How to Tell if Your New Hire is a Superstar (Or Not…)

Amanda Beattie

Amanda Beattie

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13 Mar 2019

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There are four personality types. Actually, there are seven. No, wait, 18. Type ‘employee appraisal’ into Google—you get a lot of results on how to classify staff. But you don’t need to be a psychologist to tell if your new hire is a superstar not... 

Four signs your employee is a superstar 

Here are four simple ways to tell whether your employee is top talent or if you’ve made a recruitment mistake. 

1) They build positive relationships

If your new starter works well with others, then you’ve got a winner on your hands.

Because interpersonal skills—like communication, empathy or control over emotions—are rare. They’re also extremely undervalued. 

Soft-skills have a massive impact on performance in every job, including employees working in technical or unskilled roles.

In a recent study, co-authored by researchers at Harvard University, clothes makers in India were given soft-skill training. After the training, output boosted by 12% and staff retention increased.  

A good way to tell if your worker has great interpersonal skills is to ask yourself if they collaborate well with others. Do they adapt their style of communication to suit their environment? And do they show genuine concern for all their colleagues, from the cleaners to the CEO?

Don’t despair if your new hire doesn’t tick all the boxes at first. Shyness can cause workers to struggle to build relationships when they start a new role. And soft skill gaps can be overcome with experience or training.

But there are warning signs that your new hire needs immediate attention. If they don’t get along with peers, act aggressively, don’t collaborate, are a negative influence on your team or don’t respond well to feedback (more on that shortly) then you need to act fast.  

2) They are independent

A good boss’s dream is to hire someone and be able to leave them to it. A boss’s nightmare is to hire someone and have to micromanage every task.

Your best staff take the time to understand what’s required of them and focus on achieving it.

They are problem solvers who take accountability for their work. And, most importantly, they free your time so you can focus on more important tasks. Which, after all, is why you hired them in the first place.

So how do you spot top workers like this? It’s easy. They ask relevant questions, seek out answers for themselves, and work hard. Because of this, they complete their work to a high standard in the time provided.

Warning signs are if your worker is taking up a lot of your time asking you the same questions, they seem distracted or unfocussed, they manage their time poorly (or expect you to do it for them), and they produce lower quality work.

Independence, problem solving and focus are hard to teach. But there is a way, and it ties into how you appraise and develop your staff. Keep reading to the end to find out how…

3) They respond well to feedback

A superstar employee responds well to your feedback and uses it to improve performance.

Warning signs are if your worker becomes defensive, argues, tries to blame others or takes your feedback personally.  

But don’t panic if that happens. First, check that the feedback you’re giving is constructive. Is it specific? Are you giving it in a positive way? Can your employee act on it?

If the answer to all the above is yes, it’s okay—you still don’t need to panic.

It’s likely that your employee needs some coaching. Explain why you give feedback and offer support and training on how to action it.

Try to get to the root cause of why they respond badly. Junior colleagues might not be used to being appraised on a regular basis. Others might feel insecure or are struggling to understand the scope of their roles. Some may suffer ‘cultural hangovers’ from previous jobs working in aggressive or defensive environments. 

Be patient and give them a few months or so to improve. If they don’t, you might want to think about whether your employee is a good fit for your business…

4) They do the work and do it well

Sounds obvious right?

But recent research has shown that a staggering 21% of employees may seem highly engaged at work but are actually self-promoters who don’t achieve much.

These ‘pseudo-engaged’ workers spend a lot of time building relationships. They jump enthusiastically into new projects. And they always tell you what you want to hear when you give them feedback. But when you look closer, it turns out they’re much more focussed on making themselves look good then adding value to your business. 

Unfortunately, it’s an easy trick to fall for. The same research showed that staff who have this character type are more likely to get promotions, better pay and bonuses. They also lower trust within teams and make businesses less productive.

So how do you spot a ‘pseudo-engaged’ worker from a superstar?

Give individual staff clear objectives that you can measure and set a standard of quality for their work. If you judge your employee based on their output above everything else, you’ll soon tell who’s true talent and who’s a self-promoter.  

Help, my new hire has a lot of warning signs…

Any relationship expert will tell you that it’s not easy to change people. So what if your new hire doesn’t fit the character profile for excellence? Do you just accept that they’ll work at the same level forever?

No. Instead, forget the character profiles for a minute. Focus on the practical skills that your staff need to excel in your business.

For example, you can’t teach independence or problem solving. You can teach good time management and research skills.

You can’t train someone to have greater focus or confidence. But you can make sure they have clear objectives and give praise when they do a good job.

With the right staff appraisal process that focusses on developing the skills your business needs, you can turn most of your staff into superstars.

Speak to an expert 

Want more information on how to develop your staff and improve your business? Speak to Croner’s employee appraisal experts today.

Call 01455 858 132  or request a callback here.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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