Underperforming New Hires (It Might Be Them, But…It Is Probably You!)

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Hiring is a time-consuming and expensive process, and it can cost your company even more if your new hire is not working out. Our best guess is that a failed recruiting exercise will cost you a year and the damage done is directly proportional to the seniority of the position. A botched front-line hire is one thing, however a misstep in bringing on a new senior executive is multiple times more damaging since the shock waves will envelop a wide part of the organization as well as customers, suppliers, competitors and possibly regulatory bodies and government agencies. It also raises questions as to whether you know what you are doing.

If things go wrong during the hiring process, then obviously someone made a mistake or exercised poor judgment, but what if the fault lies not with the new hire but with your process?

When you look to fill an empty position, whether it’s a front-line or executive position, there is much that goes into the entire hiring process (and so much that can go wrong!). A bad recruiting process can be caused by several factors and when a recruiting process goes bad, the result can be problematic.

Start with the Position Description

Is it really an honest and accurate representation of the position’s roles and responsibilities? It is not unusual to have a situation where a candidate accepts a position A Hiring Checklist - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Companyonly to find that the circumstances are not exactly as advertised. For example, the team that was supposed to be reporting to them are not being relinquished by their boss in a different department, or the boss who was going to retire in six months – passing control to the new hire – has changed his mind and so the new hire, who thought he would be President soon, will have to play second fiddle indefinitely.

Read More: Want to Build a Great Team? Get Your Interviewing Skills Up To Scratch

Check Out the Hiring Process

Did the recruitment team have enough time to find the best candidates available? Were candidates dealt with expeditiously so the best ones didn’t get away before being properly interviewed? Someone must be charged with the responsibility of keeping the Potential Candidates for a Job - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Companyhiring project on track, otherwise the pressure of day-to-day issues will sidetrack it.

Is a competitive compensation package being offered? You will get what you pay for so, in order to at least get average candidates, you will have to offer at least average compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, pension) vs. your competitors.

Don’t skip background checks. Often background checks don’t reveal anything, however occasionally they prevent a disaster. For the little time and effort involved, they should never be skipped.

Read More: Reference Checks: Why They Are Important

Fix the Onboarding Process

A good onboarding process is key to ensuring that every single new hire at your company gets off on the right foot. From your customer service representatives to the new EVP of Finance, it is important that every single new hire gets onboarded well. Your onboarding process should tell new hires about the company culture, how to access everything they need to do their job, how to access things like human resources, learn about the company policies, and take them through individual department expectations.

A Circle of People - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring CompanyFrom there, someone needs to be responsible for being the point of contact – a “buddy” – for the new hire to ensure that their onboarding process goes well. Weekly, biweekly, or monthly check ins need to happen. There needs to be a way to get feedback or ensure all questions are answered. A lot of the time when someone is performing poorly, chances are they just do not know what they do not know and may not know who to ask for help.

One company was in a rush to hire a new Director, and they needed her to hit the ground running because the team was in dire need of leadership. They decided that she could “defer” the standard onboarding routine for a few months with the next batch of new hires. This resulted in issues from her now knowing how to book meeting rooms, to not understanding basic norms of the workspace, not knowing the schedule of performance reviews for her team. Leadership felt they made a huge mistake hiring her – she appeared to be frazzled and disorganized. But, was it really her fault?

Cultural Fit

Something that is often overlooked in the hiring process, and even onboarding process, is ensuring that a new hire is the right fit for the company. Company and team 5 Business People Holding Puzzle Pieces - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Companyfit are a key consideration, because a lot of time is spent together on the job working closely with one another, making personality fit a big part of the equation.

While no one can guarantee a perfect syncing of personality types, cultural fit is something you can screen for. In the position description and interview, be up front about what the company culture is. Expectations should be set out in advance so that there is little chance of a misunderstanding. If telecommuting is never an option, candidates need to know that. If the job entails 30% or 50% travel, they need to know that too.

Can You Save What Seems To Be a Bad Hiring?

The good news is, you can likely save a new hire that is going bad if you respond to the warning signs quickly enough. Where is the disconnect between expectations and reality on both sides? What can be done to close the gap? It could be that you can help with training or mentoring to shore up a weakness that wasn’t discovered A Manager Talking to Workers - Kathbern Management Toronto Hiring Companyduring the hiring process. It may be possible to rearrange duties to take better advantage of their skill set, possibly in a way that is even better than the arrangement that was originally envisioned.

Even if you can’t save this particular new hire, it is critical to understand where the process broke down and led you to this end so that it can be fixed for future hiring situations. It is one thing to make a mistake once, but unforgivable to make it repeatedly.



Kathbern Management is an executive search consultancy based in Toronto, helping companies find the executives and senior managers who not only have the experience and credentials to fulfill their responsibilities, but also have the emotional and “fit” requirements that will enable them to be successful in a particular environment. We simplify the process and, through our deep research, are able to bring more and better candidates forward than would ever be possible through a do-it-yourself passive advertising campaign.

Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.

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