You Can’t Move From Point A to Point B with C Players
New year, new goals. If you’re like many leaders, you’re focused on your lofty business objectives for 2018 and assessing if you have the right team in place to help you reach them. Here are my tips for making sure that this year you 1) keep your very best performers and 2) bring aboard top-notch new employees.
Pay Attention to Retention
You can’t move your firm from Point A to Point B if you have C players on your team. To continue the letter-based metaphors, one approach I recommend when looking at your current staff is to make a list and place each team member in an A, B, or C bucket.
A players: These are your indispensable employees and you need them in your proverbial canoe. They do phenomenal work and are critical to getting your firm where you want to go. They’re also likely to be targeted for poaching by your competitors. Your job is to make sure they have no reason to entertain any outside offers. First, benchmark salaries and perks; in today’s market you want to offer more than the going rate for your industry and area. In addition, ask these key employees what professional development opportunities they’re most interested in – and pledge to support those efforts in any way you can. And make sure you frequently communicate just how much you appreciate and value them.
B players: These are decent employees who have the potential to become A players with the right kind of coaching. Help them boost their performance by providing regular feedback and additional training opportunities. Look for ways to coach them up to an A player. They may need clarity on their role and guidance on how to achieve their career aspirations. Asking someone from your A team to serve as a mentor can prove beneficial.
C players: These are employees you probably need to replace. If an employee is producing subpar work or is essentially a bad apple that could end up spoiling your bunch, it’s time to say goodbye. I learned long ago that the secret to having happy employees is to fire the unhappy ones. In short, don’t settle.
Hire With Intention
OK, so you’ve determined that you have some C players to let go of and replace. Or you’ve recognized that your team is comprised of A and B players but they’re stretched too thin. Either way, you need to do some hiring to reach your goals. The key is to invest your own time and energy into hiring. You can’t afford to view it as a “just go through the motions” process.
While you no doubt know the basics of how to hire, I’ve found the following tips and tricks can help you identify the best candidates:
Invest in the job description. It’s critical to know exactly what you want in the new hire. Don’t just dust off and recycle the employment ad you used the last time you hired for the position. In my experience, the quality of the applicants you hear from is most certainly tied to the amount of effort you put into crafting an enticing job posting. The role as you want it to become must be crystal clear. And don’t just cite qualifications and job duties – sell your company. It’s a highly competitive market so take the opportunity to explain why talented people should consider a career with you.
Don’t interview in a vacuum. When conducting follow-up interviews with top contenders, make sure a portion of the meeting is conducted with multiple people in the room. Regardless of how savvy and experienced an interviewer you are, you have blind spots. I know I do. That’s why I bring in other team members so that I can get a range of perspectives on the person.
Mix up where you do follow-up interviews. When I feel that I’ve narrowed the field to my top choice I like to do a final interview that involves a change of scenery. Doing an interview in a restaurant or coffee shop gives you a chance to observe candidates in social settings. If an applicant is impeccably well-mannered to you but even remotely rude to the hostess or barista, well, that tells you something about their character. No matter how impressive one is on paper or when answering your routine interview questions, don’t underestimate the importance of interpersonal skills and the ability to play nice with others.
Check the tone of references. I know some managers opt to skip reference checks or only do quick, half-hearted ones. Is the reference check the most essential aspect of the hiring process to me? Absolutely not. But it can be highly instructive. For me, it’s less about what a reference says and more about how they say it. You can learn a lot from tone. A hesitation here, a lukewarm endorsement there – these things can tell you if you need to probe deeper and give the candidate a closer look before extending an offer.
What are your top retention and hiring tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. For now, I wish you much success in 2018!