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Red Flags of a Dire New Hire

Sometimes, no matter how diligent you’ve been during the interview process, you may end up with a new hire that fails to meet the expectations of the role – and at times, that can be putting it lightly. However, that’s what probationary periods are for. Watch for the warning signs below to gauge whether your new hire is actually the right fit for the job, and take appropriate action where necessary.

They’re chronically late

Whether your new hire is frequently late to work or to meetings – or both – tardiness, especially in the early days of a new role is never a good sign. Not only does it show a lack of respect and responsibility, but it can also be indicative of a chronic problem. The same can be said of those who take time off, such as vacation and personal days, just a few weeks after they’ve started (assuming your company allows new employees to use such benefits before probation ends). If you see these signs, have a conversation with your new hire as soon as possible. Make it clear early on that such behaviour is unacceptable and monitor them to see if the behaviour continues.

They socialize on your dime

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with colleagues talking about life outside of work. In fact, when your employees get along with each other, it’s great for morale, which in turn is great for productivity. Plus, it’s always nice to see your team getting along with its newest member. However, if your new hire is continually dropping by their coworkers’ stations to engage in conversations that have nothing to do with work, or if they’re frequently on the phone with their friends or updating Facebook, beware. Such behaviour may be a sign that your new hire simply doesn’t take their job seriously.

They’re rebellious

Although you should always welcome suggestions from your employees, if someone brand new is out to buck the system, look out. Such behaviour could be indicative of several undesirable personality traits, including arrogance and aggressiveness (see below). In fact, rebelliousness can manifest itself in even smaller ways. The new hire may consistently and deliberately violate your office dress code, use an email signature not in line with company standards, have an unprofessional sounding voicemail message, or take any number of tiny jabs at protocol. Whatever the case, unless such problems are addressed and adjusted early on, they’re unlikely to improve with time. In fact, they could get worse.

They’re too assertive, argumentative, and/or arrogant

There’s definitely a difference between confidence and cockiness, and sometimes cockiness goes hand-in-hand with a domineering personality. Of course, all employees (even new ones) should feel comfortable making their cases and standing by their decisions, but it’s a sign of professionalism when a new hire does so tactfully, ensuring they don’t step on anyone’s toes. If your new hire comes off too assertive, argumentative, or arrogant, especially while they’re still on probation, it will likely spell trouble for your team’s dynamic and productivity.

They need their hand held

Training is part of any good onboarding process, and sometimes additional training for a new hire may be warranted. However, if it takes an excessive amount of time for your new hire to catch on, that may be a sign that they’re simply not up to par. In fact, it may even be a sign that they don’t actually possess the skills they were hired for and somehow managed to talk their way through the interview process – which is a whole other issue.

They’re stuck in the past

This red flag can manifest itself in a couple of different ways. If a new hire relentlessly reminisces about their previous job to the point where you can cut the nostalgia with a knife, they may be having a tough time committing to their new job. Sometimes they just need time to settle in, but in other cases, their hang-ups can lead to disruption within the team. Of course, new hires should be able to draw on their past experiences and suggest improvements. But if they’re continually trying to “improve” your methods and making remarks about how things worked better at their last job, they may need to be told that it’s time to let go of the past.

They rarely communicate or ask questions

It’s understandable at times why a new hire may come off as quiet and incurious; they may be naturally shy around new people, they may be afraid of looking unqualified if they ask too many questions, or they may take certain actions without asking questions (when they should have) to show initiative. However, sometimes these characteristics are indicative of indifference, arrogance, and/or unskillfulness. Make it your policy that all new hires ask a lot of questions, not only of their managers, but of other people on their team as well. If this policy is clearly conveyed, you’ll have an easier time gauging which new hires are quiet for the wrong reasons.

They’re full of extravagant needs… and excuses

If your new hire consistently requests unnecessary, unjustified space, equipment, and other resources, especially when they’ve only just started, it can mean more than just a misguided sense of entitlement. You may find them blaming error after error on their lack of those resources in an attempt to veil what’s really their lack of attention, knowledge, and/or skills. If they really don’t require the things they ask for, push back and monitor their quality of work closely.

They’re generally unhappy

Whether they’re angry for no apparent reason, sulking every day, or just generally having a hard time cooperating with their teammates, the visible unhappiness of a new hire is always cause for concern. Sometimes it can be the result of issues in their personal life, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of a bad attitude. Investigate the cause to determine the proper course of action.

What to do when your new hire isn’t a good fit

If you see any of these red flags and suspect your new hire won’t work out, you’ll have to prepare to take advantage of your organization’s probationary policy. Good protocol in such situations typically includes documenting all issues and incidents, talking to the employee about those incidents, providing coaching and guidance, and ensuring that your organization actually isn’t at fault for any of the problems in question. And even if all else fails, don’t be too eager to let the employee go. If they haven’t done anything egregious, consider what skills they do have and see if they can be utilized in another area of the organization.

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