The Worst Mistake You Can Make With a Bad Hire

“When did you know he was a bad hire?”

“Pretty much from day 1.”

“And when did you first have a frank conversation about your concerns?”

“Err… yesterday.”

“And now you want to terminate them?”

“Yeah, I mean it’s been a problem for a really long time. He’s got to go!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this seen this scene play out–both in my HR exec days, and now in the frustrations of my clients looking to add more rigor to their performance management processes.

The worst mistake you can make with a low-performing
new hire is being overly patient.

Why are we overly patient? Well first off, we hired them, and it’s just freaking awkward that they’re this bad. So we convince ourselves they’ll be okay, and hold our breath and wait. Or, we know how hard it can be in a new job…so we just give them time and space to get better, and assume it will all work out.

Of course, most people don’t hit the ground running overnight. But if you’re REALLY worried after the first few customer interactions, or they just don’t seem to pick up anything you’re putting down, don’t wait too long. Better to lose the diaper drama as early in the game as possible– and tell them the truth (see more in our video interview).

5 Reasons to Be Real With Your Low Performing New Hire

They’re As Frustrated As You Are

No one starts a new job with the intention of really screwing it up. If it’s not working out, it’s likely they’re more frustrated than you are. It’s a good idea to be having “How’s it going?” conversations with all your new hires–and particularly those who are struggling.

A few conversation starters:

  • Why did you choose to work here? What most attracted you to this company/job?
  • Is the job what you expected it to be? Why or why not?
  • What do you find most satisfying with this role? What is most frustrating?
  • Where do you need some extra support?

You’ve Got a Limited Window to Clarify Expectations

Don’t assume you’ve been perfectly clear with your expectations. If you wait too long to articulate and reinforce your standards, your  new hire is likely to assume you just aren’t that serious, or that what he or she is doing is acceptable.

It’s fine to give some time to ramp up to be at full performance–but you always want to be reinforcing the end-goal and what success looks like. I can’t you how many times I’ve had crying employees in my HR office saying, “But my supervisor never told me…” And the truth is, often there was some truth to that. Be sure expectations are clear.

Bad Habits Are Hard To Break

Enough said. Be clear about the most important behaviors for achieving success, and reinforce those until they become a habit.

Your “A Players” Are Taking Notes

If the new guy comes in and gets away with less than productive behaviors, you will instantly lose credibility with your strong performers.

HR Can Help

Your HR manager can help you get extra resources to support your new hire’s success. AND, they can also help you deliver (and document) the conversations you are having. I’ve never met an HR professional who complained about being notified too early about a problem.

The best way to give your new hire and your team the best chance of success is to ditch the diaper drama as early in the game as possible, and have real conversations with your new hire.

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Posted in confident humility, Winning Well.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

2 Comments

    • Harry,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Not every employee is a good fit for every job… and sometimes people are very good in the interview and then show up not willing to perform. My entire company is built on my belief that training and development are vital. I’ve also seen the destruction that can happen in companies by letting poor performers (who don’t respond to training and support) to linger in the orgnaization.

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