Where is My Money Going? Into Bad Apples.

From my 5/27/2011 post on YoungEntrepreneur.com

Maintaining an effective and friendly staff is one of the most complicated challenges I’ve encountered as a young entrepreneur. As Chief Operating Officer of AKT Enterprises, I oversee the coordination and collaboration of over sixty employees spread over five departments and three facilities. With an average employee age of twenty-four years old, the company falls victim to the many drawbacks of workplaces consisting of Generation Y employees.

As food for thought, here are a few published common pitfalls of hiring “Millennials,” as they’re called:

  1. Heightened sense of entitlement
  2. Take credit for good outcomes, point the blame for bad
  3. Unrealistic expectations of the common workplace
  4. I’m extremely proud of every single employee at AKT and acknowledge that we didn’t get here without making a few “bad hires” along the way.

The truth is, sometimes it’s more work to try to teach someone how to be a great employee than it is to take a gamble on bringing in someone new and training them up to speed.

Over time, I’ve naturally developed a few common categories for red flag situations. These red flags, more often than not, indicate the need for an immediate firing. Note that these are listed in no particular order, someone can possess more than one of these qualities and, please, forgive the names I chose.

1. The Supposedly-Qualified, Busy Body

When you interviewed this person, you couldn’t have been more excited– a perfect match, right? This person is constantly working hard, putting in extra hours and bringing up countless ideas without being forced to. Their analysis of problems is accurate and their proposed solutions all make sense to you.

This individual is incredible on paper, but you just can’t put your finger on why their magic isn’t working at your company.

The reality is that some people are just full of it. They know what you’re looking for and they know how make it appear that they’ve been working hard–just enough to keep you guessing where the problem in your company is. Trust me, this type of employee may be professional and intelligent, but they cause more problems than they fix.

2. The “Yes” Man (or Woman)

Through my experience, it takes a little while to figure out that you’ve hired a “Yes” man. Once you spend a few sleepless nights trying to pinpoint why certain things just aren’t getting done around the office and you get completely fed up with someone agreeing with you but never following through, you’ll realize you’ve hired one.

There is nothing worse than someone telling you what you want to hear all the time. It accomplishes nothing, unless your goal is to constantly waste time.

3. Captain “Just Enough”

It’s difficult to justify letting one of these people go. Why? Well, they do just enough work to fly under the radar. What most people don’t tell you is that there are more of these in your organization than you even realize.

I recently read a quote somewhere (most likely retweeted by my director of business development) that said most employees will stretch two hours worth of work into an eight hour day out of fear of–get this–looking like they’re slacking!

I am a huge advocate for a positive and effective work culture. Losing red flag employees does more than just save you money and produce better products, it’s a sigh of relief to your other employees.

Of the hundreds of random factoids my father emails me on a regular basis, he sent a gem recently. This one came in at 6AM and said, “Hire slowly, fire quickly.” I forwarded the email to everyone on my executive and admin staff that day. If you happen to realize that you’ve hired an employee that fits one of the types profiled above, I recommend you take that advice.

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