New Hire Not Working Out?

Has this ever happened to you? After hours spent finding just the right person for that support staff spot you needed to fill, and especially after you think you have clearly outlined your expectations, you move forward with hiring them and boom! You begin to see a pattern of late arrivals and other signs that cause you to wonder, “Where did I go wrong?”

This happened to one of our clients recently. They decided to work with a temp agency to find a new support person on a “rent-to-own” basis. For the first several weeks or months, they had paid the agency with the understanding that this was a “tryout” period. If they saw any indication that this person would not be a good fit to hire permanently, they could tell the agency to send someone else.

At first, everything went very well – good references, great personality, positive attitude. They thought they’d hit a home run and decided to offer her a full-time position at the end of the period agreed upon with the agency.

Unfortunately, the very first Monday after she became their employee, she arrived 15 minutes late. Of course, they had told her that, due to their own crazy schedules with morning meetings and the like, it was very important that she arrive on time to catch any phone calls or greet people stopping by when the office opened at 9:00am.

When one or two other incidents happened during those first couple of weeks, they were in panic mode. “What should we do?” they asked. “Do we need to start over?”

Before you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest the following 6-step strategy:

  1. Clearly explain your expectations, particularly the ones you see as high priority, during the interview and job offer processes.
  2. Provide an employee handbook that outlines general office procedures and standards, as well as a written description of responsibilities and expectations specific to the role they’re being hired to fill.
  3. The very first time the employee does something (or doesn’t do something) that is clearly not in line with the expectations you have set, ask them what happened and what they can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In this case, they could have asked what prevented the employee from arriving on time and what he or she will do going forward to make sure they’re always there by 9:00am?
  4. If the problem recurs, particularly within a relatively short time, tell tham that you’re concerned that a pattern may be developing and that you want to understand what’s going on, particularly since you believe you’ve already communicated the importance of your expectations. Give them an opportunity to address and correct the situation.
  5. If the problem occurs again, address it one more time. “In spite of our previous discussions and your assurances, it looks like this isn’t working. What do we need to do?”
  6. If he or she is unable to provide an acceptable resolution, then it’s probably time to part company.

The key to making sure your new employee gets off to the right start is to address unmet expectations immediately, before the problem becomes a habit. Don’t ignore it, thinking it will go away. It almost never does.

Remember, everyone makes mistakes, including you. Give your new employee the opportunity to correct their mistakes, but if that doesn’t happen, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you have a bad fit. If you’ve reached that conclusion, no doubt they have also.

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