional bureaucracies, work specific hours, conform to traditional dress codes, or be forced into doing the job the old way; when applying for jobs they tend not to research companies and jobs in order to be able to say how they might make a contribution. They want the company to guarantee their happiness and job satisfaction … and if the company doesn’t, they will look for a job elsewhere.  Also, don’t be surprised if you feel like you are the one being interviewed when it comes to vetting potential hires.

How To Topgrade Millennials: Use all the Topgrading Tools

  • Recruit them to save the world.  Show them how your business contributes to good in the world.
  • Show them the Job Scorecard, with clear performance accountabilities.  They want to be measured in a “friendly” way. They want clear and timely feedback.
  • Ask them to complete the Topgrading Career History Form; our software designers will enable them to import their resume … and just add responses to Topgrading questions and unique company application questions.   Millennials love to share their career history (even if it’s just summer jobs and internships).
  • Conduct the Tandem Topgrading Interview.  This is a walk down memory lane;  A Player Millennials will love explaining accomplishments, and they will reveal what motivates and interests them when answering questions about why they took jobs, what they liked and disliked, and why they left.  Loyalty to companies is not likely to be very high unless their needs are met (being promoted, being heard, being recognized, being rewarded, being valued, being appreciated, being a part of the team).
  • Create an Individual Development Plan as soon as they are hired.  The sine qua non to attracting and keeping Millennials is to have a plan for their career development. This is standard Topgrading – you have a ton of useful information, so in the first month…
  • … Coach, mentor, and train them to help them follow through on their Individual Development Plan so they grow, contribute, have fun, and save the world.

Conclusion: To succeed as business leaders we all embraced the Internet and social media, and we can understand, embrace, and effectively manage Millennials.

Read More »

How A Players Can Fail
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We were featured as the cover article in an issue of Workforce Management. The article quotes leading executives (including Jack Welch) who say Topgrading methods are the best for picking the top talent available for all jobs. But, you know that! Click here to read the article.

The article continues to spark questions such as, “Do A Players always succeed?” The answer is no! There are no guarantees that come with embracing Topgrading (other than our money-back guarantee on the accuracy of our “second opinion” assessments of candidates. And no one has ever requested their money back, incidentally). But here are a couple of the most common ways an A Player can fail:

1. Bad luck. As you know, business involves taking risk. A Players can do all the due diligence in the world to mitigate risk, but they can still fail. There were plenty of A Players at Bear Stearns, UBS, Citi, and Merrill Lynch who got terrible results and were tossed out onto the streets because of the sub-prime crisis. Hey, they all didn’t cause the mess!

Bad luck comes in the form of new competitors that have deep pockets, economic blips, terrorist acts, some country overprotecting competitors in your industry, Congress withdrawing subsidies, lobbyists getting special advantages for their company (but not yours), Supreme Court vagaries, your coming down with a nasty disease. Hey, ca-ca happens.

Advice: Hang in there. Of the 6,500 executives I’ve interviewed in depth, the vast majority had at least one big failure. But you know the most important of all competencies is Resourcefulness — that persistence, drive, passion, and determination to figure out how to get over, around, and through barriers to success. So, they were resourceful, and they eventually succeeded.

There is someone you might have once thought of as an A Player, who said something like, “The glory in mankind is rising from the ashes.” Elliot Spitzer. He was back in the news recently. No A Player status for this guy; he’s going to have to rise a lot to avoid those hot ashes (ahem)!

2.  Bad Job Description. Topgraders create Job Scorecards, with measurable accountabilities; but unfortunately, when A Players are recruited for a job, all they see is a vague job description with platitudes. Too often they take a job not really knowing what they will be held accountable for, and too often the expectations they learn after they join the company are totally unrealistic. Very often they have a history of being an A Player but … in retrospect, they were a bad match for this job, because their skill set, style, or passions just didn’t match what the job turned out to be.

Advice: Demand a Job Scorecard!

3. Bad boss(es). Because I’ve assessed/coached 6,500 executives, each with an average of 10 jobs, and because I’ve asked all the Topgrading questions about all their jobs — how they succeeded/failed/made decisions/etc., I’ve accumulated 65,000 oral case studies. Since a high percentage of executives I interview are A Players, I’ve heard a zillion examples in which really sharp executives were hindered because the boss imposed a futile strategy, refused to listen to good ideas, failed to Topgrade the rest of the team (so peers were C Players), or felt threatened and actively undermined the A Player.

Advice: If you’re the A Player with a C Player boss, hit the pause button; don’t hastily quit. I’ve seen plenty of C Player bosses who eventually performed as A Players because they Topgraded and assembled a team of A Players whom they could trust. Good for them! Hey, stick around when that boss says, “Pat, I’m putting together an A team and I’ll be relying on you and others to help us all succeed; my job is to Topgrade and empower the team so you all have fun, learn a lot, and achieve huge success.”

Advice: Perform solid due diligence on bosses before changing jobs. I have a thousand examples in my files of confident A Players NOT checking out the boss enough, and failing because of that boss.

More Advice:  If you find yourself reporting to a chronic C Player who stifles you and the team, look for an exit strategy, either within the company or with another company. Don’t fail in a bigger job with an excuse that sounds like, and is, an excuse: “I failed because I went to work for the wrong boss.”

Read More »

Intuition Can Save or Kill Your Hiring Success!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Most hiring decisions are made intuitively, in only four minutes — with 75% of those hires resulting in costly mis-hires. Those who follow Topgrading disciplines enjoy 80%+ excellent hires. By following Topgrading disciplines, Topgraders do trust their intuition … but only AFTER gathering a huge amount of candidate information.

Read More »

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