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When The Great Talent You Hire Sees Incumbents With Sh***y Habits

It's usually an afterthought with great hires you make.

You found a great person for your open position.  You did what you were supposed to do - finding great talent, engaging them, selling them on the opportunity and getting them to sign on the line that is dotted.

You hired a great person.  Congrats! Newkid

There's just this one little problem.  That great hire is going to join a group of incumbents in the same (or related) role who are a LOT less excited than they are about the job.  Let's face it, the incumbents have some sh**ty habits, right?  You're bringing in the new person to raise the DNA of the group.

Now it would be awesome if the incumbents saw the new talent and decided that they need to raise their game.  That was originally part of your plan. Unfortunately, that's not the way it usually works.

Instead, your incumbents are likely to educate your new hire about how things are done, with all the whining, bad habits and baggage you would expect.  The danger is obvious - your new hire is going to say, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

Here are 3 things you need to do and/or remember to prep the new hire for related to the disgruntled incumbents:

1.  Tell the new hire that he/she is part of the future and part of the turnaround.  You're prepping them to understand that the people they are going to encounter may or may not be part of that future.  You don't have to name names, they'll get it.  And you'll prepare them for the mediocrity they're about to encounter.

2.  Don't make a big deal about the expectations you have of the new person from a performance perspective to others on the team.  You'll just make them a target in the general population.  No reason to do that.

3.  Try to convert some fence-sitters related to where you want to go by engaging them to help train the new person.  People are a lot less likely to be jaded and cynical about the new person if they get to help train them.  If you've got a struggling team, find the folks most likely to survive the changes you have in mind and have them help train the newbie.  It will help convert them to someone who wants to stay.

Never release new talent to the team without having a plan to help them survive. Every new hire has some type of "what the hell have I done" moment in the first two months in a new job.  

Have a plan and prepare them for what they're about to see, and you'll have less quick churn of the people you hire as a result.

Comments

Nellie Bly

Re:"That great hire is going to join a group of incumbents in the same (or related) role who are a LOT less excited than they are about the job. Let's face it, the incumbents have some sh**ty habits, right? You're bringing in the new person to raise the DNA of the group."

Why are they “a LOT less excited” about the job? Turning that around isn't about hiring -- it's about the culture, which, as we all know, starts at the top.

It's easy (and some may say self-serving) to write off bad attitudes as defective "DNA" in a team, but how about taking a closer look? How did the team get to that point? We are talking about a group of people here – were they all a bunch of bad actors to begin with? I doubt it. More likely they started (like the shiny new penny we are bringing in and want to protect from the evil bad-attitude incumbents) as enthusiastic and hopeful new employees. My guess is they soured because of sh**ty management.

Wake up, HR. It starts with leadership. We cannot hire (or blame) our way to a more positive culture and productive team. Take a look at your leaders, people.

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