Why New Hires Fail

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

When small businesses hire people who have worked in larger businesses to come in at a senior level there are often mis-matched expectations that can result in an expensive failure.

As the business owner you will be expecting that the new person will “show us how it should be done” and “make us more productive”. You will be looking for that secret formula that bigger businesses apparently have.

Certainly, the new person will have experience of larger, more complex operations. They may have a high level of professional expertise. But they will probably have been operating at a relatively junior level (branch or functional manager, say) and been sheltered from the commercial realities of the business. They will be accustomed to a support network, demarcation, rules and procedures that do not exist in a small business. They may struggle to adapt to the “good enough, get it done today, learn by doing, we need the sales” approach that characterises most small businesses.

You also need to consider their motivations for moving to a small business. Do they want to take on more responsibility, pitch in and start to develop their commercial understanding and career whilst helping you grow your business? Or do they want to move from a relatively junior position to something that sounds rather grander – become a big fish in a small pond? Or maybe they see your business as providing an easy life after the grind of a corporate career?

Don’t underestimate the value in the way you do things currently. The only safe place to start with your new hire is to assume they know nothing. If they are competent, hard-working and adaptable they won’t need the trainer wheels for long. If on the other hand they are a fish out of water then you have to accept that you must spend longer teaching them how things are done in your business.

Here is the key point: If you are running a systemised business already (with checklists, clear processes, key performance indicators and targets) then this is simple. If you aren’t, your new hire will probably only add to the chaos (and your costs) for the short and depressing time they are with you.

This begs the question “Why hire someone senior in the first place if I have to teach them what to do?” Well, firstly, if you run a systemised business, and if you hire someone with the right motivation and adaptability, then once you have taught them the way your business makes money they can start to give some value back by deploying the things they learned in bigger business. You will then start to reap the rewards of having hired a big-hitter.

Secondly and more generally, if you run a growing business then you will need to hire people and this systemised, teaching approach is the way you should deal with all hires, not just the big-hitters.

If you want to learn more about how systemising your business will help it grow why don’t you sign up for our next event?

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