Designing a new-hire role

09/10/2016–Ideally, a new hire enters a role that’s clearly-defined, vital to tomorrow’s business, challenging, and a fit for the person’s strengths, limits, and interests. I wonder how often this describes the situation new-hires find themselves in at the best companies…

5 questions help me define my role:

  1. What are the 2-3 key responsibilities?
  2. How can you see that the job is being done well?
  3. What are the most important ways I should spend my time?
  4. What does it take to be good at this role?
  5. The company created this role to…?

These are from a company called Manager Tools, and help me continually re-choose how to invest my time.

In order to be vital to the business, the new-hire’s role must fit with what will be true in the future, not necessarily what is true today. This is apparent because the first several weeks or months (depending on company size, scope of role, and level within hierarchy) are spent learning about the culture, business, and people. Few significant results can be achieved before new strategies are begun. Thus, the new-hire’s role should reflect the needs of tomorrow, since that’s the soonest a new employee can begin contributing.

The role must appropriately challenge the new-hire, obviously. However, I think this is the least-important element to spend time designing into the role. Similarly to the letters S, A, and R” in “S.M.A.R.T.” goals, challenge is a given in proper role-design. Thus, extra focus is not needed and distracts from higher priorities (fit, vital to business, and clear definition).

Finally, the new-hire’s strengths, interests, and limits must fit their role’s requirements. Proper recruiting and selection ensure most of this is taken care of. Rigorous resume evaluation and interviewing/screening achieve the bulk of what’s needed to encourage a smooth beginning. Once in, the new employee is not likely to develop and then also leverage a new strength to fit a role. Rather, precious time and other resources will be lost as he or she tries to change who they are, instead of leveraging the strengths they already have. Tenured employees or internal hires, on the other hand, have networks of people to tap for those strengths. Thus, the effective organization ensures fit before the offer is made. This applies mainly to strengths, a little less to “limits”, and much less to interests. Limits of a new hire can be mitigated by the company, who assigns people to cover-up the new-hire’s limits with their abilities. “Interests” can and should change over time. Thus, it’s not vital to ensure a fit right off the bat, but it is ideal, and worth investing time in, even if it only is to change upon entry.

Two (at least) nuances exist here:

  1. “Fit” isn’t about personality. If only because “personality” doesn’t translate to business results (i.e. it’s not a valid indicator of performance), it has no place in a recruiting/selection process. Fit, then, is valid when referencing specific job-related abilities of candidates which can be demonstrated in interviews or pre-employment screening.
  2. “Weakness” is different from “limit”. It is useful to be aware of a new-hire’s weaknesses, so the manager can tailor projects, communication, and delegation to them. However, the role itself should be a fit for a candidate’s “limits”–the non-learnable outages which threaten effectiveness. This is especially difficult to do perfectly while considering–or really predicting–what types of limits will be job-relevant in the future vs today. One can make two types of errors here. First, you may hire a person whose limits appear later, or you may pass on a candidate because they display limits which threaten their ability to today’s role, but you miss the fact that they would be fine in the role when new business needs arrive. Again, the key is to know where the business will be and hire for then.

QOTW–“To be a good dad, gotta be a good husband first.” -Lucy

?FNW–How’d my first presentation go? Prepared for the wrong thing


12/5/2017 review–All roles benefit from this type of design, but new-hire roles must not be lumped together with all roles when designing them. Looking back, having experienced my new-hire role I can say that the four design elements are not all equal in importance.  The fit to strengths, interests and limits and clear definition are far more important to ensure when designing a new-hire role. I mentioned the importance of making the role vital to the business needs of tomorrow. That’s definitely preferred vs putting them in roles that are crucial today, but if the fit and clear definition are there, a talented new hire can do pretty well in a crucial role off-the-bat. However, I can’t speak from experience as I’ve never been a new hire in this type of role.