What should I do if a new hire doesn’t work out?

Hiring the right person can feel like winning the lottery. You invest time, energy, and resources into finding the perfect fit for your team, only to discover sometimes, even the most promising candidates don’t always work out. It can be a frustrating situation, but it’s important to remember that it happens to even the best companies. The key is to handle the situation swiftly, fairly, and professionally.

Here’s what you should do if a new hire isn’t meeting expectations:

1. Identify the Problem Early: The sooner you address performance issues, the better. Don’t wait for problems to snowball. Look for red flags such as missed deadlines, consistently poor quality work, negative interactions with colleagues, or a lack of engagement.

2. Have an Open and Honest Conversation: Schedule a private meeting with the new hire to discuss your concerns. Be specific about the areas where they are falling short and provide concrete examples. Focus on behavior and outcomes, not personality.

3. Explore the Root Cause: Listen actively during the conversation. Is the new hire struggling because the role isn’t a good fit for their skillset? Are they unclear about expectations? Perhaps they require additional training or support.

4. Develop a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP): If there’s a chance the new hire can improve, create a formal PIP outlining specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals they need to meet within a defined timeframe. The PIP should include the resources and support you’ll provide to help them succeed.

5. Be Clear About Consequences: Outline the potential consequences if performance doesn’t improve within the timeframe outlined in the PIP. This could include additional training, a change in role, or even termination.

6. Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of all conversations and performance issues related to the new hire. This documentation will be crucial if termination becomes necessary.


  • Focus on Fairness: Throughout the process, ensure you are treating the new hire with fairness and respect.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Keep all performance discussions and details confidential.
  • Consider Alternatives: Explore alternative solutions before resorting to termination. Perhaps a transfer to a different department or a change in responsibilities could be a better fit.

Termination as a Last Resort: If, after following these steps, the new hire still isn’t meeting expectations, termination may be the only option. The termination process should be handled according to your company’s policies and local labor laws.

Learning from the Experience: Take time to reflect on what went wrong during the hiring process. Was the job description clear and accurate? Did you ask the right questions during the interview? Use this experience to refine your recruitment strategy to avoid similar situations in the future.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Onboarding Issues: Sometimes, performance problems stem from inadequate onboarding. Revisit your onboarding process and ensure it provides the new hire with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources they need to succeed.
  • Company Culture: Consider if the new hire simply isn’t a good fit for your company culture. A mismatch in values and work styles can lead to performance issues.
  • Managerial Support: Did the new hire receive adequate guidance and support from their manager? Ensure managers are equipped to provide proper coaching and feedback to new hires.


Hiring the wrong person can be disruptive and costly, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. By following these steps and approaching the situation with professionalism, you can minimize the negative impact and use the experience as a learning opportunity to improve your future hiring practices. Remember, even the best companies encounter hiring missteps. The key is to learn from them and move forward with a more refined strategy to find the right talent for your team.


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