It Cuts Both Ways
If you’re wondering if your new recruit is working out, It’s important to consider whether they’re feeling the same thing. As an example, I’ll share a story from many years ago when I first started in the workplace: the story of the first and only time I’ve been sacked. The reason I’m going to tell you this story is to explain how I’ve reflected on that experience over the years.
When I finished school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I found different roles in retail, and in one of these, I was hired as a junior. The rest of the team was very close-knit; they’d been together for a long time. A husband and wife owned the store and got along really well with the rest of the staff.
From the start, I felt like an unwelcome outsider. That may have been because they hired me for maternity leave coverage, and the person on leave was planning to come back.
I felt like a bit of an interloper, and I didn’t feel that I received adequate training when I was there. I always felt that I was at a bit of a loss. I didn’t really know what to do. Customers were getting frustrated and angry, and I was so young that I wasn’t openly asking for help.
After a couple of weeks, one of the owners pulled me into the office and gave me an envelope of cash to pay out my notice. (It was so long ago when we used to get paid in cash!) I had no idea what he was talking about and it took me a while to realise that he was firing me.
The reason I’m sharing this story is that it’s something that I’ve reflected on over the years. I don’t feel that I was a terrible employee, I feel that I would have been trainable. But I also felt that I never had a chance.
There were probably issues on both sides. The owners didn’t necessarily want a new person, they just felt they had to cover the maternity leave. And I always felt that I wasn’t actually wanted. Right from the start, there was a little bit of conflict happening there, an undertone of unease. I was not confident enough to ask for help and training, and it wasn’t being provided to me.
‘I was not confident enough to ask for help and training, and it wasn’t being provided to me.‘
If a person isn’t working out, it’s important to consider if there is a reason outside of that person’s performance, both for ethical and risk-mitigation issues, which I’ll discuss below.
I discussed onboarding and the importance of this in Episode Six of the Find Grow Keep podcast, Getting new hires up to speed quickly, along with four key principles of onboarding. One of those was having staged check-ins with new employees. That means every single day over the first week, and every single week over the first month.
If you’re noticing warning signs during that period, then you can discuss those with the employee and where they’re not meeting those expectations. In my example, a check-in meeting would have given me the opportunity to say, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m 17 and I’ve never worked in a retail store before! I need a lot more help’.
If you’re noticing things, you can bring them up with the employee, and hopefully they’re noticing things and will also bring that up. That’s where you can say, ‘are we actually meeting your expectations?’ You can work on any additional training or support needed. And then you give it another few weeks.
For the first month, depending on the job, you may not have a lot of indicators about how well someone is doing. If it’s a particularly complicated role, it may take longer than that. If it’s not a particularly complicated role, they should be up and running within that first month. Hopefully, you have an idea about how long it takes to come up to speed from hiring other people.