How Do I Make Up For A Bad Hire?


You know those romantic comedies where people realize on their wedding day but they’re marrying the wrong person? There’s a less-funny version that happens in the workplace. That same sinking feeling comes into play when you realize you offered a job to the wrong candidate.  

When you come to the conclusion that you’ve made a hiring mistake, it’s crucial to correct the problem quickly. But what should you do? How do you make up for a bad hire? 

It’s important to assess the situation quickly and take the appropriate action. Don’t overreact or take impetus action. At the same time, don’t lock into the hire in order to avoid admitting that you made an error. Review the circumstances objectively and make the decision that will maximize your team going forward. 

Here are a few steps to keep in mind: 

Identify the Problem Early 

Track the progress of your new hires starting from the first day. Going into their tenure, you should have a timeline in mind, outlining what kind of performance you expect at different benchmarks.  

Once a worker proves they are able to meet expectations, you can loosen the reins a bit. But early on keep a close eye on them. That way you can identify problems before they become ingrained, and you can intervene immediately to get things back on track. 

Confirm Whether It’s a Lost Cause 

Don’t let performance issues fester. Instead, take a direct approach. Discuss performance issues with a problem employee as soon as they become evident. 

Just because you have an uh-oh moment, that doesn’t mean an employee necessarily has to go. You can still salvage many potentially bad hires. With early intervention and an effective response, an initially substandard employee can improve. They might not be a future superstar in the making, but you can often train them to be a contributing member of the team. 

Map Out the Extent of the Problem  

Issues with new employees can take many forms. Think of it like this: a bad hire exists on a spectrum. The situation can manifest as anything between “we should’ve hired that other person to “we need to escort this person out of the office today.  

Determine where you are on that continuum. It will determine your timeline and the order of operations for your next move. 

Try Working with the Employee  

Initiate a performance adjustment plan as soon as you spot a problem. Communicate the details with the employee and offer them guidance and retraining. Clarify the stakes and let them know the consequences of not living up to expectations. 

Approach the employee in private and discuss their performance issues in a calm, rational way. Obviously, negative feedback is often difficult to hear, so you’ll likely learn a lot about your new team member from their response. If they are open to change and willing to learn, that’s a sign they might be able to achieve significant improvement. If they are resistant or defensive, you might have a larger problem on your hands. 

Proceed Rationally 

As you react to the situation, don’t make rash decisions. Unless it becomes necessary due to extreme circumstancessuch as sexual harassment, don’t take steps until you have a plan in place.  

As bad as your new hire may bethey still likely contribute something on a routine basis. Unless they represent an eight-hour-a-day black hole, you’ll need to figure out how to handle their current workload. You also need conception of how you will eventually replace them. 

Tap Into Your Talent Pipeline 

If you discover a hiring mistake early enough, you can often correct the problem without launching a new recruitment effort. Resumes and interviews you recently used to make your (admittedly bad) decision are probably still fresh. You can turn to one of the other candidates in the job search.  

Restart the Recruiting Process 

in the worstcase scenario, you’ll have to restart the recruitment process from scratch. Yes, this is an extreme option, resulting in significant expense and inconvenience. However, over the long haul, you’re better off with the right personnel in place. 

A bad hire wastes resources and can undermine team morale. Avoiding the situation in the first place is the best solution. You can do this by partnering with a top staffing agency, like DHR.  

Contact DHR today to find the right candidate every time. 

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