Rookie Hiring Mistakes

The New York Times recently had a good article titles “The Top 10 Rookie Mistakes for Entrepreneurs” which looks at the top reasons people usually fail when starting a new business.  As you can imagine many of the reasons where typical: expense control, fiscal responsibility, having a strong value proposition, etc.  But out of all 10 reasons there was one glaring omission on why so many new business owners fail – when it comes to hiring and the HR side of the business:

11. Holding on to Bad Hires too long.

This might be the biggest Rookie hiring mistake ever – it definitely is something we can all relate to – I don’t know of one leader that at some point in their career hasn’t done this!

Here’s the problem with this mistake:

  • You want to believe that your hiring process works – so, the person just needs more time.
  • You want to believe in the person – I mean all people want to do well, right!? – so, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe you, as a leader, can help the person through this – so, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe that you don’t make hiring mistakes, that’s for other idiots – so, you give them more time.
  • You want to believe, period. So, you give them more time.

This happens to the best leaders in the world – usually numerous times – before they get how bad this is for themselves and their organizations.

I think most people see ‘holding on to bad hires’ as a sign of weakness.  “Oh, you know Tim, he doesn’t have the balls to just go and fire Joe!  If Joe worked for me, he wouldn’t have made it one day!”  We hear this kind of stuff from our managers all the time!  The truth is, this has nothing to do with weakness – this has everything to do with Hope.  We never hire someone thinking “Oh, boy this gal is great, I can’t to fire her in 90 days!”   You don’t hire, to fire.  That’s why this becomes so tough.

Only after we get scared and hardened from enough bad hires – do you truly understand what the negative impact is, to hanging on them for too long.  Many people will say – they are “long to hire, and quick to fire”, but that’s a lie.  The majority of us are quick to hire, and long to fire.  It’s a rookie mistake – one we all do, or have done.  So, what am I telling you?  When you know.  When you truly know (your gut tells you, your metrics tell you, your peers are telling you) that you’ve made a bad hire – do the right thing for you and your organization.  Remember – you didn’t fire them, they fired themselves.



3 thoughts on “Rookie Hiring Mistakes

  1. Ha! Depends on what you’re hiring for. When bringing in experienced talent at mid to upper level positions, current team-members may be resistant to engage or appreciate the new person’s perspective, or turf protecting and not sharing the load, or worse, feel threatened as they can no longer hide their own faults. Keeping your earbto the ground is good, but a manager that is quick to fire could mean protecting the status quo and we all know change or die.

  2. Great advice Tim. But as someone who has made this rookie mistake personally and someone who has advised others on the same, I see the real struggle being finding the tipping point.

    Some leaders struggle more with this rookie mistake than others and I’ve found that often the difference is a measuring stick to knowing the tipping point. Metrics, data and information that can validate that hope is fading or gone, and that what your gut is telling you is right.

    Keeping an ear to the ground (for real feedback about the hire) and having strong goals and objectives for the position are great benchmarks for finding the tipping point and acting more decisively rather than letting a bad hire hurt the business more than it should.

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