How to Manage Poor Work Performance With New Hires

Hiring the right person for a particular job is taxing. There is the advertising for the role, receiving applications, carrying out interviews, vetting applicants and finally making an offer to the best candidate. Hiring involves an investment in time, productive employee hours and money.

After all that has been done, it can be very disappointing to find that the person hired is falling short of expectations. Firing them and repeating the process may not be feasible or even necessary. If you look past that initial disappointment, there are ways to salvage the situation and completely turn around the poor work performance of a new hire.

Evaluate your on boarding processes

On boarding is the process of introducing a new employee into the workplace. It helps employees assimilate into the new environment and to understand their roles. When done right, onboarding can increase employee retention and productivity.

When rushed and done without proper planning, it can result in poor work performance.  When poor work performance is noticed, human resource managers should look at their onboarding processes to see if there are steps that were missed.

Activities involved in the process can include:

  • giving employees all the necessary paperwork
  • sharing the organisation structure
  • offering culture training

In some organisations, new hires have one on one meetings with every head of department (regardless of whether they will work directly with them or not) to understand exactly how the company runs and their place in it.

Don’t think it is too late to go back and take a new hire through parts of the onboarding process you may have left out. In some companies, onboarding can last for as long as a year.

Assign them a buddy

A new job can be daunting. New policies, new tasks, new software and different ways of doing things. It can be very helpful to have a friend to help you navigate. This is why some organisations implement the buddy system.

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With a buddy system, a new hire is paired with a colleague at the same level to help them out at work. The buddy system can boost confidence, create a feeling of belonging and while the primary role of a buddy isn’t to teach a new recruit their job tasks, there can be informal learning in a buddy system too.

It is important to assign the right buddy. Here are guidelines you can follow to implement a buddy system at work.

Set clear goals

Goal setting isn’t only important for continuing employees, it is important for new hires as well. Let them know what they need to be doing specifically. As newcomers, they might find that projects they are meant to work on are already under way. Get rid of poor work performance by catching them up on the progress of the project; what has been done and what needs to be done.

Leaving it up to a new employee to figure out how they can contribute all on their own, is a sure way to get expectations mixed up. It can result in disappointment by both supervisors and the employee.

Remember that poor work performance not only affects the business, it also affects the employee. A loss of confidence in their ability to do the job can drive down productivity and morale.

Save your new hires from this by being clear on what they should be doing, and going further to define exactly what a job well done looks like.

Offer training

Sometimes when a promotion is made, managers may take it for granted that the employee knows what to do in the new role. For instance, if one is promoted to supervise others working in a role he or she has done for 10 years, management may feel that they already know what to do.

The thinking might be; ‘You have been doing this already anyway’. This might be the case, however, every new role comes with new responsibilities. Employees need to have a full briefing and training on how to execute their roles.

While one might have the technical skills required for the job, they might need to be trained on leadership skills required to manage a team of their own. They might also need to learn presentation skills required to have successful meetings with senior management. Before thinking about demoting an employee for poor work performance, train them for the new role.

Check in regularly

Doing regular check-ins with new hires is a good way to get rid of poor work performance. Scheduled bi-weekly or weekly check-ins, coupled with less formal ones on ones, can identify areas a new hire may be struggling with. It also gives a manager the chance to clarify what the employee needs to do.

It is important for a manager or supervisor to preface these conversations with the fact that they are there to help and not to judge the employee. Employees can come to dread these check-ins if they feel like it’s being called into the head teacher’s office.

To prevent this, encourage dialogue, offer positive as well as negative feedback and have some sessions where the manager only answers questions from the employee. This type of open communication is one of the ways to improve productivity in the workplace.

Give them time

Like most things in life, there might be a learning curve at a new job. A slow start doesn’t necessarily mean an employee is the wrong fit for the job. Managers should give enough time for an employee to adjust. However, this shouldn’t be done completely hands off. Checking in regularly should be a part of the process.

In Summary

While some new hires are able to hit the ground running, others may need a little more time. It is the duty of managers, to ensure that both of these groups of employees are supported in doing their job.

This support shouldn’t only be about giving employees tools of work, it should also extend to social support. After all, when employees fit in to a workplace, they feel motivated to do their best.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.