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Five Warning Signs in New Employees - and What To Do

If you take on a new employee that your existing employees cannot get on with, then you are certain to have problems. Emotional issues almost always become productivity and performance issues, and you could even lose valuable members of your team.

How do you prevent this happening to you?

Added on 17.09.2018

It's very rare for someone to leave (or be let go) because they didn't have the right skills or experience for their job. There are two main reasons people move on: 

  • either they have issues with what they are required to do (the work);
  •  or they are have an issue with someone in the workplace (the people).

Recognition of the importance of having people who are comfortable and happy with each other is what is referred to as 'fit'. So here are five behaviours you should be concerned about in any new employee, together with ways you might be able to turn things around.

There's nothing they can't do

Confidence is a good thing, and our advice to employers is that every team needs at least one 'generalist' (someone able to turn their hand to new and varied things). However it's very rare to find someone who can do anything. If your new employee is professing expertise in things that weren't on their CV then chances are they're either over-confident, or trying too hard.

How to counteract

Be sure your new employee knows what they were hired to do, and what other members of the team have been hired to do. Foster a culture in which it's OK to admit to a lack of knowledge, and in which your employees compete as a team and not against each other. As part of your new hire's personal development plan, have a list of all of their skills drawn up, with a candid assessment from them of any areas they'd like to broaden their knowledge in.

They're inflexible or demanding

A 'high maintenance' employee can create problems in any team if they are perceived to not be pulling their weight, not chipping in, or getting undeserved special treatment. Someone settling into a new role should be focused on how their contribution provides value to the team output, not how to make their life easier.

How to counteract

Prevention is better than cure. Do your interviewing and selection properly, be sure to settle new employees in thoroughly, and foster a good culture within your workplace. If you do all these three things then your new employee should be a good 'fit' with your existing team. Check that your new hire doesn't feel overburdened and feels able to do deliver on their workload.

They only talk to 'important' people

Everyone has their own preference when it comes to the company they keep, but does your new hire only seem to talk to senior people or management, and avoid the company of more junior or support staff? This could indicate both opportunism and snobbery, neither of which are desirable qualities.

How to counteract

Be sure that you are leading by example, and be certain all of your employees are happy and fulfilled in their job. If your business is one in which there is regular contact between staff at all levels, then this should send a clear message to anyone new that everyone's input and output is valued.

They're too keen to be promoted

Unless they are knocking the ball out the park on every task you give them, this is a sure-fire warning sign that your new employee over-values themselves and is more focused on career progression than is healthy for your business.

How to counteract

A good personal development plan (one that draws a clear and unambiguous roadmap of what knowledge, skills, experience and attributes are required for progression ), candid feedback on their work, and a culture that places value on the team first and foremost (rather than leading lights or shining stars) should send the right message.

They're not making enough effort

If you have doubts about your new employee's level of commitment early on then you really have to ask yourself what they will be like once the honeymoon period is over. Digital can be very demanding, and the ability of a team to come together around an emergency, a tight deadline or a big pitch can be a major factor in an agency's success. It goes without saying therefore that you need people you can count on.

How to counteract

The issues above can all be a case of someone just needing to see best practice to develop it themselves. A lack of effort however needs to be nipped in the bud quickly and directly: have a quick chat with your new employee, let them know that you expected more than they are delivering, and ask if there's any reason for them not being as focused as you would have hoped.

Make a Final Decision within the first Three Months

We have provided suggestions in every case on how to give your new employee unambiguous signals on what you value, and what you cannot tolerate. If the new person does not respond quickly to these, or to direct conversation, and you have any doubts remaining after three months, then you are far safer looking for a new team member.