HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION

Job Descriptions and the Hiring Process – What Needs to Change?

by Sara Bennett | February 12, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices

The development of the job description as an organizational tool goes back a long ways – likely something that was created at the turn into the 19th century when factories were exploding and needing a way to organize work into specific tasks and responsibilities. Job descriptions were used to improve productivity to create streamlined and efficient workflows. As the number of jobs grew with multiple people doing the same or similar work, businesses tasked the HR side of their house to standardize job descriptions to outline the tasks, duties and hiring requirements that would keep the company compliant with a growing number of government regulations re: standardized work weeks, overtime pay requirements, workers compensation, and more recently a mandated benefit requirements. Today we still see a variety of JD formats  with organizations differing in terms of their approach. We see some JDs written to reflect a strong focus on the administrative and compliance components of the JD. Others use format that focus on hiring new employees and/or managing their performance once hired. Most include a list of tasks, an even longer list of qualifications they must have in order to be hired. Most do the the JD basics and demonstrate intent to be compliant with regulatory requirements, when it comes to a tool that can be used to incent talented employees to become part of the team, traditional job descriptions often fall short. This blog is being written to offer some ideas for hiring managers to make their traditional job descriptions more relevant to today’s world of work. We will make the case that traditional job descriptions that focus on the work to be done rather than the results to achieve, need to be turned into more flexible and results focused formats when they are used as part of the recruiting process. We will point out the shifts in mindset that will be needed to make this change and how it will impact  who and how we hire.         Turning a TASK FOCUSED Job Description into a RESULTS FOCUSED Hiring Process Let’s start at the beginning – the bigger picture about the job and WHY it exists Most traditional recruiters have been trained that the first step in the recruiting process is to pin down the hiring manager’s wants and needs – all those WHAT questions re: the  skills knowledge or experience they need (or want) to see in a candidate they are willing to hire. Recruiters were taught to get as specific as possible in describing the WHATs, while making sure the list didn’t get so long or unrealistic that the desired candidate doesn’t exist. The traditional job description played a significant role in a hiring process focused on the WHATs. Today, traditional hiring processes and the job descriptions that support those processes simply aren’t up to the challenge of recruiting top talent in today’s very fast moving marketplace. They are almost always outdated as soon as they are writing, and in a recruiting context they have a tough time inviting any kind of engagement with high talent candidates. They don’t stand out from the pack. Talented candidates always want to know the WHYs before they are willing to engage – how will they make a difference – and traditional job descriptions rarely provide that kind of messaging. And in pursuit of all those WHYS, its important to start with the bigger picture - what is the company’s mission?  the teams’ goals?  WHY does this job exist?  What is it expected to contribute? Asking with the big picture to uncover the WHYs and messaging those whys to prospective candidates kick starts candidate engagement in ways the traditional job description never could. We would like to see every job description have information about the company mission and the team goals be the opening lines of each job description. Organize the list of TASKS into Areas of RESPONSIBILITY Most job descriptions will contain a fairly long list of the tasks that must be done by the person doing the job. One of the ways to move away from that long list of tasks, is to divide that list into Areas of Responsibility. We have a person on our team, for example, who touches several areas of our company with important results she is expected to achieve in Operations, Marketing, Recruiting, and Administration. By first organizing her work into specific areas, or buckets, we can more clearly describe the results she is expected to deliver in each area. Those results carry various levels of delegation and accountability ranging from work that “supports” the team’s results to full responsibility for the results that only she touches. Getting clear around the areas of responsibility and organizing them into visual buckets has both visual and motivational impact. Ask WHY each TASK is important/how it contributes to RESULTS The next step is to fill each of your responsibility buckets with a “list” of results the employee needs to produce. Most Responsibility Buckets have 2-3 results that are considered important – very doable and a welcomed deviation from that long list of tasks. To get clear on results, start with the tasks that fall into each bucket ask WHY these tasks are important – what are they expected to produce. As example, the JD for an Account Manager will almost always include the task of “meet with existing customers at least (once a month) or something similar. But why? For what reason? Is the goal to increase the number of products or services we sell to each customer? To anticipate and promote future business? To uncover and resolve small issues before they become problems?  All of the above? What we see is that many of the job descriptions tend to get organized around descriptions of the tasks, and then go on to describe the goal. “Meet with key customers monthly in order to _______________________.”  We recommend reversing this thought process, starting with results and working backwards to tasks. This job was created to - increase the number of products or services we sell to each customer. We do that with a variety of activities including (list the tasks). The focus should be on the RESULT, not the task – allowing the person who takes the job to develop new tasks, to redesign old tasks, or remove them altogether as their way of delivering the needed result, which really don’t change that often. In today’s world where new technologies can change processes “just like that” job descriptions built around tasks need to be updated every 2-3 months.  Job descriptions built around RESULTS can stick around for a while. This may seem like a very adjustment in how to think about jobs and how we describe them,  but the impact of this shift in how an organization performs can be significant. When the results an employee produces is placed at the center of how their work is talked about and evaluated, the ripple effect in productivity, resilience, and the ease with which people get motivated to “serve the cause” touches every corner of the organization. The whole organization suddenly becomes much less top down.

  • For employees it encourages and empowers them to look for new ways to get work done, to face a new obstacle, to embrace a new technology.
  • For the candidates applying for jobs, it is a way to engage them early in the hiring process, oftentimes blocking out competitive opportunities. Talented employees always want to be challenged.  Talking with them about goals, not tasks, is a way to do that.
  • For organizational leaders it is a messaging model that brings new life into the people side of their businesses by keeping employees engaged and motivated long after their hire date. Looking for ways to improve retention – try talking more about the whys instead of the what's.
The link between purpose and productivity is well documented – studies have shown that employees who have bought into the mission are the employees most likely to “go above and beyond”.  What we have seen is that employees who don’t know why their job matters, tend to disengage,  or even worse, turn their jobs into a personal agenda. Expand the Job Description to include a Plan for Performance In our ideal world, each hiring manager would come prepared to hand us at least a 30-60-90 day performance plan as part of their job description – for more complex jobs we love to see the entire year laid out. Unfortunately the term, performance plan, conjures up an image of a document you prepare when an employee is in trouble. In reality it is simply a description of what will get accomplished by when. Creating a performance plan before you hire delivers multiple benefits.
  • It requires a hiring manager to think clearly about their expectations, and
  • To come face to face with all they know about how a new employee will experience their new job on a daily basis. What obstacles is the new hire likely to face? What performance support systems are in place/not in place?
We have found that it is only after we ask a hiring manager to think about a “day in the life” of their new hire that some of the real requirements for the successful candidate start to surface. This is because it’s the context in which the work is done always makes a difference to what a new employee can deliver!  Hiring managers who miss CONTEXT will often…
  • Make mistakes in how they describe their “preferred candidate” – missing some of the soft skills or talents important to hiring success
  • Misrepresent the reality of the role, leading to early term turnovers
  • Hire candidates who are good “fits” for the culture but lack the skills or talents needed to navigate the “context”
An additional benefit of preparing a performance plan up front, as part of the hiring homework, is that they make it easy for a hiring manager to track the progress of a new employee once hired.  So many times managers will decide that a new hire isn’t working out because they haven’t taken the time to describe what “working out” looks like. When a hiring manager is specific about what they expect by when and presents that  outline to prospective candidates, the right candidate’s wheels will start to turn even before they’re hired. Onboarding has already begun. Pin down as much as you can about how the results will be measured. Nailing down the details of how results will be measured isn’t as important to the hiring process as it is to performance post hire. I can’t tell you the number of times in our own organization where we’ve had to scramble to find the right data and present it visually to a new hire in order to give them feedback on how they are doing. The data is almost always there, but not available in a visual designed to tell the story at a quick glance – and its that story the employee wants, needs and deserves. So much better had we done all the work to identify the data we needed and put it together in a visual as part of our pre- recruit homework. Enough said. Final Thoughts - Why is this focus on RESULTS so important to hiring success? The data about the number of hiring decisions that end up being hiring mistakes hasn’t really changed that much over the last decade – its still somewhere between 35 and 55% depending on who is doing the counting. What we know is that a lot of those mis-hires have roots in how the job descriptions that are so often used to drive these processes are focused on tasks not results. The people who get hired might be able to get really good at executing a specific task, but they fall short of delivering the bigger picture results expected of the role. They also may not be long term fits for what comes next – impacting the very high rates of turnover that go side by side hiring mistakes. In many, but not all, cases the issue lies more with the hiring process and the job description that started it than the person hired. Hiring for results is a shift in how hiring managers and their recruiters approach the hiring process. We believe that job descriptions built around the what's (the tasks to be performed, the skills needed to do those tasks) need to be shifted to job descriptions built around the whys (the results needed by the team) to be an effective tool in driving hiring success. When that shift is made the impact on the hiring process can be significant – not just in how the process works but who a company is able to attract to their team.
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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Hiring for Results – A Shift in Mindset with Big Impact!

by Sara Bennett | January 29, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices

How You Define Hiring Success  Makes a BIG Difference in Hiring Results!

When you need to move fast AND deliver the right results, the framework you use to organize the steps in your hiring process can make a big difference. Your process can’t just be a series of tasks you go thru just to satisfy your boss or HR. It has to have a purpose. At PACE, our hiring process has several steps - some of them all about the science side of candidate selection, others more about the artistic side of that work.  Our model tends to differ from other models primarily because of its focus on RESULTS - it has been specifically designed to encourage the selection of a candidate who is able and motivated to deliver the results a hiring manager has determined is important for a successful hire to achieve. Components of our RESULTS-BASED hiring model are embedded into our service process to not only help our clients optimize their hiring results but to enhance the candidate’s experience of the hiring journey – to actually get the ready to perform on the job once hired! This blog is being written to introduce our readers to our  RESULTS-BASED hiring model. We use this model when selecting an employee to refer to a client for hire  or to be assigned into a short or long term temporary role. It involves a series of steps but starts with the need to get clear on the results the hiring manager states is important for a successful hire to achieve. It involves a vetting process that includes engaging with the candidate on those results and finding out how they would approach that challenge. It includes multiple screening, evaluation and assessment activities designed to provide the hiring manager with the information they need to predict which candidate is most likely to produce the results they need once hired. When hiring for a long term role, a RESULTS FOCUSED selection model tends to prioritize a candidate’s underlying talents over their here and now skills and therefore turns into a strategy for retention.  What could be better?       The PACE team has been using our RESULTS BASED hiring model for over a decade now. Whether our client needs to find a temporary powerhouse or hire a key player for a pivotal role, we’ve seen it result in employees who become successful hires – not just on day one, but on their hiring anniversary dates in the years to follow. We’ve recently added some new features to the process so wanted to update our description of the journey – the steps our clients will experience along the way. To give full credit where its due - the inspiration for this model came from staffing guru, Lou Adler, and what he calls a Performance Based hiring process. Here are the key steps in our version of Mr. Adler's model, pointing out why we call it RESULTS BASED:

#1 Pre Hire Homework

Getting clear about the actual work and the hiring manager’s expectations of what a successful hire will deliver to the company or team, once hired, is part of the homework we (or your recruiter) does with each client before the recruit can launch.  It is the first and most important piece of work in any hiring project. One of the reasons why our hiring model is considered Results Based, is that instead of dusting off an old job description, we help our clients turn that list of tasks into descriptions of the results those tasks need to achieve - to let the candidate know not just what they are expected to do, but what they are expected to achieve.  It is key to candidate engagement. As example, telling a recruiting coordinator that part of their daily work is to prepare new job postings describes a task - and truthfully is not a very compelling pitch to a prospective candidate.  Telling them that their job is to write job postings and use other forms of social media that will attract great candidates to the recruiting team and help the team get more jobs filled, is.   Candidates and employees are motivated by the purpose and meaning behind their work.  Talking to candidates about the RESULTS (not the tasks) they are missioned to achieve will set your company apart from competitive opportunities. We promise.    For higher level jobs with a broad scope of responsibilities,  we often help a client develop a 30-60-90 day performance plan that details what results the candidate is expected to achieve if hired.  Talk about a way to engage a candidate right out of the gate - creating a road map for success is a powerful technique.  And as a bonus it kick starts the orientation process.  What could be better? Pre- recruit homework should also help a hiring manager and their recruiter get clear about....
  • The actual work content - a typical “day in the life” of the future employee
  • The CONTEXT in which the job will be done – Why has the company decided to hire now? What business or staffing issue are they trying to address?
  • Factors in the work environment that might create challenges for a new hire?  A boss who is almost never on site?  Lots of daily/weekly deadlines?  The impact of making a mistake?  Anything relevant to an employees experience of the job after they are hired should be uncovered and revealed to prospective job candidates.
  • Why the right employee would want to take this job? The answer to the question “What’s In It For Me?”
The end result of pre recruit homework is the Preferred Candidate Profile – which is an outline of the right candidate’s qualification musts and preferences.  This is the document that lets your recruiter know...
  • Where to look for the right candidate
  • How best to engage them in your hiring process
  • What candidate vetting/screening/evaluation activities will be help to id the right candidate
  • What information will our client need to select the best candidate for the job – “the one most able to deliver the results you need - not just on day one but on the hiring anniversary dates to follow.
The Preferred Candidate Profile is the roadmap used to guide all the next steps in the hiring process.

#2. Customized Sourcing, Screening, and Candidate Vetting – where science and art come together! 

Homework completed and a Preferred Candidate profile in hand, our team of recruiters (or yours) go to work to find candidates who fit the profile.  They will vet those candidates against all the details you've id'd to be relevant to the “fit”.  They will engage them in the hiring experience by talking about the results they will be expected to achieve and any unusual pieces of the context in which the job is done. The steps our team uses to find and recruit candidates looks like a science because it is very data and numbers driven – how many candidates are in the marketplace available for hire?  how many employers are chasing those same  candidates?  What are those candidates looking for when they pursue one job or another?  We will know how many candidates we will need to touch before we come up with the one who is the right fit. Engaging candidates in the journey is the artistic part - how to trigger a candidate’s interest in becoming part of the team.  You might be amazed on much information can be gathered about a candidate's underlying talents when you engage them in conversations  about the results they will be expected to achieve once hired.  Traditional vetting processes, focused on skills and experience, don't even come close.     Vetting processes typically  include a variety of screening and evaluation activities designed to gather information that can be used to predict the employee’s future performance on the job.  At PACE it involves a series of progressive and behaviorally based interviews, skill and aptitude assessments. A new feature of our vetting program in 2024  is our use of an automated reference check process very early in the vetting process. In the past reference checking has been inserted towards the end of the process, but automation has allowed this process to be quickly activated right after the first screening interview. We believe this change will better set the tone for the seriousness of our hiring process and avoids either our team or our client spending time with a candidate who is less than forthcoming about their work history or past performance. An important nuance of our reference check process is that it is constructed to minimize a previous employer's opinion, focused instead on verifying the candidate’s self reports.     

#3. Information Rich Hiring Decisions – Our Client’s Opportunity to Go Deep!

Armed with the information gathered during our screening and evaluation processes, our clients are able to focus their time with one or two candidate finalists and go deep into their approach to delivering the expected results. What challenges do they see? What talents do they have that they know can help the be successful? This type of behavior based interviewing generally makes it easy for a hiring manager to see which candidates are most likely going to be successful once hired. It also encourages the candidate’s on going engagement. Even those this stage of the hiring process is fully in our client’s court we typically recommend that our client…
  • Use a multi step evaluation process…..at least one or two interviews
  • Involve all the folks who will play a role in the new hire’s success in one or more steps in the evaluation process
  • Involve the hiring team with only 1-3 finalists - more makes the journey too exhausting for participants and leads to hiring mistakes
  • Wherever possible arrange for “on the job” interviews or discovery.  These types of exercises can be as simple as asking a candidate to spend 2-4 hours job shadowing - watching teammates in action, or attending a team meeting to see how the team interacts with one another.   Our favorite "on the job" evaluation is a “temp to hire work audition” where the employee actually starts work on the team but is in an interim, non employee role for a 2-3 month auditioning period.  We are big believers in try before you buy.  
When its time for our client to make the hiring decision the RESULTS FOCUS of the hiring process again comes into play.  The hiring decision is simply a prediction about which candidate is most likely to achieve the short and long term results needed and be the most motivated along the way.

#4. Pre- Offer Discovery – Making Sure You Get it Right!

Once our client decides who they want to hire, the recruiter's role shifts to make sure their job offer aligns with the candidate’s needs and the competitive marketplace.  Most importantly it has to be an offer the  candidate will accept enthusiastically. This last phase of the hiring journey is critical to a successful hiring process and employee retention down the road. While difficult to do without a skilled intermediary to make sure there are no communication misfires, when using a third party agent opportunities for miscues are nipped in the bud quickly.

#5.  Pre-Hire Compliance – The Finale!

The last step in the hiring process is to go thru the steps to make sure the candidate can become an employee, eligible to go to work in the US and have access to the employer’s facility.  In our state, some of the steps in the compliance process, the criminal background check for example, cannot be initiated until an offer has been made or accepted. Compliance can be administered either by our team or by our client.  Either way PACE clients can rely on our compliance team to have the expertise to walk you thru any issue that might arise.

Final Thoughts – a Holistic Approach to Hiring, Performance, and Retention

We hope you now have some insights into the steps of the hiring process we have embraced and make part of our service delivery.  We know it lays the groundwork for hiring success and success on the job – a seamless journey from beginning to end.   It kick starts the onboarding process and the candidate’s first experiences as an employee. Whether you’re a customer who has already integrated either our entire program or bits and pieces of our service offerings with yours,  or you’re a company that is looking for some fresh ideas to re vamp your own hiring process, we hope this information sparks some ideas about how to get started on becoming more RESULTS FOCUSED in who and how you hire. If you have questions or run into some challenges along the way - never hesitate to call.  We’re here to help!!!!
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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What Changes Are In Play for 2024?

by Sara Bennett | January 24, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, What's New in Staffing? get connected, main whats happening

I love January….that time each year where we clear our heads on all those things that we did or did not do in the past year, and get excited about what we can start, stop, or do differently in the coming year.  As our team here at PACE went thru that thought process it certainly “feels” that 2024 is getting off to a start that offers more clarity than what we were experiencing at this same time in 2023. … Read More »

Overtime Pay Requirements Change Dramatically in 2024!!!!

by Sara Bennett | January 8, 2024

0 Author-Jeanne, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION

Don't Overlook this Important New Washington State Compliance Requirement! … Read More »

Pre-Hire Performance Plans – Whats, Whys, and How Tos

by Sara Bennett | December 11, 2023

0 Author-Jeanne, Behaviorally Based Employee Selection Models, HIRING. EMPLOYEE SELECTION, Hiring.Best Practices, Lead Gen Automation Campaign - Q1 2023.24, Lead Gen Content - Candidate Selection, What's New in Staffing? Employer Buzz, get connected

Making the Case for Pre-Hire Performance Plans

We’re all familiar with the term Performance Plan that is used to describe a series of steps or activities sequenced in a way to achieve a specific goal or objective.  There are all kinds of performance plans, most used to lay out the activities and results required of a company, a team or an individual covering a specific time period. Many companies, teams or individuals regularly prepare weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annual performance plans. Unfortunately the performance plan language is most frequently used in situations where an employee is in trouble, either with their conduct or their results, and a PIP, a Performance Improvement Plan, is used to lay out what specifically the employee needs to do or change what they have been doing to avoid termination. Given the number of times PIPs come up when googling Performance Plans, it is no wonder performance plans are so often viewed in a negative light. Less well known are what is called “30-60-90 Day Plans”, typically introduced during the onboarding process to describe what an employee needs to learn or do during their first 90 days on the job to be fully ready to perform on their 91st day after hire. These types of performance plans are designed to get a new hire off to the right start, armed first with what they need to know, and secondly what results they need to deliver, to contribute to the organization’s success. Most 30-60-90-day plans are written either by a hiring manager or a member of the HR team right after the employee is hired and is about to be "onboarded." A much less well-known version of a performance plan is what we call a Pre-Hire Performance Plan (PHPP) a type of plan introduced during the hiring process as a way to lay out for a job candidate what a newly hired employee is expected to do, know, or deliver by when if hired. PHPPs are very much like on boarding plans but are given to a candidate before they are hired and are used to describe the hiring manager’s expectations for “success.” Long story short, a PHPP is a “results focused” definition of the hiring manager’s expectations. This blog is written to make the case for Pre-Hire Performance Plans; describe how they are used in the hiring process plus outline why a company might choose to incorporate a PHPP into their hiring process. We will also provide our readers with some ideas and insights into the how to’s of creating a PHPP. 

What is a Pre-Hire Performance Plan (PHPP)?

Feeding off the brief definition provided above, the content of a PHPP looks very much like a 30-60-90 day on-boarding plan in that it lays out what needs to happen by when after an employee is hired and begins work. While most PHPP's are focused on the first 90 days post hire, for more senior roles that time frame can and often should be expanded to include the results to be obtained during the employee’s first year on the job. A PHPP often includes a statement of the context in which the expectations are to be achieved to clearly spell out the challenges likely to be faced during the plan period.

How are Pre-Hire Performance Plans Used During the Hiring Process?

A PHPP is used to identify the “best candidate” for the job – the behavioral way. It is typically a document given to 2-3 “finalists” who have already been screened to have the base experience and/or skills needed. These finalists are asked to review the plan and come to their interview prepared to provide examples of situations where they have faced the same or a similar set of expectations.  During the interview they are asked for specifics of their experience – what they did, the results they achieved, what they learned that might help them address the requirements of the job they are interviewing for. The PHPP can play a key role in the candidate selection process as the candidate’s answers to questions relevant to the PHPP almost always reveals which candidates are most prepared to achieve the results described in the PHPP.

What are the Key Benefits for Using a Pre hire Performance Plan?

There are many benefits for using a PHPP in addition to the role it plays in employee selection.
  • A PHPP ensures your hiring decision is focused on predicting performance or results, avoiding personal bias. And that is a trickle-down benefit that keeps the entire team or organization focused on performance/results. Having a PHPP in place shows just how serious you are about hiring the right employee and how focused you are on results.
  • A PHPP engages the high talent candidates during the hiring process in ways that traditional hiring processes do not. High talent candidates are attracted to challenges and will automatically self-reflect on the skills and abilities they can use to address these challenges.  Increased engagement = more offers accepted, often circumventing the type of competition based on costly pay and benefit packages.
  • A PHPP takes the mystery out of expectations…making it clear what is to be accomplished by when. High talent candidates don’t like surprises….and want to know exactly what will be expected of them.
  • A PHPP helps the recruiting team develop a job relevant preferred candidate profile. Knowing what a future employee must produce by when, makes it easy to get realistic about what qualifications are needed to succeed once hired.
  • A PHPP kick starts the onboarding process…. shortening the time it takes to get a new employee off and running.
  • A PHPP provides a way to get some early warning signals that you’ve hired either the right or the wrong employee.  A new employee who isn’t reaching the milestones spelled out in their Pre-Hire Performance Plan can be spotted early, the reasons for the performance shortcoming addressed in real time, as they come up.  This process avoids the more traditional, often long-drawn-out methods of assessing a new hire that results in too much time and resources invested in the wrong employee.  With over 50% of new hires turning into hiring errors, the earlier a “bad hire” is detected the easier it is to minimize the wake of an underperforming employee left in their role too long. The phrase “take the time to hire right, and fire quickly” comes to mind.  The PHPP is an invaluable tool to do just that.
  • A PHPP plays a key role in creating a culture of personal accountability and productivity. It keeps the hiring and orientation process focused on hiring and developing employees who have the necessary experience and talents needed to reach and exceed goals.  It can play a pivotal role in creating a performance focused culture.

How to Create a Pre-Hire Performance Plan

Creating the PHPP is, of course, the difficult part.  There are many multi-day workshops created to train managers on how to create the right performance plans. What I’d like to do in the context of this blog is to give you a limited list of “things to consider” when creating your PHPP.  I will also share some examples of the PHPPs we’ve helped PACE clients create and use in their hiring process.
  • Envision a SIMPLE ROADMAP. Identify the priority achievements for each segment of a progressive timeline.  Make sure you’re not expecting too much too soon and have clearly spelled out how the employee’s plan accomplishments will be measured.
  • Make sure you include a clear description of the context in which the PHPP will be achieved. The reality is that many new hires run into issues with a new job, not because of shortcomings in the skills or abilities needed to do the job, but because of the context in which the work is performed – a failure to adapt to that context.   Spell the context out clearly so that your PHPP comes alive for a potential candidate.  “You will be replacing a valued employee who is retiring after 15 years.  She will have very big shoes to fill and unfortunately there is not a lot of documentation available on how she does her job that makes her so good at it.  You’re going to have to absorb most of the how to's in the 3 weeks we have arranged for you to overlap with her.”   
  • Organize plan objectives into “conceptual” segments…
    • The first thirty days is typically a period of LEARNING so the plan needs to identify the key elements of the job the employee needs to learn and a brief description of how they will be learned.   You will meet with your boss at least twice to get clear on the department’s current projects and how you are expected to contribute. 
    • The second thirty days should be focused on DOING…putting into play the knowledge and skills learned in the first 30 days, and re affirming the employee’s ability to execute the base expectations. Spell out what work the employee should be regularly performing and how they should obtain feedback on their performance.     You will actively perform assignments given to you by the VP and obtain feedback from that VP on how you performed.       
    • The third thirty days should be focused on demonstrating the employee's ACCOUNTABILITY and INITIATIVE. The components of the plan should show the ways in which employees can demonstrate that they have a firm grasp on how their role contributes to the team’s success. You will have mastered the reoccurring/daily/weekly work assigned to your role plus will have presented some of your own ideas on ways your role might enhance its contribution to the team’s performance.     
  • Make sure your PHPP provides answers to key questions.....
    • What skills or knowledge does the new employee need to either bring to the table or learn quickly?
    • What resources are available to facilitate the required learnings?
    • Who are the people (i.e. stakeholders) who will play a role in the employee’s success? Who do they need to meet?
    • What projects or initiatives are currently in play that the new hire is expected to contribute to?
    • What recurring problems or challenges will they likely encounter and need to address?
    • What will the new employee need to do to establish their credibility with others?
    • What are the specific tasks that make up the employee’s daily, weekly, monthly requirements?
    • How will those tasks be taught – by who? Using what resources?
    • How will the employee get involved with other areas of the company besides their own team?
    • What kind of feedback will they be given to let them know how they are doing with their plan? How will it be solicited?
  • Adjust how you break down your PHPP into performance periods based on the complexity and scope of the role. Most if not all jobs benefit from a a PHPP covering a 90-day timeline.  Some higher or executive level jobs will require you to expand your plan to lay out expectations for first year results.

Examples of Pre-Hire Performance Plans

We'd like to share examples of PHPPs we have developed with customers in the last 12 months.  The first is the PHPP for a VP of Marketing so that you can get a sense of what that type of high level PHPP might look like. The second is the PHPP for an Administrative Assistant in the Marketing Department. Please note how each plan spells out the "context" in which the results will be delivered and the extended time period covered by the executive level plan.  
PACE Staffing Network is one of the Puget Sound’s premier staffing /recruiting agencies and has been helping Northwest employers find and hire employees based on the “right fit” for over 45 years. A 5-time winner of the coveted “Best in Staffing” designation , PACE is ranked in the top 2% of staffing agencies nationwide based on annual surveys of customer satisfaction. PACE services include temporary and contract staffing, temp to hire auditionsdirect hire professional recruiting servicesEmployer of Record (payroll) services, and a large menu of candidate assessment services our clients can purchase a la carte.

If you’re a hiring manager looking for a service that will actually “make a difference” to who and how you hire, contact us at 425-637-3312 or fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!

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