Slow to hire, quick to fire?! 2/2

Slow to hire, quick to fire 2So, last time we talked about hiring people and some tactics to apply. Today we’ll be talking about the investment, the assessment, the first month and the next level. Also we’ll explore the role of the manager, some companies’strategy on firing people and the definition of your path to success. Enjoy.

Investment after a hire

The investment certainly doesn’t stop after the hire, no sir! The biggest investment is yet to come: fitting the new team member in with the company, the team, processes and getting the new guy/girl productive asap.

So you start with an introduction program. How much time-investment of colleagues is involved with this program? A colleague  who can work independently obviously will put less pressure on the team than someone who is more ‘high-maintenance’. To make sure that the recruited individual applies the right work ethics from day one, make sure that everything is very clear. What are the goals, what are the processes, what systems to use, etc.

But no matter how well you went though the process of hiring, you will encounter a discrepancy between expectation before and experience after the hire.

Quick to fire: how to assess people and make your fresh hires valued members of the team

One of the biggest challenges in recruitment is the assessment. You can assess people as much as you want, someones real value will only come out when working the job. Theory and practice can lay miles apart. If, in theory, a candidate gives all the right answers, did an assignment and seems like a perfect fit, this doesn’t guarantee you just made a good hire. Because working ethos, discipline, motivation, flexibility, focus and responsibility, as the room for growth, are very difficultly assessed beforehand.

The first month

A first month is the perfect period to assess those things, thus you could see it as a prolongation of the recruitment process. With the concrete targets it is good for candidate and employer to see if there really is a fit.

But still, also after the first month, it is difficult to say what the long term added value will be. Let’s look at Sales for example. Sales cycles are often longer than a month, especially if it concerns advanced products and services. So after a month you can tick of the efforts, the assignments and the targets, but still, there is 0 return on investment yet.

The next level

An ambitious candidate will want to grow, if your company is appealing enough, you will get applications from people who want to move up the ladder. This is good, because it shows ambition, but don’t let the good results in a current job misguide you.

Getting good results in a current job by no means are a guarantee for success in another job.

Talent scouts know this oh-so-well: let’s say a player excels at a college-or-amateur level in a sport, let’s say basketball. At this level he is by far the best player, top scoring, defending and leading the team to victory after victory and eventually the championship.

This player is bound to be the first one drafted based on his track record. Will this mean that the aspired star will be able to live up to the expectations? Not always. The intensity of the games becomes lots more demanding on the next level, plays are different, and because of the increased ability of all players, what worked on a lower level, simply isn’t effective any more at the top. In Sports this is called a draft bust. So although you might be a good player, maybe you’re depending to much on a specific part of your game. The only way to succeed at the new level is to adapt, to be flexible and change your game. And this requires the ability, and the potential, to change what you’re used doing.

This is the same challenge when recruiting. E.g. in Sales, you have people who are really good at selling a product, but will fail in selling services. There’s people who do a great job in selling to consumers, but lack the ability to sell business to business. Lot’s of people are able to sell a concrete proposition, like an ad or a car, but find it impossible to sell something intangible, like a business service or high-end software.

Role of the manager

The role of the manager is very important. Just like in education, you will get better results with an excellent manager in an average company, than you will with an average manager in an excellent company.

Firing people

You expect that your staff over perform on their targets, grow, have fun and inspire the people around them. People who do not meet this expectations will be let go. Easily said, but how do managers do this?

  • Rule number 1: set clear targets
  • Rule number 2: communicate about points of improvement (let your co-worker confirm the feedback)

“Basically, there are two ways to build an organization, you can be really, really good at hiring, or you can be really, really good at firing.”

This is an actual quote of a former Facebook employee. Mark Zuckerberg has proven not to be afraid of firing people:

“We made some hires that weren’t the right ones. And we were pretty good at correcting that quickly. Mark deserves the credit for identifying and following through with that.”

In fast growing companies, people who did a great job at first, can be outgrown by their own companies too. One day, you wake up and jump to the conclusion that a mismatch has grown between the individual competences and the needed skills. If there’s a mismatch, the company’ wellbeing prevails. Firing people, however, as a cause in itself, should not be on your list of targets.

Every employee defines it’s own path

The company and the management can only create the grid, the processes and the coaching. In the end, no matter how optimal all circumstances are, personal performance will always remain the biggest success factor.

About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

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