ASK HR: Underperformance may be due to lack of a supportive work setting

Thursday October 12 2017

How do you deal with an employee that seemed

How do you deal with an employee that seemed very capable in an interview, only to find out that he or she is a poor worker after you have employed them? PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MWIKALI MUTHIANI
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Q. I am a HR manager. Often, I am called upon by my employer to recruit. How do you deal with an employee that seemed very capable in an interview, only to find out that he or she is a poor worker after you have employed them?

There are people who interview very well, demonstrating a good match to competencies required for the job, only to disappoint once appointed.

To minimise such mistakes, it is crucial to make the hiring process more stringent; take the candidates through a series of interviews carried out by different people. Include group discussions or presentation to assess not only professional competence, but other important behavioural skills such as listening, assertiveness, decision-making, courtesy, initiative and critical thinking.

Such skills may also be assessed through leadership or personality assessments that give you good analysis, and when well-combined with other outcomes, will present a comprehensive assessment for a better decision.

Such processes are critical when hiring for managerial or leadership roles, and it may therefore be better to spend a little more time to get the right person than going through a re-hiring process, which is costly in terms of time and resources.

Many recruiters will tell you they rely a lot on their gut feeling, and with experience, they start to notice inconsistencies that raise a red flag at early stages of the interview.

Now, to deal with that unfortunate situation, you need to act fast, but even in doing so, invest some time to ascertain whether there are external factors that may be affecting the employee’s performance; under performance may be due to an unsupportive supervisor, unclear or unrealistic objectives, lack of resources or working tools. It is important to be sure the situation cannot be salvaged before considering exit, which should be the last form of action.

If the employee is incompetent, you have two choices. If he is serving on a short-term contract, you can wait for it to lapse and give notice not to renew.

If the remaining period is long, you could place the employee on performance measures that are time bound, and if they do not deliver, you may terminate them on performance grounds.