Managing for Results: The Early Evaluation
By Steve Finkel
How long do you keep your new people before the first formal evaluation? How long before eliminating those who are not likely to be successful? If you are like most owner/managers in our industry, an honest answer to these questions is probably “too long”!
Following is an early evaluation of new people which we believe will help significantly to eliminate future poor performers at an early stage, thus saving much time and money for your firm. It should also serve as a guideline for a discussion with new people who are doing well to allow them to correct possible problems before they become permanently ingrained.
It is relatively easy to evaluate a consultant at six months or a year; after all, you have hard production numbers at that point. To do so with accuracy before such numbers are available is much more difficult. The only answer is to look for the attitudes and general trends in the techniques and judgements of our business that will make the new consultant successful. Bad attitude, bad initial techniques, bad judgement is a formula for inevitable failure.
This foundation evaluation should be given initially at two weeks, and reconsidered regularly throughout the first year. While the focus here will be on average scores, it is distinctly possible that a consultant will do well on this test overall, and yet have critical areas of weakness. Those areas of weakness should not be overlooked despite generally good evaluation results; they should be addressed and corrected.
While no one can totally predict “winners” at two weeks, we believe it is quite possible to predict the likely “losers”. Evaluating your people honestly according to this test will help you to do so.
Score your novice people on an A, B, C, D, or F basis. In most questions, these letters represent always, usually, sometimes, seldom, and never. If a question does not apply to how you do business, simply leave it out. Suggestions based on their scores are at the end of this column. It is important not to guess or estimate. If you are not sure of the answer, listen to or observe the new employee more closely, either in the phone, in the office, or in role-playing. Then answer the question.
While this test is designed for new people, it should absolutely be applied to experienced ones as well. While the questions are of necessity general, the same qualities should be seen in experienced ones as well, and will frequently identify problems in anyone.
Following is the evaluation for a fledging consultant:
- Does the new consultant arrive at least ten minutes early in the morning? Is he at his desk and ready to begin on time?
- Does he plan his day well and in writing at the end of each day? If you have a formal daily planner, does he fill it out thoroughly?
- Does the new person typically stay at least ten minutes past formal closing time to wrap up the day?
- Does his work pace seem to be steady and consistent throughout the day? Does he generate a good quantity of calls?
- Is he generally alert in the mornings? Does he hit the phones early?
- Has he thoroughly researched his marketplace (through large-employers guides, Dunn and Bradstreet, yellow pages, or other sources) to identify all possible clients? Has he visited the library at all for this purpose?
- Does he take a complete search assignment? Does he ask all the questions on your form?
- Can he usually tell the difference between a good and a bad search assignment? Does he generally seem to work on the right job orders?
- Are you satisfied with the quantity of search assignments he has obtained?
- If you recruit, does he do a good job of asking all questions on your recruit form? Is he thorough?
- Does he have a general idea as to the difference between a good and a bad candidate?
- If you advertise, does he do a generally good job of screening ad call- in before bringing them in to the office?
- If you recruit, are you satisfied with the quantity of his recruited candidates?
- Does he “follow the system”? Does he take direction well?
- Does he make a genuine effort to improve? Does he respond openly and well to suggestions for improvement?
- Are his diction, voice quality, and voice pace good?
- Does he conduct himself in a professional manner on the telephone and in person? Is his dress satisfactory?
- If your training program is formalized, did he take notes? Did he study the material?
- If you give written tests to your new people, what was the average score?
- Does he generally ask good questions? Does he ask enough questions? Does he try to learn from you or from your successful people? Does he study on his own at home?
- Does he “bounce back” from disappointment quickly? Does he let rejection or temporary failure affect his attitude?
- Is he generally optimistic?
- Is he a positive influence in your office? Does he get along well with others?
- Does he attempt to overcome objections he receives? Does he try to utilize rebuttals? Does he show signs of becoming a salesman rather than an “order-taker”?
- If, when you hired this person, you knew about him what you know now, would you have hired him? (Score this one A for yes, C for maybe, F for no)
Now for scoring. Translate your grades to the standard college point scale. A is four points, B is three, C is two points, D is one, and F is none.
Do not count those questions that do not fit your method of operation (example: Questions relative to recruiting or advertising).
Count questions # 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 14, 20, 21 and 25 twice. Thus, if all questions were relevant, you would actually have 35 questions to score and average. Add the scores and divide by the number of questions. Remember – count the above questions twice.
Have you graded your new person? If you do have a new consultant in your office, we urge you to evaluate him or her without looking at what the results indicate.
Now … this is what we believe the test tells you about the likelihood of success for this fledgling consultant.
Average Score: 3.0 to 4
This person shows strong signs of being successful. Two weeks on board is hardly enough to predict stardom, but this person seems to have the work habits, desire, and ability to become a winner in our difficult, but highly profitable, industry. It will be important to praise this potential contributor for good work habits and a good beginning, while emphasizing the need for continued learning and lots of hard work. Give examples of high producers in our industry and what they earn. Give this individual a goal, something at which he can aim.
Average Score 2.0 to 2.99
This person is marginal. Half efforts do not yield half results in our business! They yield no results. Sit down and go over this test and your evaluation with this marginal performer. Make it totally clear that current performance is not satisfactory and that changes will have to be made rapidly to achieve success. Re-evaluate in two more weeks. If there are no changes, consider the approach stated below.
Average Score under 2.0
We suggest you eliminate this person immediately. If you scored honestly, he is neither doing the job nor does he show many signs of wanting to do the job. Perhaps he is just not sufficiently motivated or emotionally qualified for a difficult sales position at this time in his life. This is not your fault! No one picks all winners. If you do not wish to terminate this probable failure in our business, at the very least you should be totally straightforward with him as to what he needs to do immediately to avoid termination. Re-test this person each week for the next two weeks and have a consultation. If there is not sufficient change, get rid of him at the end of that time. Do not waste further time, effort, or money on him. Your other people deserve it more.
At two weeks on board, a new person is just beginning to form habit patterns that will be with him for his entire career in our industry. These habit patterns must be identified and, if necessary, corrected now before they solidify. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to alter behavior.
Equally important, a new consultant/account executive wants to be evaluated. If he is doing well so far, this should be conveyed to him. If not, he has a right to this information as well. Only in this way can he improve. A formal two-week evaluation, with these questions as the nucleus, will serve this purpose.
It will be important to re-test new people at four weeks, six weeks, and eight weeks. Scores and specific areas of weakness should improve and be corrected as they are identified and discussed with the new person. No progress means an unwillingness to improve. It is almost impossible to motivate a person who is not willing to work on areas of deficiency.
Most important, a manager has one highest obligation to his firm and to his productive people – to maximize profits. Investing further time and money in a person who does not show definite signs of being successful is a losing proposition. A fairly administered early evaluation is a valuable tool in achieving high profits.