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Recently, our company has expanded and has started hiring more employees. Previously, I was the sole IT director and responsible for nearly everything technology related.

Because of the recent expansion, I asked for one or two assistants to help with some of the lower level tech work, which I believed to be a reasonable request. My request was granted, and I received two employees who I am now the manager of.

Now the issue is that they claim they have the three years minimum required work experience, but I'm not so sure. They are constantly asking questions about how to do certain tasks. Questions one would assume they know the answer to. How can I deal with these employees? Should I ask they be terminated? Or do I simply continue as usual and hope they learn?

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    George, by "sole IT director" do you mean that you actually did any directing previously? Or that you were the sole technical person in a small company and took the title "IT Director" simply to signify that there was nobody in IT above you? – Carson63000 Apr 7 '14 at 0:33
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    Why do you care so much about the number of years of prior experience? You should be looking for the presence or absence of specific skills. It really makes no difference if they learn the skill in 1 year instead of 3. And even if someone has 5+ years of experience, it doesn't necessarily mean they are skilled. – aroth Apr 7 '14 at 4:15
  • George, did you consider the fact that they ask all these questions because they want to know how YOU, the director, wants things done? Often there is more than one way to do things, and they are likely afraid of doing the WRONG thing if they can't read your mind. – Jennifer S May 8 '14 at 12:52
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Your question implies that these people are objects, which you can have and throw away whenever you feel like. You can't and they're not; they're people and this could be the cause of your problems.

I asked for one or two assistants to help with some of the lower level tech work... My request was granted and I received two employees who I am now the manager of.

You didn't receive two employees, they were hired. Your language here implies that you didn't interview them yourself at all. As someone's future manager you should be interviewing them to check that they'll fit well into the team and have the necessary skills to do the job.

Now the issue is that they claim they have the three years minimum required work experience but I'm not so sure.

This is slightly worrying, their work experience should have been double checked by your HR department and you should have tested them in their interviews to ensure that they'd be able to do the job. This reads as though you had a list of requirements that someone went off and found a match to.

They are constantly asking questions about how to do certain tasks. Questions one would assume they know the answer to.

Asking questions is completely normal and to be encouraged. It's one of the best ways to learn and may indicate that your new employees are motivated to do well. Once again, the second sentence would indicate that you didn't interview them, or that they didn't have an appropriate technical interview.

Should I ask they be terminated?

You can't just "terminate" someone, there are a lot of procedures to go through.

Or do I simply continue as usual and hope they learn?

It's your responsibility, as someone's manager to ensure that they have the knowledge and tools to do their job. You can't "hope" they learn; you need to ensure that they're learning the correct things in order to to their job. You need to either train them yourself or arrange for someone else to do so if they're unable to learn on their own.

How can I deal with these employees?

I would sit down with someone from your HR department - explain the situation and ask for help in resolving it. Don't go with preconceptions about the future course of action (termination) and start pushing for that to occur. Do go with information to back up your arguments; what specifically are these people not achieving at? Why do you expect them to have this knowledge? How quickly are they picking it up once they know that they need to know? etc.

This may end in termination of their contract but don't assume so from the beginning. It's a lot quicker, cheaper and easier to work with the staff you have if they are good enough. Remember that you're their manager and it's your responsibility to ensure that the employee is doing well for both themselves and the company.

If you haven't been a manager previously (or even if you have) it might be worth asking to go on some management courses. It may help you in dealing with your new employees and it helps you in your own development for your own future.

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  • +1 Remind me to avoid working with George, he appears to treat others with complete contempt. – Dan Apr 6 '14 at 11:28
  • This sums up many of my thoughts. George is apparently a director. It's time he started acting like one. – Rob Moir Apr 6 '14 at 21:26
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I don't really care that people have x number of years of experience. I only care that they know their stuff and it makes no difference to me if they learned it the day before yesterday. Which raises the question: what did you ask for: years of experience, or specific subject matter knowledge? And if you asked for specific subject matter knowledge, how did you go about verifying that they actually have the subject matter knowledge that they claim?

Having said that, taking them at their word that they know their stuff when you took them on board is a more or less viable approach, if you are either willing to let them go or willing to train them until they are up to snuff when you find out that their walk does not match their talk.

You know these two better than I do and you are going to have to be the one who makes the determination as to whether it's worth your time and energy to get them up to snuff. Also, take into consideration that hiring people is an expensive process and so is firing people.

Next time, make sure that your job candidates know their stuff before you take them on board. It's a lot less aggravation all around when you do that. And definitely cheaper than a series of hirings, aclimating and firings.

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  • Quoting the Zirak - I can play "Marry had a Little Lamb on my piano every day for 20 years, that won't make me a great pianist" – Benjamin Gruenbaum Apr 6 '14 at 20:57
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So much for the saying "there are no stupid questions" (at least in your workplace)!

People ask questions for various reasons. Sometimes they ask when they're not 100% confident in their ability to perform the task. Sometimes they ask because they want to see if you know a better/more-sophisticated way to perform the task, sometimes a simple question is merely an entry into follow-up questions about more subtle issues. In other words, asking questions is NOT a sign of incompetence. It is the sign of someone who wants to do a good job and is capable of critiquing their own assumptions. What you really should be concerned about is people who act confident and then promptly mangle stuff because they didn't care to ask questions.

You should answer these questions and understand where these people are coming from. Try to understand why the questions are being asked, this is the sign of a good manager. Being the "IT guy" who only answers the exact literal question being asked isn't going to cut it in a manager role.

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  • I think this answer misses the point. The OP said: They are constantly asking questions about how to do certain tasks. Questions one would assume they know the answer to . i.e. - These are not learning questions, and not appropriate questions for those positions. You should answer these questions and understand where these people are coming from . Not the correct approach IMO: We're talking about managerial positions and supervisors in the workplace, not a workshop or clinic. If they need to be coddled that way, they shouldn't be holding such positions. – Vector Apr 7 '14 at 0:02
  • @comeAndGo, these are relatively new hires. They are asking questions but there is no indication that they're incompetent or not able to do the work. Moreover, it is THE JOB of the manager to understand his workers. If the manager feels that these people are asking questions which they should already know the answer to, the first step is not "consider termination" but rather FIND OUT WHY. It could be that these people really are incompetent and need to be fired, on the other hand, the more likely cause is something more complex and which could lead to better situation for everyone involved. – teego1967 Apr 8 '14 at 0:13
  • I think we need to rely on what the OP wrote, not what you think... :) – Vector Apr 8 '14 at 4:55
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Should I ask they be terminated?

I think requesting outright that they be terminated now might be pushing it - it depends on your relationship with your own superiors and your familiarity with the firm's power structure: You run the risk of making the one who hired them look bad, which could end up being bad for you...

A better course of action might be along these lines:

  • If you don't already know, do a bit of probing around to find out who was responsible for vetting them and hiring them for their positions, so you can "play defense", if and when it's necessary.
  • Keep careful records of what they seem not to know and are unable to execute over a period of time. From your question it sounds like this is something that began only recently. If you want to request termination, you should present clear, documented evidence of incompetence over a good deal of time - evidence that cannot be disputed.
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