A tattoo is basically forever.
I know, I know, you can get them removed by laser now. But most people don’t go into a tattoo proposition thinking I can’t wait to pay a couple of thousand dollars to get this removed! It’s permanent baby. Like a Sharpie, but better!
Most organizations do Tattoo Hiring. They believe we are going to hire this person forever. In fact, go ahead and tattoo the logo on their butt while their in orientation. But the life cycle of most hires is similar to that of your tattoo you got on Spring Break back in 2001.
1. Day 1 – it’s a little painful, but your so excited to have the person on board.
2. First couple of weeks – pain has gone away, still doesn’t look right, but you can tell you’re going to love them. And you keep showing the new hire to everyone you see, that has yet to see them.
3. Years 1-3 – Tattoo Hire is awesome. You’re proud of your tattoo hire. People comment on what a great hire. You couldn’t be more proud of your tattoo hire!
4. Somewhere past year 3 – the first Tattoo Hire went so well, what the heck, time for another Tattoo Hire! This time we’ll go bigger and better!
5. Into Tattoo Hire #2’s first year – you begin to notice your original Tattoo Hire doesn’t look as good anymore. Isn’t performing as well. You think it might be time to change your original Tattoo Hire. While Tattoo Hire #2 is more awesome than you can imagine!
6. Time to remove Tattoo Hire #1 – You’ve finally made the decision, Tattoo Hire #1 has to go. It’s going to cost you thousands of dollars to remove, but Tattoo Hire #1 just isn’t what you want anymore.
That’s alright you’ve got Tattoo Hire #2! I mean what could go wrong, a Tattoo Hire is forever, right?
Organizations that hire with a Tattoo philosophy are bound to fail. It’s not that you can’t expect, or want, employees to stay with you their entire career. You can. The problem we face is when we don’t set up our organizations to support forever hires. The new tattoo always looks better, because it is usually more defined and brighter and you put more thought into it. An employee is no different. You can’t let a more tenured employee fade. You must keep them vibrant and up to date. Or, many times you will spend a ton of money replacing them.
I’m not sure the tattoo analogy really works as it discounts the free will of the Tattoo Hire.
There is a Richard Branson quote “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
A tattoo doesn’t decide to stay or go based on how you treat it.
Maybe the “living room furniture” analogy is useful here. We keep much of it indefinitely, but a new piece now and then can add a lot. Similarly, a new set of eyes or ideas can add a lot to an organization, and as individuals we know when we reach a point where we feel our new contributions are diminishing and it is time to move on.