I remember the first day on the job. I found my office, made all the introductions, went to my first staff meeting. Ooops. I realized on day one that I made a terrible mistake. I hated almost everything about this job.
I took the job because I needed it. I was recently divorced with a 2 year old and I had been laid off for 6 months. I really needed the job. But I made a terrible mistake. I had to figure out a way to make it at least two years so my resume would not look bad. I lasted almost exactly 3 years.
An interesting blog, Top 5 Reasons for New Hire Failure by Kazim Ladimeji, points to a 2005 study by Leadership IQ showing that “46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months while only 19% achieve unequivocal success.”
According to the study, poor interpersonal skills are the primary reason these new hires fail. It breaks down like this:
26% cannot accept feedback
23% are unable to understand and manage emotions
17% lack the necessary motivation to excel
15% have the wrong temperament for the job
11% lack necessary technical skills
Evidently 82% of managers reported that in hindsight, they should have seen it coming. There were problems in the interview. Go figure. Candidates leave clues about how they will perform and fit in the new organization. Those clues were ignored, leading to later failure on the job. You think?
There are several problems here.
First, I do not think hiring managers are very skilled at interviewing. Interviewing to fill an open position is very difficult. The entire recruitment process is ripe for problems. Hiring managers are overworked because the team’s work still needs to be done. They do not really think about the skills and behaviors they want in the new hire. They don’t have time to learn about candidates. So they do not usually understand how the candidate in front of them matches with the team or with the job specs. They often hire the person they like the best. They trust their gut. They should not do that.
Second, candidates jump at job offers without proper thought about what they want or how well they will fit into the job or team. This is a problem too.
In my situation, I worked for the president in a previous job. He liked me. He knew my work. The interview was a phone conversation. He offered. I accepted. That much effort went into both sides of the equation. But both the company and I had a problem. I would not last long. There was a mismatch.
We can call it “poor interpersonal skills”, which is probably true, or we can say there has been a terrible mismatch. The person who cannot accept feedback in one environment might be perfectly suited to another team with another set of people or expectations.
Who is responsible for this mismatch? The hiring manager. The hiring manager has the power and responsibility to ensure new people brought onto the team have the skills and temperament to fit with the other team members and do the job that needs to be done.
Let me speak directly to candidates for a moment.
Every new hire that fails is a job seeker that took the wrong job. Just because it is offered does not mean the job is right for you. You do not want to start work with a queasy feeling that 18 months from now you will be on the market again because you took the wrong job.
I have had that queasy feeling. I was right. I lasted 3 long, hard years trying to fit my square peg into the company’s round hole. It was hard. I was relieved when it was over. I spent a lot more energy finding my next job and I made a much better match.
What is your opinion? Who is responsible for new hire failure? What can hiring managers do about it? What can candidates do to be sure their next position works to their advantage?