Church Staffing Revisited – Hire Fast – Fire Fast?

In staffing – as in most areas of church leadership – it’s healthy to revisit the widely accepted “proverbs” from time to time to see if they hold true.

That’s one of the reasons why my new Staffing Workshop resource has enjoyed such an overwhelmingly positive response.

I recently read an article by Barry Shamis that questions the validity of this age old staffing statement:

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

Here’s a reprint of Barry’s article (be sure to read it through):

Hire Fast – Fire Fast
by Barry Shamis

Just because an idea has been around for a long time does not make it right.  There are very few aspects of the business world that have more myths than the subject of hiring employees.

For more than 35 years I have been studying the subject and teaching companies how to hire top employees.  I try to read most everything that is being written.  Some from experts.  Some from amateurs.  Some from practitioners.

Some of what I have read adds real value.  Some is interesting but not actually effective.  And some is just plain wrong.

This past weekend I was reading the Inc 500 report and in the middle of the report was a page titled, “Words of Wisdom”.  It had 10 ideas put forth by CEO’s from the list.  And at number 4 was the phrase I have railed against for years.

“Hire Slow, Fire Fast”

Just so we can limit the conversation, I have no problem with the second half of the phrase.  Fire fast is good advice.  However, the better job you do of hiring the less likely you will face the problem of firing.

It is the first half of the phrase I have the problem with.

On the surface, this seems like such good advice.  Take your time, be considerate, don’t rush into a decision.  It just sounds right.  And as a result, the uninformed and the mis-informed have been repeating it like it was the gospel for years.

To understand why this phrase makes no sense we have to go back to the beginning.  Why do you hire employees?

This is not a rhetorical question!

The answer to this question is at the heart of my argument.  Many people think you hire to fill a position.  How often do you rush to fill a position when someone leaves your organization?  How often do you let your organization be driven by “headcount” or some other measure of how many employees you have?

There is only one reason to hire employees.  That reason is to satisfy a business need.  That’s it.

Now you might be thinking that this is not a very profound revelation.  But let’s look a little closer.  Think about the last person you hired.  How well did you frame the business problem the new person was going to address?  And I am not talking about a generic job description.

Did you have very specific, time-bound and measurable results the person needed to deliver to satisfy your business need?  Whether you wrote these down or not, I can guarantee in your conscious our unconscious mind you had very specific results you wanted from this new employee.

If your new employee delivered these results, you were probably quite happy and had a successful, prosperous business.  If the new person did not deliver the results, you were most likely unhappy, your business suffered and you were forced to employ the second half of the phrase.

Employees prime purpose is to satisfy business needs.  And that is the only reason you should hire an employee.

Now let’s go back and explore the first half of the phrase, “Hire slowly”.

If I was to profess that your best course of action was to satisfy your business needs slowly, how much credibility would you assign to the advice?  Anyone who tells you to hire slowly does not understand why you are hiring.  They don’t realize that every day you have a business need not being addressed you are either losing money or wasting money.

You have to hire as fast as possible once you have identified a business need and then determined to satisfy that need with a new employee.

One of my long-time clients has monetized the process.  They hire many direct sales reps.  They calculated exactly what it costs on daily basis to NOT have a salesperson in the field selling.  Armed with that number, they can make very informed decisions about what strategy to use and how much to spend in their recruiting activities.

Before you get the wrong idea, I am NOT advocating rushing into decisions.

What I am advocating is to move through your recruiting and hiring process as swiftly as possible … without violating your due diligence process.  You need a proven and thorough selection process but that doesn’t mean it needs to take a long time.

One other myth while we are on the subject.  Market conditions have no effect on this argument.  Many people are taking much longer in the selection process due to the fact that there happen to be so many candidates currently available.  Market conditions do not change the fact you have a business need.

Everyday you have that position open you are losing or wasting money.

From now on –

Hire Fast and Fire Fast

Thought-provoking article Barry!

Moving through your full “due diligence” process as quickly as possible allows your church to remain agile enough to keep growing – and to avoid staffing as a barrier to growth.

P.S. If you’re ready to develop your church’s full “due diligence” hiring process (as well as learning about recruiting, managing and ‘de-hiring’ staff), check out The Staffing Workshop.

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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church growth strategist, pastor, church planter and coach, consulting with churches around the world. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has personally trained more than 3,500 church leaders in over 45 denominations through live events, seminars and monthly coaching. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in Boca Raton, FL. Nelson and his church routinely appear on lists such as “The 50 Most Influential Churches” and “The 25 Most Innovative Leaders.” He is the author of over 100 church growth resources and 18+ books, including The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life, Ministry and The Difference Maker: Using Your Everyday Life for Eternal Impact, and At the Cross with the People Who Were There. He and his wife, Kelley, have one son, Alexander.

Nelson SearcyLeadership

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