You often hear people say “hire slow, and fire fast.” Further, firing quickly is often presented as a “loving” thing to do, because then the person is freed up to pursue what might be a better fit.
This advice needs to be fired. It has problems on both sides of the equation. For one thing, there are times when you should actually hire fast. But more than that, saying that one should fire fast ignores very important distinctions that can lead to very bad decisions and harm to both the person and organization.
The distinction is between firing due to ability issues and character issues.
If someone is abusive, causing harm in the organization, and acting against the values, then firing needs to happen fast.
But when the problem is ability issues — that is, the person wants to do good work but is struggling — then you fire slow. The aim is, in fact, not to have to fire at all. Instead, you discuss the issue with the person and coach them as much as possible to help overcome the ability issue.
If it cannot be overcome, and a change to a different role that is a better fit is not possible, then letting them go may be the right course of action. But only after defining the problem and helping the person overcome it.
Joseph Grenny, author of four New York Times bestsellers, including Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High, explains this very simply in this two-minute video from the Global Leadership Summit.