Most people have never heard of post-hire interviews, but companies that want to maximize their employee motivation unquestionably need to conduct these interviews on a regular basis. What is a post-hire interview? Well, you may be tempted to think it’s just another name for an annual Human Resources (HR) review, but it is not. Let’s be honest, most companies don’t do reviews unless an employee asks, and the ones that do, generally do it as a checkbox only to let an employee know how much of a raise or bonus they should expect. Post-hire interviews are quite similar to the type of conversation the employee went through when they were interviewing for their current role.
I’m trying to save you money – so here is what I said relating to HR management in my last book.
- Promote people based on the needs of the company and the quality of the work.
- Give raises based on changes in competitive wage landscape to retain good employees.
- Give one-time bonuses to reward exceptional performance.
If we break that down, it becomes clear that to know who to promote and how to analyze the quality of someone’s work, you need to have a clear picture of what that person has done, is doing, and is most interested in doing moving forward. There is no better person to answer those questions than the employee. Sure, you can look at departmental successes and failures or get an assessment of that employee from their manager, but that may not truly reflect all their efforts and certainly does not include their future interests.
It is useful to have the employee summarize their activities before an interview. While some people dread writing work summaries, I believe this is one of the most valuable tools for everyone involved. If an employee can summarize their wins in their current role, much in the way they would do on LinkedIn or their resume, then you will have a much better idea of what they see as their primary wins. This may show that their priorities and interests were different than what their manager would think. Listening to employees describe their daily responsibilities, successes, and failures in their own words is one of the simplest, but least utilized techniques to evaluate past performance and even more importantly future potential. I can’t count the number of times I saw a huge disconnect between what employees thought their priorities were, and what management assumed they were. Similarly having an employee describe their focus and passion for future projects can be a telltale of future success or failure of their next project they are assigned to.
Treating this conversation as a post-hire interview sets the stage for the employee to be in the same “selling themselves to the company” mentality they had when they initially got hired. While I don’t think the stress of continually losing your job is good for anyone, I do believe it is beneficial to get people used to re-selling themselves to the company every year. It forces employees to know what their wins and strengths are and motivates them to do more than the bare minimum work necessary to stay employed, which unfortunately many people use as their target. It is also useful for the employee because they get a regular opportunity to toot their own horn without more aggressive employees or management getting in the way. Of course, if the employee should become a poor fit for the business, this process better prepares them for a job search. This may be of minor concern to you as the owner, but remember, you are interviewing people and trying to find the best ones to fill your open roles. You would not want to pass up a more qualified person just because they do not do a good job representing their past accomplishments, would you?
For the company, there is one additional benefit. Since the goal of any company is to find and the most qualified resources for the tasks the business needs to be done, HR should always be looking for new candidates, even when there is no specific open role. The best way to compare existing employees to potential candidates is by having existing employees go through the same type of process, namely an interview, as the candidates. This allows for a better apples-to-apples comparison.
The core of my message is that people should be listened to and not simply have their work product evaluated. Understanding the why and how can only be achieved when they describe their own actions.
As part of my consulting process with a new company, I always conduct these interviews and ask employees to create a job description based on what they actually do, not what they were hired to do. What I can say after years of doing this, is that employees do much, much more than their managers think they do. They also generally set their priorities for tasks based on reactive factors. People in all areas of a company will usually try to do the ‘big picture’ role that they were hired to do about 20% of the time while spending 80% of the time dealing with problems that arise on a daily basis. For that matter, often even consuming large amounts of their day in helping other employees with their tasks. The overwhelming majority of the time, executives and management are not aware of these activities and frequently see the employee as not being very productive.
There is another benefit that can come out of an in-depth post-hire interview, namely that an employee seems busy to everyone, but is, in fact, horrible at managing time. They may appear to be very busy and in fact, work longer hours than others, but upon examination of all their activities, it becomes evident that they merely accomplish tasks at a slower pace than everyone assumes. This is a situation that I had experienced with a client several years ago. There was a concern that Information Technology (IT) related problems were holding back the business. While looking at the IT projects two things became clear to me. First was that we had a classic “Bob” problem – which I describe in detail in my last book. Essentially a Bob is a person who does their job without any repeatable processes and becomes the keeper of all knowledge about a particular department in the business and often becoming quite defensive about institutional knowledge as well.
Second, the employee in question was very inefficient in how they conducted their activities at work. For example, someone who justifies their poor decisions by saving some small amount of money for the company, but to achieve those savings, they will need to spend hundreds of hours of time – which is worth much more than the savings realized – figuring out how to implement the solution. This hurts the company in multiple ways. It prevents this employee from working on other tasks required by the business, and it creates systems that are officially unsupported and can only be used by the person who created them in the first place.
If the answer to the question “How does that work?” is the name of a person rather than a process, your business has “Bob” problems.
Excerpted From The Original
Foreword by Roy H. Williams
Gene isn’t a journalist, but he is most definitely an investigator.
I was talking to a friend who employs about 250 people in 3 different companies when he mentioned that he had hired a specialist to figure out what was wrong with a company that was underperforming.
“Who did you hire?”
“A fellow named Gene Naftulyev.”
“He’s going to figure out what’s holding you back?”
“Yeah. He’s famous for it.”
“Procter & Gamble. American Express. Kraft Foods. Target. They’re all clients of Gene’s.”
“What does he do, exactly?”
“He improves profits without spending money.”
“Process re-engineering, operational optimization, making business units autonomous, negotiating employee and consultant contracts and a hundred other things like that. It just depends on what you need. He refines the core of your business so that you become more efficient, have fewer frustrations and make more money. Naftulyev can always spot the problems and his fixes are famously quick and easy.”
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- Post-Hire Interviews: The Only Way To Discover Crucial Insights - December 29, 2023