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Edition 131 – 30, 60, 90 Then 180

Over recent months, there has been a trend of business owners expressing their frustration when a staff member leaves them. All that time invested in getting them trained up, only for them to take their skills elsewhere. How inconsiderate?

However, as the owner or manager of a family business, how much time are you truly investing in them?

How often are you talking with them about their career path and their future?

Other than the meet and greet on day one, what else are you doing to find out whether they are truly settling into your business?

Back in my days of running an accounting practice, annual appraisals were paramount. Performance reviews in June, then salary reviews in July. Consistently.

In today’s business world, I don’t believe that is frequent enough.

The trend that I’ve observed across a number of businesses, in differing industries, is that family business owners and managers are having real trouble with their new staff in days 91 to 180 of their employment. The first 90 days are now like the first few dates for a new couple. Everyone is on their best behaviour and don’t necessarily truly let down their guard.

The second 90 days is when people start showing their true colours. They have settled in, built relationships inside the business and are now comfortable conveying what they like and don’t like to those around them. They’ve now reverted to their normal personality style.

It is this second 90 days that is the most critical, as you now have an understanding of what the longer term employee truly looks like.

Here’s what I believe. This behaviour is already there in the first 90 days. However, a combination of them being on their best behaviour, and you being too busy, means the impending storm clouds are masked.

As the owner or manager of a family business, this is what you should be doing when you take on a new staff member:

  1. At day 30 – meet with then and ask yourself, are they doing what you want them to do? Are they as good as they said they would be? What are the early warning signs, both ways?
  2. At day 60 – meet again and truly think through what has improved in the past 30 days? What hasn’t? Have they made progress? Is your internal training up to scratch? Prod them with challenging questions to see whether they’ve answered to appease you – or with total truth.
  3. At day 90 – meet, formally, for a third time. Back in days of yonder, 3 months was the length of the probation period. This was the time you used to make or break on their continued employment. After 90 days, and three formal mini reviews, you should have a strong gut feeling as to whether it is going to work, or not.

As for the 180 – that’s what I recommend to all my family business clients to be the standard probation period for a new employee in 2018. Anything less and you could be saddling yourself with someone who promised the world, but delivered an atlas.

If you’re having trouble finding staff, or holding them, why not give this strategy a shot?

This Week’s Tip

“By investing time and effort in the first 30, 60 & 90 days, you’ll be able to gauge whether the second 90 days is going to be worth it.   All it takes is 45 mins each time. It might save you a lot of grief in the back end – and might just give them the impression that you are truly interested in them and their career.”