Oct 15, 2012
Most leaders will tell you that hiring is a tricky science, if indeed it can be called a science at all.
With almost every new hire made, you want to believe that this hire is going to drive great results.
After all, you made the hire to improve your business and you aspire to see your instincts pay off.
What if I said that hiring in itself isn’t the hard part? Rather making great hires that are going to be long term contributors to the needs of the organization is the real challenge.
More times than not, any new hire you make is going to come in anxious to make their mark. Wanting to prove to their new management and colleagues that they deserve to be there. I call this the “Fast Start.” This is the take charge attitude that you so often see when a new hire is made or a current employee is moved up within the organization.
Perhaps it is the human condition, because I see the “Fast Start” behavior out of so many people, only to see it fizzle after a short period of time. The Fast Start and then Fizzle can be recognized in our behaviors across many facets of our lives beyond just the workplace.
Diet and Exercise: So many people commit to a new diet or exercise plan where they dive in and completely entrench themselves in it for a short period of time only to fall off as quickly as they started.
Not So Prized Possessions: People long to own a certain home, car or piece of jewelry. After obtaining it they are on cloud nine only to become increasingly indifferent over time.
Social Relationships: Over time most people establish their closest circles of friends. However it is quite common for people to enter into intense platonic, professional and romantic relationships only to see them end as quickly as they started.
People are fickle creatures, some more than others, but I believe it is safe to say that we all have something in our life that we have gotten really involved in and then uninvolved just as quickly.
With this pattern of people fizzling out after short periods of time, is it safe to say that the key to making great hires is less about the hire itself and more about how you keep the employee motivated?
Let’s explore further.
Most small and medium sized businesses hire employees with a role and an outcome in mind. For instance they seek to hire a new sales representative to expand their business in a certain territory. Further they assume that with a good hire that the new rep will generate (Insert Best Guess%) growth in business.
Many times the sales growth that is sought is directly proportionate to the amount being invested in the person. What is crazy is how often their is no actual plan for how the desired result will be accomplished.
So after you hire and onboard the new employee you have a few traditions that you have them follow. A ride along with a more senior person and some marketing materials that explain your company’s product and services. You tell them to read the info and pay close attention on the ride along because soon they will need to be out making sales on their own.
After a few weeks they are sent off on their own to “Make It Happen.” Management then returns to their day-to-day and the assumption is made that the new hire has been assimilated into the culture.
The example above is really specific, however the nature of the problem can be attributed to any employee in any function throughout an organization. It could be a veteran employee moving into a new role or merely the continued education required to keep team members feeling aware and connected to their business.
The key to keeping employees motivated is two fold. First it is recognizing that motivation comes and goes and can change often. Second it is applying action to this awareness in order to keep your teams as engaged and excited as possible.
Here are “x” things that any organization can do to continue to get the most from their employees.
Clear Vision: Employees quickly become disenchanted when they don’t feel a clear sense of direction for the organization. It is amazing how many business leaders I have met that can’t spell out their company vision quickly and concisely. If you want your employees to buy off on your vision then it is important that you know what it is. Make it clear and speak to it often because many employees need the constant clarity to keep moving forward.
Train and Educate: Do you ever feel you have reached the point where you know all that there is to know about your job? The answer is no, and even if you did know “Today” everything that there is to know, things change so fast that by tomorrow you would be steps behind. I find it in organizations small and large that continued employee development is an afterthought or completely non-existant. This is unacceptable if you want to keep your employees motivated. All living things need to be nourished continuously if you want them to grow and prosper. Consider this one way to provide sustained nourishment.
Engage: Make time for your employees, and when you do make time, make it meaningful! Your people are the lifeblood of your business. The processes and procedures can and should take a backseat to your people. While this seems like it is entirely common sense, many business leaders turn to their processes long before they look to their people when trying to lead growth and change in their business.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: The cycle of investing in the relationship and development of your team NEVER ends. It can’t be looked at as if once these things are done then a box can be checked. Vision will change, education will never stop, and you can’t periodically make time for your people.
I often speak about looking at processes later. Not because they aren’t important, but because people come first. But here is a process that you can commit to…
Commit to providing your employees with the vision, development and personal relationship with their company that will keep them striving to drive great results. Commit to doing it everyday and through recognizing that this part of the job is never over.
If you want to stop the fizzle, then make sure to capture the essence of what excited them in the first place!