We recently filled an open position with a person who may be less qualified than the hiring manager originally believed. The hiring manager has since left the organization, and that manager's manager has been approached by the team who is complaining that he does not meet the requirements to be in this position. This is in the form of an actual list that documents several instances where he lacked understanding or initiative that they feel should exist in this position's level.

Some background - after the second interview in which the team meets with the candidate, none of them felt confident that this person was the right fit for the job based on credentials and culture.

I have been asked by this manager to review the document that has been submitted as the specific instances are in an area that I worked in for several years.

Has anyone else been in any role of this scenario? I could use some insight on how to approach this.. I have had some working interaction with this person, but as I am not the hiring manager I feel all I should do is give my objective opinion and stay as far away from the issue as possible.

Thanks -

jhack's picture

What is your role? Are you a peer of the Manager In Question? Are you a direct? A "cousin?"

Your role very determines how you respond.

I've been in situations where the wrong manager is in place, and it rarely plays out smoothly or nicely.

John Hack

HMac's picture

I feel all I should do is give my objective opinion and stay as far away from the issue as possible.

I'd go light on the first part, and heavy on the second!

Are you in this manager's chain of command?
Are you in the team's chain of command?

If the answer to both is "no", consider a lunch with him where you do a lot more listening than talking, and then staying far, far away.


cdeberry's picture

I am a peer of this manager (we both have the same boss), who the hiring manager (that has since resigned) worked for.

At one point in time, I held the position of the person in question. This means that many of the team members on that team that I worked with are still around (which I am concerned will add more layers of complexity).

jhack's picture

"When things are messed up, it's because of management."

So, a peer of yours has a minor revolt going on, and the boss of both of you wants YOU to evaluate him. Your problem goes beyond your (possibly underperforming) peer.

Your boss wants an evaluation, though, so you have to do it. Stick to behaviors you have observed. Maybe the band of revolutionaries simply doesn't like the change in regime, and are trying to undermine him. Maybe he's asking for changes that will make them work harder or differently. Stick to information you know yourself.

No one knows everything they need to know when they start a new role. Maybe he was hired for capability, and the (now gone) manager was going to coach him on your company-specific stuff. Without his coach, he's been put in a bad place.

Finally, if he's a peer and you haven't yet had lunch with him, then this is a lesson for you: in the future, get to know your new peers quickly.

You must be very careful here. Describe behavior - if you say something that could not be verified by a hidden camera, you shouldn't say it. Avoid conclusions. Stick to facts.

John Hack

RobRedmond's picture

This is yet another case of people not wanting to do their jobs and be the bad guys who have found someone else to play cat's paw and do their dirty work for them.

Find a way to respond to them and provide them meaningful help without giving them what they are asking for: you taking responsibility for his being let go or being held accountable for his performance if he stays.

Perhaps refer them to the late stage coaching model, O3's etc, and suggest that they put him "on a plan." Perhaps offer to take over the entire department under you and evaluate him as his manager."I could not possibly render judgment on someone with a bunch of hearsay going on. Give him and his department to me, and I will review it and see what happens." Then when you turn things around, present your accomplishments and turn it all into a promotion for you. :)

Whatever you do, don't set yourself up to be pointed at when he fails, nor should you allow yourself to be the scapegoat who pulls the trigger on firing him.

You are being set up. But you can still play it to your advantage, help the guy they are trying to torch be successful, and save your management from their fear of having to get their hands dirty. Solve all the problems at once: Insist he and his group's work falls under you permanently.

They will either accept or decline. Either way, you are better off with that situation than you are doing the foolish thing they ask of you.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

I disagree with the tone that this is some sort of plot, though I'd have to know more to be sure.  If Rob and John worked for me, and it was John's org that had this problem but he was gone, I might well ask Rob to take a look into it.

And if Rob refused or hedged or tap-danced, I'd look askance at that.  And I'm being nice.

If Rob and I were buddies, and peers, and he asked for some help, and all he wanted me to do was provide some perspective, I'd do that too.

What am I missing here?