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What do you do when you’ve made a bad hire?


An organisation faces a particular dilemma when it becomes evident that they have made a poor hiring decision. This is essentially the question of whether they stick by the employee and try to improve the skill areas they currently lack, or whether they act to remove them and replace with a different candidate.


Such a decision is rarely straightforward, with many factors weighing in for consideration – for example, the possible causes of the failure to meet expectations; the costs of training & development vs. rehiring; or the impact of this employee’s lower productivity on their whole department.


One immediate question raised by a poor hiring choice is how a candidate who (presumably) impressed during recruitment has failed to live up to expectations. This should prompt a consideration of an organisation’s talent management process – were you, for example, clear on what your company was looking for? Did your stated job specification accurately represent the position it was used to recruit for? Did you extend your search for candidates to a broad enough talent pool?


If the result of this investigation finds no great fault in the way you sought out candidates, the next point of call is the employee themselves. It is important to approach this meeting with honesty and a measure of tact – remember that performance might have been impacted by a fully-justifiable reason (for example, a personal crisis or a workplace issue beyond their control). It is also unwise to charge in with accusations as it will likely set up a confrontational atmosphere that will make it very difficult to get any straight answers on the problem.


Once this issue has been explored, an organisation needs to return to the original question – is the situation recoverable, or is it time to cut your losses and look elsewhere? Staff turnover can, of course, be an expensive business. At the same time, a poorly performing employee may cause more harm over a longer period of time.


When do you cut your losses? How can talent management prevent this situation ever happening? 
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