How to Know When You’ve Hired the Wrong Person

November 7, 2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Verne Harnish, a business growth expert, says that getting the right people in the right jobs is one of the four key components to a growing and thriving business. You funneled a lot of energy into hiring the right person but what if you’re getting a nagging thought that the person is not doing as well as you had hoped when you hired them?

Here are 4 ways to know if you hired the wrong person.

  1. If you even think you might have hired the wrong person, there’s a good chance you did. The fact that you’re having the thought at all isn’t a good sign.
  2. When you give them feedback about a performance issue, the performance doesn’t seem to get any better. If your feedback is met with a positive attitude and you see attempts to change, you may have a keeper. If he or she actually fixes the problem after your feedback, you’ve got a coachable person who listens and values your view; you probably have someone worth keeping. If he or she reacts with defensiveness or offers an excuse or two, and if you don’t see apparent change, I suggest you don’t keep them around much longer.
  3. They have a bad attitude.  Back when I was sitting in management training classes, they told us you can’t fire someone for “attitude.” As I tell my business coaching clients, “Oh yes you can!” A fresh perspective is valuable to you but if the person frequently has a negative comment, looks unhappy, speaks ill of others, or complains, the whole team will be brought down and that spells a drop in performance. You can’t afford even a few more weeks of it.
  4. You’re either getting complaints or you’re observing dissatisfaction of some kind from customers or employees. Some complaints may be expected if the new employee was hired to bring change about. Just be cognizant of the difference between complaints from people who can’t or won’t get on board with change and genuine dissatisfaction. This one’ll take a little investigation but find out the source of the problem by a little one-on-one time with the disgruntled customer or employee. If your new hire is at the center of a few unhappy stories, you may have someone you’d be better off without.  

This can lead to a lot of mismanaging, and can result in employees who think you passed them over for a management position in favor of someone who is downright incompetent. If you hire a new manager from outside the company and a month or two later their department starts bleeding employees, you might have to re-evaluate your hiring decision.

You invested a lot into hiring your new person and the last thing you want to do is to go through it all again but, don’t put your head in the sand—if your new hire’s not working out, the sooner you part company the sooner he or she can get on to the next thing and the less money it’ll cost you. I It’s better to dismiss a misguided hire now than to wait a few more months or years for them to do true damage to your business and your bottom line. I’m an advocate of “Hire slow and fire fast.”  As a business coach, I frequently must advise my clients to do so and I’ve never seen it not have good results.