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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

How to Screw Up Hiring a Newbie

I met a friend today. She started her first serious job a month ago. Quite a good job I’d say – she’s setting up a small local branch for her company. She can work independently and was given a free hand in many things. The job is in a profession she learnt (what is not so common in Poland). Salary is decent. Where’s the problem then?

Problem is that the company is trying hard (unconsciously I guess) to screw up whatever they wanted to achieve employing my friend. If you want to follow, here’s a recipe:

• Don’t give a guide to a newbie. She’ll find out what exactly she’s expected to do and how she should achieve that. Any help isn’t needed here. You don’t want employees who aren’t capable to learn everything on their own, right?

• Don’t supervise newbie’s work regularly. 3-month trial work with single check at the end is enough. Either a person would manage to organize and complete whole task or she doesn’t suit for us. She could have chosen wrong path on the very beginning? Oh, that’s her problem, not yours.

• Don’t set clear, achievable, checkable, short-term goals. Let her show what she’s worth. Oh, if there has to be a goal, let it be something almost impossible. Let’s say getting a deal worth a hundred thousands bucks for a girl who just came from technical university with no sale background. If she achieved the goal you would know she’s the right person.

• Don’t give proper training. Spending time and money on training for the newbie is throwing money down the drain. Who knows if she’ll still be here after trial period? It’s much better to let her learn from her own mistakes.

• Treat newbie’s requests are a pain in the ass. You have a real work here. She should run errands for you instead of bothering everyone with those stupid questions. She should know all of that – these are basics here. She’s new? She had no chance to learn it from anyone? Who cares?

• Give tasks which the newbie has no experience in. Sewage treatment – right, she learned about that, so she should be great in selling. Selling sewage treatment devices of course. Nothing new here. Selling process isn’t so easy? Hey, easy things are for janitors. Expect more.

• Spare your time for more important things than nursing the newbie. Don’t let her feel that you’re supportive or she’ll be bothering you all day long. If she has questions, put her off. In other case you’ll spend your (precious) time on somebody else’s work instead on your own. You’ll probably have to work overtime. Don’t risk.

Don’t take a picture of my friend’s company from above description – it’s a bit exaggerated, but they sin at least a bit in every point. It’s generally rather company’s problem than my friend’s. They spend money and time at the same time not giving enough support to new employees risking failure of current team and few month of delay in big-picture tasks. Instead they’ll save few bucks on everyday work. I wouldn’t call it a fair deal.

in: recruitment, team management

5 comments… add one

  • Jersey Girl August 16, 2006, 8:59 am

    Don’t give proper training… ahh, amazing so many companies hold to that!

  • Pawel August 16, 2006, 9:08 am

    I think that it’s hard to find a company which acts perfectly in that area. Helping newbie to go through a first couple of months is a great effort, but it pays off.

  • Michal August 22, 2007, 3:17 am

    In my former company, we had First Day Programme that every newbie had to pass through. The programme was… a ppt presentation! No one explained what is the structure, give a more detailed description of the work I had to do, don’t even made a guide through a company building. As for my point of career, it was a best possible job anyway, the money was also good. But I felt I will stay on the same level, without an opportunity to build my skills.

    Yes, I quitted by first opportunity.

  • Pawel Brodzinski August 23, 2007, 7:39 am

    Generally the less humane are the methods the worse effect will be achieved. “The firs day program” starts usually during recruitment on interviews and ends after a couple of months or so. Guidance and friendly atmosphere is crucial in having newbies happy after trial period.

  • Anonymous August 17, 2008, 10:43 am

    All of these sound like my last job.

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