Recruiting and Staffing, Talent Management

Rookie Hiring Mistakes: Holding on to Bad Hires Too Long

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The New York Times recently had a good article titled The Top 10 Rookie Mistakes for Entrepreneurs,”  and it looks at the top reasons people usually fail when starting a new business.

As you can imagine many of the reasons were typical: expense control, fiscal responsibility, having a strong value proposition, etc. But out of all 10 mistakes, there was one glaring omission to why so many new business owners fail when it comes to hiring, particularly with the HR side of the business:

11. Holding on to bad hires too long.

The problems with making this mistake

This might be the biggest rookie hiring mistake ever — it definitely is something we all can relate to – and I don’t know of one leader that at some point in their career hasn’t done this!

Here’s the problem with this mistake:

  • You want to believe that your hiring process worksso, the person just needs more time.
  • You want to believe in the person – I mean all people want to do well, right!?so, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe that you, as a leader, can help the person through thisso, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe that you don’t make hiring mistakes, that’s for other idiotsso, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe, period. So, you give them more time.

Hope? In hiring, it can be a bad thing

This happens to the best leaders in the world – usually numerous times – before they get how bad this is for themselves and their organizations.

I think most people see “holding on to bad hires” as a sign of weakness. “Oh, you know Tim, he doesn’t have the balls to just go and fire Joe! If Joe worked for me, he wouldn’t have made it one day!”

We hear this kind of stuff from our managers all the time. The truth is, this has nothing to do with weakness – this has everything to do with “hope.” We never hire someone thinking “Oh, boy this gal is great, I can’t wait to fire her in 90 days!” You don’t hire to fire. That’s why this becomes so tough.

Only after we get scared and hardened from enough bad hires do you truly understand what the negative impact is to hanging on them for too long.

Do the right thing for your organization

Many people will say that they are “slow to hire, quick to fire,” but that’s a lie. The majority of us are quick to hire and slow to fire. It’s a rookie mistake, and one we all do, or have done.

So, what am I telling you? When you know — when you truly know (when your gut tells you, your metrics tell you, your peers are telling you) — that you’ve made a bad hire, do the right thing for you and your organization.

Remember – you didn’t fire them, they fired themselves.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community – so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.