We Are Flipping “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” On Its Head

When I began my journey of entrepreneurship many years ago, the advice to “hire slow, fire fast” was shared with me often. The concept made sense, especially when I experienced a process that was a quick hire that resulted in a serious disruption in the company, and then a very slow firing process that the company never recovered from. So for years I shared that same advice.

Why are we told to hire slow and fire fast?

The idea is that if we take our time to really vet out a candidate for a job, we allow ourselves time to uncover information that will support our hiring decision. And if something starts to go sideways, we get out fast, ripping off the band-aid to avoid any further discomfort or conflict. 

But is that really the way to run a business?

What if we flipped the whole idea of hire slow, fire fast, on it’s head? What if we hired fast and fired slow? What would that look like?

Let’s go a little deeper and really look at why we hire and fire people. Hiring is sometimes an emotional decision, when we hire our friends or family, or we really click with the candidate and we are just sure that we’ll be bff’s. And when the honeymoon is over and you notice all of their quirks or that they really don’t produce results, you feel hurt and disappointed and it results in a sad break-up. When decisions are driven by emotion, the results are often not aligned with what we’re really trying to achieve.

That’s why it’s important to know what your vision is for team. What does a successful, productive team look like? What are your core values? What is your company culture, and how does your team contribute to that culture? In this business, we’re creating a culture of inclusion and community and joy. We’re creating a culture of trust and support, where everyone gets an opportunity to learn and grow. If someone is aligned to that culture, then everything else is teachable.

And this is when I realized how to flip “hire slow fire fast” on its head. If someone is a culture fit, everything else is teachable. Conversely, a person can have the most impressive resume with advanced skill sets but if they are not a culture fit, it will be like poison in the water. And that’s exactly what happened to me. But it wasn’t because we hired too fast. It was because we hired based on the wrong criteria.

If I were to go back in time I can tell you about every single red flag that I saw in the first interview where I knew in my gut that this person was not a culture fit. But the resume looked so good, and I needed to fill a role fast. And sadly, I probably turned down much more qualified candidates who would have been willing to take courses and upskill, for the opportunity to create with our team.

So hire fast when you know you have a person who aligns with your values and vision, and is committed to the success of your team.

But what about the firing side of it – the most uncomfortable and dreaded part of being an entrepreneur? Firing is often slow because we are avoiding the conflict. As a result, the root of the issue usually gets worse until you are forced to fire the person, usually in a very uncomfortable way. But what if we took a moment to think about the possibilities for someone? What if we gave them an opportunity to improve what was not working, or make amends on a bad decision? Of course, some offenses are serious and should be addressed accordingly, but even then, when are we turning our backs on our employees and when are we holding them high and calling them forward to be a better version of themselves? When can you choose to believe in someone vs. give up on them?

The world would look a lot different if we hire fast and fire slow – from this perspective.

That’s what we’re all about at Breakthrough Accelerator, and why we started this project. We believe that values and vision are the foundation of a successful business, and when your team is aligned to values, everything is possible. And when we hold each other high, believe in each other, and create opportunities, we all win. If you run business this way, you should come play with us.

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