Did you hire the right person? Three quick tests

Hiring the right person is often something you only know after the fact. Until they have worked for you and you have a chance to evaluate their performance, you really don’t know.

What’s worse is that many employee evaluations are done only annually. Some organizations have a 30, 60 or 90 day check, but even those can be rudimentary, done only as a “check the box” task or meaningless if they don’t capture the right things.

So while the “formal” procedures are still the best way (if you have them), there are probably some other indicators to look for. In my completely non-scientific way I’ve come up with a few things to look for that may indicate whether you’ve hired the right person or not.

Again – full disclaimer here: These are just some thoughts and not to be taken as replacement for good HR or managerial practices. But I think if you get my drift here, they may indicate something’s not quite right.

Is the worker endlessly collecting information, or are they getting work done? OK, this obviously doesn’t work with a researcher or someone who is supposed to be collecting information, but I’m talking about the average worker. I find that when someone doesn’t feel quite right about their new job, they keep collecting information and talking to people without getting anything done. It’s OK to a point, but if they can’t get down to some level of work, it may indicate a problem or a bad fit.

Do they regularly ask meaningful questions or have they simply asked you how they are doing? The ones who really get it ask follow up questions that relate to their jobs or their goals, usually without prompting. Some people are quiet by nature, but when prompted, they should be asking relevant questions. Worry if they go off without asking anything or if they sequester themselves in their cubicle. This many not apply to the hardcore developer, but even they need to interface with humans once in a while.

Are they either coming to work early, staying late or eating with others? Last quick one here is just an indication of their comfort with their environment. There are many jobs that it’s probably not a problem if they arrive promptly and leave promptly, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortably so. Do they hang for a minute to talk to others, are they arriving before a meeting starts, do they have lunch with others or eat at their desk? It’s OK to have a life outside of work, but if it’s a bad fit at work, you may find they can’t stand to hang around or can’t wait to leave.

Again, these are my very non-scientific indicators and there are probably others you’ve experienced. But an aware, engaged manager should be picking up on some of these non-performance indicators.

Speaking of performance, obviously you might ignore some of the behaviors above if the performance is there. Everyone works a bit differently. But long term, a good culture fit is probably as important as their performance and might mean the manager needs to spend more time with the worker to find out what’s not quite right.

In the end, this type of awareness and informal feedback from your workers might give you an indication of whether or not you are hiring the right people. And, as important, an indication of the types of workers to look for in the future.

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