Archive for March 2016

The Importance Of The Onboarding Process

March 31, 2016

Recruiting does not end when a new employee starts. It is important to cement retention during the first 90 days of employment. Hiring managers must make sure the employee’s desk is prepared for their first day.  Do they have a computer? Are their phones ready? Is their work area ready?  Is there a plan for their first few days, including lunch?  And most important of all: do they understand their accountabilities?

Hiring managers should meet with the new direct report on their first day, and on a regular basis during the first 90 days to provide feedback and review the new hire’s accountabilities. It is best for the hiring manager to formally check in with the new direct report at 30, 60, and 90 days to see if their expectations match reality, whether they have all of the resources they need, and to provide mutual feedback.

Hiring managers need a plan to provide adequate training and resources for the new direct report so that they can be successful. This doesn’t mean just providing them with manuals to read.  Hiring managers should have the new hire shadow people in different areas or have some of the most experienced people share war stories.  If they must read manuals, schedule breaks at various sections of the manual to discuss application of what they read to the work they will be doing.

Considering all of the hiring manager’s resources it took to recruit a new hire, it is important for them to cement the relationship with the new hire and empower them for success right from the beginning.

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Use Success Factors to Rate Direct Reports

March 25, 2016

Microsoft announced a few years ago they are abandoning their controversial “stack ranking” system for evaluating employees.  For years, Microsoft managers had been required to grade employees against one another and rank them on a scale of one to five.  Under this approach, some employees must receive an unfavorable review based on how they compared to their peers, regardless of the quality of their work or their accomplishments.  This created great angst for both managers and employees and was the primary factor for Microsoft’s poor morale.

Jack Welch similarly mandated a 20-70-10 differentiation process at GE.  Each GE department head was required to identify 20% of their superstars, 70% producers, and the 10% low performers needing to be terminated.  Even in an organization as large as GE, both managers and employees rejected this approach.

There is nothing wrong with differentiating a team – superstars should be treated differently than questionable contributors – but forced ranking is not the best approach.  The best differentiation models identify specific rigid criteria required to be identified as a superstar, producer, or questionable. It doesn’t matter what percent of a team are superstars as long as they achieve or surpass the established challenging success factors (both achievement metrics and cultural/behavioral performance). Similarly, those team members failing to meet their success factors and falling into the questionable category should be working on an exit plan, regardless what percent of the team this represents.

Empowered leaders who differentiate based on predetermined success factors instead of a forced ranking have more successful teams.

Assess Candidates Early In The Selection Process

March 18, 2016

Confirmation bias is the tendency to favor information that confirms our beliefs and dismiss information that does not support our views.  We all have confirmation biases that cloud our reasoning. The extent to which we can become aware of our biases and minimize them will allow us to make better decisions.  As one unaware leader said, “My mind is already made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Hiring managers deal with confirmation bias frequently when evaluating candidates and rely on assessments to improve their objectivity.  If candidates are going to be assessed, the assessment should be administered early enough in the selection process before an opinion has been developed on a candidate.  Once the hiring manager decides on a candidate, the assessment may do little to change their mind.  In this case, by the time hiring managers administer assessments, the results are used to confirm their bias and dismiss information that does not support their beliefs about a candidate.

Candidates should be assessed after the first interview, but before reference checks and follow-up or group interviews.  This allows hiring managers to objectively analyze the assessment results and minimize their confirmation bias.

Empowered hiring managers assess candidates early in the process and experience more successful hires.

Always Be Building The Bench

March 11, 2016

Effective leaders are always “trolling for talent” and meeting and qualifying prospective new hires.  Effective hiring managers keep a file of potential new hires they have met in the last year – just in case they have an opening.

Good and bad economies provide opportunities for leaders to be meeting with potential new hires.  Even though the leader is not in a position to hire, meeting new potential candidates and “building a bench” is an on-going process.

Hiring managers should set aside time each month to meet with potential candidates and grow the bench.  This will increase the new hire success rate when a position opens up.

Empowered hiring managers who are constantly looking for new talent will make more successful hires.

Set Time Frames When Empowering

March 4, 2016

Too often leaders remember to set a completion date for their direct reports when delegating a project, but often forget the other important time frames: total time dedicated and milestone dates.

By setting overall time commitments leaders provide a guideline for the depth of involvement.  For example, “Jen, I need this report by Friday and expect it shouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours to complete.”  For a longer, more elaborate project: “I would imagine this should take about 10 hours per week through completion; if you find it takes more than that, we should discuss.”

Leaders should remember setting the next milestone with time and expectation gives the direct report some autonomy and should prevent leaders from running into their direct report’s office asking, “Are we done yet?” or “Let me see what you’ve got so far.”  For example, “Let’s meet next Friday at 9:00 to discuss which vendors you are considering before we lay out our next milestone.”

Leaders who empower their direct reports with clarity around time commitments and check-in dates to avoid ambiguity have better alignment of expectations and experience greater success.