How to Correct a Bad Hire

By Maryalene LaPonsie | Posted November 02, 2012

It's day eight with your new hire, and you are quickly becoming aware of major problems. Perhaps he is turning in incomplete work. Maybe she is taking 90 minute lunches. Or it could be he/she has managed to offend everyone in the office with extreme views.

Before you beat yourself up too much, take comfort in knowing you are not alone in making a poor hiring decision. According to a survey conducted by employment site CareerBuilder.com, 41 percent of companies say they have had a bad hire in the past year that cost them at least $25,000.

Even though misery loves company, it doesn't change the fact that you need to do something to address your new problem employee. 

3 Steps to Fix a Bad Hire

1. Make Sure You Aren't at Fault

Start by taking a look in the mirror. Your employee's problems may simply be a reflection of your shortcomings.


Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did you provide adequate training?
  • Does he have the resources needed to get the job done right?
  • In an attempt to be welcoming, did you erroneously give her the impression your workplace tolerated casual behavior such as late lunches or personal activities on company time?
  • Could your employee be confusing senior staff perks, such as flexible scheduling, as a company-wide policy?

Be honest and objective in your assessment and then formulate the appropriate response. It could be that training or a face-to-face meeting to review company policies and procedures is in order. Address the issue quickly before bad behavior becomes ingrained.

2. Look for an Alternative Position

If a new employee has flaws that can't be corrected easily, don't automatically assume the individual is a lost cause. Consider your company's other staffing needs, and think about where else this new person might fit.

For example, an anti-social individual may excel if moved away from the front desk and given solitary assignments that are a match for his or her skill set. Likewise, a bubbly personality that lacks the precision needed for some tasks might shine as the receptionist.

3. Cut Your Losses Legally

Of course you run a business and not a charity, so if your problem employee doesn't respond promptly to direct coaching and can't be moved to a new area or new duties, it may be time to cut your losses.

No one wants to fire a worker -- particularly one in whom you have invested time and money -- but an unpleasant or unproductive worker can bring down morale. Act quickly and decisively, but make sure you have covered all your legal bases.

Not only should you document complaints about an individual's behavior or work performance, you should have a paper trail of the remedies you tried. Be aware that any appearance that you are firing someone for their political or religious views can land you in hot water. When in doubt, check with an employment attorney to avoid possible litigation later.

Bad hires happen, but you don't have to live with them forever. Move quickly to identify the problem, brainstorm solutions and, if needed, end the employment.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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