Effective Communication Strategies for Lasting Workplace Relationships
Have you ever known that person who is all-in when a new romantic relationship in their life begins? They may even spend one or two trips around the sun with their so-called true love. Then you get the news they broke up. They are calling because they want you to meet their new love interest because this one is the forever one. You didn’t know there was trouble in paradise in the previous relationship, and you find out that neither did that significant other, who tells you they felt blindsided. The sad part is you see this pattern repeating itself with the perpetrator, and, unfortunately, you see them failing instead of finding the compatibility they say they desire. If, personally, that person had to create a resume to date again, it might show “educated and experienced at dating but no long-term relationships.”
Understanding the Reasons behind Short-Term Employment on Resumes
If you are a hiring manager in the workplace, then you see a lot of similarities to the story above, although translated to the workplace. They might look similar to below.
1234 SW 89 Avenue
Sunshine, FL 32598
Accomplished Construction Management professional with a master’s in construction management and an undergraduate in Civil Engineering. Experienced in multi-family, office, retail, and industrial for both government and privately funded projects.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Senior Project Manager 2022–Present
Project Manager 2021–2022
RTK Design Build
Assistant Project Manager 2019–2021
Project Engineer 2018–2019
Etc.… You get my point.
Many of these people might be successful in their personal lives, staying married to the same person throughout, obtaining their education, and building on their work experience. Yet, that could be affecting their ability to build long-lasting relationships in the workplace. All too often, individuals in construction management compartmentalize their work life from their home life. In doing so, they are setting themselves up for conflict in one or the other. Candidates who have better longevity in employment tend to communicate both work and home life to correspond as favorably as possible with the other.
Assessing Workplace Compatibility for Long-Term Commitment
Just last week, an employer we have started working with again shared that a project manager he had employed recently resigned after less than two years with the company. He was extremely disappointed as they took a chance on this individual whose consistent longevity with the previous employers was not there. This general contractor said they did not have a clue that the project manager was unhappy with the project they were on, not to mention being at the company.
The project manager not only left them at a critical point in the project they were assigned to, but he also left them perplexed at why he would not have had discussions to meet his expectations, whether relational or financial. They have many other projects, a solid support team, experienced management to train, fair wages, excellent benefits, and more. Other than him having a Project Manager instead of a Senior Project Manager title, they could not think of a thing. (The company didn’t use the Senior title; it has a Project Manager title, and the next step is Project Executive when an individual is trained and ready to manage a team of Project Managers.)
It could be that his personal relationship required something he felt he could not achieve where he was, and he chose not to discuss it or find a compromise that not only met expectations at home but also allowed him to meet expectations in the workplace, building longevity and relationships that would ultimately boost his career. He chose flight over fight (healthy conflict to resolve), and, sadly, another employer will probably live through the same thing with this individual in a year or two because of his inability to talk through his needs instead of trying to satisfy them elsewhere. Worse yet, he could just like the “high” from a new start. Yes, those exist.
Understanding the Reasons behind Short-Term Employment on Resumes
As an employer, you will never change an employee who gets a “high” from interviewing and starting a new job where they gain attention and favor and maybe even slack for being the new kid on the block. Those candidates do exist, and they might even do a decent job when they are there. Just prepare yourself for their departure when they need to get that high that you can’t repeat because the relationship with you is not new but evolving.
There are occasions when you will have a candidate with multiple positions of two years or less on their resume who can now settle into their long-term career home.
Mitigating Risk in the Hiring Process for Short-Tenured Personnel
Hiring Managers, what are three steps you can take to qualify and eliminate risk in the hiring process when hiring short-tenured personnel?
1. Speak Directly with the Former Employer to Verify the Applicant’s Unfortunate Departure
When an employer has to let an employee go strictly because of an unforeseen business circumstance and not the employee’s commitment or performance, they have no problem sharing that with you if you call to verify.
2. Inquire What has Changed with the Individual Personally That Might Make Things Different
Often, individuals keep changing employers because of financial or relational issues. If they had longevity until the past few positions tied to a now-ended marriage, especially if they had to relocate, then this person may now commit differently in the workplace. Financially, an individual would need to demonstrate they can live within the compensation they would receive for a minimum of one year.
3. Use Assessments in the Hiring Process
Although assessments should be equivalent to no more than 30% of the decision-making process, when it comes to hiring, they can help you have the right conversations up front to align expectations and eliminate risk. DiSC and Working Genius assessments are the two we use, and you can find more information here.
Additional Tools to Improve Your Communication
Mutual Farewell and Amicable Endings in Employer-Employee Relationships
In my book Happily Married to Your Employer, I have a chapter dedicated to the mutual farewell where I discuss,
“Mutuality comes with relevancy. When both employers and employees stay in tune with the needs of the other, they can more easily come up with a solution that maintains their relationship and assists each in meeting their professional goals. If, in the end, they do end up parting ways, it will be an amicable ending. Their time serving one another’s needs while being good stewards of the resources provided to them by the other is time well spent.”
Learning to communicate and align your needs with those in the workplace, whether employer or employee, entry-level to senior, secures your ability to work through the unexpected (that might lead to shorter tenure than anticipated) and protects your heart from wanting a resignation restart.
To Relationships That Last Beyond Your Last Day,
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