DEAR HARRIETTE: I hired a young man to work with me a couple of months ago. He seemed to have a lot of promise, but then it all seemed to fizzle. I would ask him to complete tasks; when he completed them, he didn't bother to say anything. I told him that initiative is very important to me, as I operate a small business and don't really have time to hold his hand all day. Even though he seems to be smart, he really never demonstrated initiative. What's worse is that a couple of times I asked him to meet me to bring me important paperwork, and each time he was at least 30 minutes late, with no real apology. I am ready to let him go, less than 90 days in. I want to tell him why, as I may be able to help him in his next job. How do you recommend I talk to him? -- End of Probation, Denver
DEAR END OF PROBATION: I trust that you talked to this young man as each incident occurred, because it is clear that he has a lot to learn about work ethic and time management. It is wise, in any event, for you to end this relationship before the typical 90-day probation period.
Sit down with him, and let him know that you will not be keeping him on with you. Tell him you want to give him feedback about his time with you, and then go for it point by point. Explain what having initiative looks like. Do not assume that he understands that. Talk to him about timeliness and what to do when you realize you are running late for anything, especially going to meet your boss. Point out that he should work on improving in these particular areas so that in his next job he will be better prepared to succeed.