Why Your Startup Should Hire Slow, Fire Fast


The labor market has never been stagnant. But right now, it’s more fluid than ever. Last November, a stunning 4.5 million people chose to leave their jobs. Newscasters dubbed it The Great Resignation. Thanks to the pandemic, workers have needed to reflect seriously on their priorities and what those meant for their work life balance. Whether it’s more remote work or higher pay, workers across the nation have left a lot of vacancies in their wake.

Now, it’s time for businesses to do some of their own reflection. Sudden vacancies may force a company to fill the position quickly, but what happens when the new hire isn’t right for their job? Nearly 75% of employers say they’ve chosen the wrong candidate for hire before. When a company makes a hiring mistake, termination is how they correct it. Situations like these are foundational for the mantra “hire slow, fire fast.”

But what does it mean to practice hire slow, fire fast at your own company? It might be easier to clarify what it doesn’t mean. Hiring slow doesn’t mean businesses wait for the perfect hire to drop into their lap. As long as a candidate meets the criteria, they can likely be trained for excellence in their role. Part of hiring slow is taking the time to consider each option. Don’t hire an individual just because they were early to apply.

Also remember: selective hiring is a luxury not every business has. Before your company can set overly exacting standards for job listings, they need to be a place where people want to work. Businesses have a brand independent of their product or service: their reputation among workers. As discussed above, employees are becoming more selective about the places they choose to work in recent months.

Why Firing Fast Works

On the other side of the spectrum, fire fast is not the same as firing employees on a whim. New hires often need training or guidance before they can succeed in their role. The real issue your company should be thinking about is fit. If an employee is a bad fit, they won’t be happy staying. Whatever team they work with could suffer for their presence. Think about long term benefits over immediate needs. Firing doesn’t have to be extreme. If you think of it as the path towards fixing a hiring mistake, it can be easier to approach directly. Approach fired employees with compassion and work to aid in their transition. The unpleasantness of firing is unavoidable, but there are ways to soften the blow.

In Conclusion

The best part about hiring slowly is that if it’s done properly, firing fast doesn’t need to happen. The hiring process does not start with candidates. It starts with the company reevaluating their needs and expectations. When a vacancy opens, your company should carefully consider its business goals while drafting the new job description. Listings should include skills and attributes necessary for long term success. Finally, don’t forget to factor team dynamics into candidate considerations: team fit is critical.

Brian Wallace is a Columnist at Grit Daily. He is an entrepreneur, writer, and podcast host. He is the Founder and President of NowSourcing and has been featured in Forbes, TIME, and The New York Times. Brian previously wrote for Mashable and currently writes for Hacker Noon, CMSWire, Business 2 Community, and more. His Next Action podcast features entrepreneurs trying to get to the next level. Brian also hosts #LinkedInLocal events all over the country, promoting the use of LinkedIn among professionals wanting to grow their careers.

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