Fully competent people underperform for a variety of big reasons. While they have been well-documented, they’re somehow forgotten in the rush to hire someone, driving turnover, causing dissatisfaction and creating havoc with the team. Here are the big ones you must avoid:
Mismatch with the new boss’s managerial style
Some managers are better than others. The best put operational plans together and follow-up regularly; offer coaching, support, and advice; break bottlenecks and obtain the resources necessary to ensure their people are successful; and provide continual opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, managerial styles range from micro to macro. A macro manager is far less involved providing general tactical or strategic ideas and expecting their staff to figure out what to do and expecting them to do it right. A micro manager knows exactly what needs to be done, and the team is expected to do it that way. If the new hire isn’t able to deal with the full ranges of managerial styles in your company, expect some problems to crop up. To improve managerial fit, make sure the candidate has excelled working for the type of hiring manager doing the hiring.
Being assigned work they weren’t told about during the hiring process.
It's hard to stay motivated if the actual work is less than expected. From Gallup’s First Break All the Rules – What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, it’s clear that clarifying expectations upfront is the primary driver of on-the-job performance and satisfaction. Too many people are hired without a complete understanding of real job needs. This is simple problem to solve: use performance-based job descriptions instead of skills-based job descriptions to make the assessment.
Being assigned work that even Superman couldn’t accomplish.
Being competent to accomplish a task is easy to figure out. But if the task needs to be done with half the resources, on a very tight budget and within a very short time frame, failure is likely. These conditions need to be defined ahead of time. During the assessment find out if the candidate has ever encountered these types of challenging circumstances and how well they performed. Raise the caution flag if you sense a problem.
The primary driver of culture is the pace of the organization, from entrepreneurial start-ups to slow-moving bureaucracies. Throw corporate values, the primary mission of the company, the Quixotic dictates of the CEO or department head, and how decisions are made into the mix. Rarely are these defined in any depth. If your company’s culture is ill-defined, ignore first impressions and gut feelings. Instead, dig behind the person’s accomplishments to determine if there’s a cultural mismatch in the making.
Odd man out.
If the new hire can’t work with the team, the group will become quickly dysfunctional. When assessing team skills put friendliness in the parking lot and find out what teams the candidate been assigned to, how and why the person was assigned, the role the person played and the results the team achieved. The best people are always assigned to important multi-functional teams early in their careers. Often these include exposure to senior management, vendors and customers. Be careful of the affable applicant who has never been assigned to a worthy team, and don't quickly dismiss the quiet candidate. This might just be the person who gets a lot of stuff done with and through others.