Soundbites: Fire Fast, Hire Slow

This is age old advice in management circles.

Kinda funny how hard it is to do in practice. And it’s one of those topics where you look at business owners and managers and you think, “They really should take this advice.” I really want to talk about the “fire fast” but I’ll just touch briefly on the hire slow, because there are loads and loads of resources on how to hire people. Just remember that the worst thing you can do is hire the first person through the door that you think could probably learn to do the job.

The biggest pressure point on hiring somebody too fast is that often it’s the owner or manager that’s having to pick up the slack for not having someone there in the first place. So their goal is, “I need to get somebody in here so I don’t have to work as hard.” And yet, if you hire the first warm body that comes in the door, you can actually create bigger problems. Just Google “hire slow” and find some ways to hire better and hire more slowly and more deliberately. You’ll do a much better job of getting the right people in and you won’t have to fire as fast because you’ll have hired better.

The firing fast it’s really something that, if you’re not doing it, could really be a killer in your business. It can really damage things. Not only the way the customer perceives your business but the employees that work with them.

Just look at the different points of view.

From the manager: if you’re not firing fast, you’ve got somebody that’s just a drag on your time. You can’t get them to do what you want them to do. You can’t get them to do it well. You can’t get them to work well with other people.

From the co-workers’ point of view: keeping them is kind of a slap in the face because here you are paying this person that everybody knows shouldn’t be there, and you’re not paying as much attention to your good employees because the bad employee is taking up all your bandwidth. So the co-workers get upset.

You’re also damaging your reputation with your customers: we’ve talked about the Personal Experience Factor. A bad employee that is interacting with your customers is a recipe for disaster.

Finally the business owner perspective: it’s just a drain on profitability. You’re paying somebody that’s basically a cancer inside your organization.

The simple way to solve this is that if you want to improve morale, fire all the unhappy people.

That seems kind of glib and like it’s the punch line to a joke, but that’s really the core of it.

The unhappy people are going to fall into one of three camps. They’re either victims “Oh they just work us too hard, they expect too much of us.”

Or they’re non-believers. “Ah, I would never buy the car that we sell.” They don’t use your products. They don’t believe in the kinds of things that you’re doing in your business. So they’re just poisoning everybody. Again, they’re there for a paycheck.

Finally, the know-it-alls. These are the people that they’ve been around so long, “Oh, I’ll tell you why we can’t do it that way. You know, we tried that ten years ago, that’s not going to work.” That’s the know-it-all attitude. Those can sometimes be turned around, but usually they’re so set in their ways that they’re hard to turn around.

Last summer, a client of mine actually went through and got rid of the victims, the non-believers, and the know-it-alls. They got rid of all their unhappy people. They have three retail stores and they cleaned house of those people. Their sales for Christmas this year were up 24% over last year, unreal in a retail environment. I don’t know what the average was this year for Christmas versus the previous 12 months, but to be up 24% is pretty good. I don’t know how much of that to attribute to getting rid of the unhappy people. But the people that they kept sold a heck of a lot more, and their stores were just more fun to be around.

Your other employees will be so happy, so relieved to get rid of those victims, non-believers, and know-it-alls. They know those people have been dragging down the business.

Sometimes you may have to rely on co-workers. Meet with all of them, and they’ll all tell you who the victims, the non- believers, and the know-it-alls are. You won’t have too much trouble identifying the people that you need to let go if you ask all of your employees. The hard part about it is, from a manager or a business owner’s point of view, you want to be a caring boss. You want to be empathetic. You want to give people as many chances as they deserve. And I’m not saying don’t do that but, don’t do that. I am saying don’t do that!

Give them what they deserve, but don’t let them keep screwing up. You’re just messing up your business. You’re just destroying your reputation in the marketplace, with other employees, with your customers. You just can’t afford to do it. Fire fast. Hire slow. It’s been said a million times, but it’s never been more true and the beginning of the year is a good time to turn over a new leaf. Make that your New Year’s resolution. “We’re going to fire faster this year.”

Please feel free to share this podcast by sending the link or the MP3 to someone who could benefit from the information.

BrandingBlog Soundbites are produced using the Shortcut Blogging method.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *