Don’t hire him. . .. He’s not a good fit. . .. If you do, it will be a mistake. . ..
I heard this from a couple of key leaders after I called seeking their advice.
He has the right experience and transferable skills. . .. With a little coaching, he’ll be great. . ..
This is what a trusted peer who highly recommended Steve told me.
A different set of opinions.
I didn’t have much time to decide. I was under the gun to hire an associate to work with our business partners. I needed to recruit, interview and fill the open position within two weeks or I’d lose the headcount. If I lost the headcount, the work and relationship management would fall on my plate.
I moved swiftly and selfishly to hire Steve. Why? I saw potential, or so I told myself. I heard what I wanted to hear from the positive advice I received and ignored the other. Acting out of arrogance, I believed that I could single-handedly develop Steve’s analytical, relationship building and leadership skills.
Fast forward one year. . ..
Developing Steve took a lot of time and energy. Even though I had 10 other team members and was accountable for 18 markets, I spent 80% of my time with him and his specific market.
I didn’t want Steve to fail. I saw his success as my responsibility since I decided against other’s counsel. I wanted to prove that I could help Steve reach his potential.
While Steve was hired into a harsh work environment and we believed he could breakthrough, he never gained traction with his assigned business partners or market. The business partners demanded more than Steve could deliver. When Steve stumbled, I had to compensate.
Over time, his business partners rejected him because of a perceived lack of credibility. Steve was no longer invited to meetings or trade rides, lost his ability to influence or add value.
I’d shared the business partners’ feedback with Steve along the way. Trying to support Steve, I continually spent time helping him solve problems and discuss his concerns. I always encouraged him. And, I was always genuine with him.
We built a plan to improve his performance and connection with the business partner. But Steve didn’t follow through on the plan. He’d lost heart.
I finally came to the realization that I couldn’t develop Steve as I thought. His skill set and motivational fit weren’t right for the role.
I made a mistake. . .. A change needed to happen for Steve’s benefit, for my team, for my company, for our business partners, and for the company. . .. And, for me.
I had another decision to make. . .. Do I place Steve on a formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and exit him from the company?. . ..
After consulting with my leadership and human resources, we elected to place Steve on a PIP. It was a tough decision but the right one.
Then, I prayed for Steve. . .. I prayed that he’d be able to improve his performance or that God would provide for him if the PIP didn’t conclude with positive results. I also prayed for wisdom and a sensitive heart as I revealed the tough news to him.
I reached out to Steve to share our decision. As you can imagine, he wasn’t happy.
Steve said, “NO ONE else faced the challenging work environment and difficult business partners as I have.”
He demanded that I delay the PIP. . ..
I couldn’t. . .. I wouldn’t. . .. We’d put plans in place before, but he hadn’t acted on them. I listed a number of other performance-related issues and said no.
Frustrated, he said, “This is the first job I’ve had where if I didn’t get along with people, I could still do well at my job. I feel like such a failure.”
Steve was furious at first and then began to breakdown.
I was moved by Steve’s emotions. . .. I’d come to like Steve very much and knew he tried very hard. I wanted to encourage him amid another tough circumstance yet be real with him like I’d always been.
I told him, “Speaking from my heart, you are still valued and need to separate what is happening from who you are…It is up to you now to improve…90% don’t make it through the process, but others experience a career transformation.”
To make a long story short, Steve didn’t make it successfully through the PIP process and was about to be let go.
Then, something happened. . ..
A role opened up in another part of the company that better suited Steve’s skill set and was the perfect motivational fit. Typically, an associate wasn’t eligible to interview for other roles while under a PIP. Because of the right job fit, my leadership, HR partner and I extended grace to Steve and approved his interview. Showing dignity for Steve, we agreed that sometimes people are in the wrong role and wanted to do the right thing for him.
And guess what? . . .. He got the job!
What did I learn from my experience with Steve?
If you listen unselectively, show dignity and respect for others and pray always, you’ll become savvy decision maker and leader.
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