Have you ever done an article on how management people hire someone who turns out to be a problem employee, but they won’t eliminate the person during the probationary period, even when the problems are obvious?
I have seen this happen myself and know of a situation now, where a person, who is totally incompetent and also universally disliked because of personality disorders, remains on the payroll. As a result, highly effective underlings are becoming disgruntled and looking for new jobs.
I don’t get it. Well, actually, perhaps I do. It takes courage and confidence to stand up to such situations, and may involve admitting that you made a mistake in the hiring process.
Not only have I seen it; I’ve done it. In fact, I think we’ve all done it, in one form or another. We become so convinced about a person, a house, a trip—whatever—and we stubbornly stick to our preconceived notions, in spite of evidence to the contrary. Then, by the time we are forced to face our stubbornness and poor judgment, damage has been done.
In fact, sometimes a manager will overestimate the performance of the people he has hired, over the people he has inherited—regardless of objective evidence. Why? Because it’s easy to see the people you hire through the eyes of your hopes and expectations at the time you hired the person. After all, you reason, I hired the person for all the right reasons, didn’t I? And, after all, don’t I usually make accurate assessments about people? People who haven’t participated in the hiring process aren’t vested in being “right” about the selection, so they are quicker to spot the flaws.
Over the last few years, many organizations have adopted hiring mechanisms to counter this rose-colored-glasses mistake. Especially for positions of influence, candidates are interviewed by a collection of internal customers, peers, teammates and employees. HR often gets involved in orienting the individual and then following up in a few months to make sure the person is a good it. Sometimes that involves checking in with peers.
In addition, many companies are adding a peer review component to employee performance reviews. It’s hard for a poor performer to hide, when all of their peers can weigh in on their effectiveness.
Talent reviews are also used by progressive companies to identify the development needs of employees and shine a spotlight on the stars as well as the black holes. For example, managers and their vice president meet to discuss the performance of each person, and plot each one on a grid, where results as well as adherence to corporate values are factors. High potential employees are identified, but so are problem employees. Each manager comes out of the talent review with a consensus decision, from the management team, on actions to be taken with each of their employees. Consequently, an employee’s strengths and weaknesses are more objectively identified and a manager is forced to face any self delusions.
Another reason a hiring manager can be oblivious to an employee’s effectiveness is because the employee shows a different face to his boss than he shows to others. He may be respectful, meet deadlines and make stellar presentations to senior management but he might be an absolute jerk to his peers or employees. Usually, that Jekyll and Hyde behavior will catch up to the person, but a lot of damage can occur in the meantime.
As if that weren’t enough, some managers just don’t want to put in the time and energy to confront poor performance and potentially start over in the search process. They keep hoping that a warm body is better than nobody. They delude themselves into thinking that it isn’t that bad, or the bad behavior makes up for the good things the person does contribute. Usually that thinking leads to diminishing returns. Good people get fed up and get frustrated with a boss who will tolerate an incompetent or abusive employee. In the end, the lazy boss finds himself faced with filling even more jobs - because the good people got fed up and left.
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