Why Hire Slow, Fire Fast May Not Be the Best Advice

The startup community loves to latch onto a corny catchphrase, but this latest gem to guide hiring isn’t just dumb, it’s counterproductive.” –Danny Boice, Co-Founder and CTO of Speek.

Boice says it perfectly, “Hire slow, fire fast,” isn’t always the best option simply because it is counterproductive. Budding companies don’t have the luxury that their larger counterparts have to leisurely find their dream catch or candidate. They are pressed for time as they grow under pressure of their clients. Slow is simply not an option in the grand scheme of things. But even larger companies who have the resources to take their time in finding that perfect new hire, strain their current employees with a higher workload.

Time and Money

You’re on your way to work, and suddenly your car blows a head gasket. Now, the problem is you have to find another way to get to work and drive the kids to soccer practice. So do you rent a car until you can get it fixed or do you wait until you can buy a new car outright? You’re probably going to want to fill the gap with a rental.

Losing an employee is hard for any company, startups and corporations alike. But when you fire fast, it takes more time to look for and hire their replacement. So considering it takes at least half of a previous employee’s salary to replace them, why on earth would you take more time than you need to do so?

It takes 6-9 months for companies to hire a new person in place of a previous employee on average. Hiring for skills and culture, should not any means, take that long.

Pressure and Volume

You just built a tree house for your kids. You decided that you didn’t need the fourth piece of 4×4, so you just skipped it, hoping the other three 4x4s could handle the weight. Well, your kids have friends over and you see the 4x4s wiggle as they climb up the ladder…

When an employee decides they are either unhappy in their job, or they find a new and bigger opportunity, there is an undoubted amount of pressure to hire their replacement. Realistically, however, that pressure doesn’t come from their departure, but rather the workload they leave behind. Hiring fast saves other employees from working past their limit and taking work home in order to compensate for the missing man-hours. Don’t leave your other employees responsible to hold up the work on their own; don’t let them buckle under the pressure. Find the new employee, and find them fast.

Even still, when you fire an employee, someone has to pick up the extra work. Letting someone go slowly gives other employees a chance to acclimate to the extra work over a longer period of time. It takes an average of 54 days, almost 2 months to hire a new employee. Shave some days off your company average time-to-hire to save your current employees from an unnecessarily heavy workload.

Productivity and Quality

You come home from a long day at work and you can sense something is amiss. The living room sofa is destroyed, stuffing everywhere. You walk around the house, and you can’t find your dog, the obvious culprit. Well that’s because he’s hiding; he knows he has done something wrong. So, he runs into the yard before you can discipline him, leaving you franticly trying to find him again. Bad news: he escaped the yard!

In the absence of someone filling the role that recently became vacant, your employees are expected to be more productive. However, the quality will most likely suffer with a heavier workload. When the company is a major player in a quality-centric industry, there is little room for a slip in quality. So firing slow is a good option, keeping an employee on board until you have another ready to… well, onboard. However, employees can often see their demise coming, so prepare for a potential premature quit. Jacqueline Smith, contributor to Forbes, says:

Companies aren’t (generally) in the business of wasting money; this includes the avoidance of redundancy. So if you see that someone has been brought in with your same skill set, and is being trained for duties much similar to yours, unless there is a very clear reason for such an expansion, you should worry about the future of your job.

Hiring fast saves the company precious time and money, allowing employees to feel at ease when a coworker is let go. Don’t let your projects suffer in timeliness and quality while you wait for the “perfect” new hire. Your clients won’t be happy, neither will your employees. Hiring fast, firing slow is a better alternative to hiring slow and firing fast because your company can prepare for the departure of employees.