Vicki Crowe

Vicki Crowe

Tuesday, 04 December 2012 12:01

How long do you give an employee to improve?

How long do you give an employee to improve? I employed someone who is young and enthusiastic but keeps making mistakes.


Six months in, should I keep working on them or cut my losses and start all over again?


This is always a tough call, particularly as it’s more important to employ for attitude over skills.


Before you decide to cut your losses, consider the following reasons for the employee’s mistakes:

  • Have you given clear expectations, support and daily feedback?
  • Has the employee received the necessary training to undertake the tasks?
  • And lastly, and one that is often over looked but is critical, have you got the right person for the right job? Are the tasks they’re undertaking matched to their strengths?

    You say that you have been ‘working on them’, so let’s discount the first option.


    The next two options above involve having a one-on-one conversation with the employee and asking them why they feel they are making mistakes.


    If you find more training is required, the best approach is to involve the employee in being able to identify their weaknesses.


    You can draw up a simple learning and training matrix and work together on the best approach. There are heaps of free templates online.


    If they feel they have received the training to carry out the task you will then need to talk about where they believe their strengths and weaknesses lie.


    You can approach this in a positive way by asking them what aspects of the job they love and which ones they’d rather not do.


    You may find that they are just not suited to the role you employed them to do.


    From experience, I have found that when mistakes keep happening the person is either unskilled and not confident to undertake the task or is not motivated to perform the task and puts in the least amount of effort.


    To give you an example, many years ago I employed an accounts person who turned out to be a disaster.


    They had no attention to detail, doubled paid the BAS and ended up costing my business big dollars. Their strengths clearly didn’t include attention to detail.


    People don’t generally go out of their way to make mistakes. Mistakes are natural and a way that we learn and grow.


    But, if the mistakes are having a financial impact on your business and your time, I’d say you have no other choice than to make some changes.

    Vicki Crowe founded Cannon Recruitment in 1994 and Enneagram Australasia in 2004. Over the past 17 years she has consulted to government, national and global organisations on HR and leadership. 

    Ask Vicki or any other StartupSmart mentor a question here.

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