You just did something monumental: you made your first hire. You effectively doubled your staff. You took a big leap. It’s not just you anymore. Leading up to this moment, you were extremely diligent about your search. You vetted and checked references. You phone screened, did video chat interviews and held in-person meetings. You literally went about the first hire process by the book. But now that you’re a few weeks into the engagement, something doesn’t feel right. You can’t quite put your finger on it though. As a result, you may be missing the signs that you’ve hired the wrong person.
Objectives Aren’t Aligning
You created a certain set of objectives and goals for this position, yet now that your new hire has been on board for a bit, it has become evident to you that they aren’t meeting them. First, confirm with yourself that you have made these objectives and goals explicitly clear. If not, blame’s on you! But if you have already (and perhaps repeatedly) made it known to the hire what it is they are supposed to achieve, it’s time for a discussion to find out why. You need to figure out where the disconnect is. And if it’s irreconcilable, you’ve probably got the wrong person on board.
Accounting Tells You Something
Perhaps the most quantitative and tangible proof that you might have hired the wrong person shows in the business’s accounting. If, over time, you are able to determine that your new hire is costing the business more than they are generating, you likely have an issue. But let’s be clear here: this sort of evidence usually has little to do with the employee and more with the fact that you probably weren’t financially ready to hire in the first place. So before you even start hashing together a job description, you need to deeply understand the company’s finances. Review multiple Profit and Loss Statements. Track your cash flow statements monthly. Look at your revenues over the last six and 12 months. Bearing all these numbers in mind, could you afford to hire? And don’t forget to couple in the fact that you need to forecast what this new hire should be expected to do to the top line. When they start, they certainly will cost more than they make, but you should have growth milestones in place to help you track progress and, ultimately, profitability.
Communication Breaks Down
No matter the line of business, communication matters—a lot. Assuming you are crystal clear in the types and frequency of communication you and the business require, it can be concerning when things consistently slip through the cracks or become problems down the road. If your new hire is falling behind in this capacity, set expectations and make communication requirements clear. Do you need to be cc’d on all emails? Say so. Do you need status spreadsheets or documents updated in real-time? Set that expectation. Whatever your method and processes, it’s up to you, the boss, to set communications standards. But if your new hire isn’t picking up what you’re putting down, the fit simply might not be right.
Habits Aren’t What You Expected
When you interviewed, you were adamant about entertaining only applicants who showed that they had strong work habits that aligned with your values and the company culture you’re seeking to build. Think words like “hard worker,” “detail-oriented,” “organized,” and “budget-conscious.” Your recent hire showed all of the traits you were looking for on their resume and in their interview, but in practice, you haven’t seen them. You’re starting to feel like you got sold a false bill of goods. Someone who said they’re all about punctuality is consistently showing up five minutes late. A software developer passionate about clean code cranks out more bugs than you’d expect. A bookkeeper who said they never miss a reconciliation does so every now and then. Are mistakes unavoidable? Certainly. But when they start to become trends, you might not have the hire you envisioned.
You All Just Don’t Get Along
This happens more than you can imagine. Sometimes, at the end of the day, two people just end up not working well together. If this is the case for you and your new hire, the best thing you can do is recognize it and map out a separation path. Honesty and transparency are important here.
Is hiring easy? Not at all—especially when it’s your first hire. But if you’re feeling like you might’ve made the wrong call, it can help to have something more than your gut to trust.
Have you realized after the fact that you made a wrong hire? How’d you know? What’d you do about it?