New Hire Not Performing? Know When to Pull the Curtains

new hire

Your new hire gave an impressive song and dance during the interview process, but now that it’s showtime, he is wilting under the spotlight.

He isn’t grasping his job responsibilities or meeting deadlines, working the expected hours, or even getting along with his colleagues. He’s making egregious mistakes on a weekly basis, infuriating his team. You’ve been patient, but you’re feeling deeply disappointed at this point. Still, you’re not ready to give up. Follow this process to maximize his opportunity for a turning point while minimizing your investment if an unhappy ending is inevitable:

Warning: Turnaround Needed

It’s time to sit down with your employee and discuss how his performance compares to your expectations in a variety of areas. Provide both verbal and written forms of your critique, with an itemized plan for improvement in checklist form. This format makes your expectations more actionable. During this meeting, ask about his onboarding process and find out if there is any support he needs, but isn’t getting. Be tactful and diplomatic while providing constructive advice, and end on a hopeful note.

Follow Up with a Training Plan

Is your employee lacking in some of the knowledge and skills you believed he had when you hired him? If possible, offer training or professional development opportunities to narrow the gaps, without overspending. For instance, online resources and software training platforms like may help the employee – on his own time. If you still believe the employee has the talent to succeed, consider appointing a mentor or a superior for job shadowing. This kind of relationship provides valuable training without the pressure of a boss overlooking his progress.

Final Warning

Your turnaround plan, training resources, and mentor have all failed to bring your new hire up to an acceptable level of performance. At this point, talk with HR about your company policies and applicable laws to make sure that you are working within these parameters when you issue your final warning. Hold a meeting with the employee to review the process and to state how long the employee has to show the expected level of improvement. You may want to include your supervisor, as well as a representative from human resources in this meeting.

Pull the Curtains

“Oh, if life were like the movies, I’d never be blue

But here in the real world

It’s not that easy at all.”

– Alan Jackson

When decision date arrives, if your employee has not shown dramatic improvement, but instead continues to be a liability to your business, it’s time to exit stage left. A termination is never the desired ending for any script, no matter how many times we see this sad ending play out. But you can take solace in knowing you played your part well.

You did what you could and now the show must go on.