Remembering Why You Hired People

Why do you hire new employees?

Ok, this seems like an obvious question, and no, it isn’t a trick.

We hire people because we have assignments that need to be completed, sales to be made, products to be created, manufactured, shipped, and billed.

We hire people to be productive; to get work done.

Yet, that’s often not how we judge them.

clear expectationsToo often, we judge them based on hours worked.

Let me explain.

A person seems to be at their desk every day when you arrive and are there most of the time when you leave. What is your first thought about this person? They are a hard worker, right? And if they put in weekends when needed, we see them as dedicated, willing to go the extra mile, and committed to their work, correct?

Both things may be true, but without another piece of information there is no way to be clear on these assessments. How much are they achieving? Are they getting the right things done with the right level of quality in a manner that meets the organization’s needs? Without the answers to these questions, you have no clue how successful, hard working, or dedicated that employee is.

Consider this situation: A person is at their desk early and late, but what you don’t know is that they are getting their work done in about half the day, but they have figured out that people view them as hard working if they are present. So they either glide through the work more slowly, or finish and spend lots of time reading, surfing the internet, or doing other time-consuming, low value activities. When they realize the weekend is a good time to get extra face time with the boss, they make sure they have a little work to do on the weekend to make it look like they are dedicated.

Or this situation: A person is struggling to get their work done. They don’t really understand the goals and they make lots of mistakes. Because of this, they need as much time as possible to complete their work – so they come early and often leave late. They get their work done, even if it sometimes takes the weekend to finish.

Aren’t both of these scenarios potentially describing the same person? If you are really judging (even if subconsciously) based on hours worked, do you have a really clear picture about the relative success, competence, and dedication of this person?

Not so much.

Changing Our Viewpoint

How do we re-assess our mental model of employee success?

  1. Change your personal perspective. Don’t let hours worked be your benchmark for just about anything. Focus on results and productivity.
  2. Set clear expectations of what success looks like. What are the benchmarks for productivity and quality? When will people know they are done with their work? If you want help with this process, consider reading more here .
  3. Measure, measure, measure. Once expectations are clear, we can measure progress and results. Measure will help you see who is coasting, who needs to be challenged, and who needs coaching.
  4. Provide the bigger picture. When people see the bigger picture, they can put their work into context. This will lead to better decisions, more engagement, and higher productivity.

These are just a few of the steps you can take – but it starts with you and how you choose to assess others. When you focus more on production and productivity than you do on time at work, you will be helping your organization – and your team members – more effectively.

photo credit: monkeyc.net via photopin cc

Originally posted on Leadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry

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