Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly

As part of your appraisal business, how slowly should your hire?  How quickly should you fire?

Since we are human, we tend not to look at hiring someone to fill an important position until we are so inundated with work, so far behind the eight-ball as it were, that we make the position of hiring someone in haste simply because we need somebody to help us now.

Then, because we are human, we procrastinate letting someone go until it’s too late.  Take good ol’ Aunt Mabel. She is great at customer service, true. But, for some reason, despite knowing her strengths, we hired her to handle some computer problems.  And, as things turn out, while she is a whiz at Microsoft Vista, she does not know anything about computer servers, the problem we hired her to solve. But because she’s Aunt Mabel, we keep her on to avoid hurt feelings.  So, now what do we do?

We fire her.  And what happens indeed are the hurt feelings, the family friction, the backbiting, the snotty stuff about you on Facebook, the tears and recriminations, and everything that goes with it.   OK, what should have we done to avoid all of this?

Hire slowly and fire quickly.  Let me give credit where credit is due:  Dan Kennedy advocates this hiring and firing procedure in his books and lectures on business.

The time to look for a new employee is before you have the problem that makes you want to hire somebody.  This gives you the time to seek an employee qualified to do what it is you need to solve that problem you either can’t or won’t solve.  It gives you the time to interview enough candidates so that your decision is based on choice, not panic. It gives you time to winnow down the number of candidates rationally, logically, and calmly.

Then, once you have hired somebody who has the qualifications you need, because they are qualified, their learning curve is short and fast, thus their productivity comes on line quickly with a minimum of training and oversight on your part.

After a proper training and break-in period, if it becomes clear that someone is not working out, when someone is not carrying his or her weight, when you have to intervene so much that it cuts into your productivity, fire that employee right then.  Sure, sit them down and give them a warning, telling them exactly where they are failing, as well as exactly what it is  you want them to do to improve their production and carry their weight.

If, however, you keep them on, that implies they are doing a good job when, per your specifications and requirements, they are not.  Keeping them on adds to your woes since you have to follow-up more and, in many cases, undo their mistakes, and then do them (again) properly to get the results you reasonably expected in the first place. This puts a burden on your employees, too, since they have to carry some of the weight of the incompetent employee.  Is that fair to them? Is that going to cause a key employee to leave? Can you afford that?

With all of this, the point is hire slowly and fire quickly.  Yes, there will be some hurt feelings and personal recriminations.  Yes, it makes you, as well as the employee you are going to fire, feel just awful.  You can include some severance, etc. to soften the blow. But it’s like that bandage when you were a kid:  have your mom just rip that puppy off! Yes, it will hurt! But it hurts less (for both of you!) than making her pull it off slowly.


For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 152 Hire Slow; Fire Fast

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