Danny Boice’s article “Why ‘Hire Slow, Fire Fast’ is a Bunch of BS” made a case for getting people on board because you didn’t have the luxury of having work not done.  Judging from related posts which defend Hire Slow, Fire Fast, his view is not widely held.  Both approaches miss the point.

The speed isn’t nearly as important as the quality of the hiring process.  Evaluating a candidate on two dimensions (skills and passion) allows you to make high quality decisions.  The four quadrants provide an uncomplicated way of thinking about how well people will fit into your organization.

sklls v passion

The easy decisions lie at the extremes.

  • Hire – High skills/passion.  Make the affirmative decision now!
  • Pass – Low skills/passion.  Make the negative decision quickly.

The tougher decisions lie in the two (2) other sectors.

  • Caveat Emptor – Problems arise when you settle for the skilled worker without passion.  Boice’s model settles for a warm body with the implicit assumption that someone is better than no one.  I call this the ‘caveat emptor’ sector because the body soon gets cold and that negativity poisons the rest of the organization.
  • Invest – Some (not all) people who lack the specific skills can make the transition to the hire quadrant by virtue of their passion.  A short term investment in them which provides minimal guidance can often reap long-term rewards (sometimes at below market rates).

Both of these cases are judgment calls.  Once you’ve made the decision, and assuming it is indeed a good fit for employer and employee alike you’ll need to make efforts to retain people.  Recent research in the Journal of Management shows the negative relationship between employee turnover and organizational performance.

The pivot point (before you’re tempted to heed Boice’s advice) is to consider whether the benefits of the warm body outweigh the tangible/intangible costs.  Chances are you’ll be better served by spending more time matchmaking.  Your best bet?  Hire Right and Never [need to] Fire!

What do you think?

The Best Bet: Hire Right and Never Fire
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