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Submitted by superjac on


I have a new employee that started 9 days ago. He isn't working out. He is not displaying any problem solving skills or ability to work independently. At this point my manager has asked me to dismiss him because I have spent all my time "holding his hand". He doesn't retain the training. Maybe it is just too technical.

So I re-listened to the podcast on firing someone, and it fairly encourages me to coach this individual in a number of ways. But frankly I'm daunted that coaching him will be a process much longer than his tenure, and of course I will have to somehow explain my decision to my manager.

Am I wrong to just dismiss him?

rwwh's picture
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It doesn't sound like fun for the employee either! How did he get through the selection process?

thaGUma's picture

Hmm .. coaching may be a painful waste here. As RWWH hints, perhaps a review of how this appointment happened before spending more time on them. Was the hiring manger acting poorly or the CV a bit over-puffed?


superjac's picture
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He did claim to know Linux, which he clearly can't possibly know. We are starting to wonder if he even graduated college as he attests. I hate to go so far as to require a transcript to interview, but that may be the case.

scm2423's picture

It is simple.  You were looking for someone who was proficient in Linux.  The candidate said they were but they are not.  Yes, you need to let him go.  This was a bad hire, and they have to be dealt with before they affect others. 

Secondly you need to see this as a failure from your company.  How can you change things to ensure that you are able to verify future candidates have the technical skills they claim they have?  Were you too focused on soft-skills or fit with the group?  We you swayed be someone in the company who knew him....


pmoriarty's picture
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He overstated his qualifications and after being there 9 days its pretty clear he's not what you were looking for.  Admit it's a bad hire and let him go.  Figure out what the company did to incorrectly select him and adjust your interviews to ensure you get a qualified replacement this time.

We all make mistakes.  Keeping this person, IMHO, will only compound the magnitude of the error.

jbthree's picture

This brings up several interesting issues

1)  What skills are coachable? I personally hire for attitude and experience. I can teach the rest.... up to a point. It depends on how   much experience and responsibility the position entails.

2)  You can't coach honesty, either. I would have a frank discussion with him regarding the skills he claims to have and the skills he is demonstrating. There may be a plausible explanation. 

3) Finally, is coaching less necessary in a weak job market, when there are a number of highly qualified people looking for work?

tomjedrz's picture
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... if you are certain he mis-represented his skills and background. It sounds like your company hiring process is broken. Someone should have verified credentials before hiring. A basic background check costs less than $100. I am also pretty sure that most college registrars will verify attendance and degree status over the phone. If you are skeptical about this guy, I would make the call myself. Also, when hiring for specific technical skills, test for them! If the job requires basic Linux knowledge, put candidates in front of a Linux box or give a technical test in writing.

He should also go if he isn't competent, but 9 days does not seem long enough to properly judge this. I am not saying wait 6 months, but perhaps another two weeks. Look back on when you started; how long did it take for the fog to lift and for you to get productive? I am not saying that you are wrong, just that it is too early to know with clarity. You might wish to identify a portfolio of tasks that he should know how to do, and send him through those tasks. Then you can know for certain if he is who he said he is.

As to coaching; if you use the MT coaching model it should not take a lot of your time. Be aware of the difference between "coaching" and "training". If you are also training, and he isn't learning, the issue could be as simple as him not learning the way you teach. You might be a terrible teacher. If you are inclined to keep trying, use the model, which includes identifying multiple resources for getting any help needed. You could accelerate the process, by having short daily meetings instead of running the coaching through weekly O3s.

Coaching podcasts: 


medphred's picture

If he doesn't have the base skills needed for the position then yes you should dismiss him IMO.  I look at the base skills as similar to the foundation of a house ... if its not good then no amount of finish work will improve the house.  In this case if the employee needs to know Linux for the position an doesn't have that skill than you have to move on. 

I do agree with the how to fire model that M&M give but I think of that as for the skills around the base skill.  In other words, giving feedback and coaching to help a person improve as a project manager or become better with communication or politics.  But to coach on a base skill ... that's not what you signed up for I'm assuming.  That's why it was probably in your job requirements.

Beyond this there are 2 things that stand out as well ....

  1. The employee lied.  Calls in to question how responsible s/he is and how much you can depend / rely on him/her. As best this is a serious feedback moment. But with lying about a basic job reqt, its a nail in the coffin for me.
  2. The hiring process is broken. As others pointed out this stuff should get picked up before you hire.  Maybe its background checks. Maybe you have future interviewees demonstrate skill proficiency as part of the process (either in person or have them complete a project).  To avoid this happening again you need to fix the process.

Re timing, if he's missing a base skill you should be able to know that within the first week.  If you need the person to know Linux, he told you he had that skill, and you can clearly see he doesn't have that skill - move on.


kmart923's picture

Letting someone go is a difficult situation for all involved. However, if you're spending all of your time hand holding then you're not able to perform your duties. So, aside from the obvious questions, "did this person overstate their qualifications?", the next question I would consider "Is this person worth my time and effort to train?".  The answer is probably no & if that's the case then better to move on now than create work flow disruption and animosity with the rest of the staff, which I know first hand can be very hard to rectify.  The good news is that it's only been 9 days...