I hired an idiot as my replacement


I am a first-time manager, and while I am doing pretty well in most aspects of my new position I made one exceedingly boneheaded decision almost right off the bat: I hired an idiot as my replacement.

I really think she has emotional problems. (She recently told me she used to be on psychiatric drugs, as a matter of fact.) This is an extremely high-maintenance employee who cannot seem to make a move without asking for directions. I have learned, thanks to her, that there is indeed such a thing as a stupid question.

She wears micro-miniskirts and does not know enough to close her knees when sitting or to bend at the knees instead of at the waist. I could say something about this to her, as it is a violation of the dress code, but our department manager dresses the same way if you can believe it.

She has a chronic medical condition, which is not a problem except that she told us during interviews that she had never had a problem managing it at work. Now she tells me that because of her condition she can't work overtime (this is an overtime-intensive industry).

I so want to fire her when her 90 days are up, but I feel sorry for her. I also feel guilty that I didn't check her out better. And she is so obnoxious I worry that nobody else will be stupid enough to hire her.

Kathy, Florida

Need some help with a problem at work? Drop us an email to: [info | at | management-issues.com] entitled "Advice Clinic" and we'll try to help.

We can't answer every question we receive, but we'll do our best to respond to those that we think will resonate with our audience. And we can't offer legal advice. If We think you need a lawyer, we'll tell you. All names and locations are changed for publication.

Charles Helliwell's Answer:

Don't blame yourself, Kathy. It's something we ALL do from time-to-time.

This is a mistake, which is yours to be rectified, and fortunately, you have both the time and the opportunity to exercise that prerogative. The guilt you feel is not directed towards the employee; it's directed at you, and that's fine. You should feel guilty and responsible for lacking diligence in this matter, and one thing's for sure, you won't make this mistake again, will you ?

Put all feelings and emotions aside here and address this in terms of performance, productivity, integrity and honesty. That's what a probationary period of work is there to uncover or validate, and it sounds as if this particular employee has failed on every count.

It's just as hard, sometimes, to admit that you are as much at fault as a bad hire. However, being a responsible and diligent manager is all part of the job and something you'll have to learn to deal with, no matter how painful it might be. This won't be the first time, or the last.

So deal with it; take your medicine and move on. Failure to do so will only prolong the inevitable and may well result in your termination as well.


About our Expert

Charles Helliwell
Charles Helliwell

For almost 20 years, Charles Helliwell has been enjoying a lifestyle and making a living as a behavioural and relationship mentor specialising in the personal and professional development of individuals and teams in the workplace.