By: Jeff Hoffman
When & How to Fire Your New Hire.
When firing your new hire you want to make sure that you move someone out early. See last week’s post about my 30 day evaluation of new hires. Why? It’s safe for you and the company. Safe for you because when you put someone in a new role, and therefore new territory, they haven’t had too much time to do a lot in that territory. So you don’t have to worry about much clean up.
As far as the rep is concerned, because they have just taken this job with you, they will have warm embers from the people who they have networked and spoken with about jobs previously. Their network is lukewarm, not ice cold.
Although there is strangeness and awkwardness with firing a new hire, that is tempered because they’re not really out of the gate yet. The sales manager who waits 6 months to fire the new hire she knows is not working out has lost 6 months of progress in a territory, and the rep now has ice-cold relationships with job prospects and has to start from scratch. Additionally, they have the explain the problem of being at your company for only 6 months in their next job conversation.
When hiring someone new start with an open and honest conversation WITH THE CANDIDATE on their FIRST DAY. Say to them, “Hiring is strange. Over the interview process, I saw you at your best and you saw me at my best. In reality, that’s a limited amount of time for us to truly get to evaluate and understand one another. But now we are working together so I want to say this, ‘If this doesn’t work out for you, or for me, that’s okay– It doesn’t work.’” You’ll then go into your metrics and criteria for their first 30 days and use the techniques (see last week’s post) to really see if this new hire is the right fit.
Now you’re in the 30 day evaluation period and it’s not working out. How do you proceed?
First of all, I horribly disagree with performance plans. In my experience, they won’t do anything substantial and they certainly won’t fix what you want them to fix. You want a solution that is just and quick.
Remind them of what you said on their first day. It is far better – for both of you – to do this now than wait it out for 6 more months.
As their manager, you want to give them two options. First, give them the option to offer up their own resignation. Chances are this role isn’t feeling good for them either, so why not work together for the best outcome. If they agree to offer up their resignation, make yourself available to them as a resource. You will guide them as you build in their last few weeks at the company, transferring their work over, while making yourself a valuable resource for their new job interviews, introductions, referrals, and networking opportunities.
If they don’t take you up on their offer to resign, be very clear about the reality of the situation. They’ll force your hand slightly, and you cannot make yourself available to them as a resource. Any incoming referral call must be met with a polite explanation that directs their future employer to your company’s HR department, to explain their short tenure. It’ll be awkward, and neither of you want that moving forward.
In 6 months, neither your, nor the rep will think too much on the situation. The rep will be successfully integrated onto another team that matches their work style, and you have hired an excellent rep in their place, who is crushing their numbers.
My last piece of advice – you want to have this conversation on a Monday. It is very, very cruel to give bad news to an employee on a Friday. What you’re doing is sending them home to stew over this bad news with their friends/family on a weekend. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to not be a jerk.
Another important thing to is to resist the urge to move the new hire to another department in the company. Even if it feels like an easier choice; as a manager you cannot avoid hard conversations. It is only an appropriate response for a tenured rep, who is clearly right for that role. It is not appropriate to pawn off your new hire, who is clearly not fitting in with your team or requirements. You don’t know what your new hire is good at yet, you only know what they are bad at. It sends a terrible message to the rest of the company. Basically, “I have a mess and I don’t want to clean it up.” Not what to strive for as a manger.
There are few things in business that are as unpleasant than firing someone. It is the worst part of every job. The people I know who have to do this, do not take it lightly. One thing to remember – these are adults. You are firing them only because they were incapable of doing the job they actively went out for. You only believed that the candidate could do the job. If they don’t make the cut, it’s their mistake, not yours. It is not a mistake to hire poorly; it is a mistake to fire poorly.