How to Avoid Bad Hires for Your Company Culture – Plain and Simple

by | Feb 28, 2011 | Assessments, Blog, Human Resources

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

In the pages of the Integrity HR Human Resources Blog we’ve addressed how to fire employees for poor performance and for bad attitude. We’ve discussed the inept, the toxic, and the impossible to manage, and we’ve even gone down the other side of the road and discussed what to do about those pesky bad bosses that can ruin the experience of an otherwise excellent employee.

Now it’s time to address one of the most difficult management situations employers face – the good employee who does their job, comes in every day, generally gets along with everyone else, but just doesn’t fit in to the company culture and, therefore, really has no place to go.

Perhaps their shortcoming is due to personal interest, motivation, interpersonal skills, or simply the fact that they have been mismatched to their position. These situations are terribly difficult because it’s not the employee’s fault that he/she doesn’t fit. It’s the people who made the decision to hire this person. The employee is doing what is required of them and was placed into a position to which they were not suited.

Now management doesn’t know how to get this person out of this difficult situation. Believe me, it happens all the time.

Should that time come, the best way to deal with it is by being very honest. Identify that the position is a bad fit, do not generate any discussion about fault or blame, and move the individual on to better things.

If you can do so by moving the employee to another position within your organization, then that’s wonderful. If not, it’s unfortunate, but you can liberate them from their burden with a letter of reference, ample notice, outplacement service, and severance.

This might sound painful, but in the long run getting out of this situation is much better for both parties – kind of like breaking up with that ex that you got along with really well, but just never found that spark.

How to Avoid Bad Hires

Ideally you want to avoid bad hires all together. If you know that you have a definitive culture within your organization, hire in order to fit it. Instead of worrying about having to fire for attitude, be certain to hire for attitude.

Make sure that the employees you bring in will be a good fit from the beginning so that they have a chance and are not being set up to fail regardless of their skill set.  (Being wise, of course, to note that your culture is not specific to any racial, national, socioeconomic or age specific demographic!)

Company culture is a big deal. Some organizations succeed greatly at promoting a relaxed culture, while other organizations have massive success promoting a more corporate type of environment. The fit all depends on the person.

If you know what works in your organization, go with it.  Qualify it and quantify it so that you can compare it and replicate it. How? Easy!

There are a number of assessments that you can use to identify traits of your key employees in your organization so that you can then identify these in applicants before you hire them.  For example, I have a client who uses a particular personality assessment tool for not only recruiting but also employee development and team building.

They know that there is one particular personality “map” that has never been successful in their environment.  Several times they have hired individuals that they absolutely loved during the interview process and hired in spite of knowing that they assessed in this manner, and each time these employees failed in the organization.

Knowing what this profile is like before making a hiring decision can be the missing piece you have been looking for to avoid bad hires from the start.

Excellent companies have learned that using tools such as this past the initial interview process is the key to hiring excellent people.

Extremely excellent companies often hire the excellent people first, then find something for them to do second. They know that getting the person that is the right fit for their culture and the right talent on their team is primary and that finding the exact slot they will fill becomes secondary.

It may seem contrary to the status quo, but it’s a winning model in nearly all cases.

And by the way, if you avoid bad hires in the first place, it’ll save you quite a bit of money in terms of employee turnover. I’ve seen it over and over.


Written by Paula Agee, HR Outsourcing Manager at Integrity HR

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