Collateral Damage from a Bad Hire

Updated: April 23, 2010

No hiring decision happens in a vacuum. You need your team to be whole. You have a missing part. You seek to fill it in a way that capitalizes on the assets of your existing team members - and makes up for their deficits. That's why prudent employers engage search specialists, scour resumes, do 360-degree interviews, personality tests, reference checks, and even credit checks (where allowed by law). But somehow, bad hires still happen, and when they happen to you, you're naturally disappointed. Or worse. Because if you've pegged your hopes and plans on the wrong person, it's the collateral damage that costs so much more than the hiring failure.

We all pride ourselves on being good judges of people, and we are -- but only if we have the whole story, not just a collection of data components. If you have had the misfortune of more than one or two hires that turned out badly, you may even begin to doubt whether you (or your people) are even capable of hiring successfully. When all the signs--including 'gut feel' point to "YES", and still a new hire turns out to be a dud, the first piece of collateral damage may be your self-confidence as an executive decision-maker.

And then there is the impact of the bad hire on the rest of the team. Here's the worst part. The better your team is, the worse the collateral damage will be. If you have brought the bad hire in over people who are great performers, you'll see the decline happening right before your eyes. And worse, it won't take long before your they are plotting their next career move. And they aren't likely to tell you because really - who is going to challenge the boss on a hiring decision?
Finally there is the adverse impact on present - and future - stakeholders. News travels fast, especially since the investor/entrepreneur ecosystem has the modern day equivalent of jungle drums and really knows how to play. You know what I mean: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and all those f-t-f networking events. Word gets around when someone (or some team) clearly doesn't have the right stuff.

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