10 September 2015

How probation should be assessed

Last week Greg Savage spoke at the RCSA 2015 International Conference on the topic of 'The DNA of the Recruiter of the Future'.
Greg finished with two key messages: 
1. Always be hiring
2. The people with the best people will win. Do you have the best people?
I agree strongly with both of these points. The second point has been one of the core areas of my work with clients over the twelve years of my self-employment as a coach in this industry.
I have written extensively on how, as an industry, we can make better hiring decisions with our own staff. I am now working closely with clients to improve their own onboarding and induction processes in order to maximise the chances that the person hired succeeds quickly, not slowly (or not at all!).
One area that many recruitment agency owners and managers have struggled with has been the 'stay or go' decision at the end of the probation period. This indecision is evidenced by the number of rookie recruiters who have had their probation period extended. This approach is rarely ideal. In most cases it is a crutch for the hiring manager being ineffective at understanding exactly what needs to be at a satisfactory level for the rookie to be confirmed as a permanent employee.
Here's what I suggest needs to be carefully evaluated by the end of any probation period: 
  1. Behaviour: This is the cultural alignment aspect of the person's tenure to date. Have they, for example, been reliable, respectful of others and open to feedback and coaching? If not, have you given them the feedback and told them exactly what your expectations are?
  2. Skills: This is the core technical capability of doing the job of the recruiter. Can they, for example, screen candidates, interview, search the database, write a job ad, take a job brief and manage client & candidate expectations? If not, have you given them the feedback and coached them sufficiently to improve their skills?
  3. Activities: This represents the high pay-off activities that need to be undertaken in order to succeed as a recruiter. For a 360 degree recruiter this will, typically be activities such as prospect calls & meetings, client calls & meetings and candidates referred to jobs. These activities need to be at a specified minimum number and directed at the right contacts in an organisation.
  4. Results: These are the desired outcomes of the high-pay off activities. The most obvious, and easiest to measure, are placement fees and temp/contractor net income. Other results could include such things as new clients won, contingent jobs converted to exclusive and lapsed clients being won back. These results need to be specific and measurable. 
I suggest you evaluate your rookies in the order I have listed with a weighting such as this:

out of 6
out of 5
out of 5
out of 4
out of 20

I make this recommendation for the simple reason that they logically follow each other.
If the rookie has the right behaviour you have a sound foundation on which to build the right skills. Having the right skills is a sound foundation on which to build effective high pay-off activities. Having a consistent record of undertaking the effective high pay-off activities will, almost certainly, lead to the right results being delivered consistently.

Yet, what do most owners make an end-of-probation decision on?

You guessed it – results.

Results should definitely not be ignored; they are important but not the most important.

Behaviour is built on a person's character and your culture, whether you like it or not, is defined, not by the average of everybody's behaviour, but by the behaviour of the worst behaving person in your team or company. If that person does not change for the better, or is not exited from the business then your culture is defined by that person.
If you start with focusing on, and assessing, the right behaviour you have the best chance of finishing, in the long run, with the best results.
If you start with focusing on, and assessing, the right results, you are vulnerable to the wrong behaviours causing substantial long term damage; damage that clearly costs you more than the results that person is generating.
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1 comment:

  1. An employee's probation should only ever be as long as the relevant unfair dismissal protection (ie - either 6 months for over 15 employees or 12 months for under 15 employees). Any longer than that doesn't serve anyone any good as if you want to remove them after that time frame, its drawn out and problematic to do so via the performance management path. If you haven't assessed an employee is any good for the business within the first 3 months - they're not the right fit/hire.