If you are someone who hires people at your facility, you may have heard the following, diametrically opposed philosophies:
Slow to hire, quick to fire – OR – Quick to hire, slow to fire.
If you do a search for either phrase, you will find just as much competing evidence for which one is best and which one is nonsense. It can be quite confusing.
For those who have hired the wrong person (and who among us hasn’t?), slow to hire – meaning taking your time to REALLY evaluate the candidate for strategic and cultural fit – makes the most sense. The rational is that a little extra time upfront can save you headaches down the road. In fact, so many of us have made bad hiring decisions that a new industry was created, providing a bevy of tools and resources to evaluate talent – even calculators to tell you how much a bad hire will cost you. Makes anyone afraid to utter those words, “you’re hired”.
On the other hand, quick to hire gets people in the door but gives them a chance to find their way and fit in. And lets be honest, it feels like sometimes with our depleted applicant pool, we’ll hire anyone interested and sort ’em out later.
Sometimes, though, they don’t ever fit into your culture, or they create a negative subculture that undermines everything you do. Or, you are so desperate to keep people so you can open the funnel cake stand that you bend rules and lower your standards just to keep them “happy”. (Spoiler alert – that doesn’t work.) I would argue that this is a function of a weak and unstructured culture, not a bad hiring practice, but we’ll explore that a little more in a minute.
The problem with both of these philosophies or tactics is that they oversimplify the applicant/employee experience. And this ain’t a simple proposition.
I shared this graphic in my book ALL CLEAR! A Practical Guide for First Time Leaders and The People Who Support Them:
In essence, it shows my findings regarding what truly impacts employee performance and behavior, and the relative importance of the various processes. It comes largely from discussions I’ve had over the years with operational managers who complain about the “quality of employee” and insist that hiring and training processes be improved. What they don’t consider is the time these employees have spent out in the field. Do they really expect that spending a day or two in a training class is MORE influential on their behavior than the three months they have been working in their role? I don’t think so.
But this revisits the concept of a weak or unstructured culture. When managers are blaming HR for bad employee performance, or you are lowering your standards just to keep people around, or you justify poor performance in one area because an employee is really good at something else, your hiring practices are likely not in question. Your culture is.
What if, and I’m just spit-ballin’ here, what if there was such a strong sense of what to do and what not to do among their managers and co-workers that a new hire never had to question the standard or what they could get away with? You’re supposed to wear white shoes? EVERYONE is wearing white shoes ALL THE TIME! You’re supposed to not use your cell phone at work? No one EVER reaches for their phone “just to check the time”. And why is this? Not solely because the “right” people were hired or that HR said “don’t use your cell phone” during orientation… it’s because those standards were enforced on a regular basis and managers took the opportunity to coach and develop their employees.
So, getting back to hire or fire slow or fast? What about this…
- Hire smart – don’t regulate to a timeframe, but use your company standards to evaluate cultural fit and make the best decision you can in the moment. Yes, sometimes you have to go with your gut.
- Coach often – Don’t let them get away with negative or substandard performance, but also don’t let outstanding effort or performance go unnoticed. Make it a priority (which means building the skill and taking the time) to communicate to your employees how they are doing, what impact they are making and what strides that can take to improve.
- Fire when people demonstrate they can’t or are unwilling to meet your standards – Give them a chance, coach them to higher performance, but don’t keep people around who regularly demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to meet your standards. They may be a good person, but if they aren’t upholding your standards, they aren’t doing you any favors.
That doesn’t sound as pithy or hip, but it’s what WORKS!
Thanks for reading!
Speaking of ALL CLEAR – check out what some people (who didn’t write the book) have to say about it!
“I just finished your book “All Clear!” WOW!!! What a great tool! It is so timely and practical. I am going to have my leadership team read it and use it to help us grow our team. I have been stressing to our leaders the importance of relationship building and how that is really the first step in growing the team. Your book is going to be a great reinforcement. I really think this is a must read for anyone in the service industry but absolutely if you are in the entertainment industry.”
Chris Camp – Owner Fun Fore All
“All Clear is a fantastic read for leaders with zero to fifty years of experience! After eight years in management at my current company, this book was a refreshing reminder of what it was like stepping into a leadership role for the first time. It also gave me new ideas and motivation to equip both my leadership and frontline staff with all the tools they need to succeed. This book is easy to stay engaged with and inspired me to completely reevaluate an approach to one of my current projects. My team will be grateful for this project’s otherwise uninteresting results thanks to All Clear! I highly recommend this book to any leader and even those who are looking to evolve into a leader in the future.”
Steven Camacho – Canobie Lake Park