Just pull the plug!
“Oh did [newbie employee name] get your order wrong? Oh they seemed irritated when you called to correct it…? They actually hung up the phone? Gosh, I’m sorry about that…they are new to the ABC Widget Company customer service way…I’m sure it was a misunderstanding.”
Is your new hire’s performance less than stellar or perhaps downright awful? Cut the cord! Pull the plug! Get rid of them before it becomes an even bigger mess.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying new hires should be let go quickly or for arbitrary reasons. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t tolerate obviously bad behavior in a new hire. I know, sometimes it’s easier and more convenient to ignore the red flags and hope they go away rather than have a tough conversation with your new employee.
Before the situation gets out of hand and you are calling HR to get an employee fired right now I have a couple tips, starting with the post-offer/pre-hire stage:
1. Start on the right foot: Before you even post the job think about the work this person will do and what a successful person in that role will be able to do in 3,6, 12 months. Walk back from there to pinpoint key experience/knowledge/education that is required. I know you need someone NOW, who can do EVERYTHING – customer service, office cleaning, accounting, reporting, etc; but really, take a minute to think about what you need. If you aren’t thinking about the type of work and the type of person who can be successful in the role, you are doing the hiring equivalent of throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks.
2. On-board: “On-boarding” is jargon-y way of saying “Welcome to the company, here is everything you need to feel at home” to your new employee. It’s really not as difficult as it sounds. Your company may even have its own on-boarding program! That doesn’t absolve you from on-boarding duty but at least you have some help. On a very basic level make sure your new employee has their computer (and it works) along with a password and login. Then make sure their cube/office is clean and equipped with the basics: box of Kleenex, pens, notepad. This is a good time to set expectations and communicate all the stuff that isn’t in the employee manual (what the real office hours are, office culture, key contact people, etc ; )
3. Give some leeway: Give leeway? What? Yes, you read that correctly. I’m not advocating you ignore clear red flags (such as hanging up on a customer) but I am suggesting you cut your newbie some slack when it comes to learning the ropes. Understand that some people have different learning and communication styles and there may be some hiccups along the way. Don’t fire someone for a random or arbitrary reason.
Okay, so you followed the above but you really think you have the customer service rep from hell? Provide on-going feedback and communicate to them your expectations, and ….document, document, and document. Did you need me to repeat that? Just look at the tattoo on my forehead… Documentation is very helpful when you talk to HR, if they aren’t already involved they will certainly want to see your backup.
What have you done when faced with the new hire from hell? How do you differentiate from people that can be trained or the hopeless cases? Maybe, you’ve never made a bad hire? Tell me all about it in the comments!