10 Tips to Hiring the Wrong Employee – Part III

Previously, in Top 10 Tips to Hiring the Wrong Employee – Parts I & II

(Click here to catch up if you missed them!)

It’s with a sense of relief that your head of department finally arrives at The Last One Standing – and duly hires him. But what he may not realise is that what transpired during the recruitment process has set the scene for the employee’s expectations. It’s only when reality bites that the manager’s omissions, misrepresentations and the odd white lie bites back. A disgruntled employee does not a happy company make. Here are the final four tips on how unsuccessful companies tend to employ their staff.

Tip 7: Breaking promises

A key employee has just handed in his resignation. The business can’t survive without filling the position, fast. Time to employ a quick-fix solution: head hunt. Incentivise the employee’s counterpart, currently employed by the competition, to join you using whatever means possible. Salary increase? No problem. Guaranteed annual bonus? Sure thing. Extra leave entitlement? Absolutely. Corner office? Here, you can have mine. Before you know it, the company’s driver is scheduled to collect his kids from school and the company’s PA is assigned his wife’s book-club secretarial duties. Reality kicks in the moment the newly-poached employee steps into the building on his first day of work and realises he has been duped. A mere few weeks into the new job, the new employee is spending more time complaining to the HR director and furiously lodging grievance reports than he is doing his job.

When hiring a new employee, do your planning and know what you can and cannot offer to an employee. A great way of levelling the playing fields is by having a comprehensive set of Policies and Procedures available for all staff to abide by. And if a deserved employee has been awarded additional benefits, record these benefits in his Contract of Employment – and stick to them. If you make promises to an employee that you cannot or will not keep, you will land up with not only a disgruntled employee, but maybe even a grievance, CCMA complaint or Labour Court application.

Wrong way: Promise the employee the world.

Right way: Be clear on what the employee is entitled to. Commit expectations to writing. And hold up your side of the bargain.

Tip 8: Dismiss the importance of a corporate culture

As you progress with the interview for your vacant IT Manager position all the right boxes are ticked: the candidate pitched up on time, successfully solved that niggly Microsoft Office problem you’ve been experiencing for the last two months, and expressed a dislike of all things Apple. So of course, he’s hired. Within weeks he has persuaded you of the cost-savings of eliminating all paper, sending the aging printers to the recycling centre, installing wifi, and compelling every staff member to switch to mobile devices. What you didn’t anticipate is the antagonism from your team of usually affable, easy-going yet remarkably efficient agents, all well-preserved matriarchs, and none enamoured with this wet-behind-the-ears upstart intent on overhauling their time-tested procedures. Their paper-based diaries have worked for them for decades, and no know-it-all adolescent is going to persuade them otherwise.

In any successful company you generally find a good rapport amongst staff who have developed their own system of working together. Before you employ a new staff member, consider the rapport, the working styles, the various personalities and opinions within your current staff complement, or within the department the new employee is destined for. If the company or department is ailing or failing, a radical appointment may be the shot-in-the-arm the company needs. But a radical appointment made within a successful company or department needs to be carefully considered. By ignoring the opinions and dynamics of your current staff members, you may encounter unnecessary problems if the corporate culture and rapport is detrimentally affected.

Wrong way: Make a radical appointment into a successful staff complement without thinking it through.

Right way: Remain mindful of your current staff members and their personalities and working styles when making your appointment.

Tip 9: Unrealistic expectations

“Welcome on-board. Let’s get to work. This is the third time that this customer has complained – deal with it. These costings just don’t add up – sort it out. The board is expecting the department’s key action points for the month, by COB tomorrow. Oh – and I need a full report on my desk by Monday.” All this before the new recruit has been shown where the restrooms are. Or, more importantly, the coffee machine. If the new employee hasn’t been properly inducted and trained, if realistic company expectations haven’t been expressed and understood, how can the company expect the employee to achieve success in the position?

A problem often encountered when hiring a new employee is expecting him or her to hit the ground running and turn your department / region / business around overnight. When hiring new staff members, you’ll find that they’ll get up to speed a lot quicker, and start producing commendable results, if you have the basics in place. Like a new employee induction programme, and ensuring that the right training, mentoring and guidance is available. Additionally, make sure that both you and your new staff member know and understand what is expected, and that the expectations are realistic and measurable.

Wrong way: Throw a new employee into the post with no instruction or direction.

Right way: Ensure that you have a new employee induction programme, training programme, guidance and mentoring in place to help the employee orient himself and settle down to work.

Tip 10: Fail to plan = Plan to fail

Your star employee has excelled herself. She has brought in more customers than she knows what to do with and the company can barely keep up with the orders she’s generating. She works fourteen-hour days and has enough leave accumulated to go on a round-the-world cruise. Twice. Her customers just won’t let her take a break. And the cracks are starting to show. Quick – what’s a good solution? Ah yes – hire an assistant for her, to relieve some of her workload and maybe even afford her the opportunity to go on that cruise. Then what? As time passes by the market may become saturated, customers may switch their attention to the next-best-thing, the worsening Rand and higher interest rates may start taking their toll on customers’ budgets, or the seasonal boom may subside. Whereupon the company finds itself saddled with an assistant hired in a moment of urgency. An assistant who now passes his time alternating between Clash of Clans and Candy Crush on his iPad.

There should be no problem with hiring someone to assist you during a busy time, provided that person is employed on a temporary basis with a suitably worded contract. Before hiring someone on a permanent basis, objectively consider whether the need that the employee fills in the business is a temporary or more permanent one. Make sure you have a longer term plan for the role that the permanent employee will be required to play in your organisation. Devote some time to consider where and how that person fits into your company’s structure, what is expected of him, and how you plan to develop him. One tool for recording and monitoring the company’s longer-term plan for the employee is in the employee’s Performance Appraisal.

Wrong way: Hire a permanent employee for a temporary business need.

Right way: Make sure there is a longer-term business need before hiring a permanent employee.

Recruitment process

If a company possesses a masochistic desire to continually hire the wrong staff member, then employing these Top Ten Tips will most assuredly achieve that goal. However, a prudent company wishing to operate a sustainable, successful business, maintain solid growth and stay ahead of the competition, would be well-advised to implement an employee recruitment process to ensure the optimum staff complement is employed. In addition to keeping a stock of template employment documents, you can also consider implementing a Recruitment Policy to standardise and optimise the recruitment procedure within your organisation, thereby guarding against costly hiring mistakes.

In Summary

We have on offer a wide variety of employment documents, including Job Application Forms, Interview Guides, Job Description Templates and Performance Appraisal Procedures, as well as a Recruitment Policy, all of which can assist you to avoid making unnecessary hiring mistakes.

Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.