We don’t always get it right, the hiring process that is. Sometimes the potential we see in a candidate when interviewing them doesn’t later translate into a highly productive employee. Instead we discover they are one of our worst performing employees. So what to do…fire and rehire? Or turn them into a star performer?

Recruiting managers are reluctant to fire a person, particularly a recent recruit. Maybe it’s their ego stepping in, or maybe they think they just need more time to prove they made the right decision. Regardless, recruitment is a costly process so it is important to ensure you have addressed the issue thoroughly before deciding to pull the pin on a candidate.

To determine if a poor performing newbie can be converted into an asset, one must first determine why they are not hitting their strides. This may begin with a conversation with the employee, an honest conversation. You will want to know if your employee has misrepresented their abilities and qualifications, if the company’s induction and training process was not implemented well, or if your new recruit has a bad attitude. Once you know the root cause of the problem at hand, you can affect a solution.

If the issue lies in a distortion of competency, necessary training can begin to bring the new recruit up to speed. Perhaps they were a whiz accountant at their previous firm, but as your software is different, it has hindered their ability to perform well. Your own internal training processes have failed. Not the employee. In this scenario, with the recruits knowledge and experience still posing an asset to your company, an adjustment to your own induction system is required to integrate the new recruit effectively. Systematic errors can be resolved with some fine tuning. A poor attitude on the other hand is a more complex situation to rectify.

A poor attitude must be monitored. The effects of such an outlook can have a long term, harmful effect on a team’s productivity and morale. If a poor performing hire does not respond positively to feedback, you may be faced with making the difficult decision to cull them from your ranks after all.

Sometimes what we find is that we as recruiters have overestimated a candidates abilities. They still have plenty to offer the company, however we have placed them a role they are not yet ready to take on, or are not suited to. In this instance, and if you have the capacity to do so, you can move your new recruit into more appropriate position. Maybe they are great as a 2IC, getting through the nitty gritty work, but not so great at leading and inspiring a team to success. If you do believe you have recruited them into the ideal role for them, they may require a mentor to monitor and guide them until they are sufficiently capable to manage on their own. On the other hand a lack of responsibility may be the cause. Bored and undervalued they simply need to be further challenged.

Now some of you may take the stance that it is not the manager’s responsibility to fix an employee. In resolving the matter of a bad recruit, you should ask yourself how much time, energy and effort you want to invest. Too much time and no results could have a manager ignoring other important areas of the business such as developing the high performing and promising employees.

To transform a weak member of the team into a quality employee will take dedicated commitment from both parties. If you approach the situation directly and with an open mind, you may surprise yourself in discovering that the real issue or issues lie outside the control of the candidate, but within the control of the organisation. Regardless of the underlying problem, clear expectations and timelines to turn the matter around must be set and progress measured. The issue was identified because milestones were not being met and must still apply to determine if efforts to improve the situation are effective.

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