The process of firing and hiring great people never stops. When former NHL defenseman Mike McKee transitioned to the world of business and became CEO of insider threat management company ObserveIT, nearly every senior management position had to be filled and his initial checklist approach to hiring did not work out as planned.

It was around that time that McKee adopted the mentality of "hire slowly and fire quickly," and it has assisted him throughout his career in an executive role.

What it means to hire slowly and fire quickly.

Before hiring for a role, you should know that someone will be a good fit not only for their position, but also culturally within the company.

"Banking on a best guess or initial impression is not enough - you need to be cautious not to 'squint,' or make someone look better than they are by ignoring the red flags," says McKee. "On the other hand, I have learned it is important to accept that mistakes happen in the hiring process and to let someone go if things are not aligning within the company."

All to often, we rush to fill an opening based on external pressures or act too slowly to cut a a cost, because we feel committed to the costs we have already sunk into the individual. The hire slowly, fire quickly model tells us to turn those typical actions on their head and take time in the hiring process while letting people go with more speed.

It's no secret that to be successful in today's competitive landscape, it's crucial that company executives set the standards from the very beginning - taking the time to staff their organizations with the best, most fitting talent. 

Truly get to know candidates before hiring to ensure they are the right fit.

Optimally, you won't be in a position where you are required to fire anyone. Realistically, that's a pipe dream. However, if you truly get to know candidates before hiring them, then you minimize the likelihood that the candidates will be fired or at least extend their stay in the corporation.

Sometimes, the best way to find out valuable information about a candidate is to try to persuade that person to not take the job.

"When determining if someone is a good fit for a role, I try to talk them out of the position," says McKee. "I know this may sound counterintuitive, but, in my experience, it is the best way to see if a candidate has what it takes. By being fully transparent about the job requirements, I can ensure not only that they are the right person to hire, but that they aren't surprised by the expectations on the first day."

McKee only played 48 games in the NHL, but the Harvard Business School graduate is succeeding off the ice with these very important employment-related tools than can and should be incorporated into your toolbox.

Published on: Jun 8, 2018