Early on in my HR career, I was taught a valuable lesson. The first 90 days of employment will determine if a new hire will make it in the company long term. According to MIT's Sloan School of Management, studies show the cost of hiring and training people to be anywhere from 1.25 to 1.4 times their annual salaries. Hiring well is very important to the financial stability of a business. As a result, in HR we were coached to look at any new employee for the warning signs of a subpar performer and then to do our best to correct the person fast. Otherwise, we were instructed to let him or her go within the 90 days. In fact, all our employment contracts had a 90-day clause stating that employment could be terminated without explanation within that time period. Why? Nothing drains time, money, and resources from a company more than hiring the wrong person. Here's why ...
Why do most people fail in a new job? It's not for lack of experience.
People often assume when a new hire doesn't work out that the person couldn't do the job, i.e., didn't have the right skill set. But, in my experience, it usually has to do with the person's personality and approach to the job. If you don't fit the culture of the company, it makes it harder for the employees who do fit to work with you. They don't appreciate having to work with someone they don't trust and respect. This leads to teamwork productivity issues that then lead to performance issues. Eventually, the manager has to decide which employee is hurting the connectivity of the team. The weakest link goes. Given that new people are often brought into an existing team who are working well together, you can see why it becomes important to decide quickly if this new employee is capable of meshing with the group. If not, there's no point in forcing everyone to work with her or him. It's smarter to cut the person loose and look for a better fit.
These five attitudes are the warning signs the new hire won't last.
The following behaviors displayed by a new hire are red flags.
1) "I can do it all." When new hires jump in and claim to be the Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades, they send the message they think they are better than the rest of the team. Yes, confidence is important, but a person who claims to be able to do it all comes across like a snake oil salesman. It's better for employees to know their particular expertise and stick to it. Remember, everyone on the team has a specialty. In the first 90 days, new hires should spend time figuring out what each person brings to the team so they can leverage their strengths and offer theirs up to help the team succeed.
2) "You need to work around my needs." New hires that vocalize constraints around what they can do and when they can do it are immediately labeled "high maintenance" by peers. When new hires give a list of requirements before they'll do the job, they create more work for others. New hires should be focused on learning ways their work can make teammates' jobs easier. The more value someone provides to the team, the sooner he or she is viewed as a vital contributor.
3) "I only talk to people who matter." New hires that only seem to get excited when talking to people they think have "influence" in the company aren't team players. They're opportunists. When new hires don't show any interest in getting to know the receptionist or someone in a different department, they don't see the value in respecting the contributions of every team member. New hires should be focused on making friends with everyone they meet in the company, because you just never know whom you'll need to tap in the organization for help.
4) "I'm always looking for the next big thing." New hires who are already talking about getting promoted and taking a bigger role showcase narcissistic tendencies. The all-about-me approach to their career implies they will do anything to achieve their goal and walk over anyone who gets in their way. New hires should be focused on getting proficient at their new job with the intent to exceed expectations. Doing a job consistently well is the best way to earn the trust and respect that can lead to a future promotion.
5) "I can do the job, but don't expect me to overextend myself." New hires who only put in the minimum effort show a lack of commitment to building a mutually beneficial partnership with the employer. All new relationships require some extra effort to help form a good partnership. When new hires don't seem to care about whether the employer is feeling satisfied with their early performance, you can only expect their commitment to the job to decrease. They also can't be relied on in times when extra help is suddenly needed to get the job done. New hires should be focused on not just meeting the expectations of the employer but also finding ways to exceed it. This doesn't mean spending extra time at the office, but rather finding ways to improve their productivity so they have extra time and energy to put toward going above and beyond what is expected.
If you recruit employees, be sure to monitor new hires carefully for the warning signs above, and cut your losses sooner rather than later. And, if you are a new employee, be proactive and get help managing your onboarding experience so you can make sure you do well in the first 90 days. Otherwise, you could be looking for another job sooner than you had planned.