When your superhero hangs up their cloak… and you’re left with Mr Bean

When your superhero hangs up their cloak… and you’re left with Mr Bean

“I hired someone who, by all accounts—résumé, interviews, references—should have been a superstar; some kind of superhero who could transform our business! What went wrong?” This is a scenario I often hear when talking to business owners and sales managers; they think they’ve hired Superman but end up with Mr. Bean! Is it one you can relate to?

For the first few months perhaps the ‘superstar’ lived up to your high expectations. But then it happened; their performance dropped and they lost their ‘sheen’. It’s not uncommon for a new hire to start out strong.  But, after the initial excitement and enthusiasm for the new job fades, behaviour, performance, and ‘numbers’ follow suit. Who’s to blame? Did you make a bad hiring decision?  Did your ‘superstar’ simply lose interest?  Did they burn out – if that’s possible after just a couple of months?

Occasionally, the answer to one or more of those questions is, ‘Yes’.  Most often, however, the new hire’s diminished performance is the result of not having a clearly defined, long-term action plan into which to channel their initial drive and enthusiasm.  Without a ‘track’ to run on, many people stop running. They don’t come to a screeching halt; they continue to perform, but at a slower pace.   

Tips to facilitate the new hire’s success:

  • When monitoring performance, focus on actions, not the results.  If the actions (behaviours) are appropriate, the results will follow. If they’re consistently doing the appropriate behaviours but targets are missed, it’s likely to be a skills issue that may require coaching or training.
  • Commend before you recommend.  Focus first on the activities the new hire has initially performed well and praise them for that.  Then, recommend ways to expand these, to maintain momentum and develop them in the role.  
  • Develop goals and create a plan of action together.  The new hire is more likely to achieve goals when they played a part in defining them and developing the action plan for achieving them.  Make sure goals are realistic; don’t set them up to fail!
  • Maintain an open line of communication.  Developing goals and defining action plans are only half of the equation for performance improvement.  Keep talking!

By monitoring performance against goals and by providing ongoing support, you not only keep your new hire on track but also create a process of continuous improvement. Over time you can help him/her to once again establish superstar status – and keep it that way!

Sandler Training is a business development consultancy specialising in leadership, sales management, sales and customer care. Sandler works with companies to help them establish strong hiring processes; it provides talent analytic assessments so companies can make informed hiring choices and develop employees.  www.southwest.sandler.com

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