What a powerful question right?!? No matter which employer we’ve asked this question of, it never fails to get a similar reaction. There is the intake of breath to give a quick answer … then a pause and look of puzzlement … you can almost hear the cogs grinding in their minds … and then a look of distinct discomfort as they realise that the answer is most probably ‘no’.

That is the exact same response that I gave the first time I was asked that question a few years ago.

I have always felt closely connected to the people in my team, I engaged them, trained them, worked with them every day and enjoyed their company. So I desperately wanted to be able to automatically and without hesitation answer ‘Yes!’

But I couldn’t. The question of enthusiastically rehiring each person in your team is incredibly confronting but also so very powerful.

Its power lives in its ability to cut to the chase in making decisions about who should and shouldn’t be a part of your team. This is particularly so when you are a smaller team where every role, every person counts and there is no flying under the radar.

I reflect on the question now a few years on, when I am very happy (and yes, maybe a touch smug) to say that I would absolutely enthusiastically rehire everyone in our team and I know 3 key learnings:

It does not last forever. People come into a team, do great things, contribute in their own unique way, and then move on to the next thing for them. So while I would be thrilled if everyone on our team stayed with us long term, I have also had enough positive ‘exits’ under my belt to know that people moving on is not always a bad thing – and the next person to join the team will bring something else new and wonderful.
It is not easy to achieve. Making the decision that you would not enthusiastically rehire someone is effectively saying you would not hire them. Which isn’t far away from you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place (because there is someone out there who you would enthusiastically rehire). Which isn’t far away from deciding that you should not continue having them in your team … You can see where this heads in terms of the tough decisions and actions you may need to make to reach the point where your team is full of ‘enthusiastic rehires’.

Make the decision early. We all have the tendency to see-saw during someone’s probation period on whether they are a good fit, can they do the job, are they learning at the right pace etc. But when you bring it back to a simple question, it becomes crystal clear. So during probation, ask yourself ‘(based on what I have observed and know right now about this person) would I enthusiastically rehire them?’ If the answer is no, explore why that is. If possible, give them the feedback and opportunity to improve on that. But if that doesn’t work, then you have your answer on whether to continue them and my learning is make that decision early, make it cleanly and deliver it with respect. Holding on to something and dragging out something that you know isn’t right doesn’t serve either party ultimately.

It’s a challenging question, an even more challenging journey to get there. But wow! When you do, for the period that it lasts, it is amazing. And the things you will achieve in your team during those times will be exponentially more exciting, enjoyable and game changing than any other time in your business.