how do I tell my boss that our new hire needs to be fired?

A reader writes:

I have a coworker who was hired about a month and a half ago. She works very closely with me and I’m unofficially her supervisor – I have done almost 100% of her training, I’m responsible for reviewing her work, and it is expected that she comes to me with questions before going to our boss. Our company has a 60-day acclimation period and I think she should be terminated at the end of her 60 days, if not before. I don’t think she’s a good fit for the position – she makes too many mistakes, she doesn’t have strong enough skills, and she doesn’t work fast enough. It has been frustrating to train her and my work life has been pretty miserable since she started. This isn’t my first time training someone in her position and I don’t think it’s my fault for improperly training her.

I’ve gone to my boss twice to talk about the problems I’ve had with her, and my boss has told me to be more understanding since she’s still new and learning. I’ve documented everything that I can, but I’m worried that the next time I go to my boss, she’ll just continue to tell me to be patient while my new coworker is still learning. My boss seems to hate the hiring process and I don’t think she sees my new coworker as that big of a problem. What’s the best way to convey that I strongly believe that she needs to go?

My boss is generally good at addressing problems, but there usually aren’t big problems to address.

I’d come right out and say it — not that you think she needs to be fired, since that’s not really your call to make, but that you you’re concerned she lacks the skills needed to succeed at the job, since you’re the one working closely with her and training her.

I’d say this: “Now that I’ve been training Jane for X days and working closely with her during that time, I have some serious concerns about her skills. I absolutely understand that because she’s new, it will take her time to learn how to do things correctly — but this goes beyond being new and is about her fundamental skills and abilities. . It’s causing ongoing problems like X and Y, and I’m not seeing signs of improvement. Based on what I’ve seen, like (example) and (example), I don’t think she has the skills to succeed in the job, and I don’t think further training will solve that.”

If she tells you again to be patient, you could say, “Normally that would make sense to me, but my concern is that she’s not working out and we’re nearing the end of her 60-day probation period. Would it make sense for you to do a more formal assessment with her before then?”

But from there, it’s really up to your boss. You should keep her in the loop about any problems it’s causing for you, certainly, and you can decline to pick up your new coworker’s slack so that your boss is forced to see the impact of keeping her on staff … but if your boss is one of the many, many managers who won’t fire people when needed, there might not be more you can do beyond that, unfortunately.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 161 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie the Fed*

    Yes, do it! Do it now! Because after that probationary period you’re sometimes stuck for a looooong time. Trust me, I’ve been there :)

    1. AMG*

      I wonder if OP will be quasi-responsible for her after the 90 days are up. That should be a serious consideration for her boss as well because it will impact the productivity of 2 people, not just one.

  2. Jamie*

    People who don’t fire people who need to be fired are more frustrating than the problems caused by the people who need to fired. Seriously, be as forthright as you can with your boss with specifics and if she continues to ignore the problem she sucks.

    Devil’s advocate, if the boss sees something in her you don’t then she should still be addressing these issues.

    I don’t understand why some bosses let things fester when it’s clear someone cannot do the job rather than lance the proverbial abscess and let everyone start healing.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      At last job, we had a new hire that pretty much lied about her skills. Example, she didn’t even know what Excel was, but she said she was an expert in the interview. It took two days to figure out she couldn’t do the most basic tasks in her job.
      In this case, the boss did want her let go, but HR wouldn’t allow it. Her probationary period passed and she was still there, pretty much doing nothing all day because she couldn’t learn any parts of her job.
      It was mind boggling. I wonder if HR had some kind of bonus tied to retention so they didn’t want to let anyone go. I can understand if they are scared of lawsuits for firing someone, but that is why there is a probationary period.

      1. Matthew Soffen*

        At my company several groups hire people as “consultants” for the 1st 90 days. Then, If they’re good, they get hired full time. Otherwise they’re let go (they’re just a consultant with a 90 day contract that isn’t to be renewed).

        Problem solved.

          1. Melissa*

            “Assuming contract work does not violate their current work agreements, Mr. Bischke said, prospective hires at Entelo are given part-time projects to work on at night or over the weekend. They are paid, he said, a “solid consulting rate” for this work, and the trial period can last two to four weeks. About half of the 30 people who have been asked to work on a trial basis have moved into full-time jobs, he said. In some cases it didn’t work out because the candidates had a change of heart. In others, he said, “Let’s just say that had we hired them, we probably would have had to fire them.”

            Ugh, I don’t know how I feel about that. The kind of work I am capable of doing when I can devote full-time energy to it 8-10 hours a day is quite different than the kind of work I can do when I’m doing it in the evening into the wee hours of the morning after a day of work at another job. And what if the trial employees in question have children and families?

        1. Jamie*

          We do that too – although we go through an employment agency so they don’t have to deal with the tax issues of independent contractors. And the time varies depending on the position – but same principle.

        2. scott*

          Except most qualified candidates will balk at that. I know I’d never take a contract-to-hire position. Maybe for entry level jobs, but not candidates with established careers.

          1. Jamie*

            I did it when I came in as systems analyst/IT manager and I’ve seen people do it for 6 figure jobs in the door.

            Maybe it’s an industry thing, but it’s not unheard of especially for technical positions where the scope is broad enough it’s hard to fully vet from the interview process. So if it’s a huge mismatch you part ways and they don’t have a fire on their record and you’re not stuck paying unemployment.

            There are some industries I’m sure where it would be unheard of.

            1. Sasha LeTour*

              Same with advertising, Jamie, especially now that it’s become so technical that our industry is actually experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates, at least in the NYC metro area, for the first time in decades. I started as a print-based junior art director myself, and now I am a senior digital design manager with a front-end web development skillset. I actually took the job I have now through a contract-to-hire situation, working at a huge global agency that has been growing its technical/digital capabilities for the past 7-8 years or so. With the help of a recruiter (and an old boss, who recco’ed me to my current boss), I took a three-month contract on a 1099 which was converted to FT, W-2 salary and benefits once I passed the probationary period.

              Today, even those making six figures to take contract or temp work to get a foot in the door. I earn in that range and have done this for my last two jobs, going back to 2007, when the first signs of economic downturn touched down on Wall St. You totally nailed the reasons companies love contract work, and from where I stand, most workers love it too, since they don’t get stuck at an agency/company that isn’t a fit. More and more, the recruiting firms are paying benefits and even vacation days, to where many people in my network prefer to go from job to job, because there aren’t any negative consequences to doing so. (Not even being known for job-hopping; in the NYC advertising industry, you are seen as stagnant if you keep a job past the 3-4 year mark. At my company, over half of the employees who were hired less than 18 months ago have moved on to higher-paying jobs already!)

          2. Demeter*

            I think this sort of system could be beneficial to the candidate as well, as it would provide a chance to “get out” if you discover that the workplace isn’t right for you. It’s a risk to accept a full-time position with a multi-year expectation when you’ve never even sat in the office for a full workday.

            1. LQ*

              Yeah, but it isn’t like you can UNquit your previous job. The employee accepts ALL risk up front, you can always quit at any point, if I found out a job wasn’t for me 3 years in it would be exactly the same as if I’d found out 3 days in. Time to start a new job search.

              1. Lynn Whitehat*

                I’ve done it when I was laid off. Yeah, to leave a perm position for a temp-to-perm, it had better be pretty fabulous with a high conversion rate.

                1. K.*

                  I did it when I lost a job, too. Having a starter three-month agreement was great, in that instance: got me working immediately, and it let both me and the employer try out if it was the right fit.

              2. TrainerGirl*

                I am very lucky…I worked my butt off at previous job, and was offered the opportunity to come back if my new job didn’t work out. So sometimes it is possible. But I admit my situation is rare…I was working with some great people, but felt stagnant and wanted to take on a new challenge. But it felt like less of a risk knowing that I would be welcome back if things don’t turn out as planned.

            2. Stephanie*

              That’s why I love that we have 3 month probation periods here in Australia. Any time in the 3 months, me or the employer can say ‘this isn’t working out, today is my last day’ and it takes a lot of pressure off knowing that if something is immediately wrong, you can leave with no issue in those first 12 weeks.

            3. Sasha LeTour*

              Most people I know thinks this way, with the exception of those who can’t afford to risk going without health insurance. My husband is partially disabled from working heavy labor jobs in his 20s and we’re about to start paying for a couple rounds of corrective orthopedic surgeries, so I am in this category, but in the minority by far.

          3. Meg Murry*

            Yes, I’d never quit a job I had for a contract-to-hire position unless there were dire circumstance (like I knew I was going to be laid off in 6 months anyway). It’s like Alison’s advice not to quit without another job lined up – in my world, a contract-to-hire position doesn’t count as enough of “another job lined up” for me. Especially since most I’ve seen in my industry have been 3 or 6 month positions, “with possibility to hire” – I’ve seen far too many people stuck in a perma-temp loop of just being re-upped every 3 or 6 months but never actually hired.

            1. Jamie*

              That’s a really good consideration I hadn’t thought about. I was between jobs when I took it so no harm/no foul, but thinking about it now it would give me pause to leave a job. I would need it really specifically stipulated to even consider it.

              As a temp I’d been strung along a lot, too, and left long term assignments when the promised direct hire didn’t happen after X months. But this is different in that my offer letter stipulated the time line, my pay through the agency, my pay once direct hire (and it was 2 weeks – not months) and unambiguously written that at the end of the 2 weeks we’d have a meeting to decide if both sides wanted to move forward with the direct hire.

              Great point though – and employers should understand this reticence and be flexible. We can try to mitigate as much risk as possible, but there is some inherent in hiring and if a great candidate balks at this they should consider if they want to risk losing someone awesome over the possible immediate UI savings.

              1. Sasha LeTour*

                My situation was the same as yours Jamie, which is why I didn’t balk at a 3-month, contract-to-hire opportunity. I was actually laid off a couple years ago – my last agency lost a couple of huge clients due to the recession, and a good number of senior people got cut to save budget; I was one. I desperately wanted to avoid gaps in my income and resume and I knew well the old adage about the job hunt taking a month for every 10K you earn. My thinking was, a contract job is better than none at all, and since my recruiter was working closely with me and my boss to monitor the situation and get me converted over to salary ASAP, I accepted the offer almost immediately.

            2. Mike B.*

              I did this once, but the terms of my existing job were going to change when a grant ran out in a few months (from principally editorial to principally administrative). I wasn’t yet established enough to get a permanent editorial job in the industry I’d targeted; in fact, it was the contract job that gave me the experience I needed to do so.

              I wouldn’t do it again today, but it was absolutely the right choice under those circumstances. By playing it safe, I’m certain I would never have gotten the break I ultimately did.

          4. Stephanie*

            This is actually the standard practice in Australia, but it does go both ways. During the first 3 months of employment, either party can end the arrangement, no questions asked and no repercussions. It’s a pretty acceptable thing to leave during probation, at least in my industry. It can be a tiny bit stressful knowing there is a small chance you might be let go during the ‘probationary’ period as we call it, but usually something has to be majorly wrong for an employer to do that and it’s worth it to know I have a no hassle ‘out’ if something is not right (role not advertised, toxic work culture, awful boss) or if another job offer comes through (I was relieved to have the option once when I was interviewing for another role but the process was pushed back because of the death of the recruiters mother, but I risked being left with no job at all if I turned down the other one I was offered, because I couldn’t exactly ask for 3 weeks to think it over so I said yes knowing I could quit no questions asked during the probation period.)

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Stephanie – Here in the US you can quit at any time with no questions asked, too. What I’m curious about, though, is how it looks to Australian employers if you have one or three “quit during the probation period” jobs on your resume. Does it make you look like a job hopper or a flake? Do you leave them off your resume (but then how do you explain the gap in employment)?

              And I’m equally curious about what happens after the probation period: Are you now working under an employment contract which makes it difficult for the company to fire you and difficult for you to quit? What happens if you discover at six months that it’s a horrible fit for you and you hate your job? Are you not allowed to quit?

              1. Sonya*

                Fellow Aussie chiming in.

                Depending on your position and your industry, you will be under an award, an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), and/or an individual workplace agreement. Your industry award, coupled with Fair Work Standards, governs the minimum that must be given to you. An EBA governs the working conditions of categories of employees at a company. Market-rated employees (those who negotiate their own salary and conditions) make individual contracts. The awards set out things like leave entitlements, notice periods, probation periods, breaks, etc. which are then drilled down by EBAs where they apply. So, I’m covered by the Banking and Finance Award, but my entitlements are over and above award because my company has EBAs. The union is negotiating ours right now.

                The only people who do not get given notice of termination ahead of the fact are casuals independent contractors and temps, who can quit or be let go at any time.

                With the increased casualisation of the workforce here, and a higher number of people (occasionally incorrectly) classified as independent contractors or temps, it’s been said that companies who employ casuals, temps or contractors for X amount of time must hire them. You like them enough to keep giving them work, why won’t you hire them? It won’t pass under our current government, though.

                The rate per hour for these insecure workers is higher, to make up for the lack of certainty. Casuals, however, who work in the same role for ten years get long service leave. Anyone with permanent employment has their annual and long service leave paid out along with their notice period (different notice periods apply depending on how long you’ve been there). Permanents who quit without notice will generally forfeit their notice period pay but will get their AL and LSL. Personal leave (including sick and carer’s) is generally use it or lose it.

          5. Stephanie*

            Hmm, I applied for a role (didn’t get called) that had a setup like that. The company (a startup) allowed you to work remotely and on a pretty limited basis (like 5-20 hours/week), so that you could keep your current job. After having a couple of jobs that were pretty poor fits, I’d want to test out the company as well. That being said, I don’t know if I’d leave a full-time role for a setup like that. I’d be worried about the risk of becoming a permatemp as well.

            1. Jamie*

              That would make me super nervous because I’d be so paranoid that without face time and forming relationships that I’d hurt my chances. And I have a hard enough time being delightful full time, I can’t pack all my charm into 20-35 hours per week. Too much pressure.

            2. (The Other) Stephanie*

              That’s what I really like about how we do things in Australia. I like that the probation period gives me a chance to test out the company as much as they are deciding if I am a good fit. I feel like America is a bit more ‘once you commit to a job, you have to keep your word, even if it’s the wrong fit’ but here we understand that sometimes you don’t know what you’re getting until you actually do it and I like that there is far less of a stigma attached to quitting a job early on when you know you won’t be happy there.

              1. Stephanie*

                Interesting. I mean, that happens in the US. Former industry/jobs were in a niche that hired engineers, but wasn’t engineering work. So it was pretty common that people would get in ( and I think HR and the hiring managers weren’t always super forthright about what was involved) and realize it was a horrible fit. So it was not uncommon that I had coworkers quitting after a month or two. But most pretended the job never happened as it’d never happened. So in Australia, do people still list a two-month stint somewhere on a resume and just say it wasn’t a good fit? And is “it wasn’t a good fit” accepted without further questions?

              2. TL*

                There’s no real penalty for leaving a job early in the US (well, most jobs; contract workers are different); it’s just a matter of being a) unemployed or b) maybe someone calling and finding out you were let go or fired. But unlikely.

                Maybe there’s a cultural difference in how it’s perceived, though?

                1. Stephanie*

                  The difference from what I know from having a few friends in the United States is how it’s perceived. I remember reading an AAM post where someone wanted to leave after 4 days for a better job with a substantially better commute and AAM basically told her not to because she needs to keep her word. Me and my fellow Australian who read it were both screaming in our heads ‘she’s within the first 3 months, All she has to do is tell them it’s not working for her and she can leave without hassle’.

          6. Cheeky*

            I started in my current job in a contract-to-hire position. It was my only opportunity to get my foot in the door when I did. I’m highly qualified for my job. Given the job market, there are lots of people willing to jump through these hoops.

        3. Mike C.*

          The risk here is that many companies just refuse to hire them full time and simply renew the contracts. As such, a lot of folks in the circles I run in would see that and walk right out. Permatemps have been around for a long time now.

          1. Jamie*

            As I mentioned in response to Meg this is a great point and to remember to get everything in writing.

            I do tend to forget that not all companies are as buttoned down with this stuff as mine is. My offer letter contained:

            1. start date
            2. title
            3. 2 weeks through agency at X rate – with details
            4. Meeting date (2 weeks post start date) to decide if it was a good fit with very specific verbiage that it would either result in direct hire or end of contract – no extensions.
            5. pay rate for direct hire – when/if applicable
            6. 6 month review for compensation re-evaluation.

            along with vacay, benefit info, etc.

            So yes, if you are going to do this a company needs to go out of their way to make damn sure it’s written into basically a contract. Because we do consider our offer letters to be contracts as have every place I’ve worked.

            I did work somewhere where it was in the offer letter to get a 6 month review and compensation eval and when the time came and I asked about it HR told me they changed the policy to anniversary date. I brought it up to my manager who was absolutely outraged that I was told that, said the offer letter is a contract and of course they’ll schedule my eval. And they did and I got a considerable raise.

            And there’s a tip for those of you who don’t do this, there is nothing wrong with asking for salary reevaluation when negotiating if you think you’re coming in low. Some jobs it’s so hard to vet absolutely in the interview process, so they don’t want to come in too high as it’s easier to raise people than lower them later. And this gives you some time to show not tell how awesome you are – and it takes away the awkwardness of asking for a review too soon – because in a lot of positions asking before a year can be presumptuous and hurt you – but if it’s in the deal at the beginning (in writing) it can come in handy. Especially for jobs where positions are still in a state of flux when hiring (happens a lot) or weird tech positions where it cant be fully vetted (although should be as much as possible) before hire, but you’ll know relatively soon whether they are excelling or not.

        4. Purr purr purr*

          Yeah that’s why my company have done. I’m a contractor for six months and if I pass the probationary periods at 3 months and 6 months then I’ll be hired full-time as permanent staff. I think the arrangement works out well for both parties. If the contractor is rubbish, the company can let them go at the end of the contract period. If the contractor doesn’t like the company then they can leave without having to worry about whether they stayed there long enough for it to look good on their resume since it was a contract with a specified end date.

      2. Adonday Veeah*

        “…but HR wouldn’t allow it.”

        Argh! HR should NEVER be allowed to do this! And I’m an HR Manager! I can see HR making sure the manager has done due diligence before firing, if it is necessary to protect the company, but not allowing a manager to let go of a bad hire during probation… oh, the shame!

        And what kind of company gives HR this kind of power? We should advise, teach, guide, counsel, even nag and badger if necessary, but MANAGERS are supposed to manage their departments, not HR.

        I’m gonna start telling people I work in marketing.

        1. blu*

          It’s hard to tell without all the facts. I have been in this situation (as HR) and it was legal who would not permit us to let go of someone who falsified information on their application. Despite the fact they had agreed when they applied that it could result in termination. However, the employee was in the EU and our legal team was gun shy. In the end we were stuck with him and I would guess the manager thinks it was an HR decision.

          1. Adonday Veeah*

            I work for a very small org (under 100 peeps) and I rule the HR roost. My scent is on every single employee. I guess in the situation you describe I’d probably have to defer to legal. I don’t know thing one about international HR. (Although from where I stand your legal team sound like cowards.)

            1. blu*

              Yeah we were rather annoyed considering that form where candidates agree to penalties up to and including termination cases like this was blessed by legal. If we weren’t going to be allowed to enforce it then they should have told us that when we drafted the form.

          2. neverjaunty n*

            Your legal team needs a boot to the head.

            NOTHING can prevent a bad employee from filing a frivolous lawsuit (at least not in the US). If your company has been keeping good records and following sound employment policy, then people without a leg to stand on won’t easily find a lawyer and Legal should be able to fend them off.

            1. blu*

              This was based on EU law not US and their perception (I don’t know if they are correct or not), but as a US based company we had a target on us.

      3. Vicki*

        Are you in the US? Every state but one has “at-will” employment. You can let people go at any time for no reason whatsoever.

        Your HR dept has problems.

          1. Sasha LeTour*

            Only 8% of all workers in the US even have the option of unionizing and with many states adopting Right to Work laws, that number is going to get smaller over the coming years.

            (Many people think “right to work” means “they can fire you for any reason,” but it’s actually “At-Will Employment” which is something different. “Right to work” means that you can work a unionized job in that state without having to join the union if you don’t want to.)

        1. Chris*

          Just wanted to chime in- my company operates in an “at-will” state, but we are not an “at-will” employer. We are a “just-cause” employer. So this can vary.

    2. some1*

      It doesn’t do the employee any favors, either. We had a problem receptionist at a former company who committed more disciplinable offenses than I could list here and one firable offense that I know of. Her boss refused to manage her despite multiple complaints. Then she went on mat leave and they brought in someone who did the job more efficiently and she was let go, having no idea she was doing an unacceptable job, and the firing probably felt like it came out of nowhere for her.

        1. some1*

          She actually returned for a couple weeks and if memory serves her boss told her she needed to step it up, but because it was one of her first jobs and she’d got away with screwing up for so long, she didn’t take the warning seriously.

        2. Jessa*

          This. I’d be furious from an HR standpoint about this. Without long term documentation about her behaviour this looks absolutely like discrimination and I’d be seriously worried about a labour suit.

  3. BRR*

    I’m wondering if it would be helpful to say/show how you’ve trained others who have not had similar problems.

    1. LBK*

      Agreed – having precedent for how training has gone with other employees is huge in this situation because you can empirically point to most people having reached X level of competency at this point (not necessarily being perfect and ready to work independently, but already accomplishing X and Y tasks on their own) and she’s not there.

    2. LQ*

      Very much agree with this. It would be really nice to say, these other 3 employee’s I trained were able to produce 4 teapots a day after week 3 and 6 after week 7. They all kept a damaged handle percentage under 5%.
      This employee can produce 1 teapot a day after week 4 with a 75% damaged handles. This is costing us a billionty dollars.

    3. Ezri*

      The OP also doesn’t mention if the issues were communicated to the new hire, and if so how the feedback was received. Is the new hire unaware of the problems, does he/she acknowledge them and try to do better, or is he/she completely resistant to feedback? That information (and any documentation associated with it) might also be helpful.

      1. BRR*

        This is an excellent point that I hadn’t thought of. Not just what isn’t right about the work but what the expectations are.

      2. AnonyMouse*

        Yes, I was coming here to say exactly this! It does seem like the new hire really might not have the skills for the job, but if there’s any chance that she’s still unaware of the expectations for the role and specifically, how her work is not living up to them, it’s probably a good idea to have a conversation about it before deciding to let her go.

        1. Militant Intelligent*

          The OP is being too harsh, in my opinion. I don’t understand the specific issue except for the new hire isn’t working fast enough. Hiring is expensive, and hiring and firing and re-hiring even more so. The manager hired the person for a reason, give her a shot. Work WITH her instead of whining about how you think she should be let go. Some people take longer to adjust than others. Everyone makes mistakes. Maybe the onus is on OP to communicate expectations more clearly and to train better, so the new chick can improve and deliver. The letter to Alison just seemed like ‘she’s doing this and that wrong’ without any introspection. I just started a new job and OPs whiny – and yes, I do think OP sounds like a whiner– attitude has annoyed me.

      3. Artemesia*

        It is really important after the second time you have corrected someone on a procedure or had to explain it for the second time, that at that point you explicitly say ‘we need you to be able to do this mistake free on your own — you may want to write down and review and then practice these steps so you can do it without having to be repeatedly shown how.’ The lesson is not only how to attach the teapot spout and apply the slip but also ‘each of these things I am teaching is something you need to be able to do without further instruction.’

        I have seen week employees who continue to ask for assistance on basic tasks long after they should have transitioned to independence. If the feedback is given and the problems continue then that highlights that their are more serious skill gaps involved.

        In many places it is fairly easy to dismiss while on probation but difficult later; my husband once waited till the end of the probation period to dismiss someone who had committed some egregious violations and ended up not being able to let her go because by the time the system responded to his request, the time had run and it was virtually impossible to make it happen then. This is particularly important when the cause is malfeasance of some sort rather than just being slow to learn. If you wait, superiors wonder why you waited so long if it is such a serious issue.

      4. Jazzy Red*

        Great point, Ezri.

        I’ve worked in a couple of very small places, as an administrative assistant, and some of those people didn’t know what good admin work looked like. What they called advanced excel, I called intermediate. Of course, it’s nice to look like an excel superstar, but I knew I wasn’t. But the admin before me thought she really was, because she knew more about excel than everyone else there. The new employee might be coming from this type of situation, and thinks she really is adequately skilled.

        1. Ruffingit*

          This is an excellent point! Helping her to understand what the expectations are in this environment is of great importance. She may have no idea that what she is doing is subpar for the job.

  4. AVP*

    Are there any metrics that you can point tom comparing her to past people that you’ve trained? Even just an example of “Cindy was properly working the phone system without my help from her second week, and it took Bob approximately two weeks to get the hang of it, but now at 6 weeks Jane still hasn’t taken a single call without my needing to jump in and rescue her.”

    I had to do something similar once and found that my boss’s impulse was to see “this person cannot do this job” as a vague sentiment that didn’t adhere to what he saw in the hiring process, but “we will lose approximately 30% of our calls because she can’t transfer them” gave him perspective. Of course, in my case, he still didn’t fire her until she dropped the ball on a big project and came in to work on drugs, but that’s neither here nor there…

    1. Mike C.*

      Yeah, I think clear and measurable standards are really key here.

      To go a step further, are the training goals well defined with measurable goals as well?

    2. Francie*

      I think this is probably the most effective approach.

      Depending on how you phrased it to your boss, she may be under the impression that the things you’re complaining about (making mistakes, being slow) are a normal part of the training process. I know that with every new hire I’ve had, I’ve always reached a point where I felt like I’d made a huge mistake and the new person was just never going to understand it all, but eventually something clicks for the new hire, and they do start picking it up.

      Your boss may be thinking that you’re dealing with a normal dip in the learning curve, so you need to provide her with more concrete examples that demonstrate that this goes beyond the normal problems that come up in training.

      1. Sascha*

        Yes, concrete examples go a long way. My coworker and I had this talk with our manager yesterday about our newest coworker (he’s been here about 6 months), who is just an overall bad employee. Even though our manager was aware of some of the issues, and had addressed them with the employee, he was still surprised when we brought up some specific examples, especially recent ones regarding tasks he should be doing with minimal to no mistakes by now.

    3. Ruffingit*

      She had to come into work high for him to fire her? I think perhaps the boss was high for quite awhile there too…geeze.

  5. Labratnomore*

    I have had this problem on a couple of occasions. Just as Allison said, bring examples and explain why you believe the performance issues are not improving. It is helpful to explain how you addressed the issues with this employee and what the change in their behavior was (obviously it wasn’t what you were looking for), this is a good way to clearly show that the employee is not improving and that it isn’t just that they are new or had inadequate training

  6. Diet Coke Addict*

    This was not me, but may as well have been! My boss knows the new hire from a job 20-odd years ago and they are friendly, hence he will never, ever fire her. But I am stuck in the position of training and re-teaching all the time–like yesterday, when I had to go over some basic stuff that we covered on the second day of training again in the sixth week. I have enough work on my plate without instructing my new coworker how to answer the phone and transfer calls for the fifth time.

    (And yes, my first response is always “Have you looked at the instruction guide I gave you? It lays out those procedures” and I always encourage her to take notes–which she does–but when the refrain is constant “I don’t remember” or “I’m confused,” there’s only so much I can do.)

    1. nina t.*

      Ugh, I sympathize. Same situation with my manager and the coworker even readily admits “I don’t retain information very well, please be patient with me”. Fine, but 6 months in I didn’t expect to keep walking her through a regular task almost weekly when she has my process docs and notes.

      1. Jamie*

        Okay, it’s great that she knows this about herself, but the question to her is what is she doing to compensate for that?

        Is she writing everything down, keeping typed/searchable notes, documenting procedures with screen shots (when applicable) she can refer to? I am a lot more patient with people when they are clearly making an effort to compensate.

        You said she has your documentation and notes. If it were me I’d sit with her and watch her do this task with the documentation. Are there areas in the documentation that aren’t clear and she needs to add her own notes? When she gets to a stopping point ask yourself if it’s the documentation that’s missing or is it all there and she’s not following it? (And no shot intended, I’ve found holes in mine many times because it’s easy to skip the intuitive tasks when you do something so much. I strive to create documentation that can be followed by someone who just dropped on the planet with only the ability to read English and type. The best way to know what’s missing is to ask people where they are getting stuck.)

        Not giving that as an excuse – if the documentation was lacking she should have added her own notes day 1 – just saying that’s where I’d start.

        If the documentation is good, watch her and see where she is stuck. Is there math she has trouble with? Is it writing? Or whatever – sometimes it’s just learned helplessness and some people need hand holders. Not okay, but they are out there.

        After the task have a post mortem meeting and discuss where the problems lie. Patience is great, but she needs a plan for conquering this or it’s going to removed from her duties and land on someone else’s desk. I’ve seen this so often – people get tired of teaching someone who can’t seem to move forward and it’s easier to do it yourself. You need to find out if she’s capable of learning the task and if so she needs a plan. If not, that’s a different conversation.

    2. OhNo*

      In this case, would it help or hinder to give a firm cut off date? Like, “After Oct. 1, I will no longer be answering your questions about the phone system. You will either have to look it up in the guide I gave you or figure it out on your own.”

      On the one hand, that would get them to stop bugging you with repeat questions. On the other hand, if they are friends with the boss, there is nothing saying they won’t go to your manager and say “I can’t do anything because Diet Coke Addict refuses to teach me!” (with the “for the fiftieth time” caveat left unsaid, of course).

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I think it would hinder–because she loves to bring things up with the boss that she thinks would “improve” matters (like including fax marketing along with email marketing) and I’m confident that if I cut her off, the next thing would be “DCA is being mean to me–she won’t show me how to do anything!” and then I’m in the doghouse. If I were in a functional workplace I’d definitely go with a cutoff date, though. There really isn’t any reason why someone shouldn’t be picking up basic job tasks by the sixth or seventh week.

        1. Poe*

          No. More. Fax. Marketing!!! Every morning we bin 40+ pages of that junk! We do not want polar fleece jackets with our logo, and we aren’t interested in buying a fleet of company cars! Nor leasing a fleet. Nor using your executive airport transfer service. *&^%$!

  7. GrumpyBoss*

    As Allison points out, it is all in the delivery. If you say to your boss that someone should be fired, that can be interpreted by your boss in so many ways that will derail your message. Your boss may feel you are overstepping your bounds. Your boss may feel what you are telling him/her how to do their job. My personal interpretation when I hear one of my employees suggesting that their coworker be fired is that “fired” is often an emotionally charged word, and as a manager, I deal in data and facts, not emotion.

    I think Allison laid it out perfectly. “This is what I feel the gap is. Here is what I have done to try to close that gap. Here is what still remains. I don’t think we can solve this with more training”. Problem. Mitigation. Residual risk. Next step/option. Doesn’t mean the manager is going to say, “Eureka! You’re right!” and rush to HR. But the manager will then be armed with a much greater understanding of what the situation is and will be pointed towards the obvious conclusion.

    1. Jamie*

      Right – and then I’m assuming the OP has shelved some other responsibilities to make time for training, as usually happens, the next course is to neutrally bring this up and ask what the boss wants the OP to do about that since training is going longer than originally thought.

      Because if the OP doesn’t have time to move ahead on other things which could help her at review time because she’s stuck in a holding pattern training indefinitely that elephant in the room needs to be addressed.

      Whenever you turn someone’s job into indefinite hand holder you risk stagnating or losing a good employee.

  8. grasshopper*

    Definitely try to get it resolved before the probationary period is over. After that point, it will be far more difficult.

    To elaborate on the suggestion of given a metric comparing her to previous hires, I would also try to set out some performance plan goals with her. That way you have some data and indicators to take to the manager. For example, Experienced staff can make 10 teapots a week, I asked her to make 4 teapots by Friday and she was unable to do so. Part of this is telling her that it should be her goal to make 4 teapots this week to see if she can step it up and improve.

  9. soitgoes*

    There are certain types of jobs where the odds of finding someone competent are ridiculously low. If it’s entry-level and the pay is low, you’re not going to get that perfectly detail-oriented person with relevant experience. The work isn’t technically difficult and doesn’t justify a higher salary, but for some reason it’s hard finding someone who can do it right.

    Is this one of those positions? Your boss might feel that getting rid of the employee wouldn’t solve the problem because the next person might not be much better.

    1. AVP*

      Oof, I’m in that situation right now and it’s not fun. We have a mid-level person on our staff who is probably a solid B at his job, but it’s more like an A- two-thirds of the time and a D the rest. Ideally we would replace him with someone more stable, but the price that the CEO wants to pay for this role just does not get us the person that we need. It’s a crap position for everyone involved.

    2. Colette*

      I think there’s a difference between finding someone who is perfect off the bat and finding someone who is willing to take feedback and work hard to improve.

      1. soitgoes*

        I don’t think that the OP is saying that the new hire is difficult or isn’t trying, just that it’s a bad fit and maybe that the hire just naturally has a hard time learning certain skills. That’s an important distinction to make, and probably one of the reasons why the boss doesn’t want to let the hire go – sometimes it’s not worth losing someone who’s mediocre but pleasant to be around.

        1. Colette*

          You’re right, that’s entirely possible, but unless it’s highly-specialized work, it is probably possible to find someone more capable, even if they’re not perfect. I was trying to address the idea that “this person isn’t working out” means that they won’t be able to find someone competent at the entry level.

          1. soitgoes*

            You’d be surprised how hard it is to find someone who’s good at entry-level work but who hasn’t already moved on to bigger things. Good entry-level workers don’t stay at the entry level, which is a problem for businesses who want that kind of professionalism and competency at all levels. The solution is PAY THEM MORE AND THEY’LL STAY IN THAT POSITION, but ya know.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve experienced this when trying to hire good AP people. There’s the idea that they’re a dime a dozen since the job is mostly “just” data entry, but finding someone good at it is a challenge.

      A good AP person is not only accurate with data entry, but will also take things a step further when necessary: doing a little digging if an invoice doesn’t pass the sniff test, making sure sign-offs are within approval limits, tracking down a PO, and using some common sense when entering invoices into the system. If someone has signed off on an invoice for office supplies but coded it to a shareholders’ equity account, a good AP person will notice that and make the necessary correction. Or at least question it. (That’s based on a real-life example, LOL).

      Since it’s so hard to find good AP people, lots of times the mediocre ones are able to skate by because the manager doesn’t want to go through the process of finding someone else who may not be much better. But in my view it’s worth it because of the savings and increased efficiency of less rework, fewer correcting entries, etc.

      1. soitgoes*

        I’ve been on the other side of that hiring process. I like data entry jobs because I don’t have a hard time sitting still and doing task-oriented work. I would always get turned down because of being “overqualified,” even though I’d routinely see the same ads go up on Craigslist on a four-month cycle. These businesses reject decent candidates because they’re worried that they (the candidates) won’t stay there long, and they go with less-qualified people who can’t do the job well.

  10. Swarley*

    Assuming you are not under an employment contract, what is the purpose of a probationary period? If you’re unable to perform the duties of your job at day 60 or 61, what’s the difference?

    1. Jamie*

      Benefits. A lot of companies have policies that employees aren’t eligible for benefits until after the probationary period. It’s easier from a administrative standpoint to get rid of someone before they’ve been put on the insurance, started contributing to their 401K, etc.

      No other difference that I can tell since once you do a direct hire UI is the same either way.

      1. Swarley*

        Good point. And as an HR person I absolutely agree that it’s much easier to remove an employee prior to benefits enrollment. I just don’t buy into this seemingly imaginary window of opportunity to terminate someone.

        1. Jamie*

          Oh I don’t either – it’s a way of letting people know at the end of that time there will be a review and determination of fit. But in reality if they aren’t working out it doesn’t matter if it’s day 40 or 2142 – they aren’t working out.

          If I’m not mistaken and I totally could be, I thought there used to be a window between hire date and when one could fire without UI coming into play…going back ages (long before I joined the workforce). If that was the case it truly was a probationary period because the employer could let you go without risking the increase to UI.

          But yeah, in reality it’s not a probationary period – it’s a “let’s see if you’re going to stick around before I print out the insurance forms for you” period.

          1. Swarley*

            I love this: “ it’s a let’s see if you’re going to stick around before I print out the insurance forms for you” period.”

            If I ever work somewhere that requires a probationary period, I’m working this line into the new hire packet.

              1. Jazzy Red*

                My last employer did that. When I got sick a month later, I could go to the doctor, and get a prescription! It was great. I had previously been working at the world’s largest and stingiest retailer’s home office, and had to wait 6 months for bennies.

          2. LQ*

            There are a couple of Unemployment things that play into effect here though it can vary from state to state. Some states have periods where an employee can quit and then collect benefits. Some states have a period or dollar amount where if the employer lets them go before that is over it basically doesn’t count as a job on their account and then they may be able to collect on the previous employer but that would vary as well.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I was wondering about this bright line of a probationary period end date myself. I know in some cases (government jobs, employment contracts), the probationary period cutoff does mean something, but my last private sector job it didn’t mean anything aside from being eligible for benefits (and the company didn’t even use the phrase “probationary period”).

          At friends’ companies, “passing” the probationary period usually means there’s a lot more formal discipline process if you run into performance issues (a PIP process vs. immediate firing).

          1. Jamie*

            It means something very specific with some unions. There are different disciplinary procedures for probation and post employees…I’m sure some non union places do it too, though.

      2. Meg Murry*

        And expectations of things like performance improvement plans, etc. Most places I’ve worked have been able to let someone go within the probationary window without other steps, while after that the manager is expected to do a PIP, set goals and timelines, etc. They can still fire people for huge issues, but being too slow or making too many mistakes is usually a PIP offense, not a one time “that’s it, you’re fired” situation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, this is a huge one. Some companies commit to putting people through a progressive discipline process (warnings, PIP, etc.) before firing them, but they exclude probationary-status people from their internal obligations to follow that process.

          1. Stacy*

            Hey Alison, thus might be a bit off topic (sorry) but the share button fir FB for thus post brings up a ‘sorry this page does not exist’ link.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      It could (just guessing) also be a CYA thing. If someone is told that they can be let go for any reason (or any legal reason) within the first 60 days, then it may be harder for them to come back and cry foul if things don’t work out. If you know going in that you have 60 days to prove yourself, it’s alot harder to claim unfair treatment and so on.

      Like I said — it’s just a WAG. I’m not an HR person so I have no idea if this is the reasoning behind probationary periods.

      1. TL*

        But in 49 states, they can be let go for any (legal) reason at any other time. The company can have internal processes that have different requirements, but a company could also not have those processes, fire someone for no reason at all, and the fired person still wouldn’t have any legal recourse.

  11. NJ anon*

    We eliminated the terminology “probationary period.” Everyone is an at-will employee so it doesn’t matter if they make it 60 days, 90 days or whatever. The 90-day period is only used to be eligible for benefits.

    1. Swarley*

      Precisely. We only have a waiting period for benefits where I work. But if you stink at your job, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been there, it’s going to be addressed.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve been in that situation before. I happened to be young enough to stay on my dad’s insurance in those instances (and it was of no cost to him to add me). I’ve heard of people negotiating payment for COBRA/individual plans during the gap. A couple of friends also just ate the cost of a high-deductible emergency plan until their company’s plan kicked in.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yup. I *think* they just have to meet minimum ACA requirements. I bought mine pre-ACA implementation through my credit union and was able to use that (versus going out on the exchanges) because it met the ACA’s standards.

      2. Artemesia*

        Especially before the affordable care act, people just went without and if they got sick or a family member got sick, tough nuggies. In fact that sums up the US system of health care. I knew someone back before COBRA who was diagnosed with a serious chronic illness between jobs and couldn’t take the new job.

      3. Anx*

        I’m pretty sure getting a new job would count as a qualifying event and make you eligible for special enrollment on the website when buying your own insurance. Before the ACA, I could enroll in coverage anytime but only change plans once a year during open enrollment.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Maybe I’m naive, but is it common for full time jobs to have health care and other standard benefits not kick in for 60-90 days? I’ve never heard of this.

          1. Stephanie*

            That’s been the case at my last two jobs. My last job, insurance kicked in after 30 (or maybe 60; I can’t recall exactly) days and the retirement plan kicked in after 3-4 months (and I wasn’t eligible for the company match until after a year). This was also a smaller company, so unsure if that was a factor.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Same. In fact, I just today received my health insurance card from my new job since I’m now past the 90 days. I’ve been without insurance since December 2013. And no, it was not because I thought that was a stellar idea, it’s because I couldn’t afford it, even the catastrophic plans. So, I just had to roll the dice and hope for the best. :(

      4. neverjaunty n*

        Not get sick.

        There are also insurance policies you can buy for exactly this reason; they basically just protect you from catastrophic bills.

  12. Lily in NYC*

    My 400-person office used to fire approximately one person a week. It was always a person who had been here for longer than 15 years and was “costing too much” (long-timers here make very good salaries but the newer people have a much lower starting salary these days). Of course, there were a bunch of age discrimination lawsuits and now they are too scared to fire anyone. We actually had to fight HR to get them to get rid of someone who stole purses from 6 coworkers (which was captured on camera).

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      That sucks. I worked at a company that had been involved in so many wrongful termination lawsuits that HR was afraid of any potential lawsuits, no matter how frivolous. It made getting rid of the truly inept a nightmare. Like you, I had a situation where someone was doing something blatantly wrong, and was caught red handed, but it still practically took an act of congress to get HR to move.

      I have been in a lot of demoralizing situations before, but nothing quite compares to a work environment where there is absolutely no threat of losing your job for poor performance.

      1. Jamie*

        If I had a dime for every time I’ve told people that someone being in a protected class or 3 doesn’t mean you cannot fire them, it means you cannot fire them for reasons relating to their protected class.

        Actually if I had a dime for every time I wouldn’t be posting here because work blogs wouldn’t interest me due to my having retired a rich woman with millions in dimes.

        But some people have this idea stuck in there head that protected class gives those that have it lifetime job security. Firing anyone due to protected class issues is abhorrent, but so is keeping people on who steal from or otherwise cheat your other employees because they happen to be a member of a protected class.

        1. fposte*

          A company inept enough to make itself vulnerable to losing several wrongful termination lawsuits is too inept to differentiate.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            You would think, but in this case, it was an extremely large company (300,000+ employees). When you are dealing with a large, distributed workforce, where the majority of those employees are not necessarily skilled office laborers, but minimum wage with limited skill sets, there are going to be some incidents. Some of those incidents may result in lawsuits. Not many of those suits had merit, but it isn’t the sort of publicity you want. I know of at least one that was ridiculous, but was just paid out because the cost of “go away” money was less than damage that the brand could sustain if the suit gained any sort of press.

            That being said, this particular company was still inept.

  13. Zahra*

    On a pro-active note, now that you’ve trained a person in that position, can you make a list of “must haves” (and maybe “nice to haves”) with a way to test for each (even trying to create a few short exercises to make sure the person has the basic level of knowledge)? I think that would help your boss tremendously and it could be added to the interview process. If your test checks for basic knowledge, I’d make people pass the test before progressing to the interview with your boss.

    Don’t, ever, ask a applicant for a level of knowledge. I’m at a loss to say if I’m expert or intermediate in Excel: it depends on what your baseline is. If pivot tables are advanced functions for you, then I’m advanced. If building macros in VBA is advanced, then I’m intermediate.

    tl;dr: Help your boss by creating evaluation material (or research online tools that do it!) and never take an applicant’s self-evaluation as accurate.

    1. nina t.*

      +1 this! I think one of my recently hired coworkers knew enough about our department to throw in buzz words and lingo to convince our manager that her level of skill was much higher than actually was.

      Also with Excel skills, I find that the more I learn the more conservative I rank my skills. I use pivot tables and various financial formulas all the time but call my levels intermediate- as I did even before I learned how to do these functions. Call it naivete.

      1. Artemesia*

        If hiring for people who need skills those skills should be tested in the hiring process. I have a kid who is an advanced software developer; before he even gets an interview he has to solve puzzles in real time in phone interviews — and that is with a record of employment and achievement. Everyone has demonstrated the programming creativity and skills needed before being hired. When I hired college teachers, they all had to not only lead a seminar of faculty around their research but also teach a class for us — we would provide a regular class studying a subject related to the person’s expertise and they would develop and execute a session. I wouldn’t hire someone who will be doing a lot of work with excel without them doing a couple of excel exercises as part of the hiring process.

        1. Dasha*

          Skill tests are great as long as they are done in the appropriate stage of the interview process. There is one company in my area that is notoriously bad for calling EVERYONE who applies in for a computerized two hour skill tests for ANY position without even really screening the applicants or offering them any type of interview. I know this because I’ve talked to so many people who’ve said, “Oh, yeah, I “interviewed” with them they made me take a two hour test.”

          I can’t imagine how much time and resources the company wastes on this and how many people have wasted their time on these screening tests!

          1. iLikeCheese*

            Hmm, Dasha, I wonder if I work there! I don’t know how our HR screens the people who come in for our test; I just know we get gobs of them practically every day but the callback rate has got to be less than 1%.

            I don’t think it actually takes a whole lot of HR’s time since they’ve got a whole system for it, but yeah, I definitely feel sorry for all the people whose time is being wasted (some people spend the whole afternoon up there!)

            Does the company you have in mind have an, uh, meteorology-themed name?

            1. Dasha*

              iLikeCheese, no the company didn’t have a meteorology-themed name :( but that sucks another company is engaging in the practice as well! I thought back to it and this company had two lab assistants and like twenty to thirty computers for this testing- huge waste of resources in my opinion but what do I know? :)

          2. Stephanie*

            Yes, this. I interviewed for a science writing job where the hiring manager wanted me to write was essentially a research paper before we even had a phone interview. I think she saw my resume and figured I’d be a good fit from reading that, but it was still a crazy amount of a work when we hadn’t even discussed basic logistics yet.

            1. Dasha*

              Stephanie, I really do think skill testing is helpful but if a manager asked me to do something like what you mentioned I would wonder how well they ran things and how well they used their resources… :)

    2. JoAnna*

      Yes, this.

      When I interviewed for my current job, I had to do a skills test (administered by the company) in addition to the interview itself. Basically they gave me a Word document and a sheet of instructions. I had 30 minutes to perform all the tasks on the sheet. (Things like, “Change all superscripted characters to bold,” “make all table borders green,” etc., getting more complicated as you went down the list.) They were all things that were fairly easy to do if you were as competent with Word as you needed to be to do the job, but things that would trip you up if you were lying about your skills. Plus they gave me a basic HTML coding test, as needing to know basic HTML coding was a job requirement.

    3. OhNo*

      +1 to this! One of my jobs just had to start a new round of interviews because all of their final picks from the first round had no idea what to do with budgets (which is, I’m told, about 90% of the role). Luckily the temporary budget person offered to create a few exercises for the next round of people to do first, before they meet with the boss, so hopefully that will help them sort through the candidates.

  14. Ann Furthermore*

    I’ve only been in a similar situation like this once, and when I tried to say something it backfired horribly. But I knew that was a risk going in.

    I got a new manager who I did not hit it off with at all, and it was no secret that we were not making beautiful music together. My staff was coming to me constantly with complaints about him, and I (privately) sympathized, and tried to help them come up with ways to handle their issues with him. Some worked, some didn’t.

    I’d decided I was not going to say anything to his boss, the director, because I knew I would just get a hand slap and it would make me look petty and immature. But then I started getting complaints about him from outside the department: he never responded to emails, he’d accept every meeting invite that came his way but would rarely show up, and so on. It was making him, his manager, and the department as a whole look bad. So I took a chance and said something, and emailed his boss and said, basically, “I’ve heard these things from several people around the company, and if it was my employees I’d want to be made aware of this so I could handle it.” She sent me back a nasty reply that told me to stop being a tattle-tale and focus on getting my own work done. OK, fine.

    I wasn’t really surprised, and the fact that the 2 of us had not hit it off probably did make me look bad, even though I took great pains to omit anything personal (like complaining about his work hours, communication style, etc). But in the end I decided letting his boss know what I’d been hearing was the right thing to do, so she could talk to him about expectations for email responsiveness, meeting attendance, and so on.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I knew things would end badly for me there, so I transferred to another department. Phew!

        The bad manager kept on being a bad manager with no consequences until he gave notice. He ended up at another company with a boss that treated him the same way he’d treated everyone else and was completely miserable.

        Karma. It’s a beautiful thing.

  15. Not So NewReader*

    This may or may not work in your setting, OP. I had to train one individual that was the worst training experience of my life. I’ve trained a few people, too. I would say to the individual “X needs to be done now”. “Oh, okay”, she would say. And then do NOTHING. I mean she just stayed in one spot for her entire shift. She never moved. My boss blamed me. I said, “Well, it’s odd how I have been able to train everyone else. However, it could be that she and I don’t connect. My suggestion is that someone else train her for a bit.” The boss took on the task of training the new hire, the next day. The boss fired her before the shift was over.

  16. MR*

    When managers hold people accountable for their actions, they don’t need to worry about wrongful termination lawsuits. They can show the court that they were fired for not being able to perform X, Y and Z (with proof of their work – (or proof that they just surfed the Internet or whatever).

    Businesses that fail to get rid of the dead weight only hasten their own demise.

  17. Angora*

    I feel so sorry for you. Been there, done that and it sucked. Are you going on vacation any time soon? or have some sick time build up. Take it for a few days and tell her to go to your boss if she has any questions or problems. Being passive aggressive here …. but sometimes they have to deal with the problem themselves.

  18. Emily shaw*

    I was just in this situation. I ended up documenting everything – the tasks I gave new hire, how he performed them, the feedback I gave and if it took more than one time for the changes I requested to be made. This was not my first time training but it was definitely the most frustrating.

  19. Former Lab Researcher*

    I’m late to the game here….. but I wonder if the person has a learning disability. I once working in a research lab where everyone would do things the same way so that we could cross over and cover for each other. A new girl came into our lab and she refused to do things like everyone else and would not take verbal directions she had to write everything down even when we had a lab book with all the procedures and how to do everything. Sometimes our boss would come in an tell us to do something verbally and how to do it and she would have to write it all down when the rest of us would say “got it” and do it. It was so frustrating working with her after about 3 months there was a huge fight between her and another lab mate. We could not figure it out. She finally told our boss she was dyslexic and had to write everything down and could not take verbal instructions without writing it down. She hid the fact because she was afraid she would not get the job. She had major issues in the other lab but we didn’t know why until the blow up. I wonder if this could be the same issue.

    1. Anonsie*

      Yikes. Well I’ve never been described as someone who has a hard time following directions, but I do have a mighty need to write things down to be able to remember them. I do think it unsettles people at work sometimes how much I write while they’re talking to me, but every time I try to cut it down a little I end up having problems.

      1. Ted*

        Yeah, whats the big deal about taking notes? I had an idiot manager who hated when I took notes…do you want me to forget what you said?

        1. Militant Intelligent*

          I agree. I remember one manager getting annoyed when I took notes and saying that I didn’t need to write it down. Then, when I did not write something on a particular occasion, she said “you might want to write this down.” Ugh! Can’t win.

  20. Kate*

    Ah, not to say that the OP is wrong at all, but I am in a place to sympathize with the incompetent employee today. I’ve been the wrong hire, not because I misled during the interview process, but because the company didn’t know what they were looking for. If you’re a person who takes any pride in your work and you’re hired to do things you don’t know how to do and/or don’t have a talent for, it takes a real self-esteem toll. Hopefully the situation is resolved quickly and the person can either find a training style that works for her or move on to another job that’s better suited to her.

  21. Cheesecake*

    “… you can decline to pick up your new coworker’s slack so that your boss is forced to see the impact of keeping her on staff” this times 1000.

    I was in similar situation, boss was defensive, because he hired her and because no matter what descriptive examples i’ve brought to his table (and i tried everything AAA has pointed) he kept saying: “the work was done at the end of the day, give her more time”. Read: i’ve done the work. So i stopped. I still helped by pointed mistakes, but i never double checked or did anything extra. Now, when he started getting angry message from around the office that work was not done or had to correct stuff, he was quite frustrated and fired her.

    So i believe with managers who are reluctant to let go of those who deserve to go, only practical experience works. Either ask the boss to train untrainable person or stop correcting their stuff so he sees consequences.

  22. Sweet Potato*

    It looks like I’m in the minority here, but in my experience, talking to the boss about a problem employee tends to backfire. In the places where I’ve worked, it would come across as though you were trying to get someone fired, and they would suspect that you might have self-serving reasons for doing so.

    If I were in this situation, I would distance myself from the person, focus on my own work, and let the boss decide what to do.

    1. MR*

      I’ve experienced similar things as well. But I’ve also had no change be a result as well. I’ve never seen anything happen with the problem employee.

      I agree that you just need to back off and let the problem employee sink or swim. Getting yourself sucked into the mess just makes things worse for you.

  23. AnnaNonnie*

    I can sympathize with the new hire. Not saying the OP isn’t training well, but maybe things that seem very simple or don’t warrant explanation in the OP’s opinion are things the new hire needs to be taught. Maybe the new hire is scared to ask questions or for clarity on tasks because she doesn’t want to appear incompetent. Maybe the new hire isn’t aware there are problems. Instead of focusing on “getting the new hire fired,” the OP should sit down with the new hire and address the problems and ask the new hire what they aren’t understanding. Sometimes people who train think they are doing a thorough job, but in reality aren’t. I’ve seen trainers say to employees “so you get how to do x task, right?” Instead of saying “no,” the new hire will say “yes” because they are afraid to say no. If you’re wording questions a certain way, the new hire might think you are expecting a certain answer and if they don’t give that answer, you will write them up or whatever. Again, not saying it’s the OP, but how long did you actively train this person? Some people can be trained in a day and some people take a week.

    If after you have a sit down with the new hire, and they continue to mess up, then you should take further steps. But I think the OP’s first step should be a one-on-one sit down with the new hire to address all of their concerns, questions and problems.

  24. Meghan*

    I was in a similar position. The second time I spoke to my boss and got the ‘be patient’ speech again, I told my boss that if she really thought all was needed was more time and training than obviously my training technique wasn’t a good fit for this employee and perhaps someone else should be assigned to directly review the newbie’s output.

    My boss then finally assigned work directly and saw first hand the extreme gaps in basic knowledge and let him go.

  25. suzy*

    I find your behavior very unprofessional. Your boss hired her for a reason just train her and quit trying to get her fired. It is most likely that she picks up on the fact that you do not like her and is nervous because of that. She will get faster at the job the longer she does it and everyone makes mistakes at first especially if nervous. It really is not your place to make this decision and as a professional you should be able to work with people your boss hired that you do not like. If she shows up, has good attendance and is doing her work she most likely is a good fit for any job and you just want her gone because you do not like her.

Comments are closed.