Blog Post

    Buyer's remorse? 7 most common bad hires - and what to do with them.

    Uh oh. Your newest hire is only a few weeks into their role and things don’t look good. Did you miss the warning signs at interview? Did you make a bad hire?

    Stop. Before you tumble headfirst into buyer’s remorse.

    Some 95% of businesses have made a bad hire, Brandon Hall group say. But how many of those could’ve turned into a great hire, if they’d been treated differently? 

    There are loads of reasons new hires might struggle. If you write them off as a bad hire, you risk making an expensive mistake. When you could’ve easily turned things around.

    Below are the seven new hires who need your help. Not your condemnation or remorse. 

    Underperforming Uma


    The most obvious sign your newest hire is struggling is underperformance. And underperformance is a dangerous problem to have. It’s a snake on the snakes and ladders board.

    Because Uma was thrilled to start her new job. But now she’s missed her first performance objectives, and she’s starting to worry. Her self-confidence has taken a beating. Her initial optimism becomes disillusionment and she’s less likely to perform in the future. And so on, ad infinitum.

    But don’t man the panic stations yet.

    Turn things around…


    Unless you completely dropped the ball during recruitment, and conducted zero due diligence, you know Uma can perform.

    But she’s not. Which means the problem is likely either your expectations or your training.

    Revisit Uma’s goals – with Uma – and assess whether they’re pitched right. Were you asking too much?

    Read more: Three Step-by-Step Recipes For Creating Great Employee Objectives

    Then work with Uma to explore how else you can support her performance.

    Maybe she needs more training, or a different format of training. Or maybe she needs more frequent manager check-ins during her first few months.  

    New hires’ early underperformance is rarely their fault. Don’t let your onboarding program let your Umas down.

    Silent Sayan


    Everyone’s different, of course. And some employees need more encouragement than others to come out of their shell.

    But Sayan is still the team wallflower, weeks into the job. Which means he’ll struggle to have an impact. You don’t need every employee to be an extrovert – but you do need every employee to contribute.

    Turn things around…


    This is generally a confidence thing. Maybe Sayan doesn’t feel he has anything worth saying. Or perhaps he’s intimidated because he’s not sure who everyone is, or can’t remember names.  

    Fix this by making introductions during pre-boarding, so Sayan enters your workforce knowing who’s who. And provide employee profiles he can come back to, if he needs a refresher. 

    And crucially, make sure the introductions work both ways. Team members should know who Sayan is, and where his skills lie. So they can encourage Sayan by actively asking for his input where relevant.

    The social aspects of onboarding matter here too. If Sayan feels like an outsider, he’ll be less likely to contribute.

    Read more: 6 Easy Ways To Make Your Workplace More Welcoming

    A new hire who struggles to contribute can also hold a mirror up to a cultural issue in your business. Are you truly welcoming and inclusive to new hires?

    Or could you do more to ensure your Sayans know their voices will be heard?

    Isolated Issy


    Most of the office take raucous lunches together. But Issy is nowhere to be seen. And then its tea break time, a few team members gather in the kitchen. But again, Issy is never part of the crowd.

    Not for lunch, not for casual breaks, not for Friday night drinks. Issy’s a great worker – but she’s not integrating into the business socially.

    And Issy’s lack of social integration is very likely to undermine her performance in the future.

    By a lot, actually. Because 70% of employees rank having friends at work the most important element of a happy work life – and happy employees are 20% more productive at work. And 50% more satisfied.

    Turn things around…


    Look at the social side of your onboarding program. It might not naturally feel like an HR thing, but helping new hires integrate socially is absolutely vital.

    Read more: The 6 C’s of exceptional employee onboarding

    Like with Sayan, pre-boarding is important. Starting a new job is always scary but pre-boarding means Issy’s better prepared, which helps dissipate her nerves. So she’s more likely to forge early connections.

    Don’t leave socializing to chance. Proactively organize social activities, like team drinks, communal lunches and collaborative projects.

    The same applies to facilitating cross-company networking. A buddy or mentor program is excellent here. Or could you organize cross-team catch-up meetings? Could you establish knowledge sharing sessions?  

    There’s also a cultural side. If Issy isn’t sure of herself, she won’t feel comfortable coming out of her shell to form friendships.

    Read more: What to do when you’re not fitting in at work

    And that’s about her understanding of your culture. What’s OK? What’s not? What are the unspoken rules? Cultureboard Issy, so she knows the answers to those questions.

    The point is, take an active approach. Don’t assume your Issys will organically integrate, because they might not. And you’ll pay the price.

    Desk-bound Dante


    Whenever you arrive at the office, Dante’s there. Whenever you leave, she’s there. Whenever you come back from lunch, she’s there.

    Great, right? Her productivity is through the roof – and what a great impression for the rest of the team.

    Except it’s not.

    Because it sounds like Dante has no work-life balance, and that’s a minefield for potential future problems.

    Problems like… stress, anxiety and eventual absence. And declining morale, plummeting engagement and ultimately? An employee turnover problem.

    Turn things around…


    Maybe Dante is working such long hours because she thinks that’s what’s expected (even when it’s not).

    That’s a cultural issue – and valuable feedback. Probe deeper: what have you done, to give that impression? What changes can you make?

    Or maybe she has too much on her plate, and you need to scale back her workload or help her prioritize. Or maybe something’s going on at home, so she prefers to be in the office (and would love your understanding and empathy).

    A new hire consistently working too-long hours can easily fly under the radar, because it looks like positive behavior. But ultimately, it’s unsustainable.

    If you want your Dantes to become long-term employees, it’s an issue you need to address.

    Misbehaving Miguel


    On the flipside, Miguel is never here when you arrive. And his chair’s spinning by 5:31.

    He takes too-long lunches, spends hours in the kitchen and every time you walk by his desk, he’s chatting on his mobile. Or browsing social media. Or internet shopping. Or whatever.

    The point is, he’s not working. (And he keeps wearing football shirts to work – not cool).

    Turn things around…


    Don’t leap to conclusions. If new hires break your code of conduct, they might not understand what your code of conduct is – and that’s on you.

    Give Miguel a chance to turn his behavior around, by sensitively explaining what he’s doing that doesn’t fit with your culture. Miguel’s previous job might have said football shirts and Facebook were A-OK. He just needs educating about your unique workplace.

    One conversation might be enough – or he might need a little more help. In that case, set regular performance check-ins to help Miguel stay on the straight and narrow.

    And if his behavior still doesn’t change? Misbehaving Miguel is really a disengaged Dennis.

    Disengaged Dennis


    Whenever you talk to Dennis, you get grunts. He never speaks unless he’s spoken to, and he’s rarely joins in with the office banter. It just doesn’t feel like his head’s in the game.

    And you feel he’s holding something back. He’s not being his authentic self.

    Plus he’s only been here two months and he’s already spent nine days off sick.  Maybe that’s genuine, but maybe it’s not.

    Turn things around…


    Maybe Dennis is unaware of the impression he’s making. Or his behavior could be his way of coping with poor confidence. (In which case, scroll back up and read our advice about social onboarding).

    Or maybe he’s genuinely struggling with something personally - so he needs your support, not your condemnation.

    If it’s none of those things, perhaps Dennis is genuinely disengaged. Which isn’t entirely his fault – it highlights a breakdown of your onboarding process.  

    First, assess his workload. Is Dennis bored because you’re not challenging him enough? Put his potential to better use by setting stretch goals that push him outside his comfort zone.

    Or is he demotivated because his goals are too unrealistic? If he doesn’t feel he can make meaningful progress, he could switch off altogether.

    Then assess the social side. Is Dennis disengaged because he doesn’t like being at work? Work harder to help him form social connections, in that case. Before his attitude drives colleagues away and makes forming friendships even harder.

    Finally, make sure Dennis connects with your company purpose with these six tactics.

    Employees who feel their work is meaningful are more likely to be satisfied with their job. And they’re nearly 70% less likely to leave, which saves you a fortune in recruitment costs.

    Short-tempered Sally


    You thought Sally was pretty laid back when you hired her, but that’s a distant memory. Of course, even the most laid back employee can have snappy moments. But when those moments become the norm, you should worry. 

    One short-tempered Sally can drain morale and drain the whole team’s productivity – so it needs nipping in the bud.

    Turn things around…


    Short-temperedness is often a sign Sally’s feeling the pressure, personally or professionally. She might be at danger of burn out. 

    Sit down with Sally and talk honestly about what’s going on. If the problem’s personal, there might not be much you can do. But showing your support is important, so Sally knows you’re on her side.

    (And if her short-temperedness continues, you’ve already laid the groundwork for a sensitive conversation about her behavior.)

    If the problem is professional, it could be a workload issue.

    Does Sally know what you expect? Does she know how to meet those expectations? Or does she struggle to prioritize? Or have you simply put too much on her plate?

    Read more: How onboarding helps prevent employee wellbeing disasters

    You might need to revisit goals, to check they’re are relevant, realistic and achievable. Or schedule more training. Or maybe even delegate some of Sally’s workload for a while.

    But short-temperedness definitely isn’t a sign you’ve made a bad hire. It’s a sign you need to work a little harder to help your Sallys adapt.

    Of course you worry about making a bad hire. Hiring badly costs businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it’s supposedly a prolific problem.

    But there’s a hair’s breadth between a bad hire and a good hire that appears bad. And the latter, you can fix with better onboarding. 

    Isn’t that worth a shot?  

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