By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
During the interview process, you are doing everything you can to determine whether Candidate A is suitable for your practice. Candidate A is doing the same from his side. And yet, one of the most common pitfalls is mismatched expectations. The problem? Employers are from Venus; Candidates are from Mars.
As the employer, you’ve lived with your practice forever (it seems). You know how you want engagements done and how that can be different from other practices. You have watched new hires as they assimilated into the practice. You know that anyone coming in will experience a learning curve and that productivity (translation: chargeability) won’t reach the desired level until after a particular time on the job.
Being from Mars, the candidate sees things entirely differently. She’s coming from an environment where—most likely—she’s operating at reasonably high efficiency. (If she weren’t, you probably wouldn’t be interviewing her!) She’s contemplating a career move because it will help her grow in the profession. The idea of having to take a step back (or, sideways, at least) while assimilating into a new practice hasn’t even occurred to her.
This clash of expectations can be troublesome in setting a starting salary. In the worst case, they can also cause you to lose the employee and re-start your hiring process. With a bit of forethought, you can avoid these problems.
Before you interview, make an honest assessment of this assimilation period. How long has it typically been in the past? What can you or the employee do to shorten it? What are some reasonable productivity objectives to use as mileposts along the way? By understanding more about the process, you’re in a better position to assess the ability of your would-be employee to adjust.
As you interview, explain that you expect a period of adjustment. Naturally, the candidate will think the adjustment will be easier than you think it will. Balance that tendency by articulating the objectives you have in mind. Make it clear that the adjustment will impact productivity which, in turn, will affect compensation.
If you offer a slightly lower starting salary because you anticipate a steeper learning curve, be prepared to grant an increase for reaching productivity objectives. As an alternative, consider a small bonus for solid performance during the assimilation period.
Being more forthright about this adjustment, and planning for it more carefully, will demonstrate to employees that you are as focused on their success and that of your practice.