October 17, 2017
Hiring 09 March 2017
How to Avoid Hiring the Employee from Hell
Crystal Huang
bad hire, employee from hell, how to avoid bad hires, red flags

Everyone’s been through this at some point in their hiring process. You hire an employee only to learn about and be the brunt of the worst of their traits. They think work is optional or feel like that they can waltz in and out of the office like they own it. They have a terrible attitude and speak to you, their boss, like they are your boss. They don’t take ownership of the company and are not here for the long-haul.


These past two years of growing our young company have been insightful. Along the way, we learned that the same problems we were encountering were also being encountered by large organizations. It seems bad employees are found everywhere and costing companies millions of dollars. Through much research, we found the root to most hiring and retention issues. We’ve learned a few tricks along the way and I hope these tips can help you structure your company’s talent in a more effective and efficient manner.


A big reason of why we pivoted our platform was because we first-hand experienced these employees from “hell”. While evaluation during the hiring process help will weed out a ton of weaknesses, our lack of similar on-the-job evaluations as well as the absence of a training and development program failed us and hurt our culture. We also realized that hiring happens not just for new hires but throughout the organization. If you have a mid-level manager leave his or her job and no one to succeed them, you will need to hire from outside the organization. This costs your company time, money, and other resources. Every role is, therefore a hiring role.  


No matter the size of your company, C-level executives need to be on-point and in-tuned with their hiring strategy. After all, how well your company does is determined by the execution of your people. If you have great people, the success rate of your company is higher. Simple math. Many companies hire management consulting firms because they do not have a good foundation in place nor the right platform to house true hiring and succession planning. They end up spending tens of thousands, sometimes millions to fix that. Do it the right way...now!


The first step is to look at your organizational structure. The idea is to develop employees who have proven they are great and fit well within your organization. When you hire from outside, you run the risk of bringing a new employee from hell into the mix, whose attitude and traits can spread like a disease, and kill your culture. 


Step 1. Design your Organizational Structure

Identify three main goals your company or department wants to hit. Next, you need to brainstorm and know how you can get there. Once you understand this first part of the puzzle, you will have a much clearer picture of the kind of talent you need to have. From there, list every job you need to have in your organization and separate them into 3 groups - immediate, short-term, long-term. “Immediate” are jobs you absolutely have to have now. “Short-term” are jobs that will need to be filled in 1-6 months. “Long-term” will be jobs 7 months or more away. Having a well-designed organization structure will save you time and money. It will also help your organization stay lean while encouraging a growth mindset for your managers which will trickle down to your employees.


Step 2. Create Pathways 

The rule of thumb is “Every job should have a pathway leading up to it and every employee should be on a pathway”. Be on a pathway includes training, milestones, evaluations - tools that allow the manager to understand where this employee is at and get them trained so they can be more effective to the organization. A pathway should lead to a higher position, a different position more suited for the individual, or if they are already at the top of their game, allow for both parties to understand that fact. If that’s the case, their pathway should allow them to truly own their role at the company and be the best they can be at what they do. A well-designed pathway can help companies fill most mid-level and senior-level positions. In doing so, you get rid of half the problems like bad culture fit, training new hires, learning curves, and so on. In addition, this promotes employee loyalty and creates a sense of progression, leading to higher retention. Pathways also allow recruiters, hiring managers, and trainers to communicate with each other to find and develop talent that will contribute to the well-being of the company. Pathways will also enable recruiters and hiring managers to understand the exact skillsets/talent they should be seeking for to fill those positions as well as positions it leads up to.


Step 3. Always Be Evaluating                                                                 

It is becoming common knowledge that one should evaluate candidates before hiring them. However, it is also important to evaluate your employees and see how effective they are within the organization. As a manager, there is no way, you can or should micro-manage your employee’s every move. Instead, you create definite milestones and challenges to evaluate their progression. At the same time, your employees will understand the level you expect them to be at and will want to work towards hitting those milestones and knocking their evaluations out of the park. 


Step 4. Have Rules...Act Fast                                                                  

I was speaking to a Labor of Law employee a while back and she reminded me about something so simple, yet hard to do at times. She said “It’s ok to have strict rules and be firm with employees. They will still enjoy their jobs and you will still have a great culture.” If you have the structure and rules set in place, that becomes the standard in the company. It is also ok to let go of an employee if they are not working out. It is actually better to hire slow and fire fast. An employee that is not working out will slowly spread negativity, bad work ethics, or become the bad example that it’s ok to not perform at work. At the end of the day, you are hiring people to grow your business. 


You will inevitably hire some bad employees. But with a great system of expectations aka pathways in place, it takes the emotional toll and stress out of termination. Often times, managers keep poor employees in the company because they can’t find a replacement fast enough and well, someone needs to take care of the job. If you have well-designed pathways, you should not have to worry about filling in the departed employee’s shoes. This gives you the flexibility to act fast and ensure that only great people stay within your organization. 


At the same time, you will also have to hire some people from outside your organization. They should come into the job, understanding that a big part of company culture means everyone in the company knows where they stand and how to progress. When job expectations become the norm, that is when you will see employees being innovative and pushing to be the best. That’s when things get fun and culture becomes great - when your people are enjoying their work and not worrying about which loopholes they can take advantage of. 


It is not easy starting a company, running one, or managing people. Don’t wait for the right time to put an organized structure in place. It is never too early and never too late. Once that organizational structure is in place, you will be a happier manager because you will manage happy and productive employees.