The answer seems obvious. Don’t hire someone if you don’t feel right about the person. But what if the person you’re considering hiring is fully qualified and time is running out? Making hiring decisions like this can be tricky.
I recently dealt with this hiring decisions conundrum in my own business. I needed a teacher for the afternoon shift. Classes were to begin in two weeks. I didn’t think I had another option. But I didn’t feel right about hiring this person. I’ll call him Tom.
My hiring decisions conundrum
The interview and evaluations with my senior teacher went fine, but we both had a negative gut feeling about Tom. Then I consulted my staff. They had similar negative feelings about hiring Tom, but it was only a gut feeling. They couldn’t tell me anything specific to convince me that hiring him was a bad idea. Tom’s teaching style seemed fine, and his background and qualifications were on par.
It came down to personality. Something wasn’t quite right. But we couldn’t nail it down while making our hiring decisions. So I decided to hire him.
Tom’s initial work
During the two weeks after hiring Tom, he helped us refine our teaching method. He also helped us with our marketing promotions. And I taught him the right sales mindset so he could close the deal when trying to enroll new students. Tom did well. So for the moment, I felt happy about hiring him.
After classes began, my staff and I paid close attention to Tom’s teaching. His personality was a little abrasive, but he maintained the attention of all of his students. He drove each lesson in until the entire class understood it. The students seemed satisfied and happy.
After two weeks of teaching though, Tom started having issues with some students. He had one issue with a parent who brought two teenagers to the class. The teenagers would interrupt the class and the parent would defend them.
Tom quickly brought this issue to my attention. I advised him on how to handle it. Then, my staff observed Tom’s next few classes to see if the issue continued.
Soon after Tom’s first issue, many students started dropping out. When we called them to follow up, most told us that they quit because of the teacher. Out of 20 students that quit, 15 told us it was because of Tom’s harsh personality and rambling.
Now I felt bad about my hiring decisions…
On the day I confronted Tom about this issue, I called him into my office. He was smiling and he seemed to be in a good mood. I told him that many of his students had dropped out. He responded by saying he was anticipating this conversation. Then, I told him that most of them told us that they quit because of him. I followed that up by saying I wanted to work with him to resolve the issue.
Right after explaining the issue to Tom in a calm and encouraging way, he stood up and told me that he quit. I quickly responded that I wasn’t firing him. I told him that my intention was to discuss it and correct it. He looked right into my eyes and told me that I need to hire a teacher who actually likes students. WOW!
After THAT conversation, I asked Tom to please finish out the week so we could find a replacement. His classes were about to begin in 90 minutes.
No luck. Tom walked out on me right then. Now I really felt REALLY BAD about my hiring decisions. I felt stupid.
My backup plan
Fortunately, I had a backup plan. A friend of mine told me he’d teach for me if I ever needed him. So I called him right away. He came in just in time to go over the details about the classes before they began. That was a close call!
Hiring a substitute teacher
My friend wasn’t interested in teaching for me full-time. And besides, I couldn’t afford him anyway. But his willingness to substitute-teach for me while I sought another teacher was priceless. He saved my business. And we were able to get half of those who dropped out back when we told them that we replaced Tom.
How could I have made my hiring decisions any different?
I felt that if I continued to seek another teacher instead of hiring Tom, I would have run out of time. I needed help with finalizing our teaching method. Also, I needed to fully orient the teacher about my academy. Maybe I could have pushed out the start date by two weeks to give myself a little more time to make better hiring decisions?
Having to depend on employees to carry out the responsibilities of your business is a very dynamic experience. How much should you depend on a person? And to mitigate the risk, how can you maintain a backup plan for each employee?
Replacing a key employee
It may be easy to replace cleaning staff, but not a manager, teacher or another type of professional. Hiring decisions take time to find the right person. And after hiring someone, it takes more time and effort to get them trained. Once they’re fully integrated and working independently, they become extremely valuable to your business – they slowly learn all of the idiosyncrasies.
The current state of the job market also plays a role when making hiring decisions. How many qualified individuals are available for work? What is the median pay rate for the type of professional you are seeking? Making hiring decisions can be an arduous process!
What is your experience with employees who didn’t work out? Were there any signs that you may have missed or ignored in the beginning? I’d like to know what I could have done differently! 🙂
Thank you for reading:
HIRING DECISIONS- Do I hire someone when my gut says NO?
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