I’ve seen a recent flurry of articles about strategies to avoid bad hires, perhaps in response to those oft-cited disengaged employees deciding that the economy has recovered enough that they can take a chance on a new position. In this blog post at Fistful of Talent from Steve Boese, Jonathan Kaplan, founder and CEO of Pure Digital (creator of the Flipcam), is quoted saying “If you hire someone bad, fire them immediately and give them a big severance package so they feel good about you”. At Zappos, call center employees are offered a $1,000 bonus if they choose to leave after their first week of training.
Steve’s post explores different termination scenarios in which he feels that paying severance is a reasonable strategy, excluding the case where the employee is not just a poor fit for the job from a skills perspective but also a behavioral perspective. He rightfully assigns significant responsibility to the employer for not only poor screening and hiring decisions, but failures to onboard, coach and develop new employees.
I’ve blogged about this topic before. It remains relevant because making good hiring decisions is both difficult and important. Picking the right employees requires a combination of clarity on the part of the hiring manager about what’s required for success in the job, an effective working relationship between the recruiter and hiring manager, and the use of appropriate screening mechanisms to objectively determine the right fit for the job.
It seems to me that some of the management omissions that lead to the need to let new hires go quickly are the same ones that create disengaged employees – failure to observe, develop and coach. Depending on the survey you read, 30-50+ percent of employees say they are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months. Paying attention to those smoke signals in your organization may not only help you retain your current talent, but improve your odds of holding on to those willing to join you in the future.2