Is this new employee going to be your next star, or your next disappointment?
Think about a new hire who you quickly knew would not work out…and one who you knew were going to be great. In both situations, what were the signs you saw? You had more than a hunch, but often it is hard to put our finger on these clues.
Whether your new employee is a senior executive or a recent college graduate, three indicators tell us their trajectory.
Are they learning? What we hope for with a new employee is that they ask good questions…not questions that they should know the answers to, or should Google, but the really good questions. Are you hearing those? Do they repeat the questions? Hopefully not. Do they repeat mistakes? The learner doesn’t repeat mistakes.
Are they norming to our standards and culture? Every organization (and even departments within organizations) has its own personality, as seen in the levels of formality; levels of risk; and attitudes about time, conflict, change, etc.. When a new employee is headed down a path of success, we see them adjusting to our standards and culture. It’s not always easy – sometimes there is some distinct pain for the newbie and others as they make missteps. But this goes back to learning. Are they learning? Are they adapting to our norms?
Are they fostering trust and confidence? This is about more than being “likable.” One can be likable, but not be good at their basic work. As a result, we don’t have confidence in their performance. Not good. Then there is the new hire who simply is not being positively received by others. They are offending customers, making their colleagues mad, etc. Definitely not a good start. With our strong new hires, we quickly hear positive feedback from stakeholders. “Great addition to the team!” “I was worried about loosing XXX, but my new rep is already helping me in new ways.”
These questions are simple, and so is their use. When the new hire starts, be clear about these expectations. Make learning, fitting into standards and culture, and fostering trust and confidence their initial KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Yep, just these three points. The number of sales calls, the percentage of billable hours, the speed of their data entry…none of this matters if they’re not learning, not doing this work in the ways that reflect your company standards, and not building trust and confidence all around.
On their first day, let your new hire know that both of you will focus on these three points initially. And don’t wait until 30 days to talk with them about how it’s going. If they’re coming up short in any area, talk to them quickly. If they’re still falling short at 30 days, you may already be in a position to part ways, and that’s fine. (They may even determine themselves that it’s not the right fit.) Don’t kid yourself that you have to give them more chances, especially if they are not learning.
And if they are meeting or exceeding your expectations in these areas, give that positive feedback quickly and enthusiastically. You will be build their confidence, encourage their patience, and nurture their feeling that they made a good decision in joining your company.