Fixer: There’s a question mark over our new recruit

15 Jul 2021 By PM Editorial

Can I investigate if a current staff member has flagged up potential issues?

I’m an HRD and recently hired a new HR manager into my team. She seems very competent with some excellent experience, and I was looking forward to having her on board. However, we held an online ‘meet and greet’ with the rest of the team in advance of her starting, and another member of the team told me afterwards that they know her from a previous role and that, among other things, she wasn’t very good at her job, and frequently blamed her mistakes on her colleagues. I trust my hiring judgement, but I also trust the opinion of the person already in my team. Should I give the new manager a chance, or cut my losses and look elsewhere?

As I see it, there are three angles to this problem: datapoints, fairness, and probation. Whenever I hear comments like “they weren’t very good at their job”, my first question is always: “What exactly are you basing that opinion on?” A team member has provided you with an example that apparently the new HR manager frequently blamed mistakes on her colleagues, but I always insist on several additional data points to gain a deeper understanding of the potential issue.

Thinking about fair processes, should the examples provided validate that there may indeed have been a performance issue, I would suggest you reflect on whether this might have been an organisation or job mismatch. In advance of looking elsewhere, I would strongly advocate having a conversation with your new hire that does not expose the other team member’s opinion but, for example, discusses her potential development needs as identified in previous roles.

Last, but definitely not least, let’s not forget that this is exactly why the contractual probationary clause exists. During probation, should a performance issue arise, I recommend a contribution development process (CDP) framework, featuring a conversation after four weeks, six weeks to improve and six weeks to sustain, so that an informed decision on both sides can be made at the end of the probationary period.

Dave A Barry FCIPD is People Management’s guest HR Fixer. A graduate of University College Cork’s postgraduate higher diploma in human resource management, Barry’s career as an HR professional spans more than 20 years across sectors including biopharma, cybersecurity, travel and retail. He established consultancy in 2018, is a prolific keynote speaker and lectures part time at University College Cork.

His replies are written in a personal capacity and do not reflect the views of People Management or the CIPD, nor are they a substitute for professional legal advice. Not all queries submitted can be answered, and personal replies are not possible. 

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