After you hire or promote a person, there is a tendency to walk away with a big smile on your face. “What a smart person I am. I hired the right person and now my job is done.” Six months later you realize that the person has drowned in their new post, everything is in disarray. But, now it is too late. The damage is done.
To correct this managers need to practice a little humility and be attentive, supportive and alert during the early stages of a new hire or promotion’s tenure. The humility arises from recognizing that more than at any other point in the life span of a manager-supervisee relationship, the early stages require the most intense application of an all important management rule: “If an employee is working below expected or required performance it is always the manager’s fault.” The first place to look is at the manager. After all, the manager hired or selected the person. The manager defines the work, provides tools, training, and all other resources required for the job. The manager is responsible for the success of every person they supervise. By focusing on the results achieved and understanding how to move the performance towards the desired results, you can focus on tools, training, support resources that will allow your new person to succeed.
Beyond this principle, we have to acknowledge that the hiring and promotion process is one of the more flawed management practices. Some claim that in a third or a half of the cases we make the wrong decision. This merely emphasizes the need to be very observant of the performance of new hires a and new promotions because we need to be ready to act when it turns out that we’ve made a mistake.
So, when you have your new person in place and have given them clear instructions about their initial tasks, set up a time, within a week or so, at which you will have a meeting to review performance and see what further support needs to be provided. This is especially valuable in environments where you have a new hire or promotion in a new position where the variables of the goals and tasks are inherently unclear. There’s nothing like having a quick meeting to take the pulse of the new tasks and make course corrections immediately. And, remind your new person that you are readily available to discuss their work at any time.
If you find yourself in one of those rare positions where your decision to hire or promote a person turned out to be fatally flawed, don’t let the situation just linger on. If you follow that strategy, you will end up with a lot of poor performance and unhappy people. It is almost always true that other people in the organization will readily recognize that your new hire is not performing well and is in fact in the early stages of drowning. When you let a person linger in this manner, you are demonstrating to others that you are not a very competent manager, nor a caring one. And, your new hire or promotion know themselves that they’re having deep trouble performing their job. You are doing no one a favor by allowing a failing person to linger on. If you’re in a larger organization, you should seek out alternative positions where this person could perform well for the company. If such a transfer is not possible, you have to face up to it and terminate the person’s employment. When you act promptly in such situations, everyone around you sees that you are a competent manager who is facing up to an error in judgment. And, in my experience the employee involved is grateful that you dealt with the situation in an objective, fair, and caring manner.