Why Your New Hire Isn’t Working Out

A new report from 20/20 Foresight Executive Search says the reasons that newly hired CEOs fail can be varied and complicated. But in many cases, the blame may lie in underlying aspects of the recruitment process, such as mismatched expectations between the employer and employee, inadequate training and onboarding, and poor cultural fit.

October 3, 2023 – Hiring a new employee — especially a critical member of your organization’s C-suite —  is a vital step in any organization’s growth and advancement, adding needed skills, a fresh perspective, and leadership capabilities to help guide your team into the future. Despite conducting a careful and thorough recruitment process, not every new hire works out as expected. This can be a challenging situation for both the employee and the employer, derailing the careers of otherwise strong players and creating chaos within the organization.

Amidst the ongoing global talent wars, a recent McKinsey study revealed that one-third to half of newly hired CEOs were considered to be failing within 18 months of taking the role. The reasons for these recruitment misfires are varied and complex, says a new report from 20/20 Foresight Executive Search, which focuses on the real estate sector. Unrealistic expectations at the new hire’s outset as well as ineffectual onboarding when they join the organization are among the potential problems. But the underlying issue, says the search firm, may start with recruitment processes that fail to take a number of key aspects into account:

Mismatched expectations: When a new hire and an organization aren’t in alignment, the impact is felt immediately. This can happen when the job description and the actual responsibilities differ significantly, or when the candidate misrepresents themselves in the interviewing timeframe.

“To address this issue, it’s essential to have a clear and detailed job description as well as an extensive outline of expectations communicated during the hiring process,” said 20/20 Foresight.

Next steps to take:

  • Have a candid conversation with the employee to understand their concerns and frustrations.
  • Review the job description and, if necessary, update it to align with the actual tasks.
  • Provide clear guidance on performance expectations and key deliverables.

Inadequate training and onboarding: Assuming a senior-level employee doesn’t require much time or training to hit the ground running can leave new hires feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for their roles and disconnected from their teams and organization.

Next steps to take:

  • Evaluate your company’s current onboarding and training processes to identify areas for improvement.

Related: Reasons New Hires Don’t Always Work

  • Assign a companion to help the new employee acclimate to the workplace.
  • Provide ongoing training and development opportunities to bridge skill gaps.

A poor cultural fit: The proper cultural fit between and employee and their organization is a critical aspect of employee success. “When a new hire doesn’t align with the company’s values, beliefs, and work culture, it can lead to discomfort, low morale, and conflicts,” said the report. “Identifying a cultural mismatch early is essential to prevent long-term issues.”

Next steps to take:

  • Assess your company’s culture and values to determine if they are clearly defined and communicated.
  • Have open and honest conversations with the new employee about how they’re feeling about their place in the organization.

4 Steps to Avoid Making a Bad Hire
The clock is ticking the minute the deal closes. How quickly can you execute on the value creation plan and work toward your new private equity backer’s investment thesis? Every portfolio company CEO then must ask the critical related question: Do I have the right team to make that happen? “Data we collect and analyze in our work with private equity-backed software companies shows that virtually every portfolio company requires at least one new or changed member of the C-suite,” says a new report from Bespoke Partners authored by Eric Walczykowski.

For example, recent research by growth advisory firm SBI found that many CEOs lack confidence in their go-to-market team’s abilities to drive growth in the current economic climate. Mr. Walczykowski says this means there is a good chance that CEOs of recently acquired portfolio companies will be looking to bring on new chief revenue officers and chief marketing officers. Therefore, the CEO of the newly minted portfolio company now faces one of the biggest risks they will encounter: making a bad hire.

  • If the cultural mismatch is insurmountable, consider reevaluating the employee’s role or fit within the organization.

Communication challenges: Effective communication is vital in any workplace. “When a new employee struggles to communicate with colleagues or clients, it can hinder their performance and integration into the team,” said 20/20 Foresight. “Language barriers, miscommunication, or a lack of assertiveness can all contribute to this issue.”

Next steps to take:

  • Provide communication training or coaching to help the employee improve their interpersonal skills.
  • Encourage open and frequent communication within the team to address any misunderstandings.

Related: Why We Make Bad Hires 

  • Establish a feedback-rich environment where employees can express their concerns without fear of retribution.

Performance-related problems: Despite a new hire’s exceptional resume and glowing recommendations, performance failings can unfortunately sometimes be an issue when they’re placed in an unfamiliar role and company.

Next steps to take:

  • Set clear performance expectations and provide regular feedback on the employee’s work.
  • Offer additional training, resources, or support to help the employee improve their performance.
  • If performance issues persist, consider creating a performance improvement plan or, in extreme cases, explore termination as a last resort.

Personal or external challenges: “Sometimes, a new employee’s difficulties may be related to personal or external factors, such as health problems, family issues, or external stressors,” said 20/20 Foresight. “It’s crucial to approach such situations with empathy and understanding and assess the situation accordingly for what’s best for the employee and your company.”

Next steps to take:

  • Initiate a private and compassionate conversation with the employee to understand their challenges.

  • Offer support and accommodations, such as flexible work hours or access to employee assistance programs.
  • Maintain open lines of communication and monitor the situation, making adjustments as needed.

“When a new employee isn’t working out, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy, patience, and a commitment to finding solutions,” said 20/20 Foresight. “Identifying the root causes of the problem and taking proactive steps to address them can often lead to a successful turnaround. Ultimately, the goal should be to help the employee succeed in their role while ensuring the organization’s productivity and performance aren’t compromised.”

Founded in 1994, 20/20 Foresight Executive Search specializes in real estate, financial, and professional services. The team features 50-plus career consultants who are industry experts as well as a data-driven process, a technology platform, and an extensive database, resulting in a 95 percent success rate in placements. 20/20 Foresight has completed more than 7,000 searches through its 13 offices around the U.S.

Beyond executive search, 20/20 Foresight offers a variety of services to help clients cultivate and manage their leadership teams. These include compensation consulting, succession planning, leadership assessments, executive coaching, and board advisory services.

Related: 6 Qualities That Make a Great Leader

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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