So this is a simple post, in many ways, but I think an important one for leaders.

These days, it seems like even more folks are quitting, not working out, etc. etc.  We all saw the Cloudflare sales rep on social media not work out.  And there were so many comments, thoughts, and more.

It reminded me of a golden rule it took me years and years to figure out:

If a new hire doesn’t work out, it’s always 100% your fault

What do I mean?  Well, as frustrating as it can be when a new VP, a new Director, a new IC doesn’t work out … it was your fault.

It was your fault not slowing it down and not doing enough diligence to make sure it was truly a fit:

  • Did you really do reference checks?  Did you do good ones?
  • Were you really sure they could do the job?  Or did you more love their LinkedIn and experience?
  • Did the hire really meet the bar?  Or did you sort of get tired and settle, even just a bit?
  • Did you test the hire for real before they started?  Did you make them do a real 60-day plan?  Did you make the SDR, AE or CSM do a real demo?  Did you really make them sell you this pen?
  • Did you truly believe they’d crush it?

First, most of us skip some of the key, classic steps above these days.  I bet you did if a hire didn’t work out.

And second, even more importantly, no candidate has enough time to do enough diligence.  They almost never can truly know what it takes to succeed at your org.  But you know.  That’s your job.  You’ve been working there since Day 0 as founders, or at least, for a while as an exec.

Rarely do I find a candidate for any role has truly done as much diligence as I wish they had.  They often don’t truly know the sales motion, the ACV, the hiring plan, the chief objections, the competitive landscape, etc.

Even the best candidates can never truly know enough about any role in just a few weeks of interviewing — that has to be on you.  It has to be on you to make sure they are a fit.

So if you’re frustrated when a new hire doesn’t work out, take a pause.  Realize it’s on you.  And upgrade your hiring processes.  That’s what’s actionable.  Not being frustrated.

And … slow it down.  Take hiring risks in terms of background, skillset, education, years of experience, etc.  But don’t take hiring risks on if you truly believe they can do it.

Now when someone who has been there for a few years, in a position of trust, then flames out a bit … stops doing their job, phones it in a bit .. is that their fault?  Maybe.  Maybe.  But that’s different.  And even there, there’s usually really no fault at all.

A related post here:

If Your VP Sales Isn’t Going to Work Out — You’ll Know in 30 Days

(fault image from here)


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