Are you willing to hire slowly but fire fast?

Here’s a test of your patience and your willingness to suppress your tendency to avoid conflict or confrontation – all in the same insight.

First a reminder about why we hire:

New hires can shore up the weak areas of a business in ways existing employees cannot – if hiring is done to fill true needs.  We acknowledge that some employees lose their drive, or remain behind as the company grows, failing to gain the experience or knowledge needed to manage expanded processes or numbers of subordinates.  Sometimes, there is just too much work for one person, and a second is needed to continue growth.  And of course sometimes, a person leaves the company, creating a need to fill a hole.

There is a rule few follow. 

Slow down and take more care in the hiring process.  Vet the candidates well, even though you think that you do not have time enough to do so.  Hiring is one of your most important duties, a way to increase the quality and productivity of your company’s staff.  Every hiring opportunity is a window to improve the company.  Hire slowly, with the weight of that opportunity clearly in mind.

On the other hand…

[Email readers, continue here…]   We are all guilty of hanging on to marginal employees for too long.  It is humane; it is easier to do nothing.  It is less of a drag on your time to let marginal employees continue to plug along in their job.   We have all done this.  And yet, we have all looked back after a painful separation of a marginal employee and thought that we should have made the move to replace the person much earlier.  We almost always agree that the person would have benefited with a better fit, and the company would have surely performed better having hired the replacement earlier.

How about the bottom ten percent rule?

First, it is not a rule, just a proposition from one of the many business books dispensing advice.  Do not do it. Don’t draw a line each year to eliminate your bottom tier by firing them.  But look at it from the other side of the coin.  Some people just don’t excel or even fit into their jobs.  Even those in the mid-tier of your organization.  Coaching them to a better fit or even out the door may well be the most humane thing to do.

An opportunity to build a superior organization.

Every such move gives you that opportunity to search for (slowly) and find a superior candidate for the vacated position, improving the quality of the team.  And no doubt, most of your team members knew of that need to clear the marginal performer long before you did.

Fight that “human nature” to be expedient.

It is human nature to hire as quickly as possible, to reduce the time taken from a busy day for interviews and reference checking.  And it is human nature to hang on to marginal employees.  Both are opposite the best practices of good management.

Try to force yourself to slow down in the hiring process, and speed decisions you know will someday have to be made about your marginal employees.

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