As a small business owner, you rely heavily on your staff to move the company forward. In order to secure the most clients and make the most sales, you need to have employees who are passionate about the work they’re doing. Hiring the right staff is crucial for reaching small business success.

Unfortunately, finding the right talent isn’t always easy. Even with extensive interview processes, a prime candidate may become a productivity drain when actually on the job. These low-grade employees can make it difficult for you to reach the next level with your small business.

Knowing what to look for in an employee is crucial for your small business. When you make the right hire, employees will be happier in their position. Happier employees mean better business, actually helping you outperform your competition by about 20%. Because you only want to hire high-quality talent for your team, you need to know exactly what qualities and characteristics to look for.

Let’s take a look at the kinds of employees you may encounter and what they mean for your business.

What Employees Are Helping — and Hurting — Your Small Business

I view employees on a standard grading scale, starting with “A” and going down to “D.” These four types of employees each have different characteristics and will affect your small business in different ways. Here is a quick rundown of what each employee looks like.

  • The “D” Employee: A D-level employee is there to get a paycheck. To them, their job is just a job. They’re not passionate about the work they’re doing, but they do enough to get paid every two weeks. They’ll do the bare minimum, and if they’re let go, they’ll just go find another job.
  • The “C” Employee: A C-level employee is a toxic hire. Somehow, they slipped through the cracks and made it through the interview process. But since taking the job, they’ve only been a drain to morale and client relationships. They refuse to do what is expected of them, never assist other employees, and don’t enjoy being part of a team.
  • The “B” Employee: A B-level employee comes to work for the right reasons, but they’re not willing to give it their all. Whether they’re not passionate about the work they’re doing or they don’t feel the need to take it to the next level, a B-level employee does just enough to meet their deadlines and due dates, but that’s it.
  • The “A” Employee: An A-level employee is the undesignated leader of your team. They come to work each morning prepared to tackle any challenges you may throw at them and they’re willing to put in the extra effort to get a higher return. You can rely on them to do their job and know it will be accomplished promptly, professionally, and accurately. “A” employees are passionate about your business and the work that they do.

Most businesses will end up with some odd mix of employees at different levels. Not only does this make it difficult for employees to work together, it can add an added stress to you as the business owner. If you want your small business to succeed, you want to hire as many A-level employees as possible.

How Hiring “A” Employees Will Transform Your Small Business

When an “A” employee is on a team with other “A” employees, they will lift each other up. If everyone working for your small business is an “A” employee, each individual will be challenged to take their work to the next level — taking your small business along with it.

But “A” employees are in high demand. Because all small businesses want to hire “A” employees, you need to show that you value the work these employees are doing for you. Challenge them, incentivize them, and provide them with the growth opportunities they crave. Investing in quality employees means investing in your business. When you hire hard workers prepared to do what is necessary to be successful, they’ll bring more business to you, improving your profit.

Don’t waste your time on a team member that is anything besides an “A.” In each interview you give, look for candidates who seem like they may be an “A” level employee. As you hire “A” employees, they’ll act like magnets to bring other high-quality employees onboard.