The Cost of a Bad Hire

by John Washington on July 15, 2012

AZCentral posted a story yesterday by Beth Duckett entitled “Exits by officials costly for Scottsdale.”

The point of the story is that, “Scottsdale taxpayers have forked over $328,000 in the last four years to settle acrimonious departures by city mangers who differed with a majority of the City Council.”

In my opinion, a) that’s a small amount compared to the damage they would have done had they stayed, and b) that’s money that Mary Manross, Jim Lane, and the Chamber of Commerce Caucus on the City Council have cost us by hiring people who didn’t belong in that job, and who would ultimately be thrown under the bus for political gain.

Unfortunately, the only way to stop this vicious cycle is for the voter’s to avoid “hiring” mayors and council members who are fundamentally dishonest about the interests they represent.

How do you know the good from the bad? Easy: If a candidate has no real track record of fighting for specific issues, you should dismiss them out of hand.

Big talk at election time is easy. Fabricating a track record by clever wording of debate answers is not much more difficult.

But, seeing through the smoke is as easy as Googling a candidate.

I just did a Google search on one candidate who has claimed (twice in my presence) to have been to the microphone at City Council meetings “numerous” times. Putting “site:scottsdaleaz.gov” into the search bar along with this candidate’s name yielded exactly TWO hits that refer to city council meeting minutes where this candidate made a “public comment.”

What sort of an elected representative would this person be if they are willing to sacrifice their integrity over such a fundamental principle as honesty? This is like Mayor Lane lying about the 41 parking spaces on 75th Street (I was at the “public outreach meeting” where he did it).

How much more would such a person (or persons) cost the city in terms of hiring the wrong city manager, trust of the citizens, eroding quality of life and property values through bad city planning, taxpayer subsidies to private businesses who happen to be owned by friends?

A bad hire for city manager (or mayor/council) can be a lot more costly than the severance.

TheVesumeGroup.com says if,

“…you recognize and rectify the mistake within six months, the cost of replacing that employee is still going to cost you two and one-half times the person’s salary. That means a poor hiring decision for a candidate earning $100,000 per year could cost, on average, $250,000, and that expense comes right off the bottom line.”

In a recent article, Recruiter.com says the extended cost of a bad hire in a second-level manager position earning $62,000/year (half the city manager’s salary) but terminated after 2.5 years can be $840,000.

The actual dollar cost is just the tip of the iceberg. And permanent changes to community character are virtually irreversible.

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