Six Common Bad Hires and What to Do About Them
Bad hires are bad for business, and while some can be worked with to become the best fit they appeared to be during recruitment, others may turn out to be the wrong choices that we should be accountable for
Sometimes, we don’t even see it coming. After a few weeks to a month or two (or even three), a new hire is turning out to be more of the opposite of what they seemed to be during the hiring process. Granted, he or she may need time to continue to acclimate (two to three months is admittedly kind of long though), but certain behaviors they display can also be a sign that an outright mistake may have been made when they were hired.
Indeed, hiring employees is more than just taking into consideration their skills, experience, and qualifications–there is also the important matter of the personality/behavior that they bring into the workplace. While the financial impact can be anywhere from 30-40 percent of the hire’s first-year earnings, their morale and productivity often have an even larger effect compared to their cost.
Simply put, bad hires (no matter how ‘skilled’ they are) are bad for business. Which personalities should you be wary of? Here are six.
Confidence is always good, but being egotistical never is. While a big ego is a trait common in over-achieving people, an out-of-control ego is anything but work-conducive. Employees who are too full of themselves are often pushy and aggressive, ultimately becoming toxic to any team. Ego-driven employees are also likely to reject advice and coaching, and often place themselves above others and prioritize personal success over the team.
In the book Egonomics, authors David Marcum and Steven Smith refer to it as “the invisible line item on every company’s profit and loss statement.” Indeed, ego isn’t the easiest to quantify, much more immediately notice during the recruitment process. However, there are two quick tells which can imply if an applicant operates on ego:
Never truly listening - Being egocentric limits one’s ability to listen to other ideas, arguments, and concerns, which you can immediately get a measure of during the interview. If they seem like they are not truly listening (even during something as important as a job interview), then it is a sign that they may live in a bubble of their own making, as anyone ego-driven does.
Credit-grabbing - Ego-driven professionals, particularly leaders, often take credit for ideas and accomplishments and give little to no credit to others involved. When asking about their milestones in school or at their prior job, look to if they talk about it in the language of “I, me, my”, and if they at all give credit to the people they collaborated with.
Just in the name alone, these are the employees that can’t be found. In a way, you should consider yourself lucky when they start with their disappearing act as early as recruitment, as you can avoid hiring them altogether. However, some still eventually become part of your company where while they are fairly new, they often arrive late, leave early, or disappear during the day for personal reasons (both online and in the office), or immediately ask for vacation time.
While there may be valid reasons as to why they ‘ghost’, they’re hardly an employee if they are hardly around. It’s best to talk to them (if you can find them) to emphasize company culture and policy when it comes to being present in the office or being online to fulfill their roles. If the ghosting persists, then it may be best to cut your losses and let them go (they’re not around anyway, so what’s the difference besides no longer compensating them?)
The same can be said of how to minimize the hiring of ghost employees, as the best you can do is make sure to have a detailed conversation about paid time off, leaves of absence and punctuality to better identify any challenges that may arise to their fulfilling their contracted hours.
Negatrons. Dark Clouds. Black Holes. Whichever the designation is, there is always at least one employee who exudes negative energy, while also being a ‘black hole’ that seemingly sucks the positive energy from everyone else. A new hire is a great opportunity to get a new perspective on how things are run, but there’s still a difference between constructive criticism and just being outright negative.
If an employee incessantly complains of even easy to deal with things like office coffee or air-conditioning, then it might be time for a one-on-one talk to discuss if there are bigger core issues. Getting upset at minuscule things could imply unhappiness, and there is also the real risk of their discontent will spread to the team.
While endlessly complaining or expressing that things were better at the “old office" are concerning, it is also important to keep in mind to make sure that employees are afforded the things they need (i.e. safe and clean working space, training, direction, etc.) to be successful in their role before being labeled a malcontent or an incessant complainer.
The Rocking Chair
These are the hires who can also lack passion and can be likened to rocking chairs, who are technically moving but aren’t really going anywhere. While they may be able to do their jobs, Rocking Chairs typically do just that– no more, no less. Unfortunately, this means they’ll often need a lot of guidance and direction, as it is highly unlikely that they do anything by their own initiative or contribute many new ideas.
Fortunately, these type of hires aren’t as problematic as others, and typically only requires additional employee engagement. They do, after all, are able to duly fulfill their roles, and only need a little nudge in the direction of self-improvement and being given the understanding that where the company goes is also where they can go. To help disengaged employees become, well, engaged, you can start with the following:
Recognition - When work becomes rudimentary, some employees may feel that what they do does not make an impact. By recognizing their contributions regularly, they will feel that they are not mere cogs in a machine, and what they do is important to the company’s success
Invest in Them - In order for employees to invest in the company’s growth, the company must also invest in theirs. Survey your employees about what they want to learn more, be it in line with their roles or of others’ in the company, which will give you an idea of what training to send them or provide directly as a company.
Similar to cliche horror films where there is that one character only concerned with his or her own survival, is the self-preservist in the office who works in the same way. What happens to their colleagues or even the company is of little concern to them, as what’s only important to them is being able to meet their Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and/or maintaining a salary… by any means necessary.
They are often not averse to stepping on colleagues’ toes to achieve their goals, and it’s also not beneath them to sometimes credit-grab, be overtly friendly with executives, and indulge in other office politics to ensure their survival. This mindset also has them expecting to be promoted quickly, even if they haven’t quite paid their dues or took the most honest route to get there.
Unfortunately, Self-Preservists are rather difficult to spot during the recruitment process, as they will tell you what you want to hear to, well, get the job and ‘survive’ the interview. When they are already part of your team, however, it may be good to reiterate a company culture of respect, professionalism, and earning their keep, and help them channel their ‘sole-survivor’ energies to learning and growing in their roles.
The Helpless Victim
Almost all new hires need some turnaround time to get used to the demands of their role, however, if after a few months they still can’t grasp the tasks that were discussed to them before being hired, tend to repeat mistakes, and essentially need to be micromanaged as they work, then they may prove to be more of a liability than an asset.
Making their helplessness worse is when they behave like a victim, blaming their miscues on either other people or their work, or even personal, circumstances. This often leads to situations where it can be challenging to provide feedback and assist the often helpless employee in correcting their behavior.
Like with the Self-Preservist, it is important to identify if all things which the Helpless Victim needs to succeed has indeed been provided. If it has (and more), and their behavior has been addressed constantly by both their superiors and their colleagues, then they may need to be chalked up to simply not being a good fit for their role in the company.
Need help with recruitment? Sign up for Kalibrr and start hiring better today!
Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with over 2.5 million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.
The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California, and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 18,000 clients and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.