Mentor Article

Hiring Mistakes and What to Do About Them

Sharon Berglund | Bergland HR Consulting

Any leader that has hired more than ten people has made at least one hiring mistake. The problem is compounded in a small business because of the impact each employee has on your success.

One of the most common concerns I hear from leaders is that the person they hired is technically sound but they just don’t fit in. Below is an example of a scenario that I’ve seen play out:

You are the Owner/President of a small rapidly growing business and have been outsourcing payroll but decide it would be more efficient to hire an internal Payroll Administrator.  After interviewing a number of candidates, you make an offer to a man named Bill. Although Bill has had a number of previous jobs, he seemed to have the right experience and lots of confidence.

Bill starts and, at first, seems focused on learning the job. Just when you are starting to feel like you’ve made a good hire, one of your most seasoned managers comes into your office and shuts the door. He asks you who does Bill thinks he is to be questioning how the company is prioritizing service calls. You mean to say something to Bill but with the craziness of the day, didn’t have a chance. The next week, another manager pulls you aside and complains about the new guy, a real “know-it-all” who has an opinion on everything.

This time, you take a few minutes to check in with Bill and ask him how things are going. Bill says, “Just great, I’ve met everyone and already have lots of ideas on improvements.”  You gently remind Bill that his focus needs to be on administering payroll and making improvements in his own function first and foremost.

The next week your CPA expresses her concern that while Bill has learned the payroll system he already seems bored with his job and is more interested in giving her advice. They are both very strong willed.  Another month goes by and while Bill is completing payroll, you continue to get complaints and there seems to be a lot more conflict in the office. You try one more time to talk to Bill and he insists that he’s doing great and just trying to help the company with his suggestions.

Bottom line, this isn’t working out. You have a problem with job fit – your employee is technically sound but lacks self-awareness and is causing lots of disruption. He’s getting on everyone’s nerves including your own. You are regretting your decision to stop outsourcing payroll.

What’s the best way to handle the situation without a costly and time-consuming lawsuit?

  • Document as much as you remember from your coaching sessions with Bill.
  • Decide how you want to handle payroll going forward – if you decide to outsource again, you have the perfect objective business reason to let Bill go.
  • If you don’t choose to outsource, take your CPA into your confidence to ensure she can handle payroll until you hire a temp. Consider a “temp to hire” to assess job fit with less risk.
  • I highly recommend offering Bill a severance agreement with a full release of claims (Bob Halagan is brilliant at putting these agreements together). Payroll jobs are plentiful and his tenure is short so 3-4 weeks of pay should be adequate.

Meet with Bill and inform him you are making an organizational change that unfortunately means he will be leaving the company. Be kind and respectful, thank him for his service and offer to be a reference for his next job.  Keep the meeting short and sweet.

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