Recently, I got a call from a frustrated friend of mine. She explained that she had made a huge mistake accepting a job with the company she works for… TWO YEARS AGO.
At first, I struggled to keep from giggling. Two years IS a long time to wait to decide you made a mistake accepting your job. But as I listened to her talk; I started to get why she was so upset. She had originally accepted a Business Partner role for a small company of 400 employees. During the recruiting process, she had been given a job description with clear duties reporting to the President. The first couple of months, she actually did some of the duties that were listed in the recruiting materials and job description…. enough that she assumed that as she “proved herself” she’d be trusted with those she had yet to do. Her boss never told her and she wasn’t going to rock the boat as the new employee so didn’t ask.
As time passed, instead of “growing into” the role she had accepted and expected; she found herself as a “catch-all” for whatever they needed done. She grabbed dry-cleaning, catered lunches, filled in for nannies, handled A/P when Accounting was overloaded, negotiated contracts with vendors for Purchasing, helped redesign marketing programs and handled a lot of HR duties. While she could have skipped being the errand girl; at first, she thought that the cross-functional exposure was kind of cool. It was like an unofficial ‘high potential’ program that exposed her to other areas of the business.
But, at review time, she took a hit: she hadn’t been doing a defined job role, so there were no real metrics against which to judge her performance levels. She hadn’t kept track of all the odd-ball jobs and “off-description” duties she’d been doing – so, she had no case to leverage and she didn’t get a bonus, nor a raise.
Time marched on and she still wasn’t doing her original role but she had done a good job of keeping track of all the oddball responsibilities she had. She was still enjoying the diverse exposure she had in the business but.. it was getting less challenging and more messy. Multiple departments and subsidiaries all had work for her to do – at the same time that all were “top priority.” She now had NINE unofficial “bosses” in addition to her actual boss.
At review she got a bonus; but not a raise. The justification was that she hadn’t improved in her mis-defined role and furthermore, they’d discovered another problem: there was nowhere for her to ‘grow’ to next. She knew a little about a lot of different facets in the company; but hadn’t developed a real expertise in any of them given her limited involvement with each. Her boss saw her as invaluable for the personal errands she ran for him without complaint; but, he reasoned, you can’t give someone a raise because you like them and they weren’t large enough for “levels” of the same role to make her a Sr. Business Partner. That’s when she left to call me.
I sympathized; but couldn’t help thinking her employer could have prevented if appropriate steps had been taken back in planning stages of recruiting for the role by:
1) Charting out ALL of the possible tasks that you expect this role might handle. If you’re the president and that includes picking up your dry cleaning? You need to be honest up-front (write a transparent job description) and have that discussion during the recruiting process so your new employee doesn’t feel duped or under-valued when you had over the retrieval ticket. Also, be realistic: there are 40-hours in most work-weeks. Whatever you’re going to have them doing; you need to make sure your planning duties that -as a norm- fit into that 40-hour work-week. If it’s consistently more than that, then make sure you level with the candidate before you hire them.
2) Making metrics a MUST. If your new employee could be performing cross-functionally or is in a high-potential program; take the time to make performance metrics to measure how effective they were with what they were tasked to do and learn in each area. Also be sure to graph out how much time each department will get from that employee so they can budget what’s tasked to them appropriately – realistic expectations are great expectations when it comes to Talent Management.
3) Allowing the buck to stop with the “Big Boss.” Multiple managers and dotted-line reporting structures can be an employee’s “professional purgatory” when not well-defined and supported. The fastest way to confuse your newly-recruited employee is to not set expectations as to how each of the cross-functions fit from a time-management and priority perspective. Business needs can cause this to shift at times; but let everyone know who’s on first, second, etc. Finally, make sure they know they can come to you when demands or business needs conflict with their understanding or ability to perform.
4) Planning performance management that never stops. Don’t wait for review time to tell an employee that what you’ve been directing them to do – or the extra projects they pick up – will keep them from advancing/performing in your company. This is their career and it’s another time where the buck stops with you. As an employer, YOU recruited the employee, YOU directed or allowed performance to veer on a different course than originally charted, and YOU are equally responsible for providing an environment where your employee’s career can flourish. Otherwise, as hiring outlooks continue to improve you can set your expectations from ‘employment greatness’ to that of frustrated employees and a regular need to re-recruit for what will likely be a revolving door.
Crystal Miller creates great Talent Marketing and Social Recruitment Programs at M3 Talent Consulting in Dallas. As an advocate for proactive social media in recruiting, she works as the Co-Host of #TalentNet weekly Radio Chat on Twitter/Focus w/ Talent Net Live. Crystal believes, “Candidate first.”