Another new year has begun (2016), and many of us are now in the process of embracing it, with hopeful ambitions to tidy up our bodies, our lives, habits, homes, you name it. Clearly, we do so with varying degrees of enthusiasm and Commitment (capital ‘C’ intentional), but to be sure, no one enters 2015 with the hope that things will actually get worse. Not to put a damper on the freshness of the season, but some things will get worse if we don’t pay proper attention to them.
Over the last year, most U.S. businesses have felt something of a breeze blowing, and for the first time in a long time, that breeze is mostly at our backs. As a result, orders are up in many organizations, to the point that the need to hire has reappeared. Yay!!
Indeed, throughout much of tech-world, and until recently the energy space, real hiring has been occurring, to the point that, for many job vacancies, the number of openings exceeds qualified candidates. In lots of other organizations, that same need is apparent, but management has resisted hiring, preferring instead to make do for a while longer by utilizing temps, contractors, and/or increasing hours of incumbent staff. Concurrently, workers in greater numbers are voting with their feet and leaving their current jobs for greener pastures.
As a result, we’re seeing some undesired, and thus far relatively undisclosed downside impact. Specifically, the candidate-challenged and tepid hiring approaches are leading to a growing number of people on the payroll who would otherwise have already had some closed door discussions, or been asked to leave. Managers in very large numbers, concerned about their ability to fill position vacancies, have silently but decidedly lowered the bar of acceptable behavior and performance, to wit they find themselves trying to get the daily wash out with a growing list of folks who really need to shape up or be on someone else’s payroll… preferably a competitor’s. We are seeing it throughout the entire spectrum of the employment market.
What to do about it?
Stop Ignoring It: First things first, it’s important to realize that ignoring the problem only makes it worse, for everyone. Tolerating sub-par performance or people who, to put it charitably just don’t fit, is not the answer. Indeed, not only is their own output subpar, these folks are one of the greatest sources of frustration and annoyance to star performers, who quickly grow tired of carrying their own water and others’. Put in more selfish terms, continuing to look the other way puts you at risk of being fairly branded a leadership failure. Let’s not go there.
Take Action: Make it a point (no, a promise) to begin having conversations, this week, with… 1. People who could at least become C-players with a modicum of coaching, 2. Some of the people you’ve been leaning on extra hard (your stars), to thank them for their extra effort, and let them know that you appreciate it and them, 3. Your own boss (and HR as appropriate) to initiate conversations about moving some people on to their next station in life.
Get Back in Recruiting Mode: The best managers I’ve ever worked with are always in recruiting mode, even when they don’t have any approved reqs, because they know that the likelihood of the ideal candidate having an opening in their dance card at the exact moment when they do have a need is slim.
Sharpen Your Own Skills: In all likelihood, this situation didn’t sneak up on you. Rather, you’ve been aware of it for some time, but avoided taking difficult action because you were a bit uncertain of your own skills, and besides, you had more fun stuff to do. Bone up on your own coaching skills. A good place to start is with a great book. We recommend “The Coach” by Starcevich and Stowell. It’s not pretty, it’s not new, but it works. (We don’t get paid for recommending it.) Alternatively, look within your organization for a course or seminar that might be beneficial to you; or, find a coach to work with.
Whatever you do, get started. Time is not your friend at the moment.