Hiring a new employee can be a little like starting a new relationship. As the boss you’re excited and hopeful—and you can often overlook signs that indicate things might not work out as well as you hope.
Plus newly hired employees typically start a new job at the top of their professional games. In terms of attitude, effort and enthusiasm, you usually get the very best a new hire has to offer. That’s why any problems that surface during the first days almost always turn out to be the tip of a poor-performing employee iceberg.
Here are five ways to tell, within days, that you may have made a bad hiring decision:
They exercise the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of social media. I realize employees assume having Facebook, Twitter and Internet access for personal reasons are a given.
Almost every employee will take time out of their day for a little non-work social media action. But if you catch a new employee during non-break periods updating his Facebook status (especially if the new status is, “My new job sucks!”) you can bet his personal web time will only grow in the future. The same goes for texting.
They have immediate attendance problems. An employee who is late or absent within the first few weeks will nearly always be a chronic attendance offender.
I once analyzed attendance records for more than 1,000 employees over a five-year period and found employees late or absent in the first week of employment had a 35% likelihood of violating attendance standards and a 45% likelihood of hovering, for years, within one or two absences of violating standards.
There are exceptions, but an employee who misses one day early only usually misses a lot of days later.
They’re an “I need…” guy. The average person starts a job assuming the resources provided are the resources available and necessary, and only asks for additional tools when justified.
A “first day requisitioner” that instantly needs a better computer, a different desk, specialized software and applications, etc. will tend to constantly find external reasons why their performance is poor instead of looking at themselves.
They’re an “At my old job…” gal. New employees should bring skills and experience from previous positions. But no one wants to constantly hear how a previous employer did things, especially when a previous employer allegedly did those things better.
New employees who frequently say, “You know, at my old job we used to…” have not made the mental and emotional transition to your business.
Watch carefully for signs they continue to struggle with the transition — your company could be their rebound company.
They have assertion overdrive. While new employees should voice their opinions, raise concerns and stand behind their reasoning and decisions, they should also take it slowly and feel their way through interpersonal and organizational dynamics so they build positive relationships first.
A new employee who takes too strong a stand, argues too long or loud, or even borders on confrontational is likely to be a handful once the new hire honeymoon period is over. Quietly assertive is good; loudly assertive, especially in the first few weeks, means you might want to get a head start on the termination paperwork.
If you disagree with my list or have your own warning signs for new employees who aren’t likely to last, feel free to fire away (terrible pun intended).