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I have been at my current job about a year (hired fresh out of college). About six month ago my manager left and I came under the management of another senior lead (who was not formerly focused directly on our work - think frontend / backend). This manager is generally familiar with our work, but is not part of the day-to-day activity.

Almost three months ago we hired a new person fresh out of college to work with me on our portion of the project. I was not enthusiastic about her during the interview process, but my new boss liked her and was the final decision maker.

Since I had been handling both my own and my former manager's duties for the three months between, I have been solely responsible for training the new hire and working with her on a daily basis. I have gradually come to the conclusion that she is a terrible fit for the position (we have a huge amount of ambiguity and she is lost without fixed procedures. I've tried to account this by assigning her the more standardized tasks, but I can't provide for every contingency. The situation is very similar to what is described in this question: How should a manager handle an employee who lacks intuition?).

The new hire is coming up on the end of her three month probationary period and my boss will be deciding if she stays or not. My boss has not worked with her directly at all, so I'm not sure she's aware of the extent of the issues. How can I respectfully bring up my serious reservations about retaining this hire?

Specific concerns:

  • I am worried that my boss will see this as unjustified resentment against a candidate I didn't like.
  • I am worried that bringing this up will reflect poorly on my skill as a mentor / manager
  • I am worried that bringing this up will be seen as unprofessional / out-of-line (maybe it is?)

Note: I have read I think my new coworker should not be asked to stay; do I talk to anyone about it? and believe my situation is different since my boss has intentionally had me training and doing day-to-day management with the new hire; while we have the same role I am definitely treated as the senior peer.

  • Do you have other colleagues fresh out from college? I often hear people complaining about young colleagues when they're not used to work with them. I think I was useless in my first year of working, my education didn't really prepare me for the job. – Chris Apr 21 at 11:55
  • My manager has asked several times casually, "So, how is it going with New Hire?" While she is asking for feedback, it is not in a context that lends itself to formal criticism. – Sigma - stop harming Monica Apr 22 at 11:31
  • @Chris I was one of the first few new grad hires (role said 2 years but I had other relevant background). I impressed my department and that may be one reason we've hired a few more recently. Lack of experience may be part of the issue. – Sigma - stop harming Monica Apr 22 at 11:35
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You are responsible for the training, so give specific feedback to your boss:

  • Do not give a recommendation if she should stay or not or in general on her value as an employee
  • List tasks which she should be/needs to be able to do in your opinion
    • List the tasks which she can do
    • List the tasks which she can not do
  • actions/effort you have been taking to better her performance
  • Specific disciplinary problems
    • where she is not able or willing to follow a pre-defined procedure
    • in which points she ignored you when giving advice
  • Give a recommendation which areas she should receive additional training outside of work

You boss has to weight the cost of the different options.

  • 2
    I think this is 90% there. I'd add a couple things: (1) Recognize that this is an opportunity for your own maturation as a manager/trainer, and make sure you're seen to be embracing that. (2) Keep in mind that dealing with ambiguity can be as much as anything else a function of confidence, something she's coming by honestly, fresh out of school. Find ways to give her that. (3) Frame it as a resource need. e.g. "Current resources are pretty good at X, but we have some significant gaps with accomplishing Y and Z due to my broader obligations and (new person)'s lack of skillset in that area." – Rustler Apr 21 at 13:03
  • Keep in mind they both worked there <1 year. It's doubtful the boss would see OP as a seasoned veteran of the company. So sticking with facts is important. – Dan Apr 23 at 17:32
1

The time period involved here of less than 3 months is very short and you are talking about a coworker who, like you, is basically straight out of college. Also, you indicated that you have been made "solely" responsible for mentoring this person. In the eyes of a manager, that makes you at least partly responsible for their success or failure.

Some people need more time to adjust than others to work in general, let alone the more ambiguous aspects which you claim are the problem for this person. How long does it take to determine whether someone can become valuable in a role? That's highly variable but 3 months is barely enough to master the most fundamental basics in any field with a professional trajectory where people are expected to be well-educated.

I suggest you relax your expectations about this person and look to the manager for guidance on how to proceed. Some of what you may need to do is to focus on your own skills in mentoring which is a distinct skill from whatever it is you do in your job title.

A common misconception is that highly knowledgeable people automatically know how to train others and get them oriented properly. That's just not true. I've seen it over and over again. Mentoring is a completely separate skill-set and it requires development and experience to get good, like anything else.

-1

Firing should be a last resort, regardless of the personal opinion you have of this employee.

(Organizations do not like reassigning people or letting them go which is why the default behavior is refraining from it and finding other possible solutions. )

Part of being a tutor/mentor/manager is committing to the goal of finding a better alternative for everyone.

Either way, here is a proposed process for establishing whether a person is a good fit for a position:

  1. Think of a short list of things that need to happen for the employee to fit the position well:

(e.g)

a) The employee must show competence in this area.

b) The position needs to not include this area.

c) The employee should consistently deliver value in this project.

  1. After you've compiled a list like this, everyone needs to be aligned: You, your manager and the employee. These need to be measurable in some way, even if the measurement is "A peer's subjective opinion", but then - again - it has to be agreed upon with all parties.

  2. After being aligned, you set a target date to review any progress made in regards to this list.

  3. During the review, the steps have to be taken into consideration again, changed if they are not relevant or checked if they are. After this review process, it should be clear to all parties whether reassignment is the next step.

So:

  1. at no point is your personal opinion relevant unless specifically agreed upon by your manager and your co-worker.

  2. you can't be out-of-line if everything is agreed upon before hand.

  3. this will not reflect poorly of you if the list you agreed upon is measurable and you've gone through the process fairly and honestly.

EDITS: I'm being downvoted for giving an example of a process which is very common, so I've made touch ups to convey the idea better in hopes that a future down voter might at least comment about the downsides here and start a discussion.

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