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Disciplining an incompetent admin

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources,Your Office Coach

Question:  “I recently hired an administrative assistant who makes a lot of mistakes. Two months ago, I told her that this was unacceptable and that she must be more vigilant about proofing her work.  Everything was fine for a few weeks, but then the errors started again. Yesterday, she mailed an important letter to the wrong address. I sign these letters, but I shouldn’t have to proofread them.  Now I feel that I have to review everything she does. I don’t trust her work, but I can’t afford to lose her. Any suggestions?” — Unhappy Boss

Marie’s Answer: You can’t afford to lose her?  I’d say you can’t afford to keep her. Here are some points to consider:

•    By performing acceptably after your initial warning, your assistant demonstrated her ability to do the job. The problem is that she’s obviously not self-motivated.  

•    Given her level of incompetence, you need to resolve this issue quickly. Consult your boss or human resources manager about the best way to replace her.  

•    To avoid repeating this scenario, you need to recognize that you actually created this problem by making a hiring error. Since you chose someone who was a poor fit for the job, there was apparently something wrong with your selection process.

•    When filling future vacancies, list all the abilities required by the job. Look for applicants with relevant experience and a strong work history. Conduct in-depth interviews, test skills with specific work samples and check out references.  

If you neglect these steps and “go with your gut,” you may soon find yourself filling the same position again.

To improve your employee selection process, see How to Hire Better People.

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