John is the CEO of a consulting firm in the Midwest. About nine months ago, the firm added Trevor to their roster of consultants. So far, Trevor’s progress has been slow and John is wondering what the problem is . . . is it the firm’s process for getting people up to speed or is it Trevor?
That is not an unusual concern among business leaders across many industries. It takes a lot of time, effort and expense to hire people and at the end of that lengthy and expensive process you want to believe good decisions have been made about the people selected. Sometimes, in our attempt to remain positive about a person’s future potential important signals about the reality of today are ignored.
Have you ever found yourself hoping that non-performer would turn around? Have you ever wondered if you missed early signs that someone was not really well suited for their role? Have you ever considered that you did hire a top performer, but the reason they did not pan out was because of a poor environment?
There are two main reasons to have a professional Onboarding process in your organization. The first to ramp up new hires as fast as possible so they produce more and are more likely to stick around for the long term. The second reason is to shine a light on non-performers and move them out of your organization as quickly as possible.
Trevor is probably not going to succeed in his new role with John’s company, but that’s only part of the problem. The bigger problem for John is that he won’t know if it’s Trevor or the company’s process that was at fault.
Here are five things that John’s company could do to solve the problem with Trevor, and with future hires.
- Establish a routine feedback system at the end of every week so the new hire’s manager can learn exactly what the new hire has accomplished and where the gaps in learning may be.
- Craft “test experiences” so the new hire can demonstrate evidence that knowledge was transferred in a meaningful way. For example, rather than training someone on the database system, setup a scenario and give them a specific time frame to execute a task. Early in Onboarding you may give them a slightly longer time frame, but as time goes on, they will have to execute the task in a shorter time frame which lets the company know that a level of mastery has been achieved.
- Create specific milestones, not only of results to be achieved by certain dates, but most importantly of specific actions to be taken by certain dates. If, in place of actions are excuses, you can be sure it’s not going to get any better and a red flag is raised with this new hire.
- Track and measure each new hire’s actions and results so you have objective evidence of what a new hire can realistically accomplish over a specific period of time.
- If the new hire has any interaction with clients, customers or prospects, ask for their candid feedback about the new hire’s performance and their overall impression. This will make your client feel good that their input is appreciated and you will get a better sense of how they are representing your brand.
John’s decision about whether to give Trevor more time or “make him available to the marketplace” would have been a whole lot easier if these five considerations were in place to make an objective decision.
Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in onboarding top talent. She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, onboarding and retaining top talent.