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The Pitfalls of Hiring for a Newly Created Role

In More Posts... — by Erin Engstrom

Your business is growing, and your needs are expanding. You’re hiring for a newly created role. You post a job advertisement and collect dozens of promising candidates. After a thorough application review, you narrow the field and bring in a select group of candidates for interviews. One candidate stands out: Their qualifications, skills, personality, goals–everything aligns perfectly with your organization. You make them an offer and they accept. Everything is going according to plan.

New Job Struggles

Flash forward three months. This is the critical period–according to ADP, 25 percent of employees will leave their jobs within this timeframe. You’ve got a comprehensive onboarding program in place. Your new employee has had time to learn your organizational structure and business processes. You’ve painted a big picture of the role and slowly ramped up their responsibilities. You think you’ve set manageable 30-day benchmarks.

But your employee is failing to thrive. They’re having trouble managing their tasks and aren’t hitting goals that seem eminently attainable. Is it possible that your great new hire isn’t so great after all? You were so certain about them when you brought them on board, but now you’re seriously questioning your judgement.

Guess what: You probably didn’t misjudge your “perfect hire.” When employees in newly created roles struggle, the problem usually isn’t with the employee. The problem is with the role.

Newly created roles are on the rise. Sometimes these new positions involve little more than title tweaks designed to appeal to the egos of potential applicants. But other times, and with fast-growing companies especially, there’s a lot more involved. You’re bringing in somebody to take on responsibilities that no one else in your company has ever tackled before.

Problems and Solutions

Every new hire is the solution to a problem. If the problem is your website looks ugly and outdated, the solution is hiring a web designer. If the problem is your customers are emailing you with questions and you’re unable to respond in a timely manner, the solution is hiring a support representative. If the problem is your diners are waiting too long at tables before they receive service, the solution is hiring another server. You get the picture.

When devising your solution, you’ll break it down into objectives: the skills and responsibilities that are required to properly address the problem. For example, you may need your web designer to be well-versed in HTML5 and able to work on tight deadlines.

All too often, however, hiring managers create a list of objectives that contradict each other.


Contradictions occur when a role requires one employee to possess opposite skill sets or to prioritize conflicting responsibilities. An extreme contradiction would be expecting your web designer to also take on the responsibilities of an accountant. Chances are your contradictions will be less extreme. For example, you can’t expect a support representative who is busy responding to customer calls all day to equally prioritize proactively reaching out to customers to ensure they’re not having any trouble.

It’s okay–and perhaps even likely–that your newly created role will be complex and multi-faceted in scope. At startups and small businesses especially, employees wear a lot of hats. Your support rep who’s busy with calls may very well also reach out to customers and interface with developers and write help articles. But you can’t define their success by their ability to do all of these things equally well and with equally stellar results.

When constructing a new role, it’s imperative to really home in on the problem this role will solve. Your focus has to be narrow. The broader it is, the more likely contradictions will emerge. That’s not to say the role can’t broaden over time, but that depends on the strengths of your employee and the emerging business needs.

The cost of hiring new employees can easily exceed $5,000. The last thing you want to do as a growing business is waste money. If the employees you’re hiring in newly created roles just aren’t working out, contradictions could be the culprit. Your new hires can’t thrive if they’re working to achieve competing measures of success.

Before you question your candidate-assessment skills the next time an employee in a new role seems to be struggling, it may be worthwhile to reexamine the objectives of the position first. Determine the problem the role is solving and the necessary objectives involved. Your perfect hire will get to work accordingly and most likely reaffirm your confidence in your own judgment.

For more hiring insight, including how to design roles to solve problems, download our free ebook.

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