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The Top 10 Reasons Why a New HR Hire Walks From a Company Soon After Joining

There are few things worse than investing a huge amount of time, effort and money in hiring a high-calibre HR practitioner, only to see them leave the company in the first three to six months after joining. HR and Business Leaders often forget that when hiring a talented HR Director to join their team, it’s important to on-board the person carefully and thoroughly to ensure that they successfully make the transition.

Consider the following reasons that new hires walk from a company, and make sure that your latest HR Director hire is not at risk.

1) The Role Changes

If the role changes from what was initially discussed, be sure that your new HR Director is comfortable with this change. Don’t just assume they are. Address their concerns and be open. Transparency, integrity and expectation management is the key.

2) Company Restructure

A company restructure can sometimes make a newly hired HR Director nervous. HR practitioners often accept a new role on the basis of their new HR and Business Leaders, so this is especially the case when reporting lines change. As their Global HR Leader or Business Head, check in regularly to make sure that they are adjusting to the restructure. Be sure to address particular concerns about future career development opportunities, as these can sometimes evaporate if regional headquarters are downsized or if key roles move elsewhere internationally or in the region.

3) Different Company Culture

Moving into a new type of organisational setting, different to what the HR Director has experienced before, can be exciting for the HR DIrector at interview stage. However when the rubber hits the road and the person is adjusting to the new structure, it can throw up unexpected surprises and discomforts. Cluster the HR Director with other new hires who have made similar transitions, perhaps from the same company backgrounds.

4) There is a Style Mismatch Between the New Hire and Their Boss

This is one of the most common reasons that new HR Directors don’t last in a job. To counteract this risk, make sure that there is a feedback mechanism outside of the person’s current boss/es. Some companies achieve this through a mentoring programme. Other companies have a Head of Talent, who is impartial to the HR Director, check on key hires. If a problem develops, it is important to support the HR Director in adapting to the style mismatch. As a last resort, the HR Director could be moved to a new department.

5) The New Hire is Under-Paid Relative to Their Peers

An HR Director who senses that they are under-paid, may start to feel that joining the new company has been a mistake. Help the HR Director to determine if their salary expectations are realistic based on the market. Focus their attention on the non-cash attributes of the job, including role enlargement, greater professional challenge, new industry experience, and the chance working with dynamic leaders. If there is room to correct the salary differential in the future, suggest some sort of plan of action around this to allow the HR Director to have certainty that the pay issue will be resolved in the future. And if the person’s expectations are inaccurate, nip them in the bud immediately.

6) The Role is Less Challenging Than was Portrayed Through the Interview Process

Sometimes an HR Director will take up a role that, at interview, was oversold. Or perhaps the HR Director neglected to consider the operational aspects of the role. Our advice is not to oversell a role to a potential candidate at interview. We also feel that HR Directors need to be very analytical at interview to determine if the content of the role is what will suit them. If it is not, the HR Director (at interview and before accepting the offer) needs to determine if they will be able to cope with all these aspects. If an HR Director feels unchallenged, and the feeling is justified, work with them to look at how their role can be restructured, and determine what extra responsibilities can be added. If the role cannot be enlarged immediately, look at a timeframe for this to happen. And stick to it.

7) The Role is Going to be Moved to a New Location

An HR DIrector will occasionally join a company, only to find that their office is going to be moved to a new location in the city, or even to a new country. HR Directors can mitigate this surprise by asking questions about whether there will be an office move or restructuring in the company in the future. If it is possible, for instance, that the role could be moved to a new country, determine early in the interview process if you are mobile. Similarly, the hiring party should be open about any potential future geographical movements early on in the process.

8) Misalignment of Expectations Between Country, Regional, and Global Stakeholders

HR Directors who are performing country or regional roles sometimes feel that their global stakeholders are unsupportive of their goals or priorities. Conversely, some global stakeholders feel that county or regional stakeholders are not aligned to the correct priorities. If your HR Director finds themselves caught in the middle, this can be an unpleasant experience. They can feel that their contribution is undervalued or they may also feel that internal politics are eroding their effectiveness. As the local or global boss of this HR Director, mentor and support them on navigating the organisational setting. Link them up with other members within the company who are able to survive effectively, so that perhaps the HR Director will learn some tricks to cope with any ambiguity. Openly
listen to the HR Director’s concerns and see if there are new ways of doing things.

9) The Organisation is Overly Political

Organisational politics can be tricky to spot at interview. Perhaps one of the only ways to judge this is to spot when two or more of the parties involved in the interview process appear not to be sharing knowledge effectively with each other. Organisational politics, for some HR Directors, are a natural part of life and many have learnt how to be effective in spite of their damaging nature. However for the uninitiated, internal politics can be inefficient and frustrating. Ensure that the HR Director has a support network, so they can cope with the politics. As their leader (or one of their leaders) help the HR Director become politically connected. Request that the HR Director try not to take politics seriously.

10) Pay Reviews are Frozen and Bonuses are Unlikely

This has been a particularly common occurrence during 2008 and 2009 for some companies, and may continue to be a concern into 2010. Indeed in Asia, many HR Directors have sought to maximise their guaranteed cash salary as much as possible and have seen pay increases and bonuses as ‘the icing on the cake’. However many companies have struggled to pay above market salaries in times of immense change. An HR Director who becomes unhappy because of a pay review freeze or no bonus being paid, both due to company performance (rather than individual) should be encouraged to reference the situation to the market. They may not be so bad off after all. Encourage the HR Director to look at the non-cash attributes of their job, and incentivise them more around the career development opportunities available in the company.


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