Ep. 11: Why New Hires Fail

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Ep. 11: Why New Hires Fail

Hiring a new employee is an exciting time for a business, but, failing to implement best hiring practices like clearly defining expectations and performance objectives, can leave both you and the candidate with something to be desired from the relationship.

We outline everything you need to know before hiring new employees so you have the best chance at retaining employees moving forward.

Transcript

David:

Hello everyone, welcome back to another week of The Hire Talent hiring podcast. This is David joining you from the Hire Talent team with Fletcher, welcome Fletcher.

Fletcher:

Hey David, how’s it going?

David:

Great.

Fletcher:

Awesome.

David:

Just another sunny day here in Southern California.

Fletcher:

Yeah. Don’t make all the people out of town jealous.

David:

I know, I know. Well, I lived in the northwest for most of my life, so I feel like I can relate a little bit with those dark gray cloudy days. So, Fletcher, we are today talking about why new hires fail. So, would love to hear from you, I mean, I think we can go in a lot of different directions here, but I think some things we had talked about prior to starting the episode here is making sure that the role is clearly defined, making sure there is some clear outcomes, expectations are in place, on boarding, training. How do we manage this whole process so that when John Smith joins your team, we can be very clearly aligned on the likelihood that he’s gonna be as successful as possible, and what are common traps, common pitfalls that a lot of hire managers run into in bringing someone on board. Tell us the secrets, Fletcher. Tell us why. Why do new hires fail?

Fletcher:

Well, obviously they can fail for lots of different reasons. I think we’re probably trying to focus on the people who are actually high quality individuals who have some talent and some skill, mean well, try hard.

David:

Not your retail, not your Burger King.

Fletcher:

Anybody. I’m talking about, we’re gonna omit the people who don’t have talent, and who have bad attitudes or problem children.

David:

Criteria where

Fletcher:

Those people, obviously, are gonna fail for those reasons, maybe a lack, some core competencies that are needed to apply their experiences, or they lack the attitude and integrity to be successful in the team environment. Not much you can really do with those kinds of people. Yes, you can sort of use these same techniques that we’re gonna talk about today to maybe aid them in being a little more productive and less disruptive-

David:

So this podcast assumes that you have hired someone who is high caliber, great team member, personality fit. We’re assuming that they’re a good fit for the job.

Fletcher:

Well, we’re assuming that they’re of high quality in general.

David:

Okay.

Fletcher:

‘Cause the first part here, that we’re gonna talk about, is really about making sure that if we do have a high quality person, that we don’t miscast them.

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

‘Cause that’s one really common way that they can be, potentially fail. So, they’re capable, they’re smart, they’re motivated, they’re interested, they want to do well, positive overall attitude, but they’re put kind of in the wrong role.

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

So that’s one reason why new hires fail, right? So, in general, in order to make sure that these high quality people are cast into the right roles and they’re ultimately successful, all starts with doing a proper job analysis. Doing a job analysis doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have a psychologist come in, or an HR expert. This is something that any of us could really do on our own, to a large degree. Also, there’s a great resource out there, it’s Onet.org, I believe you can Google it. O, star, net, dot org. It’s a government and academic think tank who’s done a job analysis on most jobs that are out there in the US, or something similar. So, there’s plenty of resources to do this stuff on your own.

Fletcher:

But a job analysis essentially is really understanding and creating a clear job description that you can then use to create a clear profile, a candidate profile or employee profile, that then can be used to market the job, to also create employee evaluations, to set measurable expectations that are clear, and then create a training plan. So, those are the things we’ll want to discuss today on how we can make sure our new hires aren’t failing.

David:

Okay, so it starts with properly analyzing the role-

Fletcher:

Yeah.

David:

And if that is done poorly or incorrectly then you are out of the gate, setting yourself up for failure, and setting your new hire up for failure.

Fletcher:

Yep, exactly.

David:

Okay.

Fletcher:

So, properly evaluating the role is something we a lot times fail to do. A lot of the smaller employers that we work with, they don’t really even have a job description-

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

Or sometimes they take them off the internet from their competitors, and it’s like, “Yeah, okay, you just saved yourself some time, but is that job actually describing the activities, the tasks, and the outcomes that you expect your sales person, or your engineer, or whatever role, to do?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

It sort of might, it sounds good, but you’re basing your job off of somebody else’s job now. And job descriptions should be quite detailed. The first part should be a really good detailed summary of the day to day, week to week general activities that this person’s gonna be executing, right?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

The second piece should be an itemized priority tasks and activities that this person is involved in on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis. They should be prioritized. By prioritizing them, you might find out that there’s only a handful of activities that this person is responsible for that make up all of the results associated with this position. That all of the other activities are maybe less important. So, sometimes we get caught in the minutia of jobs, right?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

Those minor details that are really not as important.

David:

Yeah, not all tasks are created equal.

Fletcher:

Exactly.

David:

There are some that should take precedent-

Fletcher:

Yeah.

David:

Even if the sales guy doesn’t take out the trash on Fridays-

Fletcher:

The best one is this one, doesn’t update his CRM as thoroughly as he should, but if he’s doing the activity, he’s making the customer contacts, and they’re resulting into dollars in the door, then yes, it’s annoying that he didn’t fill out his CRM as thorough as he should have, but, probably give him a little bit of a break on that, right?

David:

Right, right.

Fletcher:

So, itemizing the most important tasks and activities related to that job, putting them in priority level, and then describing what the measurable outcomes of those activities are. If completing the CRM is really important to you, what does a well managed CRM look like? How are you going to measure, or determine, if that job was done well?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

Or better yet, how is the new sales guy or gal gonna know if they’ve completed the task well?

David:

Right. Clear parameters-

Fletcher:

Yes, measurable parameters, right?

David:

Yep.

Fletcher:

If I say, “Keep a well organized CRM,” and I leave my description of the job and the task at that, what kind of problem do we now have, right?

David:

Right, the fault is on the supervisor for having expectations that are not clear, and therefore, not reasonable.

Fletcher:

Yeah.

David:

Is that fair to say?

Fletcher:

Well, the salesperson might do the task, and they say, “Oh, well, I keep it organized.” And the sales manager might look at it and say, “No you don’t, ’cause you didn’t do X, Y and Z.” Well, you didn’t make that part of the outcome. You didn’t tell me what it was supposed to look like, right?

David:

Right, right.

Fletcher:

So, job descriptions are huge, and a lot of companies have outdated job descriptions, they don’t reevaluate them. They started as one thing and the job’s evolved into something else. So, it needs to be revisited regularly.

David:

This is a little bit of a tangent. I have heard some people, hiring managers or recruiters, be a little bit fearful of job descriptions, and having clear parameters. The fear being that if I try to specify all of the tasks and I miss a couple, is my employee going to put that back in my face for things that they’re not required to do? Like, “It’s not in my job description.” So, people will maybe tend to leave an open ended job description and say, “We’re looking for a person with a great attitude, and a team player. Here’s some kind of general guidelines for your job, and then you should be up for anything else as required for the job.”

Fletcher:

Well, that’s pretty … I mean, if you add that one piece, that’s pretty clear. That this job is not limited to these activities, we expect great team players, and people who are willing to go above and beyond what’s described here. I mean, there you go. Now it’s really clear that that’s part of it.

Fletcher:

At the end of the day, you should really be picking the top one to three measurable outcomes for the role. So, if it’s customer service person, and there’s three tasks. It’s complete ten customer service calls a day, and to have a nine out of ten customer satisfaction rating, and to resolve the customer’s problem on the first call, then those should be the three measurable outcomes of the job. Sure, there might be fifteen other things that that person is responsible for doing everyday, but those three things are the most important ones. It’s like the sales guy not keeping the CRM as organized as he’s supposed to-

David:

To have that on the job description as a requirement for the job, to keep his CRM updated is not-

Fletcher:

Actually a requirement of the job-

David:

Yeah.

Fletcher:

It’s a nice to have thing, right?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

It may be … And it’s actually kind of related to the outcome. I expect you to generate a hundred thousand dollars a month in new business, right? Well, you’re going to have a hard time doing that if you don’t manage your CRP reasonably well, right?

David:

Right. Yep.

Fletcher:

It just might not be possible. You won’t be able to get the activity level done, you won’t remember all your conversations with your customers. We won’t know if you actually achieved the goal because you didn’t track the numbers, right?

David:

Totally.

Fletcher:

Yeah, you know, all those things are going to come into play. I don’t now need to tell you to keep your CRM organized, right?

David:

Yeah.

Fletcher:

So, yeah. Having misguided and misprioritized job descriptions are really a big problem. Focusing on the things that aren’t that important can cause people to fail. Not measuring the outcomes so that the person knows when they’ve done a good job and when they haven’t, so that they can self-correct. If I tell the salesperson, “Hey, generate ten thousand dollars a month in sales,” now they know how to measure their own success. If they come to the end of the month and they’ve done 15 thousand dollars in sales, then they know they’ve done a good job. If they’ve done eight, then they know that they’re struggling. So, they can hopefully self-correct.

David:

Yep. This comes back to our first point, which is don’t put the person in the wrong role. So, if the role is poorly defined, they are going to misunderstand what they’re getting into, you are not gonna have a clear idea of what you’re putting them in-

Fletcher:

Or who you’re looking for. So, the gap there is candidate profiles, right? So, if I’ve misdefined or described the job, then the next thing you’re supposed to do to create a job analysis is define, create a candidate or employee profile. Well, if this is really a relationship sales position where the person is dealing with customers and customers’ concerns, and then they’re working on presenting and offering additional products and services, that’s gonna come from a much more empathetic, relationship-based, time intensive type of sales process versus somebody who needs to close this deal before they leave the person’s home today. Two different types of profiles, people.

David:

Right, both sales positions but very different people-

Fletcher:

Both sales positions, very different types of people. So, when we’re creating a candidate profile, or employee profile, we’re describing the qualities that are most likely to allow that person to be successful at achieving the measurable outcomes described by the job description.

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

So, well, if I don’t do a good job description, wrong profile, then I start targeting and hunting, and my recruiters target and hunt for the wrong kind of person, then they may eventually deliver the wrong kind of candidate. Therefore, they’ve got somebody who’s actually talented if they were put into the right position-

David:

Exactly. So, you can hire the greatest person in the world. Top tier talent, and they might still fail, because they’re in the wrong seat-

Fletcher:

Miscast, yeah. And that’d be very unfortunate for everybody, right? In that case.

David:

Yeah.

Fletcher:

So, where do you go from here?

David:

So, we have established our profile, we have found a mutual fit for a high caliber person, we have made clear expectations for the job that they’re in, so we have them hired. Now they’re doing the work, and now we need to follow up with them and make sure that they’re doing the things that they signed up to do, right?

Fletcher:

Yeah, I think it’s easy for us to, okay, hopefully we’ve done a decent job of creating measurable outcomes and measurable expectations, describing the job, right? But, I think it’s easy for us to have that conversation with somebody when we hire them, on the first day of work. Or maybe even in the hiring process, but we have to remember, we all digest information at different rates and speeds, and how we interact with our roles in the big companies, people … A lot’s coming at them all at once. They’re just trying to figure out where the water cooler’s at, right?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

They don’t want … They appreciate being told what’s expected of them, but they don’t even know how to get in the gate yet, right? So, revisiting thee regularly, especially with new employees. I can’t emphasize this enough. You’re talking about first week, first month, second month, third month, quarterly from there on out. In fat, the HR experts say that you should be doing employee evaluations quarterly. That is the best practice, frankly. Because we can’t remember what happened 12 months ago, and how I felt about David’s performance 12 months ago, frankly. Frequent and regular performance feedback is critical to allowing your new hires to be successful. Where are they at in the path to achieving measurable outcomes, right?

David:

Yep.

Fletcher:

Where do they need help? Again, you might have somebody who’s pretty good, even cast for the right position, and they could be getting 50% of the way there, and then … I think about it this way, we hired somebody new, and we forgot to tell him that awe do team lunches on Tuesdays. So, we might be sitting there going, “Hey, why didn’t they show up for team lunch on Tuesday?” But, in reality, we never told them.

David:

Yep.

Fletcher:

Right?

David:

Yep.

Fletcher:

Because both us, and the new person, are being overwhelmed with information. Information to share, information to be received. Right?

David:

Exactly.

Fletcher:

And by stopping and reevaluating the progress the person is making towards the measurable expectations on a regular basis, a very regular basis, goes a long ways to keeping everybody in alignment.

David:

So how do you, as the hiring manager, the supervisor, manage your own expectations for their pace in being fully on ramped? So, everyone would like someone to be at 100% within three weeks, we understand that’s not going to happen, but how do you kind of say, the carrot and the stick. You know, hey, here’s the expectations, I understand you need a little bit of time, but how do you do that balancing act?

Fletcher:

I think that’s a great question. That’s kind of the last piece, is creating a training plan. And literally, day one through ten, through 30, through month two, three, six, twelve.

David:

Okay.

Fletcher:

Detailing out what they need to learn. Here is the gate code, here is your door key-

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

Here’s how you turn the alarm off. Here is how you operate your computer. Here’s how you operate the software tools that we use on the job. Here is a training video, in case you forget. I mean, literally, all those details. And I think if you take the time to really detail out what’s involved, you’ll realized to yourself, “Whoa, that’s a lot.”

David:

You forget how much you’ve already learn, and how much you’ve had to master in the past years.

Fletcher:

Exactly, I think we all do that, right? When you’re like, “Why aren’t they up to speed, it’s two months or three months on the job, why do they not know that? We’ve talked about it four times-

David:

Yeah. It takes a few more times.

Fletcher:

It might. If they don’t remember anything you’ve taught them, I guess [inaudible 00:19:20], any bigger problem, but again, you can revisit that training plan regularly alongside those measurable expectations. Say, “hey, we expect you to have a certain number of sales everyday. Here is the training plan. Where did we miss?

Fletcher:

Oh shoot, we forgot to give them the sales book.

David:

They forgot to plug their phone in so they haven’t been talking to anyone all day-

Fletcher:

Yeah.

David:

[inaudible 00:19:47] trying to email people.

Fletcher:

Yeah, exactly, right. Regular evaluation, you know? And the employee’s gonna appreciate that. If you were put into a job, and nobody ever gave you any feedback on how you were doing, how would you feel?

David:

Yeah, I tried my best, hope they like me, hope I still hae my job next week.

Fletcher:

Yeah, exactly, you’d be feeling like that. If you didn’t have any measurable outcomes, how would you know?

David:

Yeah, totally unanchored, I feel like. You’d be second guessing what you’re doing, and just-

Fletcher:

Or you might be delusional too, right? Say it’s ten sales a month, right, is the actual measurable, but that’s not been shared with you, you might be doing five, you might be thinking you’re doing wonderful.

David:

Crushing it, yeah.

Fletcher:

Crushing it, and you might be taking off early everyday and your boss is going, “Man, David’s really slacking here,” you know?

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

But, if you just told him he needs ten sales a month, then he should know that he needs to be putting in some extra work, and he might want to revisit his training plan, or might ask for some help, might begin looking for the resources needed in order to get closer to that end goal, right?

David:

And it provides a foundation to have those conversations. If someone is not meeting their goals, it’s clearly defined, they have a copy of it, you’ve talked about it verbally-

Fletcher:

Many times.

David:

Many times, yeah.

Fletcher:

Yeah, many times, right? So, I think that’s on our agenda on our next episode, right? How to critique and praise employees-

David:

Right.

Fletcher:

And this ties right into that, I think.

David:

Yeah, that’s perfect. So, quick recap. New hires fail for many reasons. A few of the key ones are if we the hiring managers, owners, business managers, are not clearly defining the position, making a clear candidate profile so we are capturing the right people, and placing them in the right seat, we are then needing to create clear parameters in the job description so that as they come on board, there is a framework that is clearly established, that expectations are in place, they’re good, they’re clear, measurable, outcome specific. We had talked about needing to prioritize tasks, so it’s you’re not just throwing out a laundry list of things that they’ll have to do, but really saying here are the core criteria, here’s what you need to meet, here’s some other things that we’d like you to meet, and you prioritize those in that way.

Fletcher:

Yeah.

David:

Then, creating the training plan. I think, just before that, as far as creating measurable outcomes, making sure that is kind of solidified, cemented in writing in some form where they have access to all of their measurable outcomes at any point in time. And I think we talked a little bit about having patience and understanding that it takes time, and it doesn’t take three times talking about something. It takes maybe ten, maybe 20 over the course of six months to-

Fletcher:

Yeah, if you detail all that, you might realize how much time it’s gonna take, and you might be able to have a little more patience with your new hires, and that can go a long ways to critiquing and praising them more appropriately, right?

David:

Yep, that’s great. Any other final thoughts on why hires don’t work out, new hires?

Fletcher:

No, I think that’s it. I hope we’ll all be excited to talk more about how you hold folks accountable, and do that more appropriately and productively in our next episode.

David:

Yeah, it’s going to be really good.

Fletcher:

Thanks, David.

David:

Cool, well, thanks everybody. We’ll see you next week.

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