Apr 20, 2018 | 2
Minute Read

9 ways to stop a bad hire from infecting good talent


There are times when we hire someone who looked great on paper, sounded great in their interview but they turn out to be a bad hire. What's even worse is if they turn out to be a bee in our organizational bonnet.

Typically, this happens for one of three reasons: the person we hired either lacks the skill, the will or the fit to be in his or her role.

It's critical for managers to claim responsibility and prevent the bad hire from infecting the good talent already in the organization. One of my friends calls this the "ain't it awful" game, where the person becomes an organizational black hole and sucks productive employees down with him (or her). This little game costs an organization in multiple ways, including productivity and profitability. It simply can't be tolerated. 

Let's explore the 9 ways to stop a bad hire from infecting good talent that you've worked so hard to acquire and train. 

1. Accept responsibility

We are all human. And none of us have the ability to make right decisions all the time. But what we do possess is the ability to make a decision, then make it right. Accept responsibility for making a bad hire, then quickly move to step 2. 

2. Become a person of action

Recognize that you need to work quickly and very closely with the bad hire. While this may seem exhausting, you will learn more about the hire that may help you to root cause the challenge. The bad hire may have a personal situation that is preventing them from being productive. Most importantly, during this step, you will be able to assess skill, will and fit. 

3. If he or she lacks the skills needed, provide skills training

Many people hire for skills and fire for attitude. It may be best for organizations, instead, to hire for attitude and train for skills. If you have someone who lacks the proper skills, you may have the most fixable bad hire out there. Unless, of course, they lied about their skills during the interview. In which case, you may need to take immediate and swift action.

4. If he or she lacks will, make the job requirements clear

Spell out their deliverables both verbally and in writing. It's critical to get the bad hires' agreement on expectations so that they can reasonably be held accountable. After you provide the job requirements, coach and guide the individual consistently and frequently. Give them the best shot to becoming a productive member of the team. 

5. If he or she lacks fit, relaunch onboarding

Make it your personal responsibility to education him or her about the company's rules of engagement and behavioral expectations. You may even go ahead and assign a "knowledge partner," or internal mentor who can consult the employee as they adjust to the environment.

6. Look for opportunities to reassign

Though the individual may not be best for your team, perhaps there is another department or business unit that can benefit from their unique abilities. Remember to think through skill, will, and fit for the business units to ensure you are not passing a bad apple to another apple basket.

7. Help the individual find other jobs

If the individual is untrainable and you have to part ways, help him or her look for his or her next job. Offer to connect him or her with other employers that may be better suited to their skills and abilities. Giving the bad hire a few weeks notice of the intent to move them out of the organization, while unconventional, can build trust and a positive marketplace reputation. 

8. Learn from it

Reflect on your experience. Journal if you can. Identify what you did wrong, then make a commitment to yourself to do it differently the next time. 

9. Hire right the next time

Avoid making the same mistake. Ask those interview questions that you wished you'd asked the previous hire, and then some. Be transparent and open during the interview that the last person was a bad hire and why, giving your candidates the opportunity to showcase their skill, will and fit that will work best for the organization. 

Bad hires can infect all of the good, productive workers on your team. But if you take quick and fair action, your team will pledge their allegiance and double down in supporting the efforts of the business. 

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Candice Frazer

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