It's ok to get it wrong 

I’m mindful that when I’m writing blogs and recording podcasts where I’m talking about how things should be done, there may well be people reading or listening that have worked with or for me in the past. Some of these people may well have had a very different experience from what I’m writing or talking about and this will be for various reasons. 
 
Admitting when you’ve got something wrong can be difficult for a lot of us and this can be made even harder when you’re a manager and people expect you to get it right all of the time and, depending on your personal character you may well not carry any ‘guilt’ from the times you got it wrong, I for one don’t fall into that category! 
The impact of getting something wrong can vary dramatically, and on occasion can even have a serious impact on an individual and I have personal experience of this so, in this blog I’m going to talk about when I’ve ‘got it wrong’ in the recruitment process. One of the key mistakes that I’ve made over the years and sadly on more than one occasion are the decisions I’ve had to make when recruiting people under pressure. 
Your motivation to recruit is influenced by different factors, from external client pressure when you are supplying resource to drive performance through to internal pressure to maximise invoicing potential and achieve deliverables. Even though I’ve always been aware of the issues when recruiting under pressure, sometimes I’ve had to take a chance and sadly this hasn’t always paid off! 
When you recruit someone into a role you try to carry out as much ‘due diligence’ during the recruitment process as possible, but the reality is you don’t know how someone will perform until they’re in the role. People might well say “Ahh well that’s why you have a probationary period, so someone has a chance to get up to speed with the job”, these people would be absolutely right but let me be very clear, I have never recruited someone with the conscious thought that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll ‘get rid of them’ during their probation period! If I’d have ever had that level of doubt, I most definitely would not have offered the individual a role. 
 
I’ve always been mindful that in most cases people are going to leave a job to join the organisation I’ve been working for, leaving behind any level of security they may have had so I’ve always tried to be very honest in my recruitment process. One of my repeated lines during any interview was always “I’m not here to sell the job to you, I want you to know warts and all what it’s like, this way you can make an informed decision as to if you want the job”. On most occasion candidates appreciated the honest approach but let’s face it, if you’ve applied for a job then you’re likely to be motivated to take it when offered so you may not fully take into account the honest picture painted. 
So, anyway, the recruitment has taken place and the individual has started in the job role... 
In my experience and without exception you can quickly see when you have recruited incorrectly.  
 
Whether this is based on others feedback or your own observations you can immediately spot when someone is struggling to get up to speed (I would however point out at this stage that most of the occasions I have experience of getting it wrong were recruiting field-based people, this brings the added dynamic that you don’t see them face to face every day). 
All that said, even though deep down you know you’ve made a mistake you try to layer in extra support to get the individual up to speed (I never really want to admit to getting it wrong, so I always try and give people the benefit of the doubt and therefore extra time). This can obviously turn out to be a fruitless activity and in some ways only delays the inevitable. Giving feedback to try and push them on while protecting them from the inevitable pressures that are bearing down either internally or externally sometimes can’t resolve the situation quickly enough. 
There are different outcomes from this recruitment mistake, people go off sick because they can no longer cope with the job or people find themselves being dismissed due to underperformance, either way there is now a HR nightmare to deal with (content for another blog I think)! 
 
In summary, try to understand what your motivation is to recruit the individual, if you have any level of doubt either, don’t make the offer or ensure you highlight this to the individual during the recruitment process and be clear about how it will be monitored during the probation period, make sure you deal with the issues as quickly as possible ensuring that the individual knows what’s expected and by when and above all know that sometimes you’ll get it wrong, you’re only human after all. 
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