Monday, April 28, 2014

What Does Your Turnover Say About Your Hiring?

I've worked almost all of my adult life managing/Leading teams in restaurants and retail stores.  The average retail turnover hovers between 60% and 100%, often higher in restaurants.  Does your turnover fall into that average range?

Then I would suggest if your turnover is average, your hiring is average at best.  If you’re good with that… average hiring, average workers, average performance, well… good luck with that!

If you are not satisfied with your turnover, what can you do about it?  For one thing you must make an honest assessment of your hiring.  I haven’t figured out why, and I have yet to meet one person who will admit that they are not good at hiring.  It’s hard to find anyone who will even say that they could use some help at hiring, even when it is obvious that they are not very good at hiring.  Why is that?

Almost everyone will admit that they are not great golfers, tennis players, or dancers; that we would love a personal trainer, would think about taking a cooking class, or looking back, wish there had been parenting classes.  No one would think of going skydiving, scuba diving, or even driving a car without some minimal lessons.  Yet pretty much no one is willing to admit that they aren’t great at hiring, and might be able to use some help. 

Since we agree that our turnover is average, then our hiring cannot be better than average, right?!  And are all of our teams’ high functioning teams, full of superstars?  No?  Then how do we justify our thoughts about our hiring skills?  On what do we base the belief that we are good at hiring people? 

It takes an honest person to admit that while they are doing the best they can, they are not achieving the results they want.  And isn’t that what the facts are telling us about our hiring?  Someone taught you what they knew about hiring, and off you went… doing what you could to hire the best people you could find.

But where is the feedback?  In order for us to get better at something we need feedback.  How’s about an example… I hope it makes sense.

If I gave you a bow and some arrows, stood you 20 yards away from a target, and gave you 2 weeks to practice, even without any coaching you would get better because you get feedback with every shot.  You could try different techniques, and since you could see how each change affected your accuracy, you would get better pretty quickly.  You might never win any competitions, and you could certainly get better.

Now what if I put a sheet between you and the target?  We’d hire a kid to collect your arrows and return them to you, so you never see where your shots hit… you’d never get any feedback… If you don’t get to see where your arrows hit, you never know if any changes you made had a positive or negative affect on your shooting.  Do you think after 2 weeks, or even 2 years you would get any better?  No… how could you?

When it comes to our hiring, I believe we put a sheet between our hiring efforts and the results of those efforts.  Some of you are asking what in the world I mean by that, aren’t you?  Well… I mean that since hiring is not like math… there is no perfect right and wrong… there is no one agreed upon right way to hire, we hire the way we were taught to hire.  We do what we were told would work, and we expect that it works.  And it’s easy for us to go on thinking that we’re doing a great job hiring, because the results of our efforts are so far removed from the effort.  That distance between our hiring and the success or failure of the person is the sheet that keeps us from connecting our efforts with the end result.

We find and interview candidates; we choose one and hire her.  We feel that she is qualified, has the skills we need, and should be a good fit here.  Then what happens?  Someone else takes our new hire off to her job.  How is she treated there?  We can guess, and hope… and we cannot really know for sure whether she is welcomed and encouraged, or if she is looked at as an intruder and ignored.  We just don’t know what perception she has of her new workplace.  How does her boss treat her?  Is he or she a real Leader who will build a strong, trusting relationship with her, or is our new hire facing an insecure bully who is afraid of strong women?  We can’t know for sure.

So, we see how easy it is to separate our hiring from the outcome.  It’s not our hiring skills; it’s her… I'll bet she lied about her qualifications.  It’s not our hiring skills; it’s that Leader… he’s a bully and can’t keep anyone.  It’s not our hiring skills… you see where this is going.  Even if we don’t consciously think these thoughts, it’s how the human mind works.  The success or failure of the new hire is too far removed from our hiring to make it easy for us to objectively judge our efforts.  So we don’t… we just think we’re doing great, and it’s never out hiring that was at fault.

And… back to the original thought… if our turnover is average, we have to admit that our hiring is average at best.  That is all of the feedback we need.  If we continue doing everything the same way, we will continue to get the same results.

If we want different results we have to change the way we hire.  Would you agree?  Disagree?  Either way, if you find this discussion interesting, you might want to read Why You Should Hire For What You Can't Train.

Perhaps another time we can talk about all of the reasons team Leaders should do their own hiring, Hmmm…?

Oh… and if you like my blog, please ‘like’ my Facebook page.  The button is just up there at the top right.  I dare you to click it!  

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