Hire Slow, Fire Slow

Today I had the privilege of doing an interview with the the team at Vanderbloemen Search Group in their blog series “Excerpts from the Experts: Interviewing & Hiring Tips”.  I’m not sure I would consider myself an expert but I truly love building a great team and I take hiring very seriously.

You can check out my full interview with them here.

I wanted to expand for a minute on one part of the staffing equation.  One of the axioms that you often hear is “hire slow, fire fast.”

The sentiment is important.  Be thorough in your hiring so as not to make a poor hire resulting in a bad fit for the organization (I expound on that more in my interview), and fire fast is an encouragement to not keep someone in a role or on a staff where they are not thriving.

I’m usually resistant to the notion that management in ministry is drastically different from management in any other work context, however this is one area where I do think there are nuances that we as ministry leaders need to be aware of.

That’s why I subscribe to the axiom “hire slow, fire slow.”

Let me explain…

Hire slow is the easy part.  As I shared in my interview, hiring managers wield a lot of power in the hiring process.  You need to be sure for your sake and theirs that you’ve thoroughly vetted them and they have thoroughly vetted you and your organization to be sure there are no surprises.  I have never had a situation where a slow hire resulted in a poor fit.

But let’s talk about firing slow.  First of all, I don’t mean being slow to address problems.  You must address challenges immediately in a kind and respectful way.  If someone is not working out, you have to open the discussion immediately.

Choosing to let them go must be a decision that is thoroughly processed and prayed over.

The nuance that makes this part of management different for ministry is that people’s lives and entire community are usually connected to the church where they serve.  Not only is it their source of employment, but their entire family is a part of the organization.  Their friends are here.  Their community group or serving teams are here.  Their kid’s friends are here.  The church is our community and when someone is no longer a fit as an employee it has ramifications beyond just where they spend their time M-F from 9-5.  A pink slip feels more like divorce papers.

This is why churches are so bad at letting people go.  It’s painful.  We’re a community and a family and we’d rather sweep our dysfunction under the carpet than work through it.

That’s why the first part of the axiom is so important.  Hire slow!

When you interview and hire with this whole perspective in mind, you will feel the weight of your hiring decisions with greater intensity.  You’ll be more patient in the process and you’ll find yourself praying more sincerely for God’s discernment and direction.

I believe staffing is one of the greatest stewardship responsibilities we have as a leader.  Steward it well!

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