How to Know When to Give Up on a New Hire

If a hiring mistake costs you three months’ time, that’s not good. If you don’t realize you made a hiring mistake for a year or two, the damage can be catastrophic.

Include a “second hiring date” in your process

I advise companies to have a standard policy that defines the first 90 to 180 days (and maybe a little longer) as a trial period. After that point, the candidate’s fit is reevaluated. You will look at the new hire, evaluate their progress, then decide whether to “invest or divest.”

That is, knowing what you know at that point, would you still hire the person? This kind of “second hiring date” thinking helps you focus on observing how your new salesperson is progressing.

During that trial period, pay attention to signs that the person is not the right fit, such as these:

  • Frequently late or absent
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Quality or quantity of effort drops
  • Complaints about the person
  • Frequent complaints by the person
  • Spending work time on non-work interests
  • Displays of anger, dissension, or rule breaking
  • Failure to improve, or implement coaching

In addition, it helps if you’ve predefined specific standards for skills and wills (attitudes) that you want all new hires to strive towards. That gives you an objective method for avoiding bias in your evaluation. By “bias” I am referring to a sales manager’s tendency to overlook or minimize the indications that the person is a bad fit, because we often don’t want to admit we made a hiring mistake.

Divest or Invest?

If you observe some of these problems and the new hire doesn’t respond to your coaching, cut your losses. You can talk all you want about having high expectations, but your actions speak louder than words. Your current lowest producer is the de facto minimum acceptable standard you have set for your team! Do not let a lousy new hire lower the minimum even further. Act quickly to remove that player from your team. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Do not tolerate mediocrity!

If none of these kinds of problems appear and the person makes the grade, then you can increase your investment in their development. Here are two suggestions:

  • Provide additional training. What skills does the new hire still need the most work on?
  • Target marketing dollars in their territory to generate more leads and give them a boost.

Every experienced sales manager has made a bad hiring mistake. Great sales managers recognize their mistake faster, and take decisive action to rectify the situation.

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top, which describes methods for everything from leading, coaching, and managing priorities, to hiring, forecasting, and driving rep accountability. For more information visit TopLine Leadership, Inc.

Free webinar:

Kevin Davis and TopLine Leadership’s Director of Training Tom Gundrum are co-presenting a free webinar entitled “Five Keys for Leading Your Sales Team to the Top” on Wednesday, July 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern. The webinar is part of the SMM Connect series. Learn more and register to attend here.


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