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Hire slow, fire fast

Posted by Deanna Singh | Oct 24, 2019 1:10:57 PM

This week's Failsume is all about hiring slow and firing fast.  It's associated with Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)" Have you been the boss who has kept people in positions for far too long?  Me too!  Found out more about my fail below!   

A Failsume is a list of all my failures and mistakes throughout my career.  The purpose of sharing this information is for you to learn what to avoid when faced with the same situations.   

Hire Slow Fire Fast Final for Web

I have never had a problem with working hard.

This week's fail is painful for me to talk about and unfortunately, it's happened many, many times.

I've let people stay on my team for far too long when they should have been let go. 

A mentor once told me, "Deanna, it's always important to hire slow and fire fast." I feel like I have done the exact opposite in many situations. The reason I don't want to fire people is not just because of their feelings and the achiness of going through the process, but it's because I see the potential in so many individuals.

As I progressed in my career, I realized that keeping people in roles where they were not being successful wasn't fair to them, it wasn't fair to the people on my team, and quite frankly, it wasn't fair to me. There are a couple of things I learned along the way.

honesty works

If people are not being successful in their roles, it's really important you let them know upfront and give feedback. I problem solve and say, "Hey, here's what the issues are. What is it that we can do together to get this problem fixed?" Before, I used to just tell you what the solutions should be and lay them all out, and put together a big plan.

If somebody was feeling bad about what they were doing, I would make them feel worse by doing the work for them. I think it's important you root for that person after you come up with a joint plan with them. Make sure they have the tools they need to be successful, but also make it really clear they're going to have to take some steps to make some improvements.


Step back and let them try to work on the plan.  Encourage them, but also continue being honest about their performance. At the end of all of work and plans, but they're still getting stuck, the most appropriate thing to do is to let them go.

I always tell people it's just as important you have a strong on-boarding process as it is to make sure you have a solid out-boarding; make sure there's an exit interview so you can set them up for success.


My favorite thing that happens after one of these painful experiences is when somebody calls me a month or year later, and say, "Deanna, that was really hard. I know it was hard for you. It was really hard for me, but I'm so glad that you freed me to do something else where I could be really successful."

Is firing people really hard? Yes.
Should it be done lightly? No.
Should you make sure that you're going through all the proper protocols? Absolutely.

When you get to the end of the road with the person you fired, acknowledge it and help them find their way to another road where they can be successful.

At the end of the day, we're all out here trying to do our very best and sometimes some situations are going to allow for that.


Deanna Singh failsume v2


Topics: Skills, Life, Initiative, leadership, personal development

Written by Deanna Singh

Deanna Singh, Founder/Chief Change Agent of Flying Elephant, is known for giving audiences the tools and courage to imagine, activate, and impact the world as agents of change. She is a trailblazer and dynamic speaker who is at the forefront of social change. She is an accomplished author, educator, business leader, and champion for marginalized communities. Singh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Fordham University, a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is also the author of two children’s books, I am a Boy of Color, and I am a Girl of Color and a business book, Purposeful Hustle.

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