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It's not you, it's your performance: Breaking up with bad hires

Posted by A.N. Argas on 12 April 2017


The tell-tale signs of a bad hire make themselves known in some very damaging ways.

These include:

  • Performance on the team could have dropped
  • Lower team morale
  • The employee in questions is complaining… about everything
  • Attendance problems, is your new hire skipping work or taking constant sick days?
  • Being generally unhappy. If an employee is just unhappy all the time chances are you’ve hired the wrong person for the role.

While the indicator may change one thing remains the same, the cost to you and your business. A third of employers estimate bad hires cost their companies more than $50,000. If you think that’s bad Zappos estimates bad hires have cost them $100million.

So, what can you do?

The best mode of protection is prevention. Hire your employees slowly test their ability and, get them in for half a day to see how they would perform within a company. When interviewing, candidates test them rigorously on the skills needed to do the job to ensure they will be able to perform. Make sure all potential employees meet the team, it’s easy to get overly invested and miss red flags, having other people meet a candidate will ensure there is no confirmation bias within your decision.

While this could seem overkill, it does a service to the candidates by ensuring they won’t get fired or make a poor career decision by taking on the wrong company. The worst thing an employer can do is bring on a candidate without doing the due diligence first.

But I’ve already hired the wrong employee.

Once you have identified that an employee isn’t performing ending the relationship quickly and amicably is a must. Most managers avoid having the uncomfortable break-up discussion in favour of building systems around a bad hire. This is a disservice to not only your company and team but the employee in questions as well.

Take the troubled employee out for a coffee, explain that it’s not working out and offer an exit strategy. Netflix famously provides a generous severance package to average hires so managers feel better about letting them go. Offering career advice or providing a good reference will go a long way in helping an employee secure a new position and you getting on with securing the right team.  

The best method of avoiding hiring wrong will always be taking your time slowly during the hiring process. You wouldn’t commit to a 2 to the 4-year relationship after the first two coffee dates so why do the same for a new employee. By trialing them out first you can gain a better gauge on how they might fit into your company.

If you do hire someone who doesn’t fit the onus will generally fall on the employer to let them go. At Hireroom we are big believers in never burning your bridges, which in the context of letting someone go means handling the process with care and compassion as it will almost always be a painful affair for both parties and affect the employee worse than you. Help them find where they do fit or give them the means to look for a new job.

Learn more about avoiding bad hires with our guide Hiring Done Right. Download now!

Topics: Hiring right