Episode 259: Hire Fast, Fire Faster

In this episode of the Sweaty Startup, I want to talk about something that is essential for every entrepreneur and small business owner to learn when it comes to hiring and firing. This is coming from someone who has hired hundreds of people and had a fair share of firing too. But to set the tone of what our end goal of this conversation should be, I want to start off with a quote from a buddy of mine, Chris Powers:

“Your culture, and your company in general, is a byproduct of what you’re willing to tolerate…It’s not about how good your best performer is, it’s about how bad your worst performer is…Good companies don’t let anybody at the bottom drag the company down. [Otherwise] more in the company will realize what is acceptable and it permeates the organization. So, your culture is what you are willing to accept.”

Hiring and firing employees is a necessary task for every business owner, but usually it is the second part that tends to be most difficult: firing.  The type of employee I want to reference in this is the one that always seems to let you down, make a lot of small mistakes, and from time to time make bigger mistakes. This employee occasionally gets a little better, does a couple things right––you may go a week or so without having to correct them. Perhaps you’re tempted to think that they have potentially turned the corner. But in the end, something goes wrong and you start the cycle all over again.

To be blunt: you need to fire that person! It needs to happen TOMORROW. As a manager of your company, you need to let them go and move on.

Similar to this type of employee, the same principle applies to that customer that feels they have the leverage and emotionally abuse your company: They always complain, pressures your people with unrealistic expectations––in short, this is the customer you dread every time they call.  Reach out tomorrow and tell them that they need to find someone else. If you want to take it a bit further, refer them to a competitor. That customer may be a good percentage of your revenue, but long term it will cost you more than they are bringing to the table. I promise they can be replaced. 

When it comes to firing employees, there has never been a time that I regret letting someone go.  Rather, every time I felt thankful that I had done it and I wished I had done it earlier. It provides such a sense of relief, like a heavy weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

Perhaps this relief is from feeling that I can rebuild a branch of my company that had a negative culture. It has never been a bad decision.

It’s likely you’re thinking: “I’m too busy with what is going on in the company to lose that employee.” You probably feel like you can’t afford to lose that person, but the reality is that you can’t afford to KEEP that person. You can afford to lose that individual, you will find someone else to replace them, someone who will equally add value to their coworkers. You WILL bounce back from immediate challenges that come after the firing, and you will be better off because of it.

At the end of the day, with these types of employees that are sucking the life from your company, you need to own up and manage your business in your business’s best interest.  Take ownership for what your company is doing, and make it happen.

It can be hard, and most managers struggle to fire their employees that are not holding up their end. Many try to justify not firing them, convincing themselves that they are showing some signs of improvement. This is the wrong mindset; very rarely do those employees change. You need that person to be someone else’s problem and as an entrepreneur you need to focus on growing your business that has a positive and upbeat environment.

This is hard. It’s not fun at all, but it’s your job as a manager or business owner to do the hard things that are in your company’s best interest. Be sure to pass this grit to your lower managers as you delegate responsibilities.  You have to do it! You can’t baby employees; if it’s their time to go, they need to go NOW. Spend less time on those people that don’t have the right mindset for your business, and spend more time looking for those employees that know how successful people think.

The only caution I would allow for employees that are struggling and failing at their job, is when their lack of competency is coming from being set up for failure…by YOU. Look hard and deep at your system looking for any possible sign that you have not set them up to succeed, especially if you are in the Messy Middle of your sweaty startup. Be honest with your shortcomings. At the same time, trust your gut. If that pit of your stomach feels that an employee is falling short in many areas, cut it out before it penetrates the rest of your organization. 

Bringing it all together, it’s a common saying among business owners and entrepreneurs to “hire slow, fire fast.” My line of thinking? “Hire fast, fire faster.

You can learn even more about hiring through the Sweaty Startup Hiring online hiring course.

Three Key Takeaways:

  1. You may be under the line of thought “Hire slow, fire fast.” The philosophy here at The Sweaty Startup is “Hire fast, fire faster.”
  2. You may feel like you can’t afford losing even the bad apples, but the reality is that you can’t afford to KEEP them.
  3. Trust your gut. If that pit of your stomach feels that an employee is falling short in many areas, cut it out before it penetrates the rest of your organization.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.