Good Managers Hire Slow and Fire Fast—Not Vice-versa (Part 2)

Kevin P. Dincher

The most important thing a manager does is decide who to hire and fire.  Making good decisions about who is and who is not on the payroll is critical to your company’s success—and to your own success.  That’s why it is important not to hire too fast (Good Managers Hire Slow and Fire Fast—Part 1).  Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try you can never really be certain you hired the right people until after they’ve been hired.  When a hiring decision doesn’t work out as expected, acknowledge it and move on quickly.

Don’t Fire too Slowly

If firing people ever feels to easy, then it is time to get out of business.  You’ve been doing it too long.  Firing people who aren’t working out and doing it quickly, however, is the best thing for the company, for your team and for the person who needs to be let go.  In fact, the speed with which you fire may be more critical than the speed with which you hire.

Bad Help is Worse than No Help.

Replacing an employee is expensive; it can run you up to 150% of that person’s annual starting salary in recruiting costs, lost productivity and other costs.  But the cost of hiring the wrong people and not firing them right away is immeasurable.

There is the obvious cost of the new hire’s low productivity—but having a new hire who doesn’t work out as expected has other costs.  When the wrong person is hired the ability of teammates and coworkers to produce high quality work is affected—potentially affecting customers and clients and damaging your brand.  If someone is damaging the organization and the environment that you are trying to build, that creates trust issues, and you may lose good employees.

Trying to Make Good on a Bad Decision

You should have a good onboarding and development program for all new hires that helps them fit in quickly and gives you the opportunity to pass on the culture you are trying to build.  However, when you realize you made a bad hiring decision, your first thought is probably not to fire the person.  Your first thought is probably “how can I make this work?”  Then you spend countless hours coaching, correcting, directing, pushing—and countless more hours creating work-arounds.  Then you end up either performing the work yourself or tasking others to do it.  None of this solves the problem but merely perpetuates it.  It’s like my grandmother used to say:  you can’t make a silk purse our of a sow’s ear.  None of these efforts solves the problem of a bad hiring decision.  They only perpetuate it.

Good Managers Remove Obstacles

When you fire fast, it has a positive effect on productivity and morale.  When you take too long to fire someone, it is like a virus that spreads quickly and hurts productivity, morale and the bottom line.  When it becomes clear that an employee is not going to perform at least satisfactorily, accept it and cut your losses.  The second most important thing that a manager does is remove obstacles so that employees can do the work they were hired to do to the best of their abilities (Good Managers Remove Obstacles—but How?).  When that obstacle is a bad hiring decision, removing that obstacle quickly is only fair to all the stakeholders—even the person being fired.

Never lose sight of the ultimate hiring goal: a high performing employee who meets your needs and is a good fit for your company and team


Kevin Dincher is an organization development consultant, professional development coach and educator with 30 years of experience that includes not only OD consulting but also work in adult education,  counseling psychology and crisis management, program and operations management, and human resources.

LinkedIn: Kevin Dincher

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Posted in Leadership, Management, Organization Development (OD). Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Good Managers Hire Slow and Fire Fast—Not Vice-versa (Part 2)
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