New Hire Nightmare? Knowing When It’s Time to Part Ways

By Robert Half on January 12, 2017 at 5:00pm

So, your new hire isn’t exactly working out. Your direct report isn’t fitting in well with the team, doesn’t quite understand the job’s responsibilities or reporting structure, and seems to lack key skills you thought he possessed. This is a delicate, disappointing dilemma no employer wants to face. Here’s the information you need before writing off the new hire as a bad hire:

Be as patient as possible

Information overload or early-week jitters may be causing the troubles. Remember: It takes time for a recent hire to settle in, and orientation takes longer as the job complexity increases. 

Communicate constructively

Arrange a private meeting to give diplomatic but candid feedback to your direct report. Make your comments constructive and productive, emphasizing that you’re hopeful things will turn around soon.

Offer the employee training

It’s costly to hire and onboard an employee. Before you throw in the towel, offer professional development in areas where your direct report seems to be struggling. This could range from sharing information via office brownbag lunches or even job shadowing.

Provide a mentor to the new hire

Offering mentoring is another good way for an employer to orient a struggling employee. A mentor can provide vital information about the company, office culture and the reporting structure. A mentor is usually not a direct supervisor, but rather a talented and well-connected employee who’s been around for a few years. 

Consider a second chance

Still no luck? Consider issuing a formal verbal warning or putting the person on probation. Company policies and local and state laws vary, so make sure that you check in with your company’s human resources department and/or legal department to make sure you are working with their guidance and advice. Generally before firing someone, this second (and final) chance is a clear message the employee has one more opportunity before facing consequences. State how many days or weeks the person has to show improvement.

Make the tough decision

When should an employer cut their losses? If it’s obvious that the new employee is detrimental to your organization — plagiarizes work, instigates arguments or has made multiple egregious errors, for example — it might time to terminate the relationship. If a signed contract is in place, the scenario gets much more complex for any employer. Consult your company’s attorney, legal department or human resources staff for guidance.

As an employer, firing someone is never easy. It shouldn’t be your first option. But if termination is in the cards, don’t beat yourself up over a bad hire. View the experience as a learning opportunity — a way to improve your recruitment process.

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