Finding team members who are not only a good fit for your organization but are also interested in committing to a long-term career with you can be challenging. One method we’ve adopted is to approach every hire we make as if we are hiring for life. As with any partnership, there are certain qualities that will help ensure its longevity, providing benefits and opportunities for both individuals along the way. Here are a few tips to increase your odds of success.
Align goals and values. Ensuring that both parties have the same core values and objectives from the outset is critical to long-term success. Just like the first stages of a dating relationship, it’s important that both people are on the same page about what they value and the direction they are heading. If one person is looking for a fling and the other person is hoping for a life partner, then there is a disconnect right off the bat.
When hiring, talk with candidates about their long-term goals and sift through past work history, digging into the minutia of why certain jobs didn’t work out and why other ones did so that you get a better feel for whether this job – and your organization – is a good fit.
Synchronize expectations. Once you’ve determined that your goals and values align, then you have to begin building the foundation. This is the “getting to know you phase” of the relationship and involves a big investment of time and resources on both sides.
It’s when both parties start learning what makes each other tick, what capabilities each side has, and how they will use those skills for mutual benefit as they continue to learn and grow. Both parties are working on sharing their knowledge and listening intently to what the other side values and expects in return.
It’s this continual investment in one another that helps to develop the foundation of trust that is critical for longevity.
Communicate. Strong lines of communication are another crucial aspect of this evolving relationship. An ongoing dialogue that includes a mix of both personal and professional insight, as well as positive reinforcement and constructive criticism, increases the chance of a successful relationship. Communication can mean a one-on-one conversation over lunch, a company newsletter or even an email announcing a key business win or drawing attention to a safety issue.
To ensure a two-way dialogue, consider a town hall meeting format with groups where individual team members can ask questions about company direction or share their ideas after a briefing on the status of the company.
Opportunities for discussion also can occur at evaluations, where both parties should be able to speak openly about what they think is going well and where there are areas for improvement.
When the going gets tough, don’t give up. With any relationship, there are ups and downs to be weathered. There may be differences of opinion that create tensions, or conflicts over expectations, but by talking it out – sometimes even with the use of a third party – you may be able to find a creative solution.
Sometimes an issue can be solved by finding another position within your organization with a different supervisor or job expectation. In other cases, more serious issues such as addiction, challenging finances or poor health may crop up. By using employee assistance programs, going that extra mile to provide financial counseling, loans or legal advice or even enabling a more flexible work schedule, you may ensure that your relationship stays on track for the long-term.
Appreciate contributions. Finally, don’t take your partner for granted. It’s easy to do as we get deeply engrossed in the busyness of our day-to-day lives. It is important to find reasons to appreciate the other person and their contributions and to celebrate significant milestones. It may mean a thank you note and a bonus for a job well done or an award given at a yearly awards banquet to recognize performance.
It can be as simple as a local happy hour, or as elaborate as a limo tour visiting career milestones with family and co-workers to celebrate an employee’s 20 years of service. While some of these festivities can be impromptu, it’s also important to schedule others. By building them into your work culture and scheduling them in advance, they will be less likely to fall by the wayside when busy schedules intervene.
By focusing on key areas like these we help to set ourselves up for success with long-term partnerships.
The author is director of public relations at Ruppert Landscape.
Hire Power is a monthly column designed to help you recruit, hire and retain the best talent for your company. We’ve got a rotating panel of columnists ready to give you practical, tactical advice on solving your labor problems. Email Chuck Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org with topic ideas.