How Soon Is Too Soon To Let Someone Go?

You were so happy when you filled the position with what seemed like the ideal candidate. But after a couple of weeks it has become apparent your new hire is not living up to expectations. What should you do?

too soon to let someone go

You take a chance any time you hire someone. And you also want to give new employees a chance to succeed. You don’t want to let your hire go too soon. After all, a great deal of time and expense was invested in the hiring process and you really don’t relish the idea of going back to square one.   At the same time, however, you don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad. How soon is too soon to let someone go? There’s no easy answer, but here are some basic guidelines that will help you decide if you’ve really given a disappointing hire a fair shot.

Consider The Learning Curve

Some managers forget that when they first started at their job, they were not nearly as proficient as they are now. If there is a high learning curve, employees should not be expected to pick everything up on their first day. Most new hires require some level of training; and the more complex the job is, the more time they should be given to master the relevant tasks.

Identify The Type Of Underperformance

There are many different reasons why a new employee may be a disappointment. It could be he has trouble understanding what’s expected of him. He could be putting in a minimal amount of effort.  He might be difficult to get along with. Or he may have oversold his skills during the interview process. Once you identify the reason the situation isn’t working out, you have to consider if improvements can be made, or if this is simply a lost cause.

Weigh The Costs And Benefits

Deciding whether to “fish or cut bait” requires an honest assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the employee on board, or letting him go. Ask yourself: would it be more expensive to work to retrain this individual, or hire someone else? What would it do to morale and motivation in the workplace to fire a new employee after just a few days, weeks, or months? How difficult would the adjustment be to the department and other employees? If you’re looking at a warehouse worker, the costs of replacement are probably relatively low. However, if you’re dealing with a department head, there’s much more at stake. Weigh your options carefully and judicially before deciding to let an employee go too soon.

Recognize The Time Factor

If you fire an employee after just a few days, it’s likely the other candidates you were considering for the position will still be available. However, if you wait months, chances are good you’ll have to start the recruitment process all over again. Keep timelines in mind when making your decision. If you interviewed other candidates you believed were equally qualified, you might not want to hesitate when it comes to letting the underperforming employee go. Taking too long to make a decision could mean losing out on a chance to rapidly hire a successful replacement.

It’s always unsettling when plans don’t go the way you expected. And when high hopes about a new employee are dashed, some form of action must be taken. You need to let the employee go or make adjustments to improve the situation. When you’re deciding which direction to take, keep the guidelines discussed here in mind, and above all, trust your instincts.

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