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I am a software architect, and generally it is my job to mentor other staff. However, there have been problems with hiring new staff, that are absolutely unqualified to do the job, even at a junior level. Frankly, they are untrainable.

To give some examples, the staff was supposed to be hired as a database developer. They cannot program, at all.

  • They do not know the difference between a table and a view.
  • If you put a fully coded stored procedure in front of them, they cannot identify the name of the procedure.
  • They have a hard time writing basic joins.
  • They don’t know the software development life cycle and don’t understand the concept of testing.

This causes a lot of challenges in my work.

  • It takes up a lot of my time to work with them, when I am overbooked on critical projects.
  • These staff were hired to have me delegate work to them, and they are unable to handle even basic tasks.
  • Any training involves repetitive demos, my having to write full instructions and screenshots for topics that most developers do not need this level of instruction on, then they don’t even read the instructions.
  • There are also behavioral problems, where they do not show up for work. They will take 3 weeks to do a task that should take a standard programmer 5 minutes to do.
  • Part of my job is to propose new technologies and processes to the customer, which I do. Then management assigns this person as the developer for the pilot projects, and he does a poor job or fails completely. This causes me to look bad, reduces my credibility for proposals, and makes our company less saleable to the client.

Management has tried some interventions, but there is not much improvement. This has gone on for over a year.

Within this company, new hires are interviewed by a completely separate recruitment team, and it does not seem that they know what they are doing. It really seems obvious that no technical interview was done when they hired this staff. Plus I am hearing that similar issues are happening on other teams, where folks are being hired solely based on what is on paper, then HR is slow to take action when there is a problem. Frankly, this approach is not fair to the new hire either; it is the company’s responsibility to find a good match for skills required.

I have mentored staff at various companies. Granted, I am not mentioning the good hires here. I am grateful for those scenarios, but unfortunately it is the poor hires who take up attention. At another company, when people were not being hired properly, I gave management a list of interview questions and expected responses. We eventually brought four new people on board, who were good quality employees, and I was grateful for their contributions.

For the current company, I tried a similar approach with offering interview questions, and management blew it off. Over time, I am getting tired of dealing with the poor hires. As a senior staffer, I have to deal with their issues on a daily basis, whereas a manager only has to deal with the staff on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. The problems can get even worse when I have to give negative feedback, because then I have to deal with behavioral issues. This can range from argumentativeness, yelling, manipulation/sabotage, blaming others for their problems (including various people who actually helped them), and blatant lying. (Management did not do a good job of filtering on behavioral issues either.)

I am sick of having to deal with this. Can I refuse to train new hires, if management does not involve me in the hiring process? Granted, mentoring is part of my job, but hiring is part of management’s/recruiters’ jobs, and they need to be held accountable. If they do a poor job, I am facing the consequences of it with my experience, not to mention how much money the company is losing. I feel like something needs to be done to make a point. Plus we have other senior staff, and they can take some responsibility to train new hires. Really, though, the problem needs to be addressed at the management/recruitment level.

Basically, if I refuse to train new hires because I am not brought into the hiring process, could I expect negative consequences? What are some alternative methods for dealing with poor hiring by the management/recruitment team?

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    No. You can't just decide that you won't do parts of your job because of the quality of your trainees. Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 2:21
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    You can't refuse to do your job but you can lay out to management how bad hires affect your work and ultimately the company.
    – jcm
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 3:34
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    There seems to be a gap between "These staff were hired to have me delegate work to them", and "Any training involves repetitive demos". Who made the decision that you should be training these people? Have you asked your manager how many of your hours a week should be spent on training? Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 6:17

1 Answer 1

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Can I refuse to train new hires,?

yes, no one can physically force you to do anything wat work.

if I refuse to train new hires because I am not brought into the hiring process, could I expect negative consequences?

Yes. Every decision you make at work has consequences. Refusing to do a task as assigned will very likely have negative consequences

What are some alternative methods for dealing with poor hiring by the management/recruitment team?

Try to set expectation and boundaries with your management. Training can be tracked and measured like any other task you do.

  1. Create a training plan for each of your trainees. This includes goals, metrics and timeline. Review with both the trainee and your manager. Make sure both agree that once the training goals are met, the training is completed and no more regulars training is required. Sometimes these are done in stages: first week, first month, 3 months. This should also include an estimate of your time commitment

  2. Log all time you spend training. If you use Jira, make sure there is a ticket for it. If you do time tracking, log the hours. When doing work planning make sure this time is properly accounted for. "I currently have three trainees at 4 hours/week, so my availability for regular tasks is 28 hours/week". If someone tries to push more work on to you, ask them to decide which training should be officially suspended.

  3. Do regular check ins with the trainees and your boss to review the progress. Rate progress against the metrics and make sure everyone understands.

  4. Review with your boss, if the training doesn't go well. Rate productivity. "Alice is on track", "Bob is struggling but can probably get there with an extra month", "Charlie is a lost cause, the work they produce is less than the amount of hand holding I have to do, they have negative productivity overall". Update training plans if required.

  5. Then do what you boss tells you to

Best you can do is to protect yourself by creating a official training plans and keep good records of progress and effort involved. You can reasonably refuse to work over time "I have X amount of hours per week, I can spend them on training or tasks: the ratio is your choice".

At the end of the day it's the companies decision how they want to do their hiring. This seems deeply ingrained (and broken) so it's unlikely that you can change it . Make your peace with it (with proper boundaries and expectations) or move on.

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  • Thank you for posting this response. It gives very useful information. I will start working on a training plan. Much appreciated. Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 4:22

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