Did You Set Someone Up for Failure?

All employers want to set their employees up for success. But the reality is that only 23 percent of employees report having “good” jobs, and only 4 percent report having “great” jobs. With numbers as dismal as these, HR professionals have to do their best to improve the employee experience.

It’s critical to make sure that you are creating an environment where your employees can thrive — because if you don’t, there are plenty of other opportunities out there. 

“Lack of employee retention is a huge problem across the board,” says Phillip Wilson, president and general counsel at Labor Relations Institute. “When you finally find a great employee and get them into your company, there's really no room for error to disappoint their expectations or to put them in a position where they aren't going to be successful.”

Here are three ways you can identify when you’ve set employees up for failure — and three strategies for how you can support your employees’ success at your organization.

Set Clear Expectations and Stay Involved

When new employees are brought in, it’s up to HR to make sure that their expectations align with job goals and descriptions. “Make sure that if there are any gaps, those are identified as early as possible and you have a plan to shrink them,” Wilson says. “Make sure that you're creating a space where the candidate or the new hire can ask a lot of questions and can really fully understand things.”

Marc Effron, president of Talent Strategy Group, agrees. “If employees don’t know from the beginning what they’re accountable for, they really can’t succeed,” he says. Stay in touch with the employee to make sure any gaps are being addressed and that they have the support they need. HR and managers should approach new employees from a positive standpoint and an attitude of confidence. “This attitude is way more motivating to the employee that's struggling a little bit, and it keeps everyone moving in the same direction,” Wilson says.

Give and Receive Feedback

Do your employees a favor and give them feedback. Without frequent check-ins, employees can’t modify their direction and achieve their goals. “There’s a common belief that if you want a ‘nice’ culture, then you shouldn’t give feedback,” Effron says. “But that’s actually backward — there's nothing nice at all about not giving feedback to people. Feedback lets employees know where they stand in regard to performance and potential.”

Also, be prepared to receive feedback from your employees. In fact, you should encourage it because you may not know that someone is struggling until you ask. “Ask your employees, ‘What would make work better?’,’’ Wilson says. “Especially for new employees, there’s a tendency to not speak up or a fear of rocking the boat. It’s critical to let them know that it’s OK to ask for help or clarification.”

Employees often have questions, but don’t understand the company's resources and culture well enough to direct them. “Employees need to feel empowered to make connections and reach out for help,” Effron says. “HR can help by directing them to the proper channels to have their needs addressed.”

These types of conversations between managers and employees are critical to employee success. HR can play a huge role in helping to facilitate this communication.

Focus on Achieving Small Goals

Feedback is only relevant if it’s attached to goals. “There should be an opportunity to discuss employee achievement,” Effron says. “At some point you have to pause, look at the employee’s goals and ask, ‘Did you overachieve your goals, achieve them or not achieve them?’ You should frequently be realigning employee’s and company’s goals.

Breaking large goals into small pieces makes work more manageable and less daunting for employees. Check in frequently to identify small “wins” and to make sure the employee is moving in the right direction. “These frequent check-ins help the employee to stay focused on progression and moving forward,” Wilson says.