Making a Match
How do we keep the music playing? So How Then Shall We Live?
So there’s this thing that happens in relationships. You do the work to meet the person you love, you get to know them, they get to know you, you guys click, you check for fit, and then decide to make it permanent. Then you have a big beautiful wedding with turquoise and pink Aso Ebi where everyone celebrates that perfect match. You’re now officially husband and wife, ready to begin your lives. Okay, now what? The wedding guests have gone home. Now it’s just the two of you in a house, staring at each other’s faces trying to figure out how to make the marriage work. It’s the same thing in the successful recruitment process, the “hiring” part isn’t all there is to it. Obtaining the right employee is the wedding. Now, retaining them — that’s the marriage.
Whether you can retain the employee and make their period of employment mutually fulfilling and satisfying depends on what systems you have put in place. The new hire was vetted for fit and you felt like there was sufficient cultural alignment. But that was a projection you made based on a few interviews, and perhaps a work trial. You made the most educated guess you could. But it was still a guess.
So, how do you ensure that your new hire becomes a productive and engaged employee who enriches your organisation for as long as is mutually beneficial? Well, first we need to decide on our “rules of engagement”, which is more than an offer letter with the terms of employment. It’s important to align on how we will live, or in this case, how we will work, as we kick off the relationship. Hopefully, they already got a taste of this from the work trial process you used to determine if they possessed the competencies for the role and were a general “fit” with your values and cultures. Now it’s time to spell it out plainly to them, through the onboarding process. This is where you socialize the new hire to your why, what, how, who and when of working:
• Your aspirations for the business, (the why)
• Your business model, all the various business units/ functions and how they fit into one big system (the what)
•How you get the work done and treat each other and your external clients/ stakeholders while getting work done (the how)
• Who does what on team and when things are expected to happen (standing meetings, townhalls, retreats, paid time off, etc).
Once your new hire has been socialized on how you will live together, it’s important that they know how their performance will be measured and what the consequences will be for playing by the rules versus breaking them. In other words, when we have aligned on “what does good look like”, we need to also align on “how we will be assessed” and “what happens if we are found wanting or if we exceed expectations?”. No one is psychic and it’s important to give and get feedback on how both parties are performing relative to expectations. That’s right, as an employer you don’t just have to give feedback, you need to ask for it as well. Performance reviews do not have to be these super technical or complex undertakings.
On the simple end of the spectrum, you can simply list the 2-3 key performance indicators that let you know whether your new hire is delivering on the job-to-be-done and then rate him/ her on those indicators with some commentary on what they could do better. Most people appreciate when performance reviews are not just about grading them an A or B, but when they are also about helping them get an A, by providing constructive feedback on what they could do better to improve their performance.
On the complex end of the spectrum, you might have a performance review process that rates employees not just on the work they get done but also on how well they live out the culture of the organization. You might have them receive feedback from their managers and their direct reports as well as their organizational peers/colleagues (i.e. a “360-review”). Regardless of your preferences on simplicity of your performance reviews, it’s important to get regular feedback on how well you are delivering on your employee value proposition ( the “WIIFM” – what’s in it for me) which you promised the new hire during the recruitment process. Some organizations do this through townhalls, anonymous feedback surveys or during the performance review process itself, which we recommend should take place at least biannually.
Just as with marriages, regular communication about what’s working vs. not working and how each spouse can better meet the other’s needs, is critical to sustaining healthy alliances between employers and their employees.