You Made a Bad Hire. Now What?

What to do when you make a bad hireThe process of bringing a new person into your organization is not always cut-and-dry. Once credentials, references, and skills are verified, next on the agenda is finding out if the habits and personality of the job candidate are compatible with the work environment itself.

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During the final job interview, the interviewee may give the right answers, exemplify a great amount of wit, and demonstrate troubleshooting techniques that would be considered an asset in moments of crisis. You might even consider the job candidate to be steps ahead of your current team, so hiring him would only make sense.

However, when it comes to the actual job, he fails to deliver. What now?

Whether the problem is that the employee isn’t meeting performance expectations or that she is causing tension among employees, it’s time to collect information and address the problem. Find out what exactly the issues are. Collect any supporting statements and documentation. Next, schedule a meeting with the new employee. Depending on the situation and the specifics of your company, it might be advisable to have a member of HR or another manager there with you.

When you initiate dialogue with the employee in question, be honest yet tactful, and make sure the meeting is solutions-oriented. Avoid making statements that will put the employee on the defensive (e.g. “We’ve been getting complaints about you because you aren’t doing your job”); this will only deter a meaningful dialogue and an eventual resolution. Do cite facts and the information you collected, and do ask the employee for his side of things.

If performance is the problem, then you need to have an honest conversation and figure out whether the candidate misrepresented her qualifications or if you have not provided the training necessary. If attitude or personality is the issue, then you need to think about whether the employee was properly on-boarded and informed of the company’s behavioral expectations.

Once the problem and root cause are identified, your next hurdle is to determine if the working relationship can be remedied. Perhaps the employee needs a mentor in-house or perhaps he needs to have more oversight for a while. Or maybe, if you’re lucky, the conversation you just had is enough to correct the issue(s). If you decide to continue the employment relationship, then you need to document a course of action, and you should involve the employee in creating it. Make sure to include exactly what the employee needs to do and set a date to check in on progress.

On the other hand, if you do not see the situation as rectifiable, then you need to make preparations for termination. Turnover can cost companies a great deal of money and can negatively impact employee morale (some might fear for their jobs, while others will disagree with the termination of their coworker and resent you for it). And then there’s the fact that you’ll have to start the recruitment process all over again. Still, the tangible and intangible costs of keeping around a dud employee will be much more harmful in the long-run.

What’s your take? Do you subscribe to the “Hire slow, fire fast” mentality? Or do you believe in putting in the time and energy to give your new hires the best chance?

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