How to Set Goals and Expectations with Your New Hires
As IT staffing firms continue to achieve success and rapidly grow, they also continue to face the never ending challenge of sales onboarding and accelerating new hire ramp up time. Hiring a new employee is time-consuming and is often nerve-wracking for managers. You review resumes, spend considerable time and energy screening and interviewing candidates and speaking with references before finally selecting a candidate and crafting a job offer before the candidate accepts. You set a start date and breathe a sigh of relief. But wait, the real is work has yet to begin.
The hiring process may be over but it is also true that a critical part of your job as a manager-arguably the most important- is about to begin. Your responsibility for supporting your new employee’s entry into your organization is that next part. The next several weeks, months and even years of your working relationship with your new hire will be defined by how well you execute this responsibility (no pressure managers:).
Setting goals and establishing expectations should start before the new hire is even hired and in your office but this is often not the case. Here are some tips that you can apply for how to set goals and expectations with your new hires before and after they have accepted your job offer.
In this blog post I'm going to share how to set goals and expectations with your new hires.
The Importance of Goal Setting
There are hundreds if not thousands of ideas out there about how to get the most out of each sales rep (and recruiter) on your team (just do a Google search). Regardless of what you sell, your sales process and your sales methodology, all sales teams should have one thing in common: Goals. Every sales team and every sales rep should have a sales quota that they need to hit every month. Yet while most managers and reps are aware that they need to reach a certain quota, many go about about it in an unorthodox way. Let me give you two examples.
My wife is currently training to run the Chicago marathon in October (woo hoo!). On her first day of training she didn't go out there and try to run 26 miles. She ran three miles, than 5 miles, then 7 and so forth. Each month she has trained longer and harder by extending her runs and improving her time. Sunday she ran 16 miles, her longest yet! The point is she has been training harder and running longer over a period of time so that she is ready to run 26.2 miles on race day. To be successful every day, sales reps and sales managers must use small goals to attain larger goals. This is what I'm referring to when I say "ramp up."
Let me share another, more relevant example. Face to face meetings. This is a very common metric that sales managers use in the staffing industry. Ten weekly face to face meetings is a pretty common quota for sales reps across the industry. I'm not saying this is a bad goal. But there needs to be smaller goals for the sales rep to work towards that build up to achieving ten face to face meetings per week. Smaller goals might be as simple as number of outbound dials completed, number of outbound emails sent, number of calls plans completed. And of course there should be a ramp-up to eventually hitting ten meetings in a week and then sustaining ten meetings per week.
Finally, a study from Harvard University highlights two main reasons why setting goals is important: Motivation and Achievement. The author explains that the simple act of setting a goal increases the motivation of the person attempting the task. The study also encourages setting specific goals that are time bound which will boost motivation more than any pep talk Finally, the research team put a group of college students through a goal-setting study and found that those who stuck to a specific plan and monitored their goals ultimately performed 30% better than those who didn’t.
Setting Expectations During the Interview Process
I can't tell you how many times I have heard sales leaders and owners alike tell me some variation of "Dan, we were all excited about our new hire including their background and personality but when it came time to actually perform, they just didn't execute." Have you had you similar experiences? While some candidates can be especially coy during the interview process, these types of experiences can and should be limited and even eliminated, if you follow the right approach.
During the initial phone interview managers can (and should) be sharing with the candidate what goals, activity and performance expectations you have for them. They should also be uncovering what sort of goals the candidate has for him/herself and what expectations they are accustomed to working under. Why have this discussion so early in the process?
- To understand how their personal expectations mesh with your expectations and too see what if any career road map they have for themselves
- To see how they react to your expectations before you hire the person (I even try to paint an ugly picture by sharing with the candidate that they probably can't meet my expectations to see what kind of reaction I get)
- Why risk wasting your valuable time by sharing this information at the end of the hiring process or after they have been hired? You want to know if they are up to task ASAP.
- To avoid surprises and ensure your goals and expectations are in alignment with the candidate's expectations
- To get their input and have a transparent conversation BEFORE you and the candidate have made a commitment
- To understand what performance expectations the candidate has worked under in the past and how they relate to your goals and expectations
How to Effectively Communicate Goals & Expectations
When employee expectations are not clear tension fills the room, team members experience high levels of anxiety and before you know it you have an "Us vs. Them" culture. That can quickly escalate into a mutiny. Expectations often get blurred and confused between the manager and the rep (or recruiter) for a few reasons:
- Managers often give vague goals that are not measurable (the goal of the meeting is to the "advance the relationship")
- Failure to articulate the specific behaviors and results they expect. For example, a manager might send an email out to the team that says "Team, we're behind goal for the quarter and we really need to pick this up these last few weeks." This email is too vague, it lacks clarity. Sales reps delete these messages.
To avoid all of that nonsense and wasted energy, managers should use open, honest and transparent communication. A healthy dose of empathy is also strongly encouraged. In my popular eBook, How to Create a Culture of Accountability Through Coaching and Self Empowerment, I discuss the importance of leaders making themselves vulnerable and how leading with questions can be empowering for gaining genuine buy-in, all important communication strategies when establishing expectations with your direct reports including your new hires. When communicating goals and expectations keep the following in mind.
- Personalize your message by tying the goals back to your rep's personal goals. See this blog, Why Connecting with Your Team Yields Better Sales Results.
- Make goals challenging but realistic
- Make all goals specific and clear
- Make all goals time bound. Establish a due date or date to review progress
- Make sure all goals are quantifiably measured
- Establish metrics for how progress will be tracked to assess how people are performing against stated goals and objectives.
Finally, and probably most important of all, whenever you are having a discussion regarding goals and establishing expectations be sure check with your rep for understanding. For example, you might say, "Gerry, before we end this meeting please share with me what your understanding is for the goals we have just discussed and the metrics that we will use to track your progress towards those goals." By asking a question like this managers can assure themselves that both parties are on the same page.