How To Fire Better And Have A Happier Company

This article is for small businesses and startups that will soon need to start hiring staff.

If you run a startup at some point you will have to start hiring people. Even worse, at some point, you will have to fire people as well.

This is never fun, but necessary. The below is a detail of one of the most important things to watch out for and fire based on.

First, a bit of background.

I have heard the phrase “hire fast, fire faster” in different contexts, so I am in no way trying to claim ownership of it. In fact, I don´t even agree with it. The correct term should be “hire slow, fire at medium speed”.

For god´s sake, don´t “hire fast”.

Never “hire fast”. That insinuates hiring without doing proper due diligence. Not to do due diligence in hiring is the worst advice one could give. Your business is the people you hire. Your staff will shape your business, and your business will shape your staff. Always remember this, and have it close at mind when hiring.

When hiring for a role, consider the candidate’s technical abilities.

That goes without saying. If you need someone to program, they need to know how to program. If you need someone to sell your product, they need to know how to sell. This goes without saying.

There is another factor that is as or more important though:

“Hire based o personality and value set”

Even the most gifted person in the world will be disastrous for you if he operates from a non-compatible value set.

If a person does not have personal integrity and honesty, that person will never be good for your company. He might produce great results in the short run, but will never be a success in the long.

It is very difficult to judge someone’s personality and personal values in interviews. Yet, there is no doubt that the more effort you put in in the interview process, the better picture you can get. Which is why I would never advocate “hiring fast”. But don´t “hire slow” either. Never let bureaucracy or red tape reasons slow it down. But also never skip any steps, no matter how promising a candidate may look.

And this goes for no matter what role you are filling. A person needs to fit echo your values no matter whether he is cleaning, programming, or managing.

No matter how well you do in your recruiting, you will get it wrong at times. Sometimes you find a perfect candidate, only to find out that they do not share your values later.

You need to be good at distinguishing where them issues lie though. Do they not do as they should due to poor supervision or training, or due to a different set of values.

Both of these situations are your responsibility, but the solutions are different.

This brings me to my second point and the main point of this article.

Fire at medium speed

If you have people on your staff that are being dishonest or operating from a different value set to you, fire them. End of story.

If a person acts according to values that are incompatible with yours now, they will not change. The likelihood of them changing is very low, and the effort needed to get there will exceed the output. Finding a new suitable candidate will cost you much less time and effort. And don´t forget a mental and emotional headache and “putting out fires” time saved.

The reason why I don´t call this “fire fast” is that you need to be sure that this person is acting against your value set. You can´t fire on a hunch, something someone said or a situation that could have been misunderstood. But when you are sure, when there is no doubt, you have to fire that person.

And it doesn´t matter how gifted that person is, his experience, reputation or anything else. All that matters is whether he/she can work according to your values. And that is a “yes” or “no” question. No grey areas. You might have to swallow some pride is you were the one who brought the person in, and did so under big fanfare.

Still a “yes” or “no” question. And if the answer is “no”, then it is out.

Keeping a person who does not act according to your values, can be devastating for your company. You can´t trust the person to do the correct tasks. The person will have a negative impact on their coworker’s motivation and behaviour. Coworkers will get demoralised by seeing no action taken. And much much more. I have experienced this myself. In my company we have been too slow in acting on these signs in the past, leaving damage that has taken a while to clean up.

My advice to you is; if someone in your company does not work according to the values you do, fire them. For you, and for your company.

I will finish this article by giving some examples of the values I operate by and judge my colleagues on:

Integrity and honesty: If I cannot trust a person in small things, I cannot trust that person with big things. If a person tells white lies about small things, I cannot work with that person. If a person takes credit for other people´s work, I cannot work with that person.

Responsibility: If you have read any of my other stuff, you will see that taking responsibility is a point that is of great interest to me. I believe we must all take responsibility for everything that happens to us, be it something we have influence over, or not. If a person always blames or complains or can find fault with others but not themselves, I cannot work with them.

Adaptability: Perfectionism and stubbornness are great traits, as it can power great things. Too much of it is not great, as it prevents a person from adapting to his/her surroundings. If a person cannot adapt to changing scenarios and environments but expects others to adapt to them, I cannot work with them.

Humbleness: A person has to stay humble. A person has to stay modest. This to me does not mean that he/she cannot celebrate victories, be happy and proud of achievements and so on. This means that the person has a humble approach. They have respect for all and never forget where they came from.

Constant learning and development: A person that does not learn from experience and mistakes, who cannot take feedback or who does not grow and develop over time, I cannot work with.

I hope you by reading this will be saved from some of the headache and experience I and others have had. There is no easy way around it. The only way you can do what is best for you and your company is to get rid of the people who do not fit it.

Talk to me!