You probably have heard of the famous saying “Hire Slow. Fire Fast.” That can work fabulously in a large corporation. If, however, you are a smaller company where everyone wears several hats and has little bandwidth for taking on additional work, it doesn’t work as well.

I teach my clients to “Hire Strategically. Fire Intentionally.”

On the hiring side and especially so now that the job market is tightening, managers and leaders must continually keep a pulse on available candidates, ready to move quickly without bypassing any step in the standard hiring process. Great candidates are not on the market long. A hiring process that is typically 2-3 weeks can be condensed into several days for the right candidate.

In lean organizations, firing fast can put the organization and clients at risk and therefore requires thoughtful planning. Deciding to terminate a member of your team does not obligate you to immediately terminate. Termination is a three-step process: Decide. Plan. Act. Here are a few things to consider in the planning phase:

  • Do you have an accurate status of all projects in process?
  • What critical information may not be recorded where it's available to others?
  • How do you want to communicate the change to clients? Staff?
  • If hiring a replacement, does the role need to change?
  • Do you want to confidentially begin the hiring process early?
  • Are there any special considerations in the exit process?

Firing Intentionally is almost always the best solution for long-term employees.


However, I am not advocating dragging out the process any longer than it needs to be. For example, I chose to exit one of my employees after he returned from his vacation. My team was well informed and well prepared having completed several time-consuming tasks while he was away on his vacation.

The decision to fire an employee is rarely easy, but once you make the decision, termination can follow a short time later. Don’t let the fear of how to fire prevent you from allowing a mismatched employee the opportunity to find a perfect match elsewhere. Call or email me if you want to talk about how I can help you evaluate your team.