You hired someone, who by all accounts—résumé, interviews, references—is a superstar. With a little product knowledge and direction, he should be able to hit the ground running…and hit the numbers.
For the first few months, he didn’t disappoint you. His numbers were quite impressive—not only for a “rookie,” but even when compared to those of the veteran sales team members.
And then it happened.
His performance level…and his numbers dropped. The superstar no longer shined as brightly.
It’s not uncommon for a new hire to start out strong. But after the initial excitement and enthusiasm for the new job fades, the behavior, performance, and “numbers” follow suit.
Who’s to blame?
Did you make a bad hiring decision? Did the “superstar” simply lose interest? Did he burn out? (Can someone burn out so quickly?)
Occasionally, the answer to one or more of those questions is, “Yes.” Most often, however, the new hire’s diminished performance is the result of not having a defined long-term action plan into which to channel his initial drive and enthusiasm. Without a clearly defined “track” to run on, many people stop running. They don’t come to a screeching halt; they continue to perform but at a slower pace.
Part of your role as a sales manager is to assign quotas, interpret tracking data, evaluate performance, and if necessary, direct changes in attitudes and actions. If you expect your new hire to perform at a specific level, you must clearly articulate that information to him. He can’t hit the target if he doesn’t know where to aim.
Once goals are established, you must monitor his performance and be willing to provide the guidance, support, and if necessary, training needed to meet the performance expectations as he becomes more fully immersed in the position.
Here are some tips to facilitate the new hire’s success during the ramp-up period.
- Initially, as you monitor the new hire’s performance, focus on actions, not the results. If the actions are appropriate, the results will follow.
- If the number and frequency of activities or the skill with which they are executed are lacking, benchmarks will be missed. Address those issues promptly. Dealing with the sufficiency of activity issues and skill issues will require you to step into your “supervisor,” “coach,” and “trainer” roles that are inherent aspects of your sales manager responsibilities.
- Be supportive. Remember, the goal is to help the new hire get back on track and back up to speed—not to discipline him for the diminished performance. While you may have to step into your supervisor role to help him focus on the activities that need to be done, it will be from your coach and trainer role perspectives that you will help him develop the behavior and skill to improve performance.
- Commend before you recommend. Focus first on the activities the new hire has initially performed well and commend him for that. Then recommend ways to expand the current behaviors and activities in order to get performance back to the previous higher level.
- Develop mutually-agree-to goals and a plan of action. The new hire is more likely to achieve the goals when he played a part in defining them and developing the action plan for achieving them. Make sure the goals are realistic. Don’t sabotage your efforts…and the new hire’s success…by overwhelming him with overly ambitious goals.
- Maintain an open line of communication. Developing goals and defining action plans are only half of the equation for performance improvement. Monitoring performance and providing the new hire with timely feedback is the other half.
By first establishing goals, then monitoring performance against those goals and providing constructive feedback along the way, you not only keep your new hire on track to achieve current goals but also to achieve continuous improvement.