The 7 Reasons New Employees Fail

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When a new employee starts with your company, the first few months are like a honeymoon period. You and the employee are getting to know each other, working out what makes each other tick and the employee is learning about your business.

During this period, both sides work out if they are a “fit” and if the employee is not working out, then their employment is not confirmed (read – sacked).

Almost 100% of employees start a new job with the hope of doing the right thing and being successful in the role. They genuinely want to build and support your company.

So, why does it often not work out?

What I am going to say may sound harsh. In my experience most failures during probation are squarely the fault of the manager and the company. The top 7 reasons new employees fail are:

  1. Incorrect recruitment. You grabbed the first person breathing who looked at your job and didn’t really match their interest, attitude and skills to the position.
  2. Incorrect induction or no induction. You didn’t explain the company and how their particular role fits into the bigger picture. You were not welcoming. You didn’t explain basic internal processes and rules and the person broke the rules.
  3. Unclear communication. You were not clear in explaining what had to be done, in what order and for what reason. If you are fuzzy, what hope has a new employee without your experience of the business have of getting it right?
  4. Muddy management reporting lines. Does your employee know who their direct report is or are they getting torn between different managers telling them different things?
  5. No explanation of the code of conduct. Did you explain what acceptable and unacceptable behavior was?
  6. Poor performance management. When they were going off track, did you take time to bring them back gently on track or did you just nuke them? Did you give them feedback that there was a problem, or did you just sack them?
  7. Changing boundaries. The person was hired for one position and you changed the role and duties after they started.

There will be the odd occasion where a person genuinely doesn’t care, but these are less than 1% of all new employee failures.

If you find that you are having a number of new employee failures—then go back and check out where the problem really lies. You usually will find it is not with the individuals hired, but with the person doing the hiring.

So, what do you do about it? When you have a vacancy, start by being really clear on the role you want to fill. What precisely will they be doing? Who do they report to? What are they accountable for?

Next be clear on the person who will best fit your role – their skills, attitudes and attributes.

Once you have found someone – how can you make them feel welcome, important and valued? What do you need to tell them so they quickly understand your business and “how you do things around here”.

If they get off track – talk with them and explain what you really meant for them to do. Ask for feedback on your communication and act on suggestions to improve it. Guide them back on track as gently as possible.

Yes, all of this takes time. But so does having to constantly hire new staff. Where would you prefer to invest your time?

Ingrid Cliff is a leader in People Management and Business Communications. Find out how to get your People and your Communications aligned with your vision at

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