My New Hire Looked Better on Paper. Now What?

Employment of humans is tricky business. An interview is like dating. We need to be a detective, psychologist, analyst, motivator, and entrepreneur. In short, an all-around sleuth. Here’s a question I just got from a reader. Today I’ll handle the “What now?”  I wrote earlier about how to interview this younger generation.

cell phone chat“Beth: I hired this employee because her resume, schooling, experience, and application was perfect. One month later I’m pulling my hair out. She doesn’t perform, is terrified of making decisions, and can’t think clearly.
I did a reference check, but none of this came out. People are too scared to tell the truth in reference checks, I guess.  Now what?”

Stymied Boss


Hi Stymied Boss:

My first instinct is to tell you how to interview better. I’ve linked to that post here. I will also post a little more on this on Friday.

Some questions and recommendations:

  • Analyze your own expectations: Who did you think you hired? What were you trying to accomplish? What critical tasks are not being met? What vacuum in the company is she supposed to fill?
  • Look at her resume and qualifications again: What attracted you to this candidate based on the paper record?
  • What isn’t working? Have you identified it? Is it fixable?
  • Does this employee know what you need? Have you communicated any standards? Have you communicated expectations? Do you have measurements in place? (“By x date I expect that you will be able to accomplish y and z.”)
  • What training and mentoring have you offered this employee? We can’t expect employees to read our minds, and we need to realize the younger generation (if that’s what you hired) doesn’t have a lot of the skills we take for granted from older employees.
  • And finally – Have you asked this employee what’s going on? (You may be surprised by her answers.)

Once you have analyzed your situation thoroughly, have a conversation with her: “How do you think you are doing so far? — What do you need to know from me to be more comfortable with your progress? — What’s working for you? — What’s not working?”

Make the conversation “safe.” Keep your mouth shut after you ask a question and let her think through her response. Don’t criticize or blame her for the current situation. You hired her. This is on both of you.

If she’s as frustrated as you, find out what she would do in your shoes. Get her to create her own solutions and decide if you can live with them.

If she doesn’t see there’s a problem, start looking at your options:

  1. You can train/mentor her better. (Start by having an expectations conversation – I expect/need these things from you, what do you expect/need from me?)
  2. You can move her to other responsibilities.
  3. You can begin the process of letting her go before her probation period is up.

My philosophy is this: we human beings deserve to work in a job/career that lifts us up and fulfills our potential. The longer this woman remains in the wrong job (if, in fact, it IS wrong) the longer you are keeping her from finding her niche and her happiness.

The longer you take to resolve this, the further you are from a good solution. This is preventing you from getting your work done too. Act before it is too late.



Beth’s Website

© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved

About Beth Terry

Beth Terry, CSP, is a speaker, coach, writer and cowgirl. Her audiences are from around the world: she has spoken to almost half a million people in 6 countries. Her passion is watching the "popcorn popper" go off in people's heads when they 'get it.'

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