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The Savvy Office Manager

That new hire just isn’t working out

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His interview was stellar. He checked all the boxes: Skills, experience, education, good answers, an air of integrity,and a buoyant personality that could soften up your coarsest accountants. He’ll fit right in.

Then, two months into his once-promising career, Bam! His co-workers are grumbling to you about his ineptness, his work is shoddy and often turned in late. And his attitude is about as appealing as the forgotten lunches in the break room fridge.

What happened?

There are only two things, and you only have control over one of them.

What you can’t control

Three-stage interviews, aptitude and attitude tests and reference checks go a long way to help you make a good hire. But a wily actor can—and will—slip through. He is the job candidate who wants a job, not necessar­ily the job you posted. He fooled you, and he’ll last as long as he wants to last. Often he made up his mind within the first week that he doesn’t want to work for you. Chances are, he’s already sniffing around for another job. Cut him loose.

What you can control

Odds are he faltered because he didn’t adjust to his workflow or the in-house culture. Yes, blame the onboarding. Many companies have an onboard­ing program, but it can be rickety or not followed properly. Here’s where a good manager steps in.

First, you need to help him fit in, rather than let the weeks go by until you start getting the sense he’s a mis­match. Don’t let him fend for himself. Help him acclimate. Meet with him frequently to ask him how things are going, to answer any questions. It’s important that he feels your support early in the game.

Second, help him build bonds with key players. Choose two or three of his co-workers to take him out to lunch some day during his first week. Such an informal outing with some staffers can warm him up to the culture rather quickly. Another idea would be to assign an “ambas­sador” to drop by now and then to see how things are going. The ambassador should be a friendly, easygoing co-worker who is well-liked among the team.

Third, don’t dump on him. Demanding that he hit the ground running just might sour him right from the start­ing blocks. Don’t just immediately assign several projects, each with different tasks and deadlines and contacts. What’s better is a list of realistic objectives to meet in say, the first 60 or 90 days. Be sure that you discussed this process dur­ing the interview. No employee wants to be told one thing, and then experience something entirely different.

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