Should You Ever Fire Someone in Their First Week?
We recently hired a person and started our onboarding process with her, which includes one week with our training manager. After her first day, our trainer came to me and the manager to whom she would be reporting and said, “This young lady is very nice, but she does not seem engaged. Would you spend some time with her to see if she is a good fit?”
I had briefly met this person, as is our hiring process that all team members get to vote on candidates. This lady had a good rating from everyone. I went in and talked to her for a few minutes. She was very polite and pleasant, but she did have a blank look on her countenance. I could not tell if she was too young and inexperienced, simply shy and not talking, or just not into working for us.
I went out and let our training manager know that I was also on the fence, so we planned to have her manager come in for the afternoon session. They both finished and agreed that the next day they would observe her with patients. At that point, if she did not seem engaged and excited to be there, they would let her go. The report I received from them was that the new hire did not make good eye contact with patients, even when asked to do so. And when they let her go, she also gave little reaction.
Of course, as a Christian leader I want to honor God and honor others. I also want to be a good steward of what I have been entrusted with. It is my responsibility to care for our team and organization. Bringing a weak member to our team is not a good idea any time. We are not a rehabilitation ministry. We are a healthcare facility that relies on great customer and patient service for success.
As I reflected and discussed this incident with our leadership team, I wrote down something I want to share with you. This is a principle that you can apply when hiring someone.
If it’s not a definite yes, it’s a definite no.
To me, this means, if I don’t really love the person, or if I have doubts, then I will not hire them.
I have found that when we hire someone new, the time during their interview process and their first week is the “first date” side of them. It’s the period of time when they will offer their best face forward. If it is not amazing in the first week, then you are likely starting with poor or mediocre, and you will end up with disaster.
So I encourage you to rate everyone you interview on this scale:
- Definite no
- Definite yes
Your goal should be to hire the #5 levels, the ones of whom you can confidently and easily say, “Yes, we should definitely hire them.”
Also, remember to let people go fast in the first few days if it does not seem like a good fit. This is not an easy decision, but applying these principles makes it easier. What I like is a team approach to hiring (and firing), meaning even though you may have the final decision, listen to the people around you.
In our example above, I gave our training manager a big congratulations (and thanked her in front of our entire leadership team) because she recognized that this person was not a good fit, and she spoke up about it. It would have been easier for her not to rock the boat. But she did, even though it created a little extra work for us. This work was a much smaller investment than if we were to let her go a few months down the road.
Two typical arguments against firing someone quickly are below. I hear them all the time from other leaders. I also have to fight my own internal voice to rebut them.
- But I need some one now. I cannot wait for “the right one.” Don’t do it. I know this is tempting. Once you hire and train someone, it is so hard to let them go. Be disciplined to say no and make the sacrifice upfront. Consider hiring from a temp agency until you find the right person. The extra amount you pay in fees to the temp agency will be returned in the long run.
- She is nice. I will work with her, and she will improve. Don’t fall for this common trap either. Here is how I can prove this theory wrong. In the last year, how much have you changed the core parts of who you are? If you are like me, even though I am highly focused on personal growth, I can say with confidence that I did not grow all that much. So what makes us think we can help others grow by leaps and bounds? Yes, people can and will change if we invest in them, but there is no guarantee. Nor is it fast. Even if you see growth, it is not likely to be drastic. That kind of growth takes years. Do you want to wait years to have someone shape up and be an acceptable team member?
To build the best teams, hire the “definite yeses!”
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