How to Fix a Hiring Mistake

We’ve all suffered through them–those hiring mistakes that hang over our heads like heavy clouds. It’s painful to watch as an unhappy employee underperforms just well enough to make us hope he will improve, but too poorly to inspire confidence that he will eventually master the job. But letting someone go is such an unwelcome task.

Yet the longer we hold on to an underperforming employee, the more it damages our company morale, and the worse we feel when we know, deep down, that we should never have hired them in the first place. While it may be useful to figure out where we went wrong, it’s a better use of our energy at this point to decide where to go from here.

You may identify with the story of Joel, an employer who made a hiring mistake he immediately regretted. He wrote to Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, for advice. She wrote a well-thought-through response that encompasses dealing with HR, helping the employee to keep his dignity while redirecting him, and preserving your company morale in the process.

Here’s a small excerpt from Ryan’s spunky advice:

Talk to the HR manager at headquarters before you proceed, to keep him or her abreast of your plans. (Don’t let your HR person, if he or she comes from the Godzilla Old School branch of HR, suck you into some horrible Progressive Discipline vortex. That crusty Progressive Discipline garbage is insulting to adults. We don’t put forty-seven-year-olds on probation, for God’s sake. We say to them, “This doesn’t feel like it’s working, to me. What do you think?”)

Granted, HR’s “crusty progressive discipline” is designed to keep you out of legal trouble, so don’t throw out the idea of giving appropriate warnings. But having a real conversation that leads to redirection may feel a lot more constructive than just flat out firing someone. I’ve personally watched it happen here at Amtec. Our CEO isn’t shy about asking an employee, “How can I help you find a better fit?” That kind of conversation actually improves company morale.

If you’ve ever hired the wrong person and you could use a fresh perspective, read the full article here. You may be surprised that letting an employee go–and redirecting them–can be a win-win solution!

If a new employee is struggling, perhaps you need to orient him or her to your company culture. Learn more…

By Marcianne Kuethen

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