We onboarded a new senior guy recently for a project manager type of role. Based on his past experience and profile/portfolio of work, he is very good. He has handled complex jobs at large orgs in the past.
During the interviews, he was not very "chatty" which is fine. He spoke in measured/considered sentences, and I assumed that was his style.
After starting working, it seems more and more that he actually has difficulties with spoken English. After a recent brainstorming session, he was expected to work on a high level deliverable (like a project plan for example) based on the items discussed in the group session. About a third of the items in his project plan were things never even spoken about in the meeting. Most of these are things that are actually not supposed to be part of the product. They are tangentially related (in the sense that there will be a handoff to a third party for further processing) but our product has absolutely nothing to do with it. For example, suppose our product is a product/price comparison site, the actual Action (ecommerce) happens on the ecommerce websites. So the (our) comparison product really does not need to concern itself with things like the cart, order delivery, etc.
Yet, his project plan includes timelines for working on these ecommerce features. So it is obvious that there is significant miscommunication. He hasn't yet spoken much in the couple of sessions he was on - because the project is new to him, and he was expected to mostly listen the first couple of meetings. In one on one calls however, he seems to not have understood much of what is being spoken about unless it is very very clearly laid out.
My hunch is that he was successfully handling the large orgs (including some in the US) because many things are written down clearly and there are people whose job it is to document things. Since this is a small team building new products, not everything is documented in full, and it won't be. We frequently brainstorm on new ideas and the only "notes" or "minutes" of these meetings are very brief and bullet points. Anyone who's been in the meeting, if they were paying attention and participating, will be able to make sense of these notes. These notes are shared with all participants.
Since this is a very senior guy, language training is out of the question. The problem is not the language, it is verbal realtime communication. I also doubt he will readily accept his lack of spoken communication skills. The issue hasn't yet been discussed with him.
I am unsure about letting him go because he is committed and hardworking. But he is also very senior, which means sooner than later he will have to take on leadership/management roles. If it were a routine project, it might have been fine. But this involves creating new things from scratch, so oral communication is crucial.
The longer he continues, the harder it will be to fire him. I am almost sure this difficulty in communication will be a long term detriment. He can be assigned a more back-office supervisory kinda role, but the optics of that might cause resentment after another new hire is brought in to do what he expected to be doing.
What are good ways of looking at this problem and addressing it?