Is Your New Hire Struggling?


The new hire that started a month ago was really struggling. I had put him through our new employee orientation, and he shadowed the employee that he would be replacing for about two weeks.

When the old employee packed up her desk on her last day, I pulled both the departing employee and the new employee in my office to chat casually… “How did training go? Do you feel comfortable in moving forward on your own? Can I do anything further to help you prepare?”

I was pleased that both thought that the training had went well and the new employee felt comfortable enough to come in on Monday and start his new position on his own. I assured him that I was available if he ran into any issues…or needed clarification on anything. He seemed quiet, but I chalked that up to him being new.

They both walked out of my office, and I felt good…all had worked out well. My old employee was leaving to pursue a dream position, and my new employee had told me how excited he was to be working with my team. 

That was two weeks ago…and my faith in my new hire was starting to wane.

Not more than 3-days after my new hire started working on his own, my senior employee came in to complain that she wasn’t getting her work each morning (the new employee was responsible for downloading reports and managing workloads for the department) until well after 10AM, which was causing her to work through her lunch hour to meet her deadlines.

I told her to be patient…he was new and was trying to find his pace. I asked her if the work coming over to her was being done correctly…she assured me that it was…but it was just taking him too long to get it to her.

She agreed to give him a few more days, and in return…I extended her daily deadline to help alleviate some of her stress. She was appreciative and promised to update me on the situation in a week. 

When she came back a second time, a few days later, I knew it was time to step in.

When I brought him in…I said… “Let’s talk about how things are going.” And then I asked him how he was doing. The hesitation in his response alerted me immediately that there was a problem.

He was cautious in picking his words…as he laid out the last week and the issues he was dealing with… “I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me with this job, but I am struggling getting this work done. I can do the work, but it’s not really in my wheel house, so it’s taking me much longer than it should.” He apologized profusely about the situation…but then followed with… “It’s just not what I expected…”


There it was…

“It wasn’t what he expected? Wait…what did you expect? Did you not get a copy of the job description when you interviewed? Wasn’t it clear the type of work you would be doing?”

This is the dialogue that was going on inside my brain. So, then I asked the question… “Did our HR department go over the expectations of the position with you?”

“Well…I actually interviewed for another job in your Security Department, but when they called me back to tell me the position was filled…but there was a similar job in Customer Service if I was interested.

To be honest, I didn’t see a job description for this position…I just assumed it would be the same type of work.”

And there you go…

Job descriptions and expectations…if you ever wondered why job descriptions were so important…here’s your sign!

Hiring the right person for the right job is so important. This young man was honest when he said he could do the work…but even more honest in saying that it would take him longer to do this type of work, because it’s not one of his strengths.  

FACT - When you’re interviewing for a position, the job description is your number one resource!

Here are three of the reasons you need to have a job description and why you should use it when you’re hiring: 

1.     A job description details the skills required to do the job;

2.     A job description lays out expectations;

3.     A job description can be used as a basis for performance.

Without a properly written job description, your new hire really has no idea what the job entails, and he or she is clueless about what your expectations are for them. Do you really think they’re going to succeed? 

1.     You wouldn’t hire an electrician who had no idea how to wire an outlet, so why would you hire an employee who doesn’t have the skills necessary to do the job? For instance, the work that my new hire was doing that was taking him 10-times longer than my previous employee…it was done correctly, but why would you want someone who takes an hour to do something that would normally take someone skilled 10-minutes to do?

Hiring the right fit affects productivity, quality, and morale.

2.     When you take on a new project…you need to know what the expectations are, right? You might ask questions like…when do you need this by? What resources can I use to prepare? Are there any special conditions that I need to know about?

You will ask questions to help you understand what the expectations are, because the last thing you want to do is fail. But, that’s what you’re setting your new hire up for – failure…when you don’t include expectations.

3.     A job description is the first thing you review when you’re forced to give a verbal or written warning because the employee isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do – you use your job description as a basis for performance. Take for instance, my new employee…I may have been forced to take more serious action if his work hadn’t improved.

In this case, the new hire in Security didn’t pan out so we offered him the job he originally applied for and he did that job for over 6-years! We were able to find a replacement for him who had the necessary skills that we needed on our team.

In this case it worked out…but if it hadn’t, I could have been dealing with an issue where my HR Department hadn’t made a smart decision when hiring my new employee.

Stay tuned next week, when Carol shares more about how to use a job description.