Organisational Behaviour Toggle

Have you hired the wrong person?

I have.

Many times.

But it’s a tough one to admit because it’s rarely black and white. Any candidate is probably good at some stuff, not great at other stuff and probably way better at some other stuff than you ever thought. On the stuff they are not great at, part of it is probably their “fault” and part of it is probably your “fault”. ¬†Even if its not working out, you have spend time and sunk cost into training this person, onboarding them and integrating them. If you let them go, then you have to start from scratch. Maybe its better to analyse what is wrong and try to fix it? Or maybe its time to cut your losses? This decision isn’t easy.

Here are the questions that I ask myself when I’m in this position:

  • If the person is called Tom, then I ask myself the following thing – “If Tom were the answer, what would the question be?” This is not meant to be cryptic but rather to ask what situation could we be in as a company that this guy would be absolutely perfect – to a tee.
  • Then I remind myself that people do what they want. We get up in the morning and we take on certain tasks. The ones we take on are the ones we want to do. Sometimes you want to do it because you don’t want to see it on your task list any more. Sometimes because its fun. What does this person want to be doing? If there is too big a gap here between what they would like to do and what they are actually doing, then for me, the match is wrong.
  • Otherwise, probably there is an outside-work issue (can we help?) or they don’t have the tools to do their job (let’s fix that).

This is an over-simplification of course as all manner of things can go wrong. But normally it’s the gap between what the person really wants to do and what you’re asking them to do. That’s the most common case and my starting point.


About the author

Patrick Patrick O’Malley is an Internet and web professional passionate about building products that people love.

Now a product based consultant, he is ex-Head of Product, Yahoo! Answers, ex-Head of Operations MoveMe and an Imperial MBA.

Based in Paris (a bit) and London (a bit).

You can follow him on and Twitter or check his bio

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