Dealing with a difficult new hire

Dealing with a difficult hire

So you’ve placed a new hire who seemed the perfect match but news on the grapevine is that it isn’t such a happy union after all. How can a recruiter fix early signs of trouble? Sonia Hendy-Isaac, senior lecturer in curriculum design for employer engagement at Birmingham City University, offers her tips.


When should you get involved?

“Recruitment is such a major investmentthat often it’s the recruiter who gets called in first when things don’t get off to a flying start. Although most recruiters only know there’s a problem if the employer or the new employee lets them know – and that can immediately put you on the back foot.

“One way to avoid this blind side call is to check in with new employees and their employers on a regular basis during the first six months.”


Why be proactive?

“There are several benefits to picking up the phone, and if all is going well then the only outcome is that you’ve delivered excellent customer service to your key stakeholders.

“Conversely, if it’s not going well, you’ve opened the lines of communication to discuss how the situation is failing to meet expectations of both or either party.

“By taking time out of your day to check that they’re ok, your client feels valued.”


When does a good candidate turn bad?

“In previous roles, as a manager and employer, I have had situations where a new employee isn’t quite fitting in or not doing the role to the standard I’d expected.  Symptoms may start presenting themselves early on, so they turn up late, don’t speak to people or make little effort to fit into the work culture.

“In my experience, this is usually because there has been a miscommunication of expectations on one side or the other, more often than not, by both parties.”


What is the best approach to take?

“It’s better to have the necessary conversations face to face or at least by phone. Email has a tendency to create a barrier and it can be harder to identify the real issues.

“The best approach to take is a direct one; skirting around the issue tends to exasperate people and create greater dissatisfaction for both parties.”


How should the conversation go?

“First, ask whether the employer/employee is happy with the situation; it sounds simple, but an open (but loaded) question can usually get to the root of things quite quickly. Then establish what they expected and identify where their expectations are falling short.

“In my experience it’s then a case of mapping the shortfalls and asking whether or not these deficits can be bridged through mediation and clearer communication.”


Why bring the parties together?

“It’s good to bring the two parties together, assuming they’re happy to do so; they’ve both had the opportunity to open up to you, so any emotional responses tend to have been dealt with in the initial conversations. If both parties feel listened to, when you bring them together there is an expectation of resolution.

“Get emotions out of the way, then facilitate an objective dialogue.”


What’s next?

“Once you’ve brought the parties together, act as a facilitator noticing their respective communication styles. Attempt to bring conversations back to the last point that they agreed on if things get a little argumentative, and try to encourage an action plan.

“Schedule check-ins with both parties in the diary over a fixed period.”


Will recruiter mediation actually work?

“More often than not, the mediation approach will bear results, but don’t blame yourself too much if it doesn’t. Sometimes either the employer or employees are not entirely sure of what they needed and/or expected from the hire. In this case, the final result isn’t always in your hands.

“Don’t assume that you can fix it every time.”


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