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Hiring can be a daunting task. Finding the perfect candidate for a team within your business means considering skills, experience, potential and personality—how well will they fit into your team? Your corporate culture?

There’s so much to consider during the recruiting and hiring process, and try as you might, it doesn’t always go as smoothly as you’d like. And sometimes, the choice you make may not work out.

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When a new hire doesn’t live up to your expectations it’s important to gauge the situation as objectively as possible. Yes, sometimes a new hire might not be right for the position. But, in many cases, there are reasons for a new hire’s underperforming that, when considered, can be traced right back to your business.

A Poor Onboarding Experience

Onboarding is one of the most important processes a business can invest in. Having an efficient and organized onboarding workflow is the best way to integrate a new hire.

Onboarding introduces a recruit to their team, management, HR, I.T, and the company’s overall culture. It can help outline expectations, provide answers to common questions, and offer necessary context a new employee may need regarding their role.

If your onboarding isn’t efficient, or even worse, non-existent, you’re leaving new employees vulnerable and setting them up for potential failure.

The fact is, your onboarding process, whether good or bad, influences how a new hire views your business, and this impacts their motivation and production.  

Lack of Defined Expectations   

Sure, you’ve hired for a specific role, and when you conducted interviews you discussed, broadly, what the role will entail. But, once you’ve made your hiring decision and brought in a new employee, it’s still important to set out clear and specific expectations of what your new employee is there to do.

This can happen during the onboarding process, or on its own. Each department and team may have different ways of outlining roles and tasks, which is fine. What’s important is that your new hire understands their role, where they fit in their team, and what tasks and projects they are responsible for.

If you haven’t taken the time to walk a new employee through their role, is it fair to feel frustrated when they don’t know what to do? It’s an unfair assumption that many managers make, assuming because a new hire did a similar role at another company, they should be able to jump into the new role without any guidance.

No On-Site Training

As we’ve already said, managers tend to assume because an employee has held a similar role somewhere else, they’ll naturally know how to perform the role at a new company. And while, there’s some truth to this, in the sense that they’ll understand the overarching ideas of their role, managers need to recognize that no two businesses are the same, and how tasks and projects are handled in one business may vary greatly at the next.

If your new hire is underperforming it could be due to a lack of training—how well have you prepared them to take on—what is a new role to them—at a new company?

There are many ways companies can engage and train new hires, including professional development courses (which should also be open to long-term employees), using technology such as an HRIS, which can house information on department breakdowns, roles and responsibilities, and mentorship programs.

Mentorship programs enable new employees to work closely with long-term, high-achieving employees who can offer ongoing guidance and support, providing a safe space to ask questions, raise concerns and grow professionally.

Absence of Relationship Building

Finally, if your new hire is not performing to your expectations, have you considered your role in their workplace standing? Relationship building between managers and their subordinates builds trust, helps to outline those expectations we discussed above, and builds a bridge for strong communication.

One-on-ones, and continual check-ins can help a struggling new hire find their footing. Through communicating expectations, and discussing issues a new employee may be facing, you can discover problems that may exist in your onboarding, recruiting and even management process.

Open communication can help you better understand your new employee's needs and learning style, enabling you to make adjustments that can improve their potential for success.

Sometimes the Fit is Not Right

New hires will inevitably meet some challenges when taking on a new role in your company. Management must always consider the learning curve required in any newly filled position; this is why it’s standard to offer a three-month probationary period.

During that three months, a new hire’s manager must consider their role in the employee’s success. If you’re identifying issues with your new employee, consider how they can be resolved. You owe it to your hiring process and your new employee.

With all that said, sometimes you discover that a new employee just isn’t the right fit. Whether you determine they don’t have the skills you need for the role, or an incompatible personality—what’s important is that, should the new employee not work out, you handle their termination respectfully, and offer positive and constructive feedback they can use going forward.

The Definitive 2020 Onboarding Checklist

Margaret Reid

As the senior vice-president of Apri Insurance Services Inc., Margaret is a benefits consultant and manager of technical support. She has almost 40 years of experience in employee benefits as well as processing health and dental claims, benefits administration, and client service and groups sales. Margaret worked at Crown Life, a major insurance carrier, for 20 years, then worked at CG&B as the manager of their group department. She moved to B.Comm Financial Insurance Solutions in 2007, which merged with several other benefit consulting companies in 2011 to create Apri Insurance Services Inc. Margaret has unintentionally followed in her father’s footsteps. He was a group sales rep with Crown Life when she was a child and helped her get her first job in group insurance, which led to her current career path.

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