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Posts Tagged ‘interview’

Not As Advertised

Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing trend among many of my clients. They have at least one seemingly bright employee who is making mistakes and is unwilling to assume responsibility for those mistakes. I often find these are simply employees who may have overstated their abilities.

The signs to look for to determine if you have an employee who is not as advertised and what to do about it are the subject of this month’s article.

A Tale of Two Employees

Ben and Robert

Robert is a talented technical writer. He is also a source of frustration to his boss, Ben. I had been asked to spend time with Ben to see if I could help him communicate more effectively with Robert.

“What was the source of your frustration?” I asked Ben.

“Robert doesn’t do what I ask him to do!” Ben responded.

“Does he understand what you’re talking about?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” Ben responded. “He just makes mistakes because he rushes through things.” “What else does he do that bothers you?” I inquired further.

“He always seems to blame someone else. Either I didn’t explain the task correctly or someone else didn’t do their part,” he explained.

“Out of every ten things you ask him to do, how many come back exactly the way you want?” I queried.

“Two out of ten,” Ben replied.

Clearly, batting two hundred doesn’t cut it in any league.

Lisa and Pam

Lisa is at her wits end with her administrative aid, Pam.

“She is really experienced,” explained Lisa.

”She came highly recommended, and she was one of the best interviews I ever had—so personable and confident,” Lisa added.

“Then what’s the problem?” I asked.

“I have to correct everything she does! She gets things done quickly but there are always mistakes,” Lisa responded.

(Hmm. Seems like I’ve heard this before.)

“Anything else?” I asked.

“Yes, she tells me I never explain what I want and that when there are mistakes it’s because of someone else,” Lisa stated.

I asked Lisa the same question that I had asked Robert: “Out every ten things you ask your employee to do, how many come back exactly the way you want?”

Lisa’s response: “Zero come back exactly the way I want.”

What’s going on?

So what’s going on here? I think at there are at least three problems:

I believe that while they are probably bright, neither Robert nor Pam have the level of expertise they originally claimed.

I believe they both know it and are afraid of being found out, which is why they spend so much time making excuses and blaming others.

I believe Ben and Lisa have been sold a bill of goods and are trying to rationalize what has happened rather than admit their employees are “not as advertised.”

The signs

Want to avoid making this mistake?

These are the warning signs that your employee may not have all the abilities they claim to have:

  • They initially are very personable and appear quite confident.
  • They are typically between 25 and 35 years old.
  • They have had some work experience in the field.
  • They often claim to have made significant contributions in their previous jobs but that has not been confirmed.
  • When asked why they left their last job they will often say they were not appreciated or their professional growth
    was being hampered.
  • They seldom if ever admit they don’t understand something.
  • They seldom if ever admit they were wrong.
  • When they make mistakes, they will first deny the mistake; but if pressed, will blame you for giving them poor direction or blame another person. They may even lie.
  • They tend to be fast but not particularly accurate.
  • Other employees don’t like them.

What to do?

If you have, or think you have, such an employee, the ideas mentioned below may help:

The goal should be to retain the employee if possible. You will, however, need to find ways to assess their knowledge level while still allowing them to save face.

First, learn to ignore their attempts to change the subject. If they tell you that you didn’t explain something properly, don’t argue. Offer to restate what you said, and make sure they can repeat the conversation back to you. If they claim another employee didn’t do something, offer to bring the coworker in so the misunderstanding can be addressed.

Meet with them daily for at least two weeks. Outline what you want them to do and what you don’t want them to do. After two weeks, meet with them twice a week; after that time, you should be able to meet weekly.

Be solution oriented. Tell them the behavior you want rather than the behavior you don’t like.

Stress accuracy first and speed second.

Reassure them that it’s OK to make mistakes and it’s OK to tell you if they don’t understand something.

Monitor this process for a month to six weeks. If you don’t see noticeable improvement, you’ll probably need to begin the process of replacing them.

The Bottom Line

If you have to replace an employee who was not as advertised, consider it a learning experience.

Learn your lessons and move on.

When it comes to hiring talent, no one “bats a thousand.”

CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488