When that happens, do you hunker down and try to train them up or let them go? And if you do opt to put them on a training program, how long should you give them to prove they're a good fit?
There are a few factors to take into consideration before deciding to cut the new employee loose or invest in their training. But first, it's important to make sure you have the right hiring practices in place to help prevent this from happening in the first place.
Limit your exposure to potential wrong hires
There's no one-size-fits-all set of hiring practices or interview questions that will work across all businesses, but a good place to start is with your organization's values and culture. You can use these to help shape interview questions that will create proof points that this person either aligns or doesn't with your values and culture. Alignment on these is root one.
Next, collect feedback from the constituents who will have to work with that employee prior to the interview. This might include management, others on the team, and even clients.
Ask what they would expect of that person. What responsibilities would this person take on? With that list nailed down, it's so much easier to be sure you find the right person.
Of course, this is not a perfect science. Your ratio of right hires will improve, but when a wrong hire does occur, how do you pivot?
Set clear expectations
First, don't make assumptions about the new hire within the first week or even the first month. Keep in mind this person is stepping into a new environment and may need time to feel comfortable in their new setting and role, and time to build relationships.
Make your expectations very clear. Hopefully, you did this in the interview process, but be sure to reiterate them. Sometimes it's worth assessing your organization's onboarding and training processes to make sure that's not part of the issue.
It's easy to fall into the thinking that new hires should just get it or be able to pick up the ball and run with it. However, without transparent discussions and any direction, even the most talented people can find themselves floundering in their new role or failing to perform at the level your leadership is expecting of them.
Besides, when you outline clear expectations, have properly trained them, and give transparent and timely feedback, you know you've done everything you could to help course correct. And that helps lead you to a more definitive answer on whether to keep them or let them go.
Assess if it's values vs. competency
If you've determined it's not a values or culture issue --they're the right fit and have the right attitude, but rather its competency issue, you may have just hired the wrong level. When that's the case, you have to see if there's a way to quickly train and adjust.
With transparent feedback and the right goals, will this person be able to reach the level you need within the next three to six months? If not, then they may not be a fit. At that point, you have to make the decision to either let them go, or retitle or reposition them within the organization.
"We typically establish 90 to 120-day goals for new employees," said Ed Borromeo, COO of Tallwave. "If they're on plan and hitting milestones, that's a good sign and they're likely a keeper. If they're not, you should make the tough call and part ways with them or, if you're truly on the fence, then another 60 days under a renewed, clear-development plan will help make your decision more cut and dry."
When you find people who are not a good fit, and they're not hitting the early milestones you've set before them, move swiftly to get them out. This is especially important in growth companies, where for the most part people have to get up and running quickly and be able to contribute without much management. But whether in a small-growth company or more mature, large organization, it is generally far worse to keep someone in a role whom you know is not the right fit than it is to let them go as soon as practicable.
Remember it's not fair to them or to the team they're working with if you hold on to them too long in a role not suited for them. This is even more imperative if that person is in a leadership role of any kind.
When a mis-hire does occur, document what you've learned. Note the traits of that person, and what worked and what didn't so you can avoid any potential pitfalls in the future.