Regardless of how many interviews you conduct, what a new employee’s references are, how perfectly matched you think the candidate is for the position you’re trying to fill, sometimes things don’t work out and you come to the conclusion that you’ve made a costly error. You’ve made a bad hire.
Companies know how much this type of error costs. That’s why the hiring process is so involved. And while there might not be a completely equitable solution for both parties, I have a few suggestions of how to proceed before throwing in the towel.
Get the problem out into the light of day. Before the situation devolves into acrimony, I would recommend pulling the new hire into a meeting with senior management and laying out exactly what you’re not getting in the way of performance or the proper fit into your company culture. “We don’t seem to be on the right track and I want to get your input as to how we might assist you in fulfilling our expectations of you.” Let the new hire talk and tell you how they feel about their job performance – maybe they are also realizing the fit isn’t right. Perhaps you set some new benchmarks and guidelines and a timetable for the new hire to rise to the occasion.
If expectations are still not met. If you’ve been honest with your new hire and articulated exactly what benchmarks they have to meet, then you can move to termination of their employment without undue confrontation. But you still need to be direct and in charge of the process, not wishy-washy and making excuses. “As we discussed last month, you agreed to certain benchmarks to impress upon us that you are indeed the right person for the job. Unfortunately, those tasks and goals we discussed still haven’t materialized and we’re going to have to terminate your employment. Here’s how we plan to manage that process.”
Demonstrate your good faith. While you are having to go through the unpleasant process of correcting a costly mistake, you must always keep in mind that you are dealing with another person’s life. And people are watching – especially your employees! So don’t be a cruel SOB, be a responsible employer of people. I recommend offering not only severance, but also offering a limited amount of outplacement assistance. I know this adds more expenses to your bottom line, but after all, you’re the one who made the bad hire!
Look, the end result is that if you spot a bad hire – regardless of how that came about – you need to act on it immediately. Consider this – you probably weren’t the only company the person interviewed with and they might just have a couple of opportunities available they can re-engage with. If I thought the person was a good hire – but at the end of the day not a great hire for me – I wouldn’t hesitate to offer a letter of support and explaining how we mutually came to the conclusion that we weren’t a great fit together.