I once hired a project leader who was a mis-hire. She was technically very competent. She had come highly recommended by another member of our senior leadership team. Her recommender had worked with her at a previous company, in the same role we were hiring for. We were all very excited and had high hopes that this department was going to be competently led.
But she irritated her staff and her clients. I spent a year coaching my bad hire. Finally, I had to let her go. She had just lost a new client of ours. They did not like working with her. They worried that she embodied the attitudes of the rest of the company. When I challenged her about what was going on with the client, she declared that the client was stupid. Our company had built its reputation on customer delight. Yet, though she knew how to manage a project, she did not know how to delight our customers.
After letting her go, I went to inform her staff. I clearly remember a conversation with one staff member. His reaction was “Well, I always figured you were pretty smart. I hoped that you would figure it out eventually.” Ouch! Her staff figured out she was a bad hire long before I did!
The people that are being hurt in your company see the failings of bad performers sooner than you do. I know that I waited too long to be ‘fair to her’. And I dreaded starting the hiring process again. And so, I hung on too long.
Entrepreneurs are often more loyal to their employees than the employees are to them. Especially the ones that were with you early on. What they did well when you were smaller is not what you need now. Learn from my mistake and view performance with a critical eye. Don’t re-live my error.