I woke up this morning to a 6AM voicemail from a great client of mine with the following message, “FUCK MIKE!  I hired the wrong person, call me to discuss, I need help fixing this!”

This is a painful situation for a CEO. You’ve had a gigantic gap in your executive team, and you find someone you think is the answer to all of your problems – and then it hits you: You realize the person you’ve hired isn’t who you thought he was.  Now what the hell do you do?

Your new-hire does not posses the skills you thought. Perhaps he came from a larger company, and you thought he was capable of adjusting to your small business. Sometimes you may find the person isn’t a good culture fit, while other times they are just downright toxic to your company.

So, what happened? How did you miss the red flags during the interviews and ‘dating stage’?  Did you fail or did you choose to ignore certain things?

How do you find the right fit?

In order to avoid getting stuck with the wrong employee, you must interview the right way. I’ve seen executives (Yes I am talking about you)  glance over a resume five minutes beforehand, and ask questions solely based on the job description. You just set yourself up for disaster.

Instead, you need to put time and effort into devising questions that will help your company in finding the right personnel fit.  Take the focus away from work and education history.  Resumes list the previous jobs and education, and are usually written to show the best of each area.  Spend little time on the resume, that was the ticket into the door, now find answers to the following questions:

  • Does this candidate fit in with your company culture? – Write down or give the candidate your company’s core values. Ask the prospect how he exhibited one of your core values at a previous job.
  • What exactly does your company need the candidate to do? –Tell them to increase throughput by 10%, Improve OTD from 95% to 98%. Get specific, and make your goals measurable.
  • What has the candidate done in the past that can apply to the job today? – Get specific, and go deep! Ask the candidate what has she done that’s comparable to the work expected of her. Then, find out what her role was within the project: Did she come up with the idea? Was she the team lead? Did she perform the work? Don’t stop digging until you have specific answers.  The resume will state. “Increased throughput by 40% by implementing this that or the other.”  By digging deep you will find that they don’t know what the throughput calculation was before and that the 40% was a made up number.  That they weren’t really involved in the process, maybe they just oversaw that person.  Digging deep, gets you the information that you need.

You can listen to his thought processes during the interview and determine if the candidate would be a right fit for your team. If you don’t consider how he plays a role in the bigger picture and how he will interact with your current team, then you could end up with an employee who feels like a stranger.

The interview is just the beginning. You should also have an efficient onboarding process. Keep your eyes and ears open to see how the new-hire interacts with you and other colleagues. If you discover he’s not the right fit, at least you know immediately, and not months or years down the road.

The old adage for small businesses holds true: Hire slowly, and fire quickly. Small business CEOs/ owners can’t afford the luxury of carrying dead weight.

Give toxic employees the boot, quickly!

I’ve worked with a few CEOs who have fired people a few days into the job. One CEO shared a story on how a new-hire lied about meeting with a prospect the first week on the job. The new-hire was unaware the prospect was a good friend of the CEO, who informed the CEO the meeting never happened. A little white lie during the first week of employment violated the company’s core value of trust. Needless to say, the new-hire was terminated immediately.

Hiring mistakes do happen, even when you follow a good interview process. You can minimize a bad hire by asking questions related to your core values, and making sure the candidate understands performance expectations.

Dig deep in your questions to ensure your candidate has performed expected tasks in the past – or at the very least is able to articulate how she would handle similar situations she will encounter at your company. Hopefully, this will mitigate the chances of you asking her later on, “Who Are You?”

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