Slow To Hire Quick To Fire

We’ve all heard the saying “Slow to Hire, Quick to Fire,” but what does this really mean to today’s small businesses? This might sound like a harsh approach to the employment life cycle, and to some it is, but this is the reality of operating a small business where every new employee or termination has an impact. Let’s look at the “Slow to Hire” piece… by taking the time to make the correct hiring choice, you are ensuring that you are making the best decision for your company, your management team and your bottom line. Typically in small businesses, companies can only hire a handful of people per year, so by taking your time and making the best possible choice, you are saving time, resources and energy. On the flip side, being “Quick to Fire,” doesn’t make you an inhumane employer, but rather a responsible one; one who is aware of a mistake made and would rather quickly make a change, rather then drag out the inevitable. Let’s talk about 3 ways you can improve your hiring process by slowing it down, and 3 ways you can identify and correct a bad hire, should you have one.

3 Tips for Hiring Slow

Identifying the Right Needs & Skills

What does this person look like? What skills do they possess? The first step to any hiring process is to thoroughly identify the ideal candidate for the role and the skills and qualities needed. The best tool to start with is a well formulated job description. Most employers have some type of job description, but to really make them work for you, take the time to really flush one out. Partner with the hiring manager, members of this person’s team and others within the company to identify your list of ideal qualities and characteristics. Of course, a perfect candidate is few and far between, but really, truly knowing what type of candidate would succeed in this role and taking the time to lay this out ahead of interviewing will set you up for success and make it easier to identify those candidates who might not succeed. You also want to be certain you need another person to fill that role. It could be that the team can manage successfully, even with the open role. They may identify new ways to handle the extra workload or become more efficient in their roles and procedures.

Develop the Interview & Offer Process

If you’ve successfully determined that a new employee is needed to meet the needs of your team and company, the next best step is to begin searching. If you have had success in hiring candidates from certain platforms, post the job description to those sites. Include the hiring process in the job description so that potential candidates are aware of what to expect as they go through your process. You want to make sure that your hiring process is clearly defined and you know exactly who needs to participate in each step. Does your process require a phone-screen to start, followed by an onsite and offer? What about a competency test? In addition, do you need to do a background and drug screen before employment? Knowing what information you need to make the best decision will make the hiring process a much smoother experience and will result is a successful hire. It’s also best practice to know which questions will be asked at which stage so that you are not duplicating efforts or wasting valuable time asking the same questions at every stage. Make sure your team members know what areas they are responsible for clarifying, whether that is previous employment, personality questions, etc. and that they stick to the script. A key takeaway we’ve heard from numerous candidates is the lack of communication throughout the process. You want to make sure that you are providing feedback when possible and that you maintain open communication with the candidate after every step. If you anticipate a delay for whatever reason, make sure that they are aware and let them know when they can expect to hear back from you regarding next steps. While these multiple steps, communication and pre-employment testing might seem like overkill, it is a lot easier on the company to pass on a candidate then it is to terminate an employee.

Day One & Beyond

Once you’ve made the offer to the candidate and they have accepted, it is important that you have a developed New Hire Orientation and On-boarding experience in place. After all of the work you’ve put into finding this candidate, you don’t want it to fall apart because they didn’t receive the support needed when they started. Ways to do this include having a New Hire Orientation program, where they learn the “ins-and-outs” of your company, “pro-tips” from other employees, such as a tour around the office, nearby coffee shops, who to go to for what, and other small factors that can contribute to a successful beginning. Your on-boarding process should include having their desk set-up, their paperwork available and ready to be completed, logins and access components available and anything else they need to get started. It’s a good idea to have them meet with several employees after they start as a way to get to know their coworkers and start to create a sense of community. If they start off on the right foot, you’re ensuring your efforts will pay off in finding a long term, effective employee.

Day One & Beyond: Once you’ve made the offer to the candidate and they have accepted, it is important that you have a developed New Hire Orientation and Onboarding experience in place. After all of the work you’ve put into finding this candidate, you don’t want it to fall apart because they didn’t receive the support needed when they started. Ways to do this include having a New Hire Orientation program, where they learn the “ins-and-outs” of your company, “pro-tips” from other employees, such as a tour around the office, nearby coffee shops, who to go to for what, and other small factors that can contribute to a successful beginning. Your Onboarding process should include having their desk set-up, their paperwork available and ready to be completed, logins and access components available and anything else they need to get started. It’s a good idea to have them meet with several employees after they start as a way to get to know their coworkers and start to create a sense of community. If they start off on the right foot, you’re ensuring your efforts will pay off in finding a long term, effective employee.

3 Tips for Firing Fast

Save Your Money, Your Teams & Your Resources

When taking into consideration the cost of training, lost productivity for that role and others, as well as time and effort invested in the hiring process, the cost associated with a bad hire can be almost as much as that person’s salary. Even though firing someone can be costly in and of itself, the longer you let that person retract from the team, you are costing the company more and more money. In addition, if there are team members who have to pick up the slack of the new team member or spend their time training them, you’re wasting money and time there. Not to mention having someone who is a drain on the team’s moral, causing even more lost productivity and a damper on the team culture. Like the old saying goes, “one bad apple can ruin the bunch,” and the longer this employee continues to work with the team, the more likely they are to spread the negativity around. Protect your team and your money and cut your losses as soon as a problem is identified.

Don’t Procrastinate

Studies show that by the time someone determines it is time to terminate an employee, they are about 6-weeks past the correct point of doing so. The longer you allow a problem to fester and continue to interact with your team members, the higher the chances are that they will begin to impact the rest of the team. It might be tempting to continue to give them time, or keeping thinking they might improve their behavior, pick up on the skillsets needed, etc. but this type of procrastination only prolongs the inevitable. Aside from the employee impacting their team members directly, the team members themselves might start to question your decision-making skills and management ability due to your decision to allow someone to stay on-board when they are not a good fit. As soon as you feel the need to part ways with an employee, listen to your gut and do it immediately – don’t let them ruin the bunch!

Stay Strong

Like we’ve been discussing, your team is your most valuable resource and they’re only as strong as their weakest link. By keeping someone on-board longer then they should be, you are running the risk of damaging resources and hurting your bottom line. This goes hand-in-hand with lowering the quality of your products and services as well. When you make the decision to terminate someone, stick to your gut and move forward. You’ll be happier and have a more productive team if you do. At the end of the day, the decisions made around hiring and firing employees need to be made carefully and thoughtfully, but at two different speeds. When it comes to hiring, be thorough, effective, and think long and hard about committing to an employee and finalizing that relationship. On the other hand, when it comes to firing, as soon as issues are identified, don’t procrastinate and remove the problem before it becomes and even larger issue


Attracting, developing and retaining talent is a crucial part of business. Contact our team at HR NOLA to help address your strategic HR needs.