Hire Slow, Fire Fast: Why This Doesn't Work

By Teamable

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Hire slow, fire fast. We’ve all heard this before.

There's a reason tech startup culture has instead adopted the "hire fast, fire faster" mantra — but we've got some doubts about that one too. How can you ensure you're hiring the right people, and setting your new hires up for success starting on their first day? 

If you want to build a team of stellar talent, hiring slow and firing fast won’t get you there. The world moves at breakneck speed — you need to recruit the right talent and hire them. No need to wait. And before you give up on an employee, devote the time to figuring out what went wrong and why that employee is underperforming. 

Sometimes firing someone quickly is the right thing to do. But there are a few things that can be done preemptively to ensure you don't have to make that tough choice — better for both your leadership team and your company. 

Don’t hire out of fear 

Over the years, we’ve been bombarded with statistics on how much a bad hire costs a company. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a bad hire can cost you up to 30 percent of that employee’s salaryFor a startup, that can be detrimental. 

This cost goes beyond salary — a bad hire impacts the productivity and morale of your team, and disengagement can be contagious, as well as bad habits and negative talk. With approximately 34 percent of employees happily committed to their jobsemployers can suffer from lower earnings if the disengagement catches on. 

These statistics can increase any business’s fear of making a hiring mistake. As a result of this fear, we’ve slowed down on hiring. We take our time. We don’t want to make the wrong move. Slowing down the recruiting process too much, however, can cause us to lose out on top talent. With the employment rate being at an all-time low, job seekers hold the power in the market. When the average hiring process is 52 days, companies can lose out on top talent because of this hesitation. 

Find the right talent and snag them 

In today’s fast-moving world, employers need to focus on recruiting and retaining high-quality talent, helping them compete with profitable margins. If you’re using an outdated job description and recruiting through the same channels as you did five years ago, you’re missing out on top caliber job seekers. You should understand what skills you need, how you stand out from your competition, and where to find your next employees. 

When you’re recruiting, you’re selling. You need to understand what you have to offer as a company. You need to showcase your culture. You need to advertise to your target audience and meet them where they are. 

Establish an employee referral program. Let your current employees serve as your company’s brand ambassadorsYour employees understand your culture and what type of employee you’re seeking. Let them help you sell! If you already have an impressive team, your employees will refer candidates similar to them — impressive. This is a win-win for both your company and your employees, as you attract outstanding candidates and your employees engage in helping you build and grow your company. Don’t let fear drive your hiring decisions. You’ll be sure to hire the wrong person.

Build a pipeline 

Have candidates in mind before a position opens. As you’re recruitingbuild a pipeline of potential candidates that you can access when a need arises. That way, you’re not scrambling around for a warm body to fill a position, leading to a bad hire. When a position opens, you have a list of candidates that have already been pre-qualified by you. 

Create a culture of recruiting. Always look for your next best hire, whether it’s through referrals, social media, or establishing a presence in your market. Establish your needs and wants. Create a recruiting process. Don’t wing it. 

Once you build a pipeline, make sure you nurture it. Communicate with potential candidates. Have effective in-person interviews. Let them experience your corporate culture. Have them meet and interact with your team. Keep in touch with them through emails, text messages, or events. The better the candidate experience, the better the hire. 

Figure out the problem 

If you do have an employee that starts underperforming, figure out why. Sit down with your employee and ask questions. Is something going on? Do they not feel supported at work? Do they need additional training? Are your processes out of date and not effective? By communicating, you can show compassion by discussing performance issues with your employeeBut you also can figure out what improvements the company needs to make. For example, maybe you don’t offer enough training. Maybe you weren’t clear about expectations. Maybe that employee has skills that are better suited for another role. 

If you fire quickly without asking questions, you’re not giving your employee a chance to improve — and you're not setting yourself up to make and retain better hires in the future. 

Lead your employees through coaching 

Once you figure out the problem, find the answer through coachingCommunicate to your employee about his or her shortcomings. Explain how his or her performance doesn’t match the job’s expectations. Listen to your employee. Understand where your employee stands. Your employee could be facing some circumstances of which you weren’t aware. 

Employees need to understand what’s expected of them - explain the expectations for the job, and what will happen if those expectations aren’t met. If needed, establish a plan of development. personalized development plan can equip struggling employees to recognize the gaps in their own skillsets and competencies, enabling employee-driven learning & development. An employee that takes initiative over his or her own upskilling has much more potential for long-term success than someone who doesn’t.  

Don’t drag out the process 

In some circumstances, firing fast is the way to go. If you have an employee who steals, is verbally abusive, or lied on their resume, then it's clear they should be let go. Barring these circumstances, though, if you take the time to work with your employee and nothing improves, then don’t drag out the process. You don’t want a bad hire impacting the rest of your team. 

"Hire slow, fire fast" is a bit too simplified for our current workforce — and hire fast, fire faster, isn't exactly good advice either. Overturning this old mantra and changing the way you think about hiring and retention can save your company (and your hiring team) a lot of time and resources. 

This blog post was originally published to the Teamable blog.