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Does that new hire come with a warranty?

July 19, 2011

Your HR department has delivered unto you a shiny new employee.  Warren sailed through the pre-employment test battery, he’s drug-free, reasonably bright, and HR says he is both trainable and motivated.  He interviewed brilliantly with you and, what’s more, the panel selection committee you installed last year came back withrave reviews:

  • Warren is goal-driven, he genuinely wants to hit his targets and get everyone involved
  • Very entertaining, not afraid to be showy or flashy, even in pressure situations
  • Great social skills, seems like a fun guy to be around, good asset in a team environment
  • He will show his soft side, seems trusting, wants to confide and be heard

Several weeks after you onboard Warren, you happen to pop into the kitchen to get a cup of joe.  Through the open door to the break room, you overhear this conversation among your staff:

  • “Well yeah, he’s really excited when you like his project, but if you make a suggestion, he gets all crestfallen and pouty…”
  • “Yeah, I noticed that.  Everything he does needs a comment from you, like to reassure him.”
  • “The DRAMA!  That’s what gets me.  We all have things that tick us off, but if it goes wrong for Warren, look out!

{All are chuckling now}

  • “No kidding.  Have you all seen the ‘Warren Entrance’?  It’s like, drop everything!  Warren is in the building…”
  • “How about lunch last Friday?  Now it’s time for another episode of ‘What I did great this week.’
  • “I’ve got one… I call it the ‘Warren Treatment’ – he gets in your face and asks you, ‘Seriously, what can I do to help you in your job?’

{Outburst of laughter}

  • “And then he starts over-sharing…”

{Now the laughter is derisive}

You sulk back to your office, sit down, face-palm and start pondering your options.  The natives are lighting the torches and you are wondering how this could have happened.  This wonderful new hire has just turned into the poster child for the High Maintenance Employee.

Selecting the right person is a complex job that begins with finding talent that’s motivated.  But if you stop there you’re vulnerable to other opportunities for hardship.  Selection devices that target clusters of traits like those highlighted above are available and can be invaluable as sources of information for making the right choice when nuance can make a huge difference. 

Doing the job and doing the job with a truckload of baggage are two very different things.  Your staff will bless you for seeing through the star performer to the person who has to be in the spotlight – and recognizing the difference.  Most things that are showy and flashy require a lot of maintenance, which equates to time spent doing things other than delivering for your organization.  So remember, unlike new tires, new hires don’t come with a warranty.  And that’s definitely the case for Warren.

The Ultimate Hiring Manager’s Guide

Drew Brock, Ph.D.