Many businesses are stuck in a vicious cycle in which there are always under-performers in need of firing and positions that need to be filled yesterday. This setup is dangerously self-perpetuating, as employers often continue to hire recklessly to fill positions and then have difficulty firing those reckless hires due to a chronic shortage of workers. The remedy for this cycle may be to put systems in place that allow management to hire slower and fire faster.

Hire slow, fire fast doesn’t work for every business, though. For businesses that already have a good recruitment system in place, there is no need to hire any slower and firing faster may upset the apple cart.

The Case for Hiring Slow

Hiring slow doesn’t mean intentionally dragging out the hiring process just for the sake of making it take longer. Rather, hiring slow means taking the time to check references, test the employee candidate’s skills, and make sure that the necessary qualifications are in place. Taking some time to interview many candidates and select the best employee, rather than going with the first candidate that meets the minimum standards may also take time but be worth it in the end.

Disadvantages of Hiring Slow

Unfortunately, hiring slowly may sometimes cause a company to lose a candidate that may have been best suited for a job. Applicants have lives, too, and good candidates generally have more than one job prospect on the table. It is important to make sure that hiring processes are not slowed down to the point where you are losing your first choice for positions to other companies before you have a chance to make an offer.

The Case for Firing Fast

The purpose of firing fast is to get rid of employees that are underperforming before they can bring down your business and affect your revenues. Many employers report that on average they fire employees between six and 18 months after they have realized the employee was underperforming. This lengthy period of underperformance should be unacceptable for any business.

Disadvantages of Firing Fast

The advice to fire fast can be badly misconstrued by some companies and can cause issues if not wisely executed. Firing employees without just cause or documentation can cause legal issues and hinder productivity. If employees feel that they are always operating “under the axe,” companies may also experience a loss of loyalty and see morale plummet.

Firing Humanely with Understanding

If hiring processes are optimal and the best candidates are put in place, firing fast becomes an unnecessary policy. Instead, employees that suddenly begin underperforming should be coached and spoken to about the reasons behind underperformance. These conversations may provide great insights into processes that need to be improved and internal issues that need to be addressed.

If employees do not have substantial reasons for underperforming, there should be some sort of progressive discipline approach in place. Documenting underperformance immediately can provide a solid trail to back up termination decisions that are made later. Employees should be made aware of the expectations and progressive discipline approach upon hire, for best results.