Hiring and firing is one of the key responsibilities of a manager. For startup founder, good hiring and quick firing is key to success.
Looking back at all people I have fired over the years, the only thing that comes to my mind is – I should have done it earlier. Some of them not even hire, but with all of them I have never regretted firing them.
Firing people is never easy. Once I had to fire one of our cleaning ladies. Old handicapped lady that was fully dependent on income from us – one of the worst moments of my life.
How To Fire People
Key thing when firing people is, I believe, that person that is being fired can’t be surprised he/she is being fired.
When I see, that somebody is having performance issue I schedule a one to one talk to discuss the problem and find possible solution. Desired outcome is that person will improve and stay with us. I aim to do everything I can to ensure people won’t have to leave. We leave meeting with clear next steps and goals and fixed date for next discussion (usually a week or two).
If we meet 3 times in a row and we’re still discussing same topic, it is time to agree on finishing our working relationship. I usually give person minimum one fully paid month period to find another opportunity.
I always strive to ensure that we stay on good terms. People who left your company are one of the most influential brand builders.
You need to realise that simple fact, that they didn’t perform doesn’t mean they are bad people. Maybe they just were in wrong position, or in wrong company. They will do just fine in some other company. Many people who left us become our customers with their new companies.
Because firing is such an unpleasant thing you should do everything to avoid it. Surest strategy is to have great hiring.
How To Hire Best People
These are hiring principles I use in my companies.
i) hire more for personality than for specific skills
ii) hire motivated people and then do everything not to de-motivate them
iii) hire slow and fire fast
That doesn’t mean that we fire people on the spot, but it simply means that if there is a problem we solve it right away.
iv) past results are the best indicator of future performance
v) hire all the time
Once we find right person we will employ him/her regardless if we have position available. World is moving and there are new opportunities arising all the time so we want to be ready.
Hiring Process That Works
These days our hiring process looks as follows:
Step 1: send us motivational letter answering 5 questions
i) give us specific example when you came up with new solution
ii) give us specific example on situation when you did an extra step
iii) give us specific example when you solved problem
iv) what are your top 3 qualities v) what is your biggest success in life so far
All above questions are based on values that we want to have in our company and they also show us values of candidate. These questions are used as base for our interview. It is also good to have same structure with same questions for interview so we can compare candidates.
Step 2: testing – candidates who answer questions from Step 1) will go through GMAT kind of test consisting of 3 parts
i) math and calculus (to prove he/she is smart)
ii) text understanding (to show he/she can see important things)
iii) logic (to see he/she can connect things)
In total we have 19 questions for 30 minutes. We have benchmarked all previous employees and some friends in managerial positions and set a border of minimum 80% score to get in.
Step 3: personal interview – we always have 2 people doing interview together (one man and one woman) to have different views on candidate. We use questions from Step 1) and try to dig deeper and most importantly always get specific examples of past achievements.
Step 4: cooking together – if we have several candidates at the end of our process we invite them to cook with all Chefparade staff. We spend couple hours together in informal atmosphere cooking, eating and talking.
Once candidates leave, everybody will make a list of who they would hire (without discussing with others). Then all lists are collected and we start discussion. Person who gets most votes gets hired. It is important to note here, that I don’t participate in the discussion – not to influence it in any way.
This process is time consuming, expensive and takes lot of efforts to administer and organise. It is not perfect and doesn’t guarantee 100% results. We still try to improve it at every opportunity and results we’re getting are solid and getting better.
Remember, most valuable asset you have are your people. The better job you will do on hiring the better people you will get. And you will save yourself a lot of pain on firing.