Improving Your Team : Hiring and Firing

As a leader, you are responsible for hiring and firing the members of your team. Although it may seem much easier to give a person a job than to take a job away from a person, both tasks are equally challenging.

Hiring


Like choosing a jury in an important case, hiring your team is a critical decision, one that can have a huge impact on your team's success. You need to be aware of how an individual will change the dynamics of your unit or organization. When hiring, first consult your company's human resources department to see whether any seminars or company policies about interviewing are offered.

Here are some tips on successful hiring:

  • Interview and interview again.  
    Interview the promising potential job candidates at least twice. The second interview gives you the luxury of finding out whether you get the same impression twice. Some people will put all of their energy into one typical interview. The process of performing a second time may force a job candidate to give more than the usual interview answers.

  • Don't be the only interviewer.  
    Allow potential job candidates to talk to other members of your team while interviewing. The answers an interviewee gives to a junior member of the staff may be more relaxed and more enlightening. The group style of interviewing also gives potential employees a broader sense of the culture in your group.

  • Probe for results.  
    People often speak in broad generalizations about past performance. Ask job candidates to point to specific results they've achieved in the past.

  • Find out about the candidate's behavior and character.  
    In addition to asking job candidates about specific results, try to find out how their mind works and if their work philosophy will mesh with your team. (This is also known as behavioral interviewing.)

  • Limit your questions.  
    Remember, some questions are considered discriminatory in interviews. For example, questions about age, nationality, race, or sexual preference are considered inappropriate and could have legal ramifications. Consult your human resources department if you are not sure about a particular question.

 

Caution: The interview process can be as short or as long as you deem necessary. Some swear that a first impression is the right one, but take your time and interview thoroughly. Spending the time to hire the right person will keep you from having to deal with problems in the future.

Firing


No matter how arduous the process of hiring employees may be, firing is something that most managers never get used to. But part of successful leadership is knowing when to cull the herd and taking the required action. If you notice a member of your team is consistently not performing up to the standards of the group, first meet with the individual to determine the reason for the subpar performance. Employees can often be affected by trouble outside the workplace, such as a souring relationship, financial difficulties, illness, or a family member's illness. In these cases, the best course of action may be to simply let the employee know you are there and that you understand the conditions leading to their diminished performance. In all other cases, such as good old-fashioned laziness or stubbornness, consider giving the individual a warning before taking the steps to terminate employment.

For example, Stacy was new to the department and had never been pushed to perform at her last job. She was consistently doing less work than the other employees, which was lowering the overall quality of work done by the department and creating resentment in the other employees. Stacy's manager, Vincy, decided to meet with Stacy to find the cause of her lack of commitment to her job and give her a written warning that she needed to improve her performance. Confronted with the written warning, Stacy realized that she needed to apply herself. Over the next six months, Stacy improved her performance considerably. Vincy congratulated her on the improvement and let her know her job was secure.

If none of the preceding reasons or warnings work to improve an employee's performance, you may need to terminate that employee.

Again, consult with your company's human resources department if it has one. If not, you can find rules for terminating employment from local and federal government agencies or a lawyer who specializes in labor issues.