A 360⁰ Approach to Hiring & Appraising

“Hiring the right people from the start, most experts agree, is the single best way to reduce employee turnover. Interview and vet candidates carefully, not just to ensure they have the right skills but also that they fit well with the company culture, managers and co-workers.” So says a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How to Reduce Employee Turnover”. But for most companies, in our experience, the hiring process is engaged with about as much enthusiasm as firing someone. Getting hiring right is crucial to both the candidate and your firm’s success – but how can you get it right?

The Department of Labor Statistics shows that approximately 50% of all employees leave a job within the first six months of being hired. Couple this data with statistics from Dr. Bradford Smart’s book, Topgrading, which show that the loss of a staff member within 24 months of hire can cost a firm up to 18 times that person’s salary, and we see that poor hiring decisions are very costly.

Having seen, time and again, the ill effects of bad (or non-existent) job descriptions and hiring processes that gave short-shrift to true candidate vetting, we set out to construct a process that would significantly “up” the probability that both new-hires and the firm would be happily married for years to come. We call this the 360⁰ Hiring and Feedback Process – a step-by-step way to create a role, identify the right person for it and help them succeed with effective feedback and appraisal. (We now offer the whole process, and all the necessary forms, in an online workbook. Click here for more information)

Let’s look at a few of the important components for increasing long-term successful hires:

  1. Identify success for the role. First and foremost, write a detailed job description that answers several questions: What’s the role’s accountability within the firm? What does the person in the role need to do to succeed? The job description should address the following key areas:
    • Who the employee reports to and who other key stakeholders are
    • The role’s major areas of accountability
    • Measures of performance for this person/role
    • Unique working conditions or related requirements
    • Critical success factors for the role (actions and behavioral)
    • Competencies, which include domain, technical and “soft” skills
  2. Align compensation with business objectives. In too many cases, the compensation plan has been developed around the candidate and their needs or around what the firm values at that given point in time. Review what the firm needs to accomplish from a business perspective, and then choose compensation that motivates the person in the right direction. So if client retention has been a problem, for example, the compensation plan should include something specific to this issue.
  3.  Define the interview process. This is the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of interviewing. Who should be involved in the process? What percentage weighting does their input receive? When does everyone get together to talk about the candidate and why would they recommend for or against hiring? Have a plan in advance so you aren’t scrambling to collect feedback and making a decision based on “like” or “dislike.”
  4. Interview candidates with a consistent approach. Have everyone ask similar questions to compare notes on answers. Ask behavioral questions. Don’t just ask about background — ask why the person succeeded or didn’t in past roles. Ask about their favorite employer and why. Ask how they specifically dealt with an issue in their past. Probe to get a window about how they performed so you can “see” them in action.
  5. Understand behavioral fit and match it to the role. Don’t take a candidate who is an aggressive driver and gets frustrated when they can’t get things done, place them in an administrative role and expect great results. Someone who is highly analytical and data-oriented should have the chance to work with data often. Every person has behavioral preferences, and every role has behavioral requirements. Match them as closely as possible.
  6. Match motivators and values. Define what your firm values in the culture. Are you a “get it done and get it done fast” type of practice? Are you a “total focus on the client and client’s needs” culture? What defines who you are, and who you want to be in the marketplace? Communicate this to potential candidates and be sure their values align with yours.
  7. Highlight and focus on ongoing feedback and communication. Have a process in place when the person starts to establish milestones and feedback check-in points. Every 30 days or each quarter have, at minimum, informal milestone reviews and check-ins. Have a formal review of everything in step 1 at least annually. Capture specifics for the employee. What are they doing well? What do they need to correct? Be as clear as possible about what you observe and what you need them to do differently. Don’t want for an end-of-year discussion; keep the dialogue open and ongoing. And – very importantly – allow the employee to offer input and feedback to the review too.

Review your hiring and feedback approach to determine which of these seven areas to focus on for greater success. People are the key to success in every business – increase the odds of long-term hiring success with a truly “360” process.

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