There is a concept in marketing known as the “Product Life Cycle”. Every product – every company – goes through the cycle. There are four stages: Introduction, growth, maturity and decline.
When we were discussing it in my marketing class in grad school, I remember one of my friends commenting that the product life cycle could be applied to anything, including life: when to marry, have kids, and so on. The concept is being applied to employees in several articles, including one from Chason Hecht in the New York Enterprise Report.
Hecht offers that there are eight stages in the life cycle of an employee, and that employers should grade themselves on how well they perform in each stage. The eight stages are:
Stage 1: Attraction (Prior to having an open position): Your ideal candidates regularly apply to work at your firm even when jobs are not open. (I don’t agree with this one – many HR departments get annoyed if someone keeps coming back for “no reason”).
Stage 2: Recruitment (From open position to hire): You selected the best candidate for the position and the company.
Stage 3: Expectancy (From hire to start date): You informed and prepared your existing workforce of the new hire’s role, responsibility and background.
Stage 4: Formative Days (Start through the first two weeks): You provided the new employee with the necessary tools, contacts and information in order to succeed in the new job.
Stage 5: Development (From two weeks to six months): You developed your employee’s skills through mentors, training, peer groups and employee feedback.
Stage 6: Growth Enablement (six months to 24 months): Your employees are leveraging their skills to improve and innovate your processes, products and services.
Stage 7: Work/Life Actualization (18–24 months to disengagement): Your employees have professional development opportunities and work-life balance.
Stage 8: Separation (disengagement through active departure): Your separation practices preserve the knowledge and relationships of the employee so the transition can be navigated seamlessly.
The time frames for each stage will vary among companies, and even within a company, will vary by job, experience and skills of the employee, and other intangible factors. Ask your supervisors, and maybe be brave and ask your employees to rate your practice on these stages. We all say that we want the “best” employees, but all too many employers don’t think through and act to “hire, inspire, admire” employees – and are really bad at firing.
In medical practices, your employees are as important as physicians in building a successful practice, Patients spend more time with your staff than you, and a good staff makes your life better. Try this exercise, and devote time and attention this year to improving how you recruit and retain employees.