Today's blog is Part II of Hire Slow and Fire Fast by guest blogger Kevin Dincher.
Making good decisions about who is on the payroll is critical to your company’s success—and to your own success—and the most important thing that a manager does is decide who is and who is not on the payroll. Because the pressure to fill vacant positions is enormous, the tendency is to rush to hire. But the wrong help is worse than no help. Achieving your ultimate hiring goal—a high performing employee who meets your needs and is a good fit for your company and team—takes time. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try you never really know if you hired the right people until after you’ve hired them.
When a hiring decision doesn’t work out, acknowledge it and move on quickly. Firing people who aren't working out and doing it quickly 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.
While replacing an employee is expensive—it can run up to 150% of that person’s annual starting salary in recruiting costs and lost productivity—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. When the wrong person is hired, it affects the ability of teammates and coworkers to produce high quality work, potentially affecting customers and clients and damaging your brand. Resentment against the underperforming (and against you) builds up. If someone is damaging your organization and the environment that you are trying to build, that creates trust issues, and you may lose good employees.
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 but “how can we 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 these efforts solves the problem of a bad hiring decision. They only perpetuate it.
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. 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—and if the person you hired doesn’t fit the bill, act fast to fix your mistake.
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.