Updates and advice for attorneys and law departments.

4 Questions to Ask When Your New Hire Isn’t Working Out

Sometimes, a new hire seems promising on paper and in the interview, but struggles on the job. When this happens, you may wonder whether you’ve made a mistake.

If a new hire isn’t doing as well as you’d hoped, start by asking the following questions:

  1. How was the new hire trained and onboarded?

Training and onboarding are essential to the success of any new hire, regardless of that person’s background or experience. During training and onboarding, your new hire should receive an organized, thorough introduction to the organization and their role within it, as well as to their role on the team.

If training and onboarding were rushed or neglected, consider looping back and including these tasks as a part of the new hire’s day. Have the new hire split their time between onboarding tasks and working with the team each day.

  1. How clearly did you communicate your expectations?

What does success look like in this role? If you struggle to answer this question, your new hire will almost certainly struggle as well. If you can answer easily, focus on communicating your answer to the new hire.

It’s easy to assume that a new hire will “catch on” to what good performance looks like, or that good performance in previous roles will automatically translate to good performance in your firm. Without clear goals, however, new attorneys may prioritize the wrong tasks, which can waste their energy and cause them to flounder within the context of a team that is reaching for a different set of goals.

  1. How much is the new hire struggling?

Can the new hire get up to speed quickly, given sufficient help with onboarding, or with understanding the goals and expectations of their role? Or does the new hire suffer from a lack of fundamental skills like writing or public speaking that can’t be addressed easily?

Be realistic about the time and effort it would take to get this person working at the level your team requires. If this time period is relatively short or the effort is light, it may well be worth helping the new team member understand the required information or learn the necessary skills. Otherwise, a frank discussion about the new hire’s skill set may be in order.

  1. Can you benefit from temporary assistance while your new hire learns the ropes?

If your new hire has the potential and will to thrive but needs more time to get up to speed, consider bringing on a temporary attorney to handle urgent deadlines or specialized issues until the new team member is comfortable in the role. In this situation, a few weeks or months with a temporary attorney’s help may be all your team needs to stay on top of their work and to free up mental space to help a new team member get comfortable.

At Assigned Counsel, we focus on connecting law firms and legal departments to experienced, professional temporary attorneys who can help you address specialized issues, handle overflow work, and more. To learn more, contact us today.


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