In my years of coaching Sales-people I like to encourage them to go out and buy something so they can put themselves in the place of a customer and remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the sales process.
Recently we replaced a long-term team member in our small consulting company and it reminded me that while I’ve coached many of my clients on steps to ensure their new hires are on-boarded successfully- it’s good to go through the process first hand and remember how challenging bringing on a new person can be with any organization.
With the economy growing and many organizations hiring to fill new or vacant positions I thought this would be a good time to review some tips to ensure your new hire is set up for a successful long term run with your organization.
Here are 5 tips to remember when hiring a new team member.
Hire for the Best Fit.
This is first on the list because it’s probably the most important for both the new hire and your organization. Ask yourself, how many times have you reviewed the “Rock Star” resume only to be somewhat underwhelmed when you actually met the individual? They seem to check all the right boxes for skill-set and experience but something seems to be off. Then we go ahead and roll the dice and hire them only to find out that they are not really meshing with your team or the organization.
Look I get it- we all want someone that has the right skills to perform the task and there are certain roles that require very specific abilities. But let’s be honest, unless your company is building rockets intended to go to Mars- then there are very few skills that a highly motivated, smart, positive and energetic person cannot learn if given the opportunity and proper coaching.
Maybe they are not perfect for the role we hire them into, but their energy and attitude allow them to move into another position. The thing to remember here is hiring someone new is a bit like entering into a marriage so it’s better to wait and find the right partner than to realize a year into it that it’s not working and have to go through an expensive and bitter divorce.
Instead of focusing exclusively on the skills you desire, take a moment to decide up-front the type of individual that would be a great fit for you and some of the specific behaviors you would like for this person to possess. – Self-starter, detail oriented, get’s along with people they do not really know… you get the picture. Then ask questions around those traits and see if you can find a good fit with both skills and personality.
Budget Time in your Schedule to be with this person everyday for at least the first 4-6 weeks.
Here is where many tend to drop the ball as they spend a few days getting them introduced to the company, show them where the coffee maker and restrooms are and they toss them in the deep end to sink of swim.
Studies tell us that team members are the most engaged and willing to learn the first 4-6 weeks they arrive in a new organization. If you allow them to just learn as they go without coaching, guidance and course correction then they may develop habits that are not exactly what you were looking for.
It’s not like you have to be with them every minute of the day- just a daily touch point to talk about what they’ve learned, problems they’ve faced, expectations they’ve met or not met so far, and questions that have come up.
Set your expectations Early and Often.
My wife used to run a kindergarten program when we first met and I used to come in and help out when I was in college. The first few weeks of the new school year she was extremely strict with the kids on what to do and how she wanted them to do it.
When to clean up, how to line up, when it was time to talk and when it was time to listen. She didn’t leave anything to chance and sometimes it would take the kids 30 minutes just to line up for recess. After a few weeks of this the kids fell into a routine and what once was a chaotic event turned into a well-oiled process.
When I asked her about how strict she was during those first few weeks she shared with me a tip she’d learned from one of her mentors. If you establish your expectations early and do not waver on them, it’s much easier to relax or change some of your standards as the year moves on. But if you wait 6 months to start creating and sharing your expectations then your classroom will be a chaotic mess, come mid-year and you will completely stress out.
The same holds true with adults in a new hire situation. Establish your expectations early in the process, hold them accountable to not only learning those expectations but performing them. Do not bend or waiver or allow things to slide. Remember new hires are most engaged and willing to learn or be flexible for only 4-6 weeks, once we pass that time frame good luck instilling new expectations because patterns and routines have already been established.
Have them come to your daily meet-up with at least 2-3 questions.
Another huge mistake made with new hires is the statement “Do you have any questions?” Notice I said this is a statement because to your new hire, who only wants to please you and prove to you that you made the right decision in hiring them over everyone else- what do you think the answer to that statement is going to be 99% of the time?
Instead of that statement, tell them that you realize they will have many questions in the coming weeks and make it one of your expectations that during your daily meet-ups that they have a written list of at least 2-3 questions and that’s the bare minimum, more questions are welcomed but 2-3 is the expectation.
Let then know that the only silly questions are the ones that aren’t asked. Those initial questions, no matter how trivial to you they may seem, will build a level of trust and understanding that will go far beyond the initial weeks, and soon those questions will blossom into extremely valuable assessments of your operation and the way you do business.
You see, this new hire for about 4-6 weeks is looking at your business much like a consultant with fresh eyes and not “That’s the way we always done it mentality”
If you allow them and encourage them to ask seemingly obvious questions they may actually stumble upon a way to improve a current system or process that you are simply to close with to really look at objectively.
If one of their ideas is actually used or implemented you now have a fully invested new hire that’s not only engaged and excited to become part of your organization, but really is looking for other ways to create value other then just what they were hired for. Doesn’t that sound great?
Let them know when they get something right! – This one is really interesting. In the hectic pace of our work-space, not only with our new-hires but also with our existing teams, when we see that someone has gotten something done right, what do you think is our tendency? You guessed it! We think to ourselves, “ok they’ve got it, don’t need to worry about that anymore.”
The problem is we fail to communicate to the individual that they got it right. Think about it? They have no way of knowing they met the expectation unless you tell them, and yet a few weeks later when given a similar task what do you think happens? You guessed it again! They do it differently. And we usually respond with anger, frustration or a sense that this person just doesn’t get it, why did they do it differently than before, what’s wrong with them, why did I hire this person?
Those first few weeks and months you are going to find your new hire doing a lot of things wrong, and that’s ok. That’s what your daily meet-ups are designed deal with. Please, please, please do not miss an opportunity to let your new hires, and your existing team know when they get something right.
Here’s a great phrase that your new hire will love to hear:
“Hey the way you handled that -order-customer-team member- situation-insert proper phase- that was perfect, do it that way every time and you’ll be a huge success here!”
Do you think that’s something any new hire may like to hear early in their tenure with your company?
This is such a great topic and one that I believe there are many more tips for success. Please do me a favor and post your tips for new hire success below so we can all start the process of on-boarding new team members the right way and set them and our organizations up for success.
Thoughts for the week about Hiring:
“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.” – Arte Nathan
“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he’s hired to do.” – Malcolm Forbes
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs
“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch
“If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” – Chinese Proverb
“You can have the best strategy and the best building in the world, but if you don’t have the hearts and minds of the people who work with you, none of it comes to life.” – Renee West
“When you hire people that are smarter than you are, you prove that you are smarter than they are.” — R.H. Grant
“People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” – Jim Collins
“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” – Lawrence Bossidy
“Time spent on hiring is time well spent.” – Robert Half
“Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture.” – Howard Schulz
“Dating and hiring have a lot in common.” – Scott Wintrip
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire and amateur.” – Red Adair
Looking forward to our next connection