I recently asked our leads a question "Who are your Star team members and who are your mediocre performers?" the objective of this question was to put a clear vision on how to map the average performers to be the star team members. I am very sure with your teams you may be facing the same issue, a whole bunch of average performers and a small lot of star performers. Swami called this term "A Pyramid" the top performers are like the tip. Although I have to say that marking talent into various cadres is really pitiful, but you are left with no choice when you calculate the value these talents bring to your organizations. Let's take an example of an engineer working for your team, To ensure that he does what you want him to do you set his KPI (Key Performance Indicators) or Key Result Areas, you define his role and responsibilities, the expectation from him. When you review his/her performance you would realise that someone who is just able to achieve his/her KPI's is termed to be doing average/good, someone who is doing it exactly how you would have expected and maybe bit more is considered to be the Star performer in the big groups/organizations. In this regards most times organizations/managers want people who can just do what is asked with some support/supervision/help. They all form a group called C level talents.
Accessing talents across you would realise that most talents that stroll around project teams in bigger or smaller companies (Not talking about startups) are the C level talents. Most of the C level talents struggle to fulfill their roles and need supervision and help in the fulfillment of their jobs. To be honest most of the C level talents do not know how to do their job well. While excuses of no clear specification, other factors, motivation, growth, capability and skills drive them to be C level talents, they can be worked upon and mentored to be B level in a long run. Most of the organizations that do recruitment through job portals, consultants and web portals really hunt for the C level talent.
B level talents are hard to find.. I have to say they are hard to find in big or small companies (Again leaving startups out) specially because apart from doing what they are expected to do they take an extra mile in achieving more. B level talents drive your teams to do more. These talents play crucial role in evolving processes, outcome's, results and are committed to the future of the organization and growth of the team in all possible ways. B level talents are the initiators to improvise things, they are participative, vocal, hard working and ensure that they contribute in many ways. B level talents have hunger to succeed and want to make a difference in shorter span of time, another reason why you would find a lot of B level talent in startups and Innovative companies.
Now with the above 2 explanations you may have learnt that the real stars are A level talents. They could be the Ninja or rockstar engineers of your team. They ensure challenges are handled, things are done without been asked for, improvisation is inbuilt. They are the real go getter's and are drivers in educating, implementing and executing success for the organizations. They define direction for the teams and organization, products and vision of the organization. However A level talents don't come through job boards they have to be found through their proven skills and by references.
In plain words.. Anything below the C level talent should be made hard to find ;) and startups should focus on making C and B level talents innovate, learn , make mistakes and evolve.