Hallelujah! After weeks, if not months, of diligent searching, resume and LinkedIn profile reviews, phone interviews, and then multi-stage in-person and team interviews, you’ve hired THE right person for your team. Kayla’s got the skills, experience, credentials, references, work ethic, communication skills, team skills, and personality you need. She’s got ‘it’! Every team member, client and vendor who has interacted with her these past few weeks loves her. They’ve been impressed with Kayla’s abilities, intrigued by her thought processes, and grateful for her work and team contributions. You finally feel as if a huge weight has been lifted. You’ve finally found the right team member who will help propel your team forward. Or have you… Something is gnawing at you. Even though Kayla has ‘it’, you’re not sure she’s a ‘fit’. Wait! What? How could a team member who seems perfect for your team, your organization, the job, and the clients, not be a good fit for your organization?
How could a team member who seems perfect for your team, your organization, the job, and the clients, not be a good fit for your organization?
People are people and we each behave and process experiences differently. Even though every organization and position-related metric and checklist criteria have been met by a great employee, it doesn’t guarantee that employee will be a great long-term fit team member. It’s not their fault, nor is it yours, your team’s, your clients’, or your organization’s fault. It’s just not a good fit. Why? Life happens. Things change. Perceptions, expectations, desires, comfort levels, and real versus anticipated needs have changed. Kayla’s skill sets, personality, character, integrity, knowledge, and team skills haven’t changed. In fact, she’s gained additional skills since she’s been with you. But something has changed. Kayla just doesn’t seem to be as enthused about her position as she was on Day 1. She doesn’t light up when you discuss additional projects you’re planning to pass her way. She doesn’t seem to fully relax around you or the other team members. She seems somewhat disconnected, on-guard, apart. So what changed? That’s your job as a leader: Find out what’s changed. Find out if this is a temporary change or if this is the leading edge of a more permanent change.
Your job as a leader is to find out what’s changed.
Talk. Have a conversation or a handful of conversations with Kayla. Ask her about her observations of the work, the team, you, the organization, the clients, the future. Listen. What is she saying? What is she not saying? Is she experiencing a reality different than what she had planned? Does she like it or is the reality of your work culture odd or uncomfortable for her? What is challenging, exciting, frustrating, confusing, disturbing, or promising? How have her goals changed since she’s started? Do her personal goals still mesh with the organization’s goals? As you can probably anticipate, this type of conversation won’t be easy. Kayla will be uncomfortable and may not be willing to be completely honest with you for fear of losing her job, but try. Don’t push. Don’t force answers. Talk and listen. You may learn she’s simply absorbing so much, she is withdrawing into herself as a way of processing everything. Or, you may hear that she’s not sure your organization’s work pace and demands are right for her and her growing family. Whatever you hear. Process it.
Observe. Talk. Listen. Process. Act.
No immediate action needs to be taken. Kayla’s producing, the team and clients are happy, so take your time. Continue to observe, then talk, listen, and process what you learn. Until you do that, you can’t be sure who may be a good long-term fit and who may not. If Kayla regains that subtle spark, great! She needed time to process. If not, you may have to make a harder decision to ensure you and she will be happy in the long run.