HRMN 400 Assignment 2 -Controlling Performance and Onboarding a New Employee
Case Overview—Part B
In August, Jason Hubbs submitted a résumé to the human resource department of Big Time Computers Inc. in response to an advertisement in the local newspaper for a senior technical writer. After a short interview process in which three of the four individuals on the selection committee felt that he should be hired, Lisa Cavanaugh hired him.
Hubbs spent a three-week training period learning departmental methods and procedures, becoming familiar with Big Time’s products, and preparing for his first writing assignments. As a senior writer, Hubbs was also expected to serve as a technical publications project leader for one of Big Time’s product groups. During the training period, Hubbs attended project meetings to meet the employees from other departments who were involved with that product group and to become current on what was happening within it.
Following the training period, Hubbs started his first writing assignment, the revision of a software manual to reflect upgraded product software. Hubbs went two weeks beyond the scheduled date for completing the first draft of the revision. In editing the first draft, Hamrick felt that the writing quality and organization were poor and suggested extensive changes before the manual was distributed for review. Hubbs implemented these changes and prepared the manual for review. One week before the review, Hubbs sent an advance notice email message to the reviewers, notifying them of the upcoming review. Mark Samson, the project leader for the product described in the manual, pointed out to Lisa Cavanaugh that the message was sloppy, and had misspellings and poor grammar. He expressed concern that the credibility of the technical publications department was at risk if the quality of any of the written material that went out to the entire company was poor. Hamrick and Samson also expressed concern to Cavanaugh about Hubbs’s writing ability.
Cavanaugh decided to implement some procedures to monitor Hubbs’s progress and temporarily give him more supervision. She scheduled weekly meetings with Hubbs during which he was to give her a detailed status report for the week, with particular emphasis on tracking manual schedules. She also required Hubbs to send his work to the technical editor on a chapter-bychapter basis, and each week Hamrick would meet with Hubbs to discuss his writing.
Cavanaugh also decided to postpone giving project leader responsibilities to Hubbs, but she had him continue to attend project meetings with Murray and planned to give Hubbs a project in the future.
Resentment was starting to develop in the technical publications department due to Hubbs’s failure to meet expectations. Several of the writers complained to Cavanaugh because Hubbs had been hired as a senior writer at a higher salary, yet his writing skills were apparently inferior to theirs. Murray also expressed dissatisfaction at having to serve as project leader for
two projects when the expectation was that Hubbs would take one of the projects. Hamrick fell behind in his editing assignments because of the extra time he was spending with Hubbs, and the editorial assistants complained about the quantity of cleanup required because of Hubbs’s poor work. In private meetings with dissatisfied employees, Cavanaugh expressed faith in Hubbs’s abilities and urged patience while she worked on developing his skills.
Hubbs showed signs of improvement in his writing skills and his ability to meet deadlines under the procedures implemented by Cavanaugh. As a result of this and because Hubbs now had four months’ experience at Big Time, Cavanaugh assigned Hubbs to write a marketing article on a topic related to his area of technical expertise. Hubbs was to work with a marketing engineer and a marketing product manager to develop the article by a specified date. When the initial review of the article was due, Hubbs gave the first draft to the marketing department without any review or edit from within the technical publications department. Marketing was dissatisfied with the organization and content of the article; Dennis Smith, marketing product manager, met with Lisa Cavanaugh to express this dissatisfaction. Although Cavanaugh assured Smith that technical publications could complete the article to his satisfaction and on schedule, Smith decided to have the article written by a marketing employee.
Though his writing skills were slowly improving, lingering resentment continued about
Hubbs’s status and salary as a senior writer. Morale in the department was low. Hamrick continued to have a difficult time fulfilling his editing responsibilities because of the extra time he was spending with Hubbs, and Murray couldn’t meet manual schedules because of the time spent fulfilling project leader responsibilities for two projects. Lisa Cavanaugh knew that it was time to act.
© 2008 Society for Human Resource Management. Alan Cabelly, Ph.D.
Answer the following:
1. Evaluate the effectiveness of the process of onboarding and training Hubbs. What elements of the new hire orientation process would be particularly important to his successful performance? What other training opportunities could have helped him prepare for his role?
2. Assume the role of the manager in this case. How do you handle a new employee who lacks the specific skills that were presented during the selection process? How do you determine if training is the solution and how much training is reasonable or expected?
3. Discuss the risks versus the benefits of the manager’s decision to have Hamrick mentor Hubbs. Overall, do you think this decision was effective? If you do not agree, who do you think would have been a more suitable mentor for Hubbs?
4. Evaluate the manager’s process of handling Hubb’s performance problems. Was it effective or could it have been handled differently? Was anything overlooked? What other factors besides lack of skills or ability could have contributed to Hubb’s poor performance? How could the manager have mitigated some of these factors?
5. Consider the performance issue with the marketing department. What happens when
poor performance affects a department’s reputation and credibility? What must the manager do to first improve that performance and secondly, control the damage from poor performance?
6. The manager needs to act. What are her options and what factors and/or additional information must she consider before making a decision?
7. Review Case A and reflect on the recruiting and selection processes used to hire Hubbs.
• How could the recruiting and/or selection processes been improved to mitigate the new hire’s performance issues?
• What effect could the recruiting and/or selection processes have had on Hubbs’s subsequent performance and his team’s perceptions of his performance?
Controlling Performance and Onboarding a New Employee
One of the essential elements of the training program vital to Hubbs was familiarization with the work environment. He needed to learn the processes of Big time Computers. Getting to know about the products, the work processes at the Technical Publications of the company, and the roles of each employee in the organization were essential to him. However, other elements of the training were necessary to him, which did not come out clearly during the training program. During the training program, the trainers could have given him simple tasks to carry out related to his technical writing so that they gauge his skills. He had become acclimatized with the work processes and meetings, but apparently, he did not know about the importance of meeting deadlines during the training process. The importance of deadlines should have been a priority, and Lisa and the team should have stressed during training on the quality of writing that was expected of the company and on realistic timescales. Hubbs would have benefitted from working close to a worker in the Technical writing department so that he knows precisely what type of writing was expected by the company (Bleich, 2020). During the training, he needed to understand how his work impacts other departments' practices, such as the marketing department. The historical, cultural, quality, standards, and reputation of the company were not fully immersed in Hubbs so that he knows precisely what the company values.
As a manager, it is essential to hold a candid discussion with the new employee about the skills he is required to acquire so that they organize for him to obtain these specific skills. The manager can do a self-evaluation to find whether the employees' skill set was well communicated to them. Employers should discover the skills that the workers do not have and then organize a training program to ensure that they get these skills. To determine if the training is the solution, there is a need to get feedback from the employees regarding the specific exercise (Bleich, 2020). One way to carry out this is to evaluate is to study their work patterns after the training. Before determining whether the practice is the solution, there is a need to find out whether there are other external factors, such as lack of concentration at his job due to the new environment or the family issues affecting his work. If there are no extra-terrestrial factors that are affecting his performance, then training will be useful. If the employee is ready to acknowledge that he lacks the specific skill set and is willing and has the right attitude, then relevant training will be successful.
The benefits of having Hubbs work with Hamrick to improve his writing were that Hubbs was working with an experienced personality who would help him craft better documents and show him the tricks of how the organization expected the materials to be formatted. It will improve the training capabilities of the Hamrick. Besides Hubbs, Hamrick will be able to train other employees in the organization who may need his services. It is also a chance of the trainer getting to learn more about the new employee. By having Hamrick train Hubbs, the organization will save more money that would have been spent if it were to hire an external trainer. Some of the risks would include the resentment if Cavanaugh did not receive prior permission from Hamrick that he would agree to train him. Some of the core work that Hamrick was involved in would suffer if it were not allocated to another person (Fitch, 2018). The manager overlooked the fact that Hamrick may not have been 100% willing to train Hubbs because he had a preformed opinion that he was a poor writer. The decision was useful because it enabled Hubbs to slowly increase his writing skills, although this improvement took some time.
Giving him more supervision was useful because it assisted in the tracking of the employee's behavior. Editing his work on a chapter by chapter basis will help stop the whole document from being edited once done. It would prevent Hubbs and the entire editorial team from editing his complete text. It was effective because the manager decided that it was entirely not to give Hubbs more job responsibilities as a leader of the project (Fitch, 2018). The manager overlooked some issues. The manager did not check Hubbs' past works at his previous organization to determine whether the work was at par with the needs of the organization. The manager overlooked the fact that there could be other factors other than work-related ones that impacted Hubbs' poor writing. Some of the factors that could have contributed to poor performance included lack of faster settling in work, lack of motivation, the job being entirely different from what he is used to. Perhaps after getting the job, the senior technical writer thought that the situation was not suitable. To mitigate these factors, the manager could seek to understand the recruit better and have a personal discussion where she discusses with him if other factors could impact his ability to perform at the workplace.
When poor performance affects the department's credibility and reputation, some good performers lose motivation because they will feel like someone else is making them fail. After all, he is not working hard enough at their work. Some employees will feel that they do not have the right support system to perform at the highest level. Some can continue bickering. When a poor performance affects a department's credibility, there is resentment and blame game between one department and another, especially if the employee comes from one department and is performing poorly, leading to the drop in performance in another department of the organization. One way that the managers can use to control the performance of the worker is to input a performance improvement plan that will detail the processes to follow to ensure that the performance of the worker has improved. Communication with the other employees is key to retaining the department (Markovich, n.d.). The manager should communicate the issue to senior management and outline the steps that will be followed to control the poor performance. Some of the measures include communication, finding out facts from the employee, and discussing whether adequate training will be sufficient to increase the performance. In very cases, sometimes an employee may even experience the sack.
To stem the resentment, the manager ought to have organized a meeting and communicated with honesty about the changes that need to be taken in the organization. The manager needed to deal with the editorial assistants' issues, other writers concerning the writing ability of the recruit (Markovich, n.d.). Because the hire is a senior writer who cannot write high-quality content with the needed expertise, there should be a discussion on how he can be given lighter roles and lower pay and then be given a career path to use to improve his performance and get promoted. Instead of him being a senior writer, the company could offer him an opportunity to be a writer first. There was a need to build complete trust among the employees through encouraging the employees who feel overwhelmed at the workplace to speak freely and candidly regarding the work situation. For editors, the managers could break their tasks into smaller and quite more manageable assignments. Another action will be getting other people to assist in training the new employee so that the two, the project leader and the editor have more time to carry out their duties.
The manager and the recruitment panel should have given the recruited employee more writing-based assignments to gauge his performance. During the interview, they should have stressed what they exactly required from the recruit, precisely the quality of the hire. Perhaps the company should have selected a rookie who has directly worked as a technical writer in another competitor of the Bigtime products. All the opinions of the people who took part in the recruitment process should have been respected, instead of just going for the majority decision. The process and performance can make Tubbs think that he was not the right man for the job, which could reduce his confidence in the workplace. His team's perceptions will be negative. They will perceive him as an outsider once who has come to take their jobs. The employees will think that he was given a position that he did not deserve or qualified for. This act can reduce employee's morale, and they will not put in the maximum effort (Brearley, n.d.).
Brearley, B. Why You Need to Start Managing Poor Performance Today –
ThoughtfulLeader.com. Retrieved 25 July 2020, from https://www.thoughtfulleader.com/managing-poor-performance/
Bleich, C. (2020). How To Train Employees On a New System Or Technology: 5 Tips.
Retrieved 25 July 2020, from https://www.edgepointlearning.com/blog/how-to-train-employees-on-new-system/
Fitch, J (2018). The Mentoring Relationship: A Guide for Mentors and Mentees. Washington
DC. Retrieved from https://depts.washington.edu/fammed/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/UP-Mentoring-Guide-FINAL.pdf
Markovich, M. How to Deal With Employee Resentment. Retrieved 25 July 2020, from