The Problem with That “Iffy” New Hire Could be You

Man Watering a PlantWe have all been there. You find yourself doing more than a million things — trying your best to meet all of your obligations, while staying ahead of the curve. Meanwhile, back in the office a member of your team (a key assistant for example) gives little notice and moves on to another role. Because of limited time at home base, you have to delegate some of the responsibility for sourcing and interviewing applicants to someone else. Clearly this is not an ideal situation. However, it is unavoidable.

A leading candidate emerges. Certainly, you have had the opportunity to review the resume and hatted briefly with the applicant. But, you haven’t had the opportunity to really probe the details face to face. The bottom line is that you are not entirely comfortable with the decision to hire — although you cannot really put your finger on the issue and form a credible objection. So, the decision is made and the individual is hired.

Time passes and you find the new hire in front of you, ready to be on-boarded onto your team. But, after a short time a glaring problem becomes obvious , and you suspect they are simply the wrong person for the role. Your mind begins to race forward to impending disaster.

What now? Are they relegated to the status of another “bad hire”? Will your team suffer?

You might find yourself secretly hoping their tenure with your organization is a short one. However, I would like to suggest another route. Challenge the “gut” feeling (which by the way could be off-base) and take the high road. Give them every possible opportunity to become a contributing member of your team. The costs of a “bad hire” can be sizable, not only in terms of lost effectiveness —but in lowered group morale. It is in your best interest (and that of your entire team) to salvage the hiring decision.

Here are some ideas to maximize the situation:

  • No grudges allowed. Examine your emotions in this situation and don’t let them cloud your better judgement. Put the brakes on your doubts immediately – a positive outcome never comes from a place of negativity.
  • Do not share your skepticism. Do not share your concerns to the rest of your staff — relay only your confidence in their new team member.
  • Make the vision crystal clear. Be sure the details about the “culture” of your work group are well communicated to the new hire.  Discuss group “mores” such as dress, meeting protocol and chain of command.
  • Take a deeper look at their skills. Gather all the information possible considering strengths and weaknesses. What can you emphasize that will make them an integral and productive contributor?
  • Train them. Don’t throw the new hire “to the dogs” without the proper know-how. Be sure they are prepped and properly trained to succeed.
  • Engage. Engaged employees are more productive. Ask them who they would like to become “work-wise’, through their new role. Let them know that you are there to help them grow and gain meaningful experience. Through this process there will be a higher probability of developing a bond with your new hire.

Not every talent decision is a clear success story right out of the gate. But we should make an effort to give each and every relationship a decent and fair chance to succeed.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is a Workplace Psychologist and coach. Connect with her and continue the conversation on Twitter and Linkedin.

3 thoughts on “The Problem with That “Iffy” New Hire Could be You

  1. So – it all sums up to this: Dear Leader, own up to Your hiring-choices. Step up and take responsibility for Your choices – have some respect for the people You hire. If You don´t – You really can´t expect them to respect you either – and that is a receipe for disaster.


  2. Very disturbing. No one ever really committed to her being a success, and right from the start she recognized this – a very unhealthy situation to find yourself in.

    Your husband is absolutely right. I refer to Maya Angelou’s famous quote, (which also applies to organizations behaving badly) – “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

    Thanks so much for your comment, Cyndy.


  3. A very good post Marla. This brings up a story disclosed to me by a friend of mine who went through this from the perspective of the employee.

    My friend accepted a position with an organization a few years ago and is actually still employed with this company. During the interview process she never really felt welcome and courted, but needed the job and it was a descent fit for her skill sets.

    Starting with day one, she felt overwhelmed by a poor on-boarding process which didn’t train her to assume the new position. According to her, it was an opportunity for her immediate supervisor to scrape his plate of duties onto hers and with very little insight into how to accomplish the tasks. Over time it became abundantly obvious that her immediate supervisor was a bully (to all of his subordinates, not just her) who made no bones about acting like he regretted hiring her. Eventually, that supervisor accepted a position within a different department, but here is where my friend feels the real damage was done. Her former supervisor talked her down to other leaders within the organization which now has put her in a bad light for any recognition, promotion, or even a voice to be heard.

    I’m not a career counselor so I wouldn’t assume to advise her on steps to be taken, however as a sympathetic ear for her, I can’t help but wonder why she still works for this organization. Obviously, there are companies with bad cultures and as my husband likes to say, “If the company where you are job interviewing doesn’t treat you well during this initial process, chances are it will never get better.” A point to be considered.


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