The ultimate employee performance test - Would you rehire them?
If I knew then what I know now… The inference from that little phrase is that you would obviously make a different decision and so things would turn out better. Often however that's not the case, certainly not with people at work.
We all hire people who aren't suited for the company, they aren't necessarily bad people, it's just they don't fit the culture of the organisation, or their skill set isn't what you thought it was. Maybe their attitude towards others isn't ideal or they are always late or maybe deadlines are those things that make whooshing noises as they go past with this person. Irrespective of what the issue or issues are we've all been there.
Let me tell you about a time...
I was reminded the other day when catching up with some friends about one instance that I had where I had hired a person who really wasn't right. I'd done the reference checks on them, done the interviews, and brought him on board. Pretty quickly we noticed that there were a few things that were off. After a week however I got a call and he resigned telling me the company wasn't right and he didn't want to work on the products he was working on. Undeterred I arranged to catch up with hm for a coffee and we talked through the issues. I arranged to move him to another set of customers, and he was back on board. This was important as we were already finding it hard to find good engineers in a tight market space. 4 months later I was regretting that decision and was having to deal with complaints from the team and the production floor about the guys. We had some chats and agreed some changes but still it wasn't right, the final straw was when I overheard him be incredibly disrespectful to a lady on our production floor who was trying to explain to him why he was mistaken (he was... often). We went for another chat, this time formally about his approach. He decided he would take a few days to reflect and then on the 2nd day I got a call an email saying he was resigning because he didn't feel he was a fit and I had put him in a tough spot by taking the side of the lady on the production floor (who was right) and not him. I gratefully accepted that resignation and we all moved on. The team all had to pick up some extra work as a result while we went to recruit but guess what, they didn't mind. The production team had to do a bit more as well, but guess what, they didn't mind. They didn't mind because we had gotten ride of a jerk from the company and their stress levels were lifted. A dark cloud that had been hanging around was now gone and a little bit of sun was coming through.
I still get teased by those friends I was catching up with that I technically hired the guy twice, once when I hired him originally and the 2nd time when I talked him into coming back! If I knew then… but I really did know then, that's the problem.
The same problem comes up in almost every organisation at last every year. We call them annual reviews (now if you read our blog on a regular basis, you'll know I am not a fan of annual reviews anyway). But really what they are annual chatting sessions when what they should be is annual re-recruitments – and that's for both sides!
When the review rolls around everyone gathers up all their facts and data to show how hard they have been working the whole year (don't leave it a year!!). They talk about how them only just missed that goal or that the goal they agreed to with each other was never really achievable anyway. The company didn't give the support it promised and the employee never really cared about it anyway since they didn't see how it joined the dots between what they do and the company strategy. The list of discussion points go on and on.
The thing is, however, you now have a year of data on each other. You know if you fit together from a culture point of view, you know if the person lives the company values, and they know if the company lives the values themselves. The employee knows if the boss jerk and if their boss's bosses are jerks and the company should know if their person is a jerk. The reality is you know everything you need to know about each other.
Out of those reviews, I bet if we asked most managers if they would rehire the person, they just reviewed there would be a percentage of those that would say nope, never. Similar with employees if you asked them, knowing what you know about the company now, would you come work for them, they would also say no. Yet we continue the dancing around with each with one possibly hoping that they will find another job and escape (or that they don't get found out and get to stay) and the other wishing they would leave.
What would happen if at the end of a review of each other we actually asked that question, if you knew then what you know now would you rehire the person? Would the person want to work for you? For one thing it I bet there would be some far more honest conversations, for another I bet a lot of people would move jobs and stress levels (theirs and the company) would go down.
Step into uncomfortable
Keeping people around who don't fit isn't fair to them and it's not fair to others either. It damages productivity in the both the short and long term, not just for the person not performing well but for those who work with them as well. It pulls down morale and can have an direct link to the level of sickness in your organisation.
So why don't we ask the question?... It'll be awkward, it'll make both feel uncomfortable? Or do we just not really want to know the truth? Are we trying to avoid the conversation with someone that they aren't performing or just don't fit?
From personal experience, take the awkward and uncomfortable feelings, the reward for everyone is far more than that for everyone in the long run. Don't wait for reviews, every day ask yourself if this person came to you looking for a job, knowing what you know about them would you hire them again. If the honest answer is no, then it's probably time to think about having the conversation. Who knows, maybe you will be able to use the conversation to turn things around, either way, the end result is better for everyone concerned.
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