Don’t Be So Quick To Judge (Or To Fire)

Recently I read a blog post by a venture capitalist who advised readers to slow down in the hiring process but to “fire fast”.  And I agree with him in principle:  taking more time to hire the right candidates will generally yield better results in the long run, and holding on to marginal employees for too long can reduce a company’s performance. However, I think this latter point deserves expanding upon. 

Terminating an employee too quickly can hurt a company’s performance as much or more than terminating too slowly.  With proper coaching, employees can often get out of a rut and return to a higher level of performance.  Losing a good employee results in lost talent, as well as costs associated with replacement.  In addition, terminating an employee can result in lower morale for those who remain.  They may be concerned for their own job security, or feel that the company treated the employee unfairly.

From a legal standpoint, terminating an employee too quickly can increase the risk of a lawsuit, arbitration, or other employment law claim against the company.  A fair investigation, progressive discipline and proper documentation may provide a good defense against discrimination and harassment claims – but it will do little to protect an employer from wage and hour claims.  It’s simple math:  “You’re fired” + unpaid overtime = lawsuit.  An employee who feels like they were treated fairly, even in getting fired, is less likely to make a claim.  

I don’t disagree with the point that keeping a marginal employee on for too long reduces company performance.  It’s knowing the difference between “too late” and “too soon” that can be challenging, and steps that perhaps should be taken first.  Talk to an employment lawyer for help understanding the legal implications of terminating a particular individual.

© Alexandra M. Steinberg 2016 All rights reserved.