Rehire your team

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Ah, my favorite time of year. The beginning of a new year, new opportunities and intentions. A chance to define yourself in new ways and launch projects for growth. And everyone’s favorite: the performance management year-end summary touch point. Like you, I’ve had my fair share of decent, average, and poor year-end summary discussions. I’m not talking about the evaluation of my performance. I’m talking about the way the discussions were executed and how I felt after. Many of those conversations left me feeling under-valued, discouraged, and deflated – even in the best performing years.

You may think “this is a check-the-box exercise, this isn’t a big deal.” But that isn’t true. Corporate Leadership Council reports an average or poor year end summary discussion can translate into a 30% decrease in engagement. If leaders aren’t approaching these discussions with care, they can do significant damage. If you have ongoing touchpoints, why the need for a summative conversation? Ongoing touch points allow employees to get real-time feedback on their performance, understand where they add greatest value and consider making shifts – closest to when those behaviors are observed. A summary touchpoint is different. It shouldn’t introduce new feedback but should accomplish three things: provide for summative reflection, provide the employee understanding of the value they bring to the role, and rehire the employee.

Yep, you heard me right. Rehire your employee. When you are hiring an employee for a job, you make the case for the role and outcomes you expect the employee to achieve. You talk about the employee’s expected impact, value s/he will create and potential for growth. When you are hiring someone, you lay out why the role is right for them and what opportunity exists within it. You want the person to accept the role with excitement and see opportunity for growth. 

Each year we need to paint this picture (and quite possibly a few times during the year to strengthen commitment). We need to tell them why we need them. We need to help them see opportunities, desired outcomes and how to leverage their strengths to achieve them. We need to tell people what we value most in them. We assume people know what they are good at and don’t tell them. If a leader isn’t telling his/her employees what they value and seek them out for, how will the employee know? Tell the employees why you need them in this job, what you value about them, and the opportunity and growth possible. In short, rehire them in this conversation.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed many leaders doing things wrong in approaching these conversations. Below are examples of the good and bad discussions I’ve observed:

What the bad discussions look like:

  • Treating it as a one-way dialogue, talking at the employee vs. having a rich two-way discussion engaging the employee

  • Failing to tell the person what you value most about them. We naturally think people already know where they are good and strong. Telling someone gives them pride and calls upon them to intentionally bring those talents forward – and we grow most in our areas of strength.

  • Addressing positive items for 5% of the discussion and using most time talking about gaps to close. Employees never remember the positive comments because they are busy bracing themselves for the negative ones.

  • Bringing up things for the first time that should have been addressed in ongoing touchpoints and failing to bring examples. One way to frustrate an employee is to tell him/her they have a development issue and when asked “give me an example of that”, replying with “I can’t think of one”

  • Blocking discussion of other opportunities. It is common for people to look at new opportunities as they progress in their career. I see leaders try to block or not release employees for fear of being able to back-fill. They don’t want to engage in discussions with the employee. This is one of the most discouraging things you can do. Career progression isn’t done to an employee – the employee is integral to the process and should be engaged in transparent discussions.

  • Asking the employee for feedback. I think it is important for a leader to receive feedback from employees, but not in a summary touchpoint. A summary touch point is about the employee and that should be the only focus. A leader should set up a separate touch point to ask for feedback.

  • Failing to rehire the employee. Missing the opportunity to reengage the employee on the importance of his/her work and the growth potential for the upcoming months.

What the best discussions look like

  • Prepares before the discussion, not just relying on own observations, but also gathering feedback from others that work with the employee to provide a well-rounded perspective.

  • Asks employee to share his/her reflections of the year and describe the things of which s/he are most proud and discussing.

  • Asks the employee to share his/her successes and what s/he feels created that success

  • Asks employee what his/her best day at work was in the past year and how to create more in the upcoming year.

  • Describes in detail what the employee does well, sets him/herself apart from others and what is important for that employee to continue doing and asks the employee how s/he can continue to grow those strengths in the next year.

  • Discusses development opportunities by providing examples and asking the employee for things s/he can do to address them. 

  • Asks the employee what help the leader can provide to the employee in growing ans developing in the next year.

  • Rehires the employee. Make the case why the employee has continued growth, opportunity and value in this role.

One of the best examples I heard came from a colleague. During a summary touchpoint her leader rehired her. She said “I support your growth and development, AND I hope you aren’t done with this role. Because I feel like we are just getting started and there are a lot of things I’d love to partner with you on to accomplish.” They continue to do great things and this employee is committed to the role because she knows the leader’s commitment in her growth.

How will you rehire your employees in your summary touchpoints?