No one in our entire department endorsed the job candidate hired.
February 10, 2017 6:11 AM   Subscribe

The candidate is now our department's new leader. We all gave written feedback to HR that this was the least qualified candidate for a wide variety of reasons. The person was hired anyway. How to move forward?

Should we ask for a meeting or write a letter to get anything else "on record"? It was an internal candidate with connections to those doing the hiring, so not a surprise, but really demoralizing considering no one in the organization addressed our documented concerns prior to hiring. Our entire office's previous interactions with the person have been negative bordering on hostile, which was brought up in each of our written feedback.

Besides looking for a new job, which is really difficult and unlikely in our location and field, is there really any point to doing anything except try to rise above and ignore the stench of day-to-day piles of sh*t building up? (which has basically been the gist of this work environment from the start, this is just a brand new layer to add to the pile).
posted by wannabecounselor to Work & Money (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In most organizations HR does not make hiring decisions. Your concerns should be addressed to those managing this person. If they aren't amenable to your concerns and there's no violation of law or policy involved, then there's probably not much you can do.
posted by grouse at 6:22 AM on February 10, 2017 [16 favorites]

How to move forward?

Accept it or quit. He was hired for a specific reason that trumps your objections. Come to terms with it or leave.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 6:46 AM on February 10, 2017 [42 favorites]

Are you at a college? Was there a search committee? Do you have an ombudsperson? Voice your concerns to that person and keep documenting documenting documenting. Or is the person in question the new ombudsperson her/himself?

I'm at a college and recently went to someone higher up to voice my concerns about our leader. It seems to have helped, some, maybe not enough. I was more willing to do this than my coworkers because I'm planning to retire in a couple of years, and could retire now if I had to, perhaps you have a colleague in a similar position willing to stick out her/his neck.

Good luck and feel free to memail if you need to vent.
posted by mareli at 6:48 AM on February 10, 2017

I would not think that a letter would be a good idea. What do you hope to accomplish by getting something on the record? How would it help you? Someone believes in this person, and if your written feedback didn't move them, then it's unlikely a letter would help either.

What you could do is, if someone has a good relationship with the hiring manager, they could delicately say something like "Hey Susan, I'm a little worried. I'm sure you must have your reasons for hiring Willy, but his last assignment put him in a pretty adversarial position in terms of Department X. While we for sure trust your judgement, it might help if you could make some time to explain your logic so that Willy doesn't get off on the wrong foot with the team." But-- honestly-- all that would accomplish is to make her aware of the situation and maybe help her to share why she chose Willy.

Personally, if you are not able to quit and find another job, then I would try to find a way to make the best of it. If the candidate is as well connected as you say, any attempts to do something will likely get back to them.
posted by frumiousb at 6:53 AM on February 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

Unless you're in an industry with unusual hiring processes (e.g. academia) or very strong job protections (e.g. some parts of government), there's nothing further you can do without seriously risking your job. In fact, since this person is well-connected to those doing the hiring, there's a chance that HR may have shared your written feedback with them. If they were already 'negative bordering on hostile' to you beforehand, be prepared for the risk that things will get worse for you once they're in charge. I'd start working on an exit strategy.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 6:55 AM on February 10, 2017 [17 favorites]

Raising objections around this is a really excellent way to get fired. I have seen it happen before. Don't do that to yourself. If working with this person is going to be intolerable (or will lead to you getting fired eventually anyway), the best use of your time is to start finding a way out now. It sucks, but much about our work system does.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 7:03 AM on February 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

Say nothing. Document everything this dude does. Insist on a paper trail. Consider setting up a session with someone objective every month just to vent. Don't get insubordinate (like I did in the same situation two years ago). Above all else, though, say nothing, not even to your coworkers, because it will be used against you. I'm so sorry.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:33 AM on February 10, 2017 [7 favorites]

Look to the future. Document stuff, build relationships, create pathways, focus on what you can do. Find outlets for frustration before that happens. Start inventing ways to help people with what really matters.
posted by amtho at 7:34 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

As much as this sucks, the advice you're getting to drop it is the best advice you're going to get. Learn to play politically -- unless this hire is violating laws and harassing people, put on your happy face and get along. Look for a new job if you want.

But I wouldn't waste my energy documenting their actions; you'll ending up hyperfocusing on everything they do. Learn to take a step back, put your head down, and do your job (again, while maybe looking for another position). Move forward.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:41 AM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Like others have said, there is nothing you can do about the hiring decision, and trying to affect it now will only make things more difficult for you. But document the things that trouble you. It's really easy to do that through very professional sounding emails that still manage to leave a record of your concerns.


Dear _______________

I just wanted to confirm that you want us to _________________________________. That's different than our previous procedure, and I wanted to make sure I understood you correctly before I get started.

Thank you,



I wouldn't do this all the time, but when something comes up that really seems stupid, do what you can to turn oral instructions into something on the record. Then, if any of it blows up, he has to own the decision.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:47 AM on February 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

Document the hell out of things. I had pretty good seats in the peanut gallery for this sort of situation a few years ago when it happened to a department I work closely with. The new hire was out the door in - I want to say six months, but it's possible they lasted a year. I believe a couple of particularly egregious missteps eventually led to this person being shown the door (like, literally, without notice, marched out by security, which is not something that happens at my workplace and so not something I'd seen before or will likely ever see again), but in the lead-up, a lot of people were interviewed about the shenanigans and the documentation they brought to the table really helped cement the ouster, as far as I know.

I will say that I think what really started the final ball rolling was when several of the lifers handed in their resignation in the same week, and the organization could no longer ignore the vast amount of institutional knowledge this hire was driving away. If some of you do get new jobs or decide to retire, if you can coordinate your departures in that fashion, it really makes a splash and might help those you leave behind. (In the end, we actually only lost one - the rest decided to stay on once the offender was fired and promises were made about changing the hiring process. But I do not recommend threatening to leave unless you really intend to go through with it.)
posted by Stacey at 7:55 AM on February 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

There's a hidden agenda here you're not privy to. Any memo to HR or management is a tacit statement of opposition to that agenda. So you're faced with the choice of dealing with it or getting out. Anything else will likely not be good for you.
posted by tommasz at 8:03 AM on February 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

This has happened to me, and I ended up quitting my job. The person managing my department was more than hostile and really not qualified to manage at all, and the higher administration did not care at all. I thought it might improve but it didn't. I am still friends with one person who still works there and things have gotten even worse, which I didn't think possible.
posted by chocolatetiara at 8:10 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Your recommendation against hiring was was not a strong enough impetus to prevent this hire.
This person has that much political pull.
Document as needed but have no expectations--
Help each other to create the work environment you need.
But don't underestimate this person's political pull.
posted by calgirl at 9:13 AM on February 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

"No one in our entire department endorsed the job candidate hired."

Could it be that this is one of the reasons that candidate was hired? Perhaps your department is too chummy, or you're underperforming, or you're just not going along with what upper management wants you to be doing. Perhaps this new boss is their way of signaling a change in course. If that's the case, you really don't want to signal your objections.

Really, though, I can't think of a good reason why you'd want to put in writing that you don't like your boss. What good can come of this? If your goal is to reduce the amount of shit you get from this person, do you really think that putting something in writing that you hate them is the way to go about it? Why not take out an ad on a billboard near your office saying "Hey New Boss, You Suck!"?

It's kind of lousy that the company solicited your input if they weren't going to take it, but 99% of the employees in the world don't get to choose who their boss is. That's just one of the things that sucks about office life. Put your head down, do your job well, and keep your eyes open for new opportunities. If the new boss really is unqualified, people will find out soon enough on their own. But as long as you're doing good work, how will that affect you?
posted by kevinbelt at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2017 [12 favorites]

Look for a new job and quit when you land one. Request an exit interview and tell them then with documentation why you object to your new boss. In my experience, the bad egg will eventually be driven out (if they are indeed bad), but it will take about a year if not more.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:48 AM on February 10, 2017

n-thing the suggestion that you start a job search.

It sounds like you expect a job search to take a long time, so in the meantime I would at least try to approach the new situation with a positive attitude and look for ways to improve relations. By positive attitude I don't mean "nothing is wrong, she will be an awesome manager", I mean "we haven't gotten along well in the past, but I hope to make this work as well as possible". This can also be your message if your letter to HR ever comes up.

Try to understand the new manager's working style, habits, communications style, etc. Try to stay calm, don't immediately assume that something was done out of malice/hostility if it can also be attributed to a mistake, carelessness, lack of familiarity. If some interaction/effort doesn't go well, make some clear suggestions about how you two can improve it next time ("It usually takes 2 days to do X, so I really need to get a request by Tuesday to turn it around by Thursday", "Here are the details we need to do Y properly. Next time I get a request for Y I'll let you know what's missing before I get started."). You might need to do some "managing up" to get her to deliver on what you need from her, improve communications, etc.

One other optimistic thought: now that you work for this person, she might redirect this negativity and animosity towards people outside the team in order to protect her new staff.
posted by duoshao at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I hate to be this blunt but it's "put up or shut up" time.

A guy at work just finally quit, like ten years after I said not to hire him. My input was considered and, for whatever reason, not heeded. *shrug* He left chaos and anger in his wake: I was correct but it...doesn't matter, and I don't feel better for saying "I told you so." :7(

I hate that guy.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:48 PM on February 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Start documenting their failures and your efforts to help them transition successfully onto the team. You want to be able to share your concerns while demonstrating that you made every effort to make it work. I've seen a situation similar to the one Stacey described. Consider subtle ways to strengthen your relationship with those who did the hiring -- e.g., don't skip the office party.
posted by salvia at 9:07 PM on February 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

I agree with salvia especially.

What has happened with a lot of the bad hires at my organization is that once their incompetence finally can't be hidden anymore, it gets blamed on everyone else for being difficult, insubordinate, mean, unhelpful, etc.
posted by thebazilist at 12:42 PM on February 13, 2017

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