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I had to let go of an employee that I had personally advised the company to hire

Feelings aside
Company Culture
Firing
Hiring
Underperformance
Feedback
Productivity

6 December, 2017

Christian advises his company to hire one of his ex-colleagues for a vacant QA Engineer role, even though he is not completely suitable for the role.

Problem

When I was working in a small start-up we needed to hire our first QA engineer. I contacted one of my ex-colleagues, who was a very good member of the QA team in my former company. Even though the context was different, as this role required him to work on his own, I was sure he would adapt. I was very enthusiastic when he accepted and gave the rest of the team high expectations in terms of what this QA engineer would be like. However it turned out to be a bad idea. He did not deal well with the lack of well defined QA process and did not take enough initiative. The rest of the team started to complain about him, as his standard of quality checking was not good.

Actions taken

I spent some time supporting him, and also gave others in the team more time to help him but it didn't work, as they felt overloaded and he was frustrated. I finally had to let him go and he was devastated. I felt personally responsible for putting him in a position he couldn't handle.

Lessons learned

My first mistake is that I underestimated the cultural difference between the two companies. In a larger company, he was a great contributor as a piece of a puzzle, but he was not used to managing the whole Q&A process by himself and needed more guidance. My second mistake is offering him a job that was not a good fit for him, and not having reacted earlier. It is better to take action, and have a hard conversation, as soon as a problem is detected. Problems almost never resolve themselves, so it is better to deal with them straight away. I let him go in a very professional manner and gave him a reference for a job where he was better suited where he is thriving.


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