When a New Hire Isn’t Working Out

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

Our firm is 34 people, all of whom have been carefully selected based on the right skills, attitude and cultural fit. We enjoy very little turnover (two people in the last seven years, both of whom had children and stopped working altogether). Otherwise, no one leaves. It’s always a big deal to bring in someone new because we hesitate to change the dynamics of the existing team.

We take a long time and go through an arduous process to find the right person and align them to the right role. Right before COVID forced us all home, we made an additional hire for our operations team. They are a collaborative group but have been overworked. We had to finish the process remotely, which was a hardship because we like meeting with people and seeing them eye to eye. Our team chose one young man over the other six strong candidates. He is in his late 20s but is very mature and knowledgeable.

Our typical onboarding process was truncated because we could not do the same things virtually we did in person. He did not receive the inculcation most new team members have previously enjoyed. Now that he has been with us for four months, we are starting to question our decision. He is late to meetings, writes emails that are hard to decipher and struggles with the basics of what we do. My operations manager has spoken with him and her view is that he doesn’t listen or care.

I am brokenhearted. We have never had a situation where someone didn’t work out from a capabilities perspective or a cultural fit. I keep looking at the process and trying to figure out what we missed.

Can we turn something like this around in a virtual environment? In the past I might have sat down with someone and personally conveyed my concern and told them what they needed to do differently. Now my ops manager is completely overwhelmed. While she is giving him feedback, I don’t know that it is consistent enough to make an impact.