The One Performance Question Every Hiring Manager Should Ask

Hire the Best - Use for Web applications, emails, etcMost of my day is spent working with clients and part is spent with candidates they may want to employ.  The one piece of advice I give to every candidate that is going to interview with the hiring manager is to ask this question:

“If we were meeting here one year from today and you were to say that I did a good job this past year, what would have had to happen in order for you to say that?  Now not an exceptional job but also not a poor job but rather a good job?”

Why this one question? 

My client and candidate are looking for a cultural and performance match.  Can they do the job, do it up to expectations, and will they fit in? These are the core questions we are trying to answer when hiring salespeople.  It is tough to evaluate if you don’t have clear expectations.

It has been my experience that most sales managers have not communicated expectations and depend on HR job descriptions to serve as the benchmark for performance.   If my candidates ask this question, it forces the manager to provide them with clarity around what they truly expect.

Why Sales Managers Should Be Answering This Question Themselves

one questionPeople show up every day wanting to do a good job, to contribute, and to feel that they made a difference.

As sales managers, too often we don’t define what “doing a good job” looks like.  If we do, it tends to be subjective, generalized and not quantifiable.  Additionally, we tend to not communicate expectations.

Therefore, when it comes time to review their performance, we tend to overlook the fact that they did a good job and tend to be disappointed that somehow they were not mind readers and did not meet the expectation we never really defined for them.

It often sounds like, “Well you did a good job but I was really expecting………” and out comes an expectation they are hearing for the first time!

So, they leave the meeting hearing you’re disappointed and we wonder why most salespeople are not fully engaged.

How to Avoid Having Silent Expectations

Ask yourself the expectation question:

What would have to happen, specifically and measurable, in order for you to be happy… not ecstatic… but happy with the performance of a salesperson in this job?

By happy, I mean to the level that you would be happy to give them a raise.

I know that I am substituting the word happy for good when I ask you this question. This is because as managers, too often we are frustrated and disappointed.  Most of our frustration and disappointment comes from unmet expectations of either ourselves or other people.   So, what would make you happy… not satisfied… but happy?   Would you not be happier if your direct reports performed at a good level?

Get this defined and when they do perform, tell them how happy you are with them.

“A” player salespeople are attracted to this level of clarity and feedback.