Weekly Edge

3 reasons you get bad employees - and what to do about it

Heather Frame - Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Do you ever wonder how people get great employees?  Ever think you’ll never get great employees yourself?  Can’t get them to do what you need?  Can’t get them to stay?  


Before you blame your Team, remember that old adage: ‘You get the employees you deserve.’  Let’s start by taking a look in the mirror. The most common errors that occur are hiring the wrong person, inadequate training or evaluation and, finally, a lack of leadership.  Now, let’s take a look at those issues in greater detail.

1. You’re hiring the wrong person or putting them in the wrong place. Using personality profiles can help to measure a candidate’s qualities before they are hired.  We use DISC and VAK to help make the right match of person and position. The DISC profile measures a person’s natural (away from work) and adapted (at work) behavioural tendencies.  The profile takes about 10 minutes and yields some very useful tips on individual strengths, opportunities for improvement, and keys to motivating.


The VAK (stands for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic) measures communication modalities.  In addition, examine the hiring process and the questions that are being asked.  What do you need to change based on the lessons you’ve learned in the past?  Ask questions that uncover values and look for alignment with your company’s values.  We have found that a “bad employee” is rarely due to the lack of job competence—it’s more often a failure to mesh with organizational values.  You must hire character because that can’t be taught. An employee with a great “values match” will still underperform if you assign them to the wrong job.  Go back through your job descriptions and modify for what the business needs, then hire the person that fits that description. Chaos results when you change the job to match the skill set of the newest hire. 


2. The problem could be that your training, measuring, and evaluation process is inadequate.  When was the last time you revised your orientation process?  Your company handbook?  The initial process for training a new hire?  What KPI’s (key performance indicators) are they held accountable for?  How often do they receive feedback?  Who mentors the new folks and for how long?  We recommend that all employees participate in the regular team meeting (what do you mean “I don’t have one”) and are asked at each one: What can we do to help you succeed in your job?  Many years ago, we heard of a “training method” referred to as “Leave alone, zap”. This means that the new hire is, in effect, turned loose to figure things out and then “zapped” when they make a mistake.  This, or any similar approach, basically sets someone up to fail.  As expensive as staff turnover is (time, repeated re-training, lost productivity, etc), it is certainly worth investing in refining the process so that we do a better job and “start over” less often.

3. The Leader doesn’t know what he/she is doing, so neither does the Team. In order to have great followers, there has to be a great leader.  No team will ever out-perform its leadership.  Are you the kind of leader that a great employee would want to follow?  Are you running the kind of business that a great employee would want to work for?  We can assure you, the team watches everything you do and dissects everything you say.  Start with your communication—do you communicate clearly and regularly?  Are you consistent in your statements and behaviour?  Do you do what you say you will do?  Also, if you “waffle” or delay making decisions, you are viewed as weak and indecisive.  If you have the courage, survey the Team about their views of you as the Leader, and be willing to “sharpen your saw” to make some changes.  Change your outlook, change your results!

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