If you have been following our blog, you know the first step we recommend for hiring well is to Recruit Constantly–focus on expanding recruiting efforts to reach as many good candidates as possible and constantly be seeking good candidates. Our second recommendation, Hire Methodically, challenges employers to design and implement a system to move potential candidates through the hiring decision process as quickly and effectively as possible while keeping them updated on the status of the search. The third step, Onboard Intentionally, begins once a candidate has accepted your job offer and continues until the candidate is successfully engaged in the company and experiencing success in the new position. Your goal is help your new employee become a contributing, happy part of the team as quickly as possible. If you missed any of the first three posts, click here to read Step 1, here to read Step 2, or here to read Step 3.
Ready for Step 4? Read on!
If you truly implement Steps 1-3, you will be well on your way to becoming an Employer of Choice. The goal of Step 4, Manage Proactively, is to retain, develop, and engage your employees–which is the key to increasing productivity and profitability. Proactive management is the opposite of reactive management. In his book, Steven Covey lists Be Proactive as Habit 1 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He writes, “Proactive people recognize that they are ‘response-able'” while reactive people “find external sources to blame for their behavior.” Proactive managers take action to retain employees, develop their team and to increase engagement. Natural tendencies lead us to manage reactively. Planning, identifying opportunities for training, mentoring others, providing guidance and feedback before a problem escalates, giving recognition and incentives all require a significant investment of time and energy without the urgency created by a crisis. Natural tendencies lead us to manage reactively. We focus on the issues at hand, respond to immediate needs, pay attention only to the squeaky wheel, and avoid the extra effort of proactive measures. Just like with even the simplest machine, a failure to take proactive measures and provide routine maintenance, we save some time and money on the front end but pay double or more in time and money when the machine fails. People are far more complex and far more valuable than any piece of machinery.
One key to engaging and retaining good employees is to have process for proactively managing disengaged employees and discipline issues. A disengaged employee decreases productivity and creates a ripple effect among the entire staff. Gallup research indicates that a disengaged employee costs you 34% of his salary in lost productivity and that, on average, 17% of our employees are disengaged! (Plug that into your calculator and you will have a very strong incentive to become a proactive manager!) You need a progressive discipline policy. That policy should be followed whenever a problem arises. The action needs to be timely, applied consistently and dispassionately, conducted on an individual basis with respect and as much privacy as possible.
On the positive side, to help retain, develop and engage employees, we recommend gathering your management team and a representative group of your employees around a table of good food to brainstorm ways to encourage and recognize employees. The goal is to come up with low-cost ways to make your employees feel appreciated and to acknowledge their valuable contributions. This activity alone will help the involved group of employees feel engaged and valued. Ideally, you want to come away from that meeting with 3 to 4 simple, low-cost ways to encourage and recognize every employee individually in some proactive way at least twice a year. The touches can be a handwritten note from the owner, a bulletin board recognition, an opportunity to participate in a desired training, or a “free pass” to leave work an hour early when the schedule allows. We also recommend a companywide event at least once or twice a year, like a company-wide crawfish boil or a Christmas cookie day. A quick Google search provides an almost limitless list of ideas.
To help our clients proactively manage, we created an employee-driven coaching and mentorship process rather than a traditional annual evaluation process. The profitsquad process begins at orientation and includes intentional coaching and mentorship interactions on a weekly basis for the first month, twice monthly for months 2 and 3 and then quarterly thereafter. We created a tool that connects the employee’s coaching plan to the organization’s strategic vision and encourages the employee to lead the process. We have found this to be a great way to reverse the dread often associated with employee evaluations and to create a sense of mentorship and build collaboration.
Become an employer of choice by Recruiting Constantly, Hiring Methodically, Onboarding Intentionally, and Managing Proactively. We love our squad and helping our clients build and enrich their most valuable asset–people.
What are your best practices for recruiting, hiring, onboarding and managing employees well?