By Jeremy Wilson August 04, 2017 Industry news

Whenever this subject comes up there’s always a horror story involved!

It always goes along the lines of “I’ve hired a guy and it turns out he’s no good”, or “he can’t do the job”.

The numbers don’t lie either – one in four new hires in New Zealand move on in the first 12 months.

To break that down further, in the event of a non-technical failure (in other words the candidate had the skills for the role but not the smarts) the stats look roughly like this:

  • 30% fail due to lack of coachability / inability to accept and action workable feedback.
  • 25% of fall-overs are due to lack of emotional intelligence – inability to self-manage, measure/correct or build meaningful lasting business relationships.
  • 25% are down to motivation – lack of drive or commitment to the new role.
  • 15% fail because their temperament is not suited to the new position or culture.

So take a second to reflect on why your fall-over occurred.

Chances are the candidate was lacking in one of these four areas.

The fact is, though, that both parties need to get it right during the first 12 months and there’s most definitely some learning to be had.

Let’s look at the key issues and answers to some of the most common problems with new hires.


1. You failed to adequately assess

Look at the stats above. If you correctly identify coachability and emotional intelligence, you’ll reduce failures by half.

This is an interviewing and references issue so probe for these traits with specific questioning and ensure your reference templates include these areas.

Joann Corley has an amazing guide to assessing and questioning emotional depth and intelligence. (see https://joanncorley.com/).

Also look closely at the candidate’s personal background. Where have they had coaching in their personal life that has led to change?

Ask the candidate too for specific examples of behavioural change as a result of feedback from managers and clients and verify these answers with reference checking.


2. You didn’t set clear expectations

All too often I talk to candidates who were thrown the car keys or shown to their desk and left to it.

Even someone with strong self-management abilities runs the risk of making serious mistakes if they’re not supported and managed properly. This leads to doubt which leads to resignations.

Your role is to ensure they are performing to expectations within a coaching framework. You should meet semi-formally with a new employee at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months to discuss their performance versus expectations.

In these meetings provide workable feedback and be very clear about what you expect from a person in their role.

Also look to assess their requirements for training or further induction.

In some cases you will have to motivate and, if appropriate, remind the employee what’s in it for them if they lift their performance.


3. They couldn’t do the job

This is fundamental: you hired someone who simply didn’t have what it took to perform in the role. That’s not the candidate’s fault, that’s on you.

Look very closely at the role and what’s actually required.

Does it require after-hours work that the candidate couldn’t commit to? Is there a lot of pressure and the person couldn’t handle it?

Does it require careful negotiation or behavioural requirements which aren’t the candidate’s style?

Pre-hire, you must define the key traits that are required and match your interviewing to suit. Seek specific and recent examples of them doing what you require in the role.

Also, don’t fail to be extremely frank with your potential person about the role and the challenges facing them in the position and get them to tell you how they will handle those challenges.


4.  Commitment!

This one’s a biggie and can lead to real problems.

I reflect on a recent example: I call an MD to get a reference for a candidate. He tells me he has dismissed them for commitment issues.

This candidate was a senior guy with a local sports club and spent about 15 hours a week on work for this club.

Guess when he was doing this? You got it – in the afternoon while he was at work.

Now here’s the thing – the MD knew about this from his employee’s CV but hadn’t questioned them about it.

I also hear about reps leaving because they won’t do the travel. You must ensure their commitment to the role and also ensure that their partner supports the commitment.

Be very upfront even at interview stage about the requirements.

When I recruit for roles involving after-hours work or travel, I overstate what’s required and ask the candidate to confirm via email that they have spoken with their partner.

I also stringently question personal commitments to ensure that none could amount to “time theft” or just prevent them performing the role.


So, in conclusion:

  1. Interview properly and specifically to the role at hand!
  2. Do great references!
  3. Have a very clear and supportive induction and coaching/feedback framework!
  4. Ensure the candidate’s ability to commit!


Jeremy Wilson is Managing Director of Build People, a search recruitment business with contacts across hardware, consumer goods, electronics and FMCG. Call 021 732 788 or visit www.buildpeople.co.nz for more information.

share this