I have a love/hate relationship with this advice. There is much validity to this statement but I feel like the simplicity of this leaves much room for misinterpretation and confusion that can slip in. I wish this statement had a caveat or a footnote that would shed some more insight.
The "hire slow, fire fast" mantra doesn't necessarily mean you have to take months to bring someone on board, or that you fire team members based on knee-jerk reactions or after the volcano of emotions has erupted. But as a business owner; finding, hiring and retaining the right team can either make or break your business! The important chemistry component, the makeup of your team can drive your practice forward, provide outstanding customer service, and help your business reach new heights.
Making a bad hire can really tarnish your practice reputation, which is why you need to take your time when it comes to finding the right person.
Five reasons for hiring slow:
- By hiring too fast, you may end up making some BIG hiring mistakes, or a situation that former Apple executive Guy Kawasaki terms "the bozo explosion." According to Kawasaki, "When you're in a rush to fill openings to respond to growth, you make mistakes. Unfortunately, many practices adopt the attitude of, 'hire any intelligent body, or we'll lose business--we'll sort everything out later." BIG MISTAKE!
- It is critical to make sure people fit in with the rest of your team. Understanding what makes up your current office culture and what your business growth plans can help with the hiring process. This formula will help you understand if these candidates are either a perfect fit or a lousy fit for your culture.
- You may find a way to avoid filling that position altogether. For example, if you take the hiring process slow, your current team could evolve to take on the responsibilities you were looking to add.
- You can be more certain about making a legitimate offer if you have taken the time to vet the candidate completely. This person may just be an amazing actor—they can look good on paper or answer your interview questions perfectly but in reality, maybe a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Do your due diligence by doing both background checks and reference checks!
- Your team is everything. If you have the right team in place everything clicks together, projects get completed more efficiently, patients are happy and life just seems to flow much better! You don't need to spend more of your precious time dealing with drama.
But here is the caveat: taking “too long” to make a decision on a candidate means you could possibly lose out on this amazing candidate while they are waiting for you to make a decision. On average, top talent gets snatched up within 10 days of being in the job market. Waiting too long for you to "wait and see what else is out there", could make this hiring process much longer than it needs to be. That’s why understanding what the right candidate looks like for your office ahead of time will make this process much more efficient!
Five reasons for firing fast:
- The moment you think that person is not a good fit anymore, you are probably six weeks too late. Take action to remedy the situation, understand where things went wrong and WHY! This will help you identify any “leaking pipes” (a.k.a systems and structures) and will help you be proactive to avoid this from happening again!
- Don't procrastinate, because everyone around you will begin to wonder why this negative behavior is being allowed to continue to happen. They begin to feel underappreciated and start thinking: “well if Suzy gets rewarded for doing the bare minimum…why should I keep working as hard as I have been?” Then you will notice their drive and work ethic will begin to decline! Your A player will now turn into a C player. A bad employee can poison the rest of the team--the longer they stay around, the more their negativity affects others.
- Your patients think you are building a world-class team and maybe you promote this on your website or on your advertisements. Don't disappoint them by holding onto someone who is a bad fit or worse who can begin to tarnish the reputation you have worked so hard to build!
- Your team is only as strong as its weakest link. You have likely heard this before, but it is just as true now as it was then. Your weakest link is pulling the rest of the team down.
- Stop those sleepless nights! The amount of stress that is associated with these HR issues has to stop! It is taking your focus away from growing your business and providing top-notch treatment to your patients!
But here is the caveat: avoid those HR issues by establishing an effective HR program to make sure you have set up very clear expectations with employees so they know what they have to do to be successful.
If they can't achieve those goals then they need to be given a warning. In fact, every single time an employee is "talked to," you need to document it as the business owner, or manager. Take time to understand what you can do to help them be successful at their job can make a HUGE difference! Is there more training, resources or tools they need so they can perform at their best?
Hopefully, this will resolve any issues but if a second warning is needed, explain that if they cannot do what has been asked by XX date, then your only option is to terminate them. Document that conversation, and then when you fire them to make sure you keep all documentation. If they come back at you with a legal claim after the fact, you will have some ammunition.
The bigger goal here is that you have set up an effective hiring practice that helps you avoid costly hiring errors. If you have taken the important step of setting the proper expectations for your new employees, the wrong people (the bad fits) ultimately end up quitting before you have to fire them.
But remember, there are steps you can take now to be proactive: understanding your growth plans will help you determine who you need to hire. Having your practice guidelines outlined will help you weed out the people who are a bad fit and could hinder your practice growth. Establishing effective HR systems will also protect you from those HR nightmares.