Every manager has, at some point, worked with an employee who was not cutting it. They were not a good match for their role which led to poor performance. And every manager has let those employees slide, at least for a while.
Why is it that even though problem employees are easily identified, action to correct the issue is rarely taken? Why are poor employees so often allowed to fester in an organization like a splinter in your thumb? It could be because of a little-known problem (so little known, in fact, that we had to make up a word for it) called Hirophobia. Managers don’t fire these poor performers because they’re scared of having to hire their replacements.
To be fair, hiring can be daunting, and some managers don’t want to hire someone new when they can limp along with the employee they already have. But what if hiring weren’t so scary? Then managers would feel freer to let low-performing employees go. Luckily, hiring doesn’t have to be so scary and if you follow the simple two step process below, it will take a lot of that fear out of the equation.
Step 1: Know What and Who You Need
The first step is to know what, and whom, you’re looking for. YOU MUST DEFINE THE ROLE! Then it’s much easier to see if someone is a good fit. There are many facets to any role, and some of them may be hard to state explicitly. However, you must take the time to define the essential requirements, or Key Accountabilities. A detailed job description, or what we call a Job Defined Agreement, sets out the Key Accountabilities in black and white. This way employees know what is expected of them – no ifs, ands or buts. This definition of who and what you need leads to the next step.
Step 2: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
When you have to replace someone or when you need an additional employee, TAKE YOUR TIME! The more effort you put into the front end of the hiring process (resume and reference checks, behavioral assessments, initial interviews, etc.), the more likely you are to hire the right person the first time. Knowing who and what you’re looking for (Step 1) will make this process much easier and more successful. If you make a mistake, which we all do now and then, you can refer to the clearly spelled-out job description and remove the employee who is not meeting the Key Accountabilities. Do this as soon as you see an issue arising. The longer poor performers linger, the more likely they are to bring everyone else down to their level.
Not only does conquering Hirophobia help you improve your team, it has the added benefit of sending a subtle message to all your staff. Showing that you no longer accept “sanctioned incompetence” tells everyone that poor performance is not an option!
I know it’s difficult to find great employees, but don’t let it be an excuse. Great companies are built with great people. Make it happen.