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Shouldering the burden of a bad hire

By Toni Bowers ·
Have you ever had to work alongside someone who was either incompetent or hard to communicate with? If so, how did your manager deal with it? How do you think it affected morale?

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Personality counts

by dirk_k_publish In reply to Shouldering the burden of ...

A bad hire really does seem to fall into either one of two forms: "incompetence" or "personality problem".
As usual, dealing with the issue depends on the person and situation.

In general, contractors with personality problems are usually quickly removed. This is something to keep in mind as a contractor: you're dealing with people, and people are often forgiving when you need to ramp up on knowledge and you're sincere in your efforts. But if you alienate yourself through arrogance, there's nothing (and nobody) standing between you and the exit.

After many years and many projects, I can't recall a single contractor let go due to a lack of competency. In those same years, more than a handful basically fired themselves through various forms of outbursts or general lack of interest in doing the job.
Of course, part of this casual statistic is affected by the fact that it's easier to accurately gauge somebody's competency level in an interview...as opposed to personality. I mean, it's easy to fake a smile, but difficult to fudge the answer to a C# question.

Regarding morale, a manager would do well to help curb any personality problems quickly. It's a common pitfall to assume that an obnoxious member of the team is just too valuable, technically, to lose. The pitfall is to expect everyone to tolerate unseemly temper tantrums and other playground antics without production suffering.
But take another look. If the project seems to revolve around one unruly employee, just maybe that's a sign that everybody else has resigned.

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Personality counts - even more

by Bald Dog In reply to Personality counts

Dirk, you're dead right.

After consulting with hundreds of IT firms internationally, I truly believe that employee underperformance is not about technical incompetence, but emotional issues. Stress in the family can make people underperform, and cause irritation. That irritation translates into poor communication. Poor communication causes misunderstanding, making colleagues believe that there is problem with the person.

With due attention from the person’s manager, the problem can be solved, but there are no more than a handful of IT managers who are actually good at managing. As long as the best technicians get promoted to be managers, the issue will live on.

In my opinion, in the right environment and with the right managerial support anyone can perform well. Most managers, however, are good at demanding results, but pathetically poor at helping their people to produce those results.

I think fish rots from the head, and poorly performing people are merely the symptoms of poor cultures and lousy managers, who are merely slave drivers, demanding more billable hours whatever it takes.

Go MAD (Make A Difference)

Tom "Bald Dog" Varjan – Organisational Provocateur

Dynamic Innovations Squad - Helping professional service businesses to attract "Ready to Buy" clients from first contact to signed contract. www.di-squad.com, e-mail: bald.dog@di-squad.com. FREE Booklet: Isn't it Time Service Professionals Stopped Deceiving Themselves and Their Clients?

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but people are people

by abreuma In reply to Personality counts - even ...

I think you're dreaming if you think a great manager can get "anyone to perform well." Managers can't fix every personallity defect nor are they rewarded for doing so. If people could be clever enough to mold everyone into perfect people then all our spouses would be perfect and nobody would be divorcing. My ability to change someone at home that I'm very close to is limited. At work I spend less time with people and have a limited ability to change some behaviours. You live with them or get them out of the organization.

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People are people, but...

by andyjmoon In reply to but people are people

...a good manager knows how to get the most out of his/her people no matter who they are. If someone is so inflexible that they cannot or will not change their attitude, the manager has the ultimate behavior modification therapy: the pink slip. Of course, a good manager also has the ability to show people the proper way to act and work without actually threatening them. When it comes down to it, I believe that while even the best manager would find it difficult to "fix every defect", a goodmanager knows how to minimize the impact that those defects have on the working environment.

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People are People, No Changing

by dalice In reply to but people are people

Sometimes, you are right, you can't change a person. Either they don't want to change or they can't change.

I have been dealing with this issue for well over two years with an employee.

We've done everything we can to help them see the error of their ways, to no avail.

I am not a confrontational person. Finally, though, I ended up having to get tough and use the company disciplinary program. So far, it has helped.

Of course, only time will tell if the employee maintains the changes or falls back to the old behavior. I can't change the employee's personality and my boss doesn't expect me to.

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Braking my back

by bigal69olz In reply to Shouldering the burden of ...

I have a hire that has been with this organization for over a year now. According to his resume, he has worked extensively with NT 4.0. For over a year now I am finding out that he knows nothing. I have bought this to manangement's attention since his 2nd week on the job. Nothing has been done. Management always seems to make excuses for him. It makes me feel over burdened. I cannot trust anything he does or says. The worst of it, is he thinks he knows what he is doing, or at least he says he does. I guess you get what you pay for. It makes me feel that he is related to someone in upper management, or why would they keep someone so incompetent. I wonder would they be so forgiving to me if I made so many gross mistakes. I am verybitter about this situation.

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Danger, Will Robinson...

by RonKoch In reply to Braking my back

If the person is related to upper management, then you truly are in the pickle barrel. After all is said and done, blood is ALWAYS thicker than water. Any attempt by you to point out the failings and misgivings will eventually result in your evaporation from the scene. Instead, may I offer another approach? Look within the company and try to find a different position better suited to this individual's skills and capabilities. A poor tech can become an excellent salesman or customer servicerep. Or recommend him for a special project where results are dependent only on his work. But if you do this, have him report to someone else lest your prior opinions be brought into the discussion. Does your company have a professional training program? Maybe a refresher class in his primary duties will help both him and yourself. You are on dangerous ground with this one and your actions must be carefully considered if you wish to remain in your current employment. Good luck with whatever you choose!

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Now I'm the one with bad behavior

by AliasClaire In reply to Shouldering the burden of ...

When management refuses to deal with bad behavior, incompetence or terrible communicators the result is very destructive to the company. I work with several people who have been promoted beyond their capabilities or outside their area of compentence. Like another reader, I'm bitter and worse than that - I'm actively seeking employment elsewhere.

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The right person...

by Bob Gately In reply to Now I'm the one with bad ...

All the replies are excellent! The right person for the job is seldom the most competent or the best interviewer or the highest GPA. Employers need to hire competent people who have maximum job suitability but few employers know how to assess for job suitability. ugh

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