I Was Almost Fired Because There Was No Plan for New Hires

Wendy Keneipp on May 26, 2020

A benefit coming out of stay-at-home orders has been a lot of time to think and reflect. 🙂 As our Q4i team grows, it has me contemplating on those defining moments in my career that have played a role in getting me where I am today.

There was one company in particular, early in my career that was brief, yet very poignant in my lessons-learned. This is where I was almost fired.

I had been hired into a new role at a startup company. No job description, no real expectations for the position, and no goals set for it. Just a general “do this thing we perceive that we need but don’t know how to tell you what it is or how to go about doing it.”

It wasn’t going well, and we all knew it. I talked to my boss, and she politely told me everything was fine. And then we had some personal chit-chat, and she sent me on my way. Fast-forward a short time, and I was reassigned to report to someone more junior on the team. She was fearless and bold, and one of the best mentors I had. Her name was also Wendy.

She met with me regularly and reviewed everything I was doing. She helped me organize a plan for the position and document it. She was clear on what the objectives were and helped me figure out how to manage them.

I was responsible for managing all the channel partner relationships, which were a critical part of our distribution model. I wrote up plans for how we were going to work with each one and the programs we’d put in place.

Wendy shredded my writing with edits. I was always amazed at how she could find so many things to fix and change. My technical writing training was a nice start, but she taught me how to do it with finesse. I soaked up everything she would teach me. 

I was so open to learning from her because I admired her fair and direct approach. There was never a doubt with her about what was working and not working. I always left our conversations knowing how to go about making changes and taking the next steps. She was kind while being incredibly clear about what she expected.

After a while, she confided that they had planned to fire me.

I wasn’t surprised.

In the end, it worked out well, but if it weren’t for her stepping in and taking on the necessary leadership role that’s absolutely critical for ensuring team-member success, it would have had a very different ending.

Choose your own adventure – which ending to the story do you want?

Unfortunately, I know many people over my career who have seen an unsuccessful ending to their own stories.

“Really?!” you may ask. Bringing someone into a new position and assuming they’re going to figure it out on their own – who does that?! 🤔

Agencies hiring producers and new positions such as marketing coordinators/managers. I’ve seen it way too often.

We just talked about this on a call with our Q4iNetwork agencies. You’ve GOT to have a plan if you’re going to bring someone on the team. Without a plan for what they’ll be doing, it’s a waste of your company's time and money. Plus, you’ve just upended someone’s job to bring them to your company with no plan of success for them. How can it possibly work out favorably?

It usually doesn’t. I’ve had new hires dropped off at my office for an introduction and onboarding with no warning after the business owners would get a wild hair and hire someone on the spot. It’s tragic for everyone.

Make the investment

If, as a company, you’re not going to make the time to get really clear about what the role will be, what the expectations are, and how you’re going to help this new person succeed in the role, then don’t bother with the financial investment. Keep doing what you’re doing until the need becomes the motivation to make the proper investment of hiring time, onboarding time, and mentoring time.

Commit to coaching

Every person on your team deserves time and attention. If you don’t give them regular time for talking about what’s working in their role and what needs improvement, what can you expect from them? A mediocre performance, at best.

Each person should have a supervisor or mentor who makes time for them at least once a month, but every other week or once a week is better. And it should be a safe space to have an open dialogue to work through challenges and examine wins.

Everyone wants to feel successful. Have firm expectations and then help people achieve them. Create that opportunity with guidance.

  • A defined onboarding program for everyone
  • A training program for salespeople
  • An industry mentor for a new marketing person
  • An assigned training buddy for a new account manager
  • Job-specific classes or programs

And then create accountability with coaching and collaboration.

  • Establish a regular check-in schedule with a supervisor
  • Collaborate to create a documented plan of what success looks like in the role
  • Set expectations for collaboration with peers
  • Invite, or expect, participation in industry peer groups

Hiring is tricky business. Sharing your plans during the recruiting process of the training and support you’ll provide will likely end with an even higher quality new employee. It still doesn’t guarantee success, but having all the right systems in place goes a long way to allowing the new relationship to blossom when you have the right intentions, the right people, and the right environment.

 

Photo by Krakenimages.com

Topics: Leadership + Management, Team Development, Company Culture, HR Strategy, HR Admin