By: Matt Moore, Managing Partner and Chief People Officer

We often use the term ‘A-Player’ at Alpine, said as a shorthand to describe the kind of talent we like to support at the firm. As a management and operating philosophy, we at Alpine believe that people are truly at the heart of what makes a business thrive. We’ve found that A-Players can drive the difference between good and great companies, and we’ve built our talent recruiting strategy around finding these individuals and giving them the opportunity to succeed.

An A-Player is someone that consistently and repeatedly exceeds the criteria and metrics that defines their job at least 90% of the time. Importantly, this 90% is contextualized to the role—someone might be an A-Player CEO, but not an A-Player if they were a CFO, or an analyst on an investing team, or a speech writer. Being an A-Player is not yes-or-no, binary, black or white categorization of the whole person. Rather, it’s a question of whether the person is succeeding in the specific tasks at hand within their role.

Finding A-Players is not just a number game, or a luck of the draw. As Partner and Chief People Officer at Alpine, having joined the firm in 2016 after spending 10 years building venture-backed high-growth executive teams, I’ve seen many different strategies aimed at vetting these highly desirable candidates. In my role today, I help with internal operations at Alpine HQ, I sit on boards of portfolio companies and I help drive post-close value creation within the portfolio. We’ve refined our talent approach over the past 10 years and the result is a recruitment strategy that helps us vet A-Player talent.

Interviewing is about gathering as much data as possible to compare against the Scorecard so you can make an informed risk analysis of whether this person will be 90% likely to achieve the outcomes desired.

The Purpose of a Scorecard and How to Create One

Our tried-and-true hiring process at Alpine begins with defining the role and outcomes, or objectives, of the job. After the team aligns on basic details—who is the hiring manager? What is the role’s title? –the hiring manager creates a Scorecard. The Scorecard tool was originally created by leadership advisory firm ghSMART, and its founder Geoff Smart. The book Who is a great way to learn more about the practice that I’ll summarize here.

The Scorecard is a rubric that outlines the specific criteria you seek in a candidate for a particular role. Think of it as the answer key where you define the ideal candidate’s attributes, skills and competencies that are needed to achieve the outcomes of the role. This information helps you know what data you’re seeking through an interview process. At Alpine, our interview process includes an initial screening conversation to discuss basic qualifications, further behavioral interviews, possible case studies and the Deep Dive interview, which you can learn more about in this article from CTO Tal Lee Anderman.

The Scorecard itself has these three components; the mission, which describes the role and explains how it connects to the broader mission of the company; the outcomes, which are specific measurable outcomes for this role; and finally, the competencies, skills and attributes that will help this person achieve the outcomes previously defined. When selecting competencies and attributes, do not just pluck core values from the company’s values. Be specific and make sure they funnel to your outcomes.

Interviewing is about gathering as much data as possible to compare against the Scorecard so you can make an informed risk analysis of whether this person will be 90% likely to achieve the outcomes desired. Being able to compare the data against the Scorecard will help you make a successful hiring decision.

Matt Moore leading a workshop on hiring best practices at Alpine’s 2023 Growth Summit, alongside other Alpine portfolio leaders.

Scorecard Best Practices

Arguably, the Scorecard creation is one of the most important steps in a hiring search since it creates the foundation for the entire process that follows. As someone who has been creating Scorecards—and leading others in creating them—for nearly 20 years now, I’ve found there are a couple of best practices to follow.

For example, I recommend that your Scorecard does not just list the “keep the lights on and the engine running” elements of the job. If you’re hiring a CFO, for example, it’s not good enough to say “doesn’t trip debt covenants;” that’s a basic, obvious thing that needs to be done in the job. Instead, include the skill that is going to help the business move forward. Said another way, include the elements that would give this person a phenomenal end-of-year performance review. What would you say about this person that just had a successful year in this position?

You should also keep in mind the difference between the job description and the Scorecard. The job description is external; it’s what you publish about the open role and the company on your website, social media or other marketing materials. It may describe company benefits or what this person does each day. But the Scorecard is an internal document for the hiring team and organization to ensure they are taking a data driven approach to the hiring decision. A Scorecard has more details that would be helpful for a hiring manager but aren’t relevant to a candidate that’s more interested in the role, its expectations and the company they’d be joining.

Thoughtful Hiring Makes for Successful Outcomes

The Scorecard is just one aspect of the hiring process at Alpine, and as you can see, there’s a lot of attention to detail to drive alignment and clarity about the role. We strive to bring this level of attention to each step of the process and for each person we bring to the team.

At Alpine, we’ve found that getting the right person in the right seat is one the most important parts of building high-performing businesses. Successful hiring goes beyond avoiding costly turnover and creates opportunity for any number of positive transformative outcomes. Hiring the right people for the right role is difficult, but with the right approach and thoughtful processes, your chances are a lot brighter.

If you’re interested in a career with Alpine Investors, please visit our careers page to learn more. If you’re interested in joining portfolio leadership, please visit our talent programs page to learn more.

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