by Shayne Thomas
26 Sep 2019
Every Employee Deserves to Thrive
Avoid these 3 pitfalls to ensure your employees are always set up for success
When you run a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), optimism is your greatest ally. Why? Because it’s the fuel that motivates you to grow your business year after year. It’s also what helps you encourage your team to stay focused on working towards the same vision and goals.
That’s why building a stellar, high-performing team is—or should be—your first priority. After all, it’s the people behind a business that truly make it tick. One weak link could send a ripple effect that wreaks havoc across your entire business. Who would ever want that? (No one!)
Truthfully, like everything in life, businesses have their ups and downs, too. One day you’re achieving your greatest hopes and dreams, the next day you’re forced to overcome unexpected obstacles. It’s how the game works and, over time, you simply become accustomed to it.
That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Running a business is not all sunshine, bunnies, and rainbows. As much as you’d like to believe that you’ve recruited and hired the best people—who are all excellent at their jobs and engaged in their work each and every day—that your profits are soaring, and that everything around you is moving forward beautifully without a hitch, the harsh reality is: life isn’t Polyanna-ville. There’s always something happening in the background that will inevitably keep you on your toes.
This is even more reason to stay focused on the people around you. Within your team, there’s a good chance you’ve got a mix of high-performing employees who are dedicated to driving your goals forward and disengaged, disgruntled, or simply unenthusiastic employees who, if not nipped in the bud quickly, can slowly bring the whole ship down—and everything in between.
For the purposes of this article, let’s stay focused on the latter. Maybe those employees weren’t really the right fit for your business to begin with. Maybe they didn’t come to you with the right skill set to do their job well. Maybe there’s tension between an employee and his or her manager. Maybe there are issues at home overlapping into work life. Or maybe they just look at their job as a paycheck and do the bare minimum to get by.
You get the point, there are a number of factors that can play into any given employee’s declining performance. You can certainly blame “recruiting” for the shortfall, but in all reality, even once top-performing employees can fall into a slump from time to time. That’s why it’s your job, as a business owner or an HR leader, to minimize the negative impact that disengaged employees can have on your business while also doing whatever you can to help all of your employees succeed and ultimately thrive in their work and in their careers.
To help ensure this doesn’t become a recurring issue for your business, here are three key pitfalls that you should avoid at all costs:
1) Rushing the hiring process
We get it, as your business grows, you need more hands-on-deck to help keep everything moving in the right direction. Sometimes, when you’re really in a pinch, it’s easy to rush the hiring process just to get a warm body in the office to do the work that’s piling up. But just any warm body does not a good team make. In fact, hiring the wrong person could do a lot more harm than good in both the near- and long-term.
All too often businesses will think first about the “person” they want and not necessarily about the “position” that needs to be filled. You might have someone in mind for a given role. You might get recommendations from other colleagues as well. What you need to do is, first, think about what the position entails as well as what skills and qualifications you expect from this future employee. You can certainly throw in a few nice-to-haves as well, but those should never outweigh the minimum qualifications you’ve set for the role.
Second, do your due diligence to source a generous list of candidates—from internal recommendations as well as via employment platforms like LinkedIn.
Then, once you’ve pre-screened candidates through phone interviews, invite your top candidates to come into the office and meet with various members of the team. This is a great way to ensure that there will be a solid working vibe between that employee and all the people he or she will work with on a daily basis. These in-person interactions can also send you warning signs—about a potentially bad long-term fit—if you pay close attention to the interviews. In fact, “82% of managers reported that, in hindsight, their job interview process elicited subtle clues that they would be headed for trouble.” So, pay close attention!
Lastly, by taking time to get to know your candidates a bit more, you also open up a new opportunity to share more information about your business’s mission, communication processes, management style, and other important bits and pieces about working at your company that any future employee should know. Remember, even though this can feel like a tedious and time-consuming process, your focus should be on finding the right person for the job. A little work upfront can save you lots of suffering down the road.
2) Failing to properly onboard new employees
The day has finally come when your new employee officially joins the team. (Cue all the pomp and circumstance that you feel is appropriate here!) You finally have that “warm body” in the office that can help you tackle some of the things on your ever growing to-do list. Now, it’s time to just throw them to the wolves and let them figure it all out, right? No.
This is where many companies often miss a beat. They’ve taken the time to vet candidates and hire who they feel to be the best person to fill a role, only to direct them to their desk, issue them a computer, and maybe, if they’re lucky, invite them to lunch with their manager. Sure, this constitutes an onboarding process of sorts, but it’s far from being the bare minimum.
When new employees join any business, whether small or large, you need to seize the opportunity to truly “welcome” them to your company. This includes providing an overview of your culture and values, explaining how their role plays into the bigger picture—for your team or the business as a whole—and creating a space for them to build positive relationships with fellow coworkers. Obviously, there’s all sorts of administrative tasks that you’ve got to take care of as well, but weaving in a more qualitative aspect to your onboarding will help ensure that new employees always get off to a solid start.
Do you currently have an onboarding process in place? What’s it like? If not, you’ve come to the right place. Cornerstone is ready to help!
3) Not setting performance expectations
Regardless of the job, even for the most junior positions, employees should have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them. Not only will this allow them to understand what success looks like as well as what “done right” really means—according to their manager or team leads—but it will also help set ongoing performance standards that can be measured and tracked over time. As we’ve said many times before, goal-setting and continuous performance management is the best way to ensure employees are happy and feel as though they are succeeding in their work. It’s also the best way to maintain and nurture a high-performing team.
This is yet another reason why building a culture of feedback in your company is so important. Instead of holding onto all feedback for the sometimes ominous annual performance review, encourage managers to keep the lines of communications open with their employees at all times. This can include frequent check-ins to discuss project status, progress against goals, obstacles and challenges, and a lot more. And while it may seem uncomfortable for some, at first, once employees and managers get in the habit of discussing feedback openly and regularly, it will only serve to strengthen that employee-manager relationship. After all, when employees know that their managers have their back, they’re a lot more likely to over-perform and over-deliver on a regular basis. Doing good things for good people is just human nature!
But this culture of feedback isn’t something that just happens magically overnight. As a business, you need to give managers the right training and coaching to help them pay it forward to their teams. Not every manager is skilled at managing teams. Some simply fell into those roles as a result of climbing up the ladder. But just because someone has “manager” in their title or job description doesn’t mean they are ready to manage. So, be sure to take the time to cultivate and train your managers; when you do, it will create a trickle-down effect that will, believe it or not, inspire your employees to be more engaged than ever.
Get ready to thrive!
There are a lot of reasons why employees start to drift into disengaged waters—and sometimes there’s very little you can do to change the current. However, there are ways you can avoid falling into this trap early on in an employee’s life cycle at your company. By slowing down the hiring process, building an effective onboarding process, and setting clear performance standards with employees from the very start, you will create a culture geared for success.
If you need a little help moving in the right direction, Cornerstone has the tools you need to recruit, onboard, and manage performance better than ever. Learn more today.