What to do if your new hire isn’t working out

Dealing with challenging employees is one of the most difficult parts of running a business. Here's how to best manage the situation and ensure your recruitment process is up to scratch in the future.

Sometimes a new hire, or an existing member of staff, can become difficult to manage in your business. A challenging employee can present in different ways, such as damaging team morale, increasing staff turnover or losing customers.

It’s never nice to find yourself in a situation where someone isn’t pulling in the same direction as you, so it’s worth considering what you might be able to do to avoid finding yourself in that position at all. However, if the situation does arise then it’s good to be prepared and know how to address it.

This article is part nine of our ten-part series on hiring and onboarding. In the series, you'll learn how to prepare for the recruitment process, select the best candidate and successfully onboard your new starter. You can see other articles in the series at the bottom of the page.

The factors to watch out for

People are human and always bring their own needs and difficulties with them into work. However, there are a few factors to keep in mind if you’re finding yourself regularly having to manage challenging employees. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are you rushing the recruitment process? If you find that problems appear because new hires don’t suit their role, you might want to review how you hire
  • Is management communicating effectively? Poor communication can lead to frustration and confusion, so it’s worth taking a look at your approach to communication
  • Are you aware of any personal employee problems? Personal issues, health problems or high-pressure can negatively affect work ethic, attitude, and interpersonal relationships. Consider what you can do to make your workplace more supportive and talk to the individual concerned

How to deal with challenging employees

It can be difficult to deal with a challenging employee, so the following tips should give you some guidance on how to get ahead of the situation and help you to find the best outcome.

  • Be proactive in dealing with the issue: Ignoring the problem may lead to bad behaviour spreading, so try and deal with any new issues as quickly as possible.
  • Speak directly to the employee: Don’t make assumptions about the employee’s situation, talk to them and listen to their side of the story to have the best chance of resolving it
  • Document problems and response: If you log the problems you’re having with the employee and the steps you’re taking to address them it helps focus on the issue at hand. Furthermore, written documentation is vital if at some point you need to consider disciplining or dismissing them

If the problems continue without progress, you may need to dismiss the employee. Make sure you understand the legal requirements for dismissing someone, and the steps you’re required to take to do so. You may want to consult an HR consultant to ensure you’re doing everything right and therefore protecting the rest of your staff from unnecessary disruption.

Key takeaways

  • Your challenging employee might be a result of your recruitment process or how the business is managing staff. Make sure to review your processes in case they are causing issues
  • There’s more than one side to every story so speak directly to your employee and try to understand if their issue is professional or personal, or if they need further support or allowances
  • Be proactive and rigorous in dealing with challenging staff. Delaying difficult conversations and failing to document issues will hurt your business in the long run

Read more about hiring and onboarding

Take the next step in our hiring and onboarding series

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