From Great to Crap is Mostly a Management Failure

Can we all agree that we hire someone our thoughts are that this new hire can only get better. We think this person will be great when we hire them, and we expect them to only get better. Is this true? Or do you feel when you make an offer to a new hire this person will be a piece of crap you’ll one day fire?

If this is the case, when an employee turns into garbage we must accept the fake this it is mostly our doing as leaders. Somewhere along the line, we failed this person. We hired potential to be great and we did not help this person reach their greatness.

Where do we fail as leaders when someone goes from Great to Crap? 

– We failed to truly assess this person before we hired them. We thought we were hiring great, but we didn’t do enough due diligence to truly understand this person’s skills and motivations.

– We failed to onboard this employee thoroughly to set them on a path for success. To prepare them for our culture and norms.

– We failed to train and develop this person in a way that would assist them on their path of success within our organization. To give them the skills needed to succeed in their role.

– We failed to define, accurately and clearly, what a ‘great’ performance looked like in our organization and in this role.

– We failed to lead them to a performance that would guarantee their success. We allowed their performance to slip into negative territory and not help pull them out of it.

As a leader, we fail our people constantly. Should we talk about how employees fail us? We could, that’s what we usually do. We find every excuse in the world to tell ourselves how a great person turned into a piece of crap when the common denominator was our leadership. It’s not us, it has to them.

They fooled us in the interview.

They lied about their past performance.

They embellished their skill sets and motivations.

They didn’t do the work necessary.

It’s them, it’s not us. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.¬†Well, anyway, I gave them the exact same thing I’ve given every hire before them.

Maybe they needed a bit more than all the hires. Maybe they needed something less, but different than the other hires. Maybe a one-size-fits-all training, development, performance doesn’t fit every size.

Okay, Yes, there is dual ownership over failed hires

That means, if someone has failed, under your leadership you must first look inward to what part you truly owned. What you didn’t do to help this person succeed. I’m depressed after every single termination I’ve done in my career because I know somewhere along the line, I failed as a leader. There was a point where I could have made a difference, and instead, I made an excuse.

I become a better selector of people and a better leader if I internalize each failed hire and try to better understand the part I played in this failure. Did I hire someone who had fewer weaknesses, but no real strengths? Did I believe that giving this person the “same” was good enough? Did I see this person start to fail and not address it immediately believing that a “great” leader would not micromanage and give this person freedom?

Great to crap isn’t a one-person journey. It takes a lot of failures and people to make a great person into a crappy hire. What role did you play in your last bad hire?

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