Hire Slow, Fire Fast

How NOT to Build a Great TeamInterviewing candidates—you either love it or  you hate it. Well guess what, if you hate it, you’d better start loving it because it’s one of the most important things you can do to build a great team. And to build great teams within your organization, it’s not something you can outsource. Great leaders are constantly recruiting. Whether you have a job opening or not, you should always be on the lookout for top talent. We’d go as far as to say that networking for talent is even more important than networking for new business.

But successful hiring isn’t a signed offer letter—it’s a process. How often have you heard, “We’re gonna throw ’em in the deep end and see if they float,” or “We’re desperate; we just need someone that can fog a mirror”? Ugh. Successful hiring means going through a thoughtful and thorough process on the front end, and that process takes time. Bad hiring decisions come from informal processes, snap decisions, decisions made in a void, and decisions based on emotions or gut feelings rather than a true understanding of what’s needed from a candidate whose talents and skills are aligned with the job or team.

But even with the most thoughtful and rigorous hiring practices, we all make mistakes. We hire the wrong people for the job, and they take jobs that are wrong for them. It’s a two-way street. But unlike the thoughtful, time-intensive hiring process, when you’ve got the wrong person in the wrong job, and you feel your organization has done a fair job of trying to address performance issues, time is of the essence.

Are you hiring too fast because you think you’ve found a unicorn of an employee and are worried that he’ll take another job? Hiring your brother’s whiny daughter for an internship instead of a qualified junior salesperson (that you can train to be a leader) because you are a nice guy or can’t say no? And conversely, are you firing too slow because you can’t take the tears or simply don’t have a proper performance-management process in place? If so, this section is for you.

Hiring and firing is the best and the worst part of leadership. No one likes firing people. Good leaders never like firing people. But good leaders do understand the risks of avoiding it when it’s necessary.

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