Playing to Win the Numbers Game

As most of you who follow my blogs know, I am an avid reader. I read and re-read many books that are often referenced in my blogs and I am always on the lookout for interesting stories, observations and bits of information from newspapers, magazines and other blogs that I find interesting and that I think others might find interesting as well.

The February issue of Inc magazine is filled with a number of articles and observations that are all blog worthy. Two items caught my attention, both having to do with numbers.

The first was based on a study from Harvard University stating that “the amount of additional pay a typical 6-foot employee earns compared with a 5-foot-5-inch co-worker is $5,525.” Here are some suggested reasons for this difference.

  • Taller employees are have more skills, experience than shorter employees
  • Companies surveyed had or were in the process of fielding a company sponsored basketball team
  • There are more men in the workplace who are 6-feet tall than there are women
  • There are more women in the workplace who are 5-feet-5 than there are men
  • There is still a wage gap between men and women in the workplace

Look at your own business and see if this Harvard study has any validity. If your company is planning on trimming payroll costs, replacing any worker over 6-feet tall with workers 5-feet-5 or shorter might be a place to start. Or you could just eliminate the wage gap by paying everyone, tall or short, based on job performance.

The other item from Inc’s current issue came from a survey by Leadership IQ and it stated that “the portion of newly hired employees who achieve unequivocal success within 18 months of hire is 19%.”

Now, one person’s definition of “unequivocal success” might not be your definition of the same. But let’s assume that all companies want to hire and retain the best, they want to hire what they would consider to be “A” players. Based on this survey data, only 19% of new hires would be considered “A” players within 18 months of hire, the rest either underachieved, underperformed or were never capable of being an “A” player.

If you are a business leader, HR executive or Talent Manager would you be satisfied with this number, 19%? If not then what could you do about making it higher?

In his award winning book, The First 90 Days, author Michael Watkins suggests that for midlevel managers and above, the number of new hires, from outside the company, who achieve unequivocal success in 18 months is less than 50% but that the cost to the company for those who did not exceed expectations could run as high as $2.7 million per hire.

So, how do you ensure that your company hires more “unequivocally successful” employees at all levels? Here are some suggestions.

  • Everyone involved in recruiting, hiring, interviewing and managing a new hire is in alignment with what the job is all about, not the job description but the job performance requirements
  • Every candidate who is considered for a position is aware of the job performance requirements and understands the expectations
  • There is a structured On-boarding process that starts at or around the time an offer is accepted, not when the new hire reports for work
  • There is a structured 90, 180, 360 review that would involve new employee, manager(s), peers, customers, both internal and external
  • There is agreement from all stakeholders who have a vested interest in the success of the new hire regarding what constitutes “unequivocal success” for the position and the company
  • There is an agreed upon profile within the company of what are the success attributes of an “A” player

Following and implementing some or all of these suggestions should go a long way to moving your 19% higher, should go a long way to moving your less than 50% higher and should go a long way to saving a considerable amount for the company by eliminating the poor, costly, underperforming hires.

Business leaders, HR and Talent managers have an opportunity to change the numbers that we have discussed. You can certainly begin to eliminate the pay gap by paying employees based on performance on the job, not height or perceived value to the company basketball team.

You can also follow some of the above suggestions that will ensure more “unequivocally successful” employees while generating more revenue, productivity and savings for the company.

Just so that you know, I am writing this blog while waiting for my number to be called at the DMV. But I don’t suppose that any of you could help me move my number, 89 up a little bit. Oh, wait, they just called another number, 13. I will be here for awhile.

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