Key to a Great Team: Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly
Insight Doing Business

Key to a Great Team: Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly

team

When you realize someone on your team is a bad fit or you otherwise need to cut ties with them, how do you do that? One word: Quickly!

That conclusion is the result of a lot of heartache I have endured—but also have learned from—in hiring and firing over 20 people in the last few years.

I’ve had contractors steal our money so they could buy meth. I’ve had others who stole our money to buy a boat, to buy a new car or to take their wife on a holiday. There also have been occasions when we provided them money to buy materials and then they turned around and used those materials on another job.

Sad to say, but we also have had employees use company resources for their own personal benefit, like one who took a deal that came through our phone system so he could rehab the property, sell it and make a profit for himself. And then there’s the guy I invested in by paying for his real estate license. How did that employee repay me? As soon as he got the real estate license, he left.

It’s worth repeating: Hire slowly and fire quickly

So, a lot of heartache over the years has led me to the conclusion that you have to hire slowly and fire quickly. I’ll say it again: Hire slowly and fire quickly.

All those experiences have led to us to change our company’s hiring process. Now, it is a very, very, very longer-term procedure. But that is better than what could have been the alternative: throwing up my hands and giving up.

Just because you’ve gotten burned in the past does not mean that you have to completely close yourself down. And I want to caution you very strongly to not let that happen.

Even to this day, I still go into every relationship—whether it’s business or personal—exposing my vulnerabilities. I go into a relationship with an open heart and an open mind, knowing that I might get hurt or lose money.

I’m guessing we’ve all had partnerships or been in relationships that have caused heartaches, for whatever reason—a breakup, or the other party leaving us or cheating on us or what-not. Now, if you go into every new relationship with a closed heart, you will never find the love of your life. You just won’t. Because you’ll never allow yourself to fall in love again because you don’t want to get hurt. And then that relationship will never flourish. And you just never know. Because that person might really be that right person. It could be the love of your life and the person who is meant to be your lifetime partner. So you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable in every single situation. Just be smart about it, which I will explain.

But first, I want to make this important point: it doesn’t matter how many times you are wrong, as long as you are right once—and it counts.

The high cost of hiring right

I have gone through 20-plus people to currently have two absolutely amazing employees. But it cost me 20-plus people and hundreds of thousands of dollars to establish those two really awesome relationships.

So I’ve gone through a ton of garbage—and that’s putting it nicely—before I’ve gotten to the pot of gold, and it’s been worth every single moment.  

So what is our process for evaluating people to hire for our business, and how did we get there?

Here’s where I have to mention a book that totally changed my world around a year ago. The book is “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business,” by Gino Wickman, and it really teaches you the basics of how to run a small business. One chapter in particular that made an impact on me focused on how you need to hire based on your core beliefs as a human being.

What are your core beliefs?

First of all, you need to look deep within yourself and identify the core beliefs for you as an individual and also for your company.

These are mine:

Number one: Loyalty.

Number two: Honesty.

Number three: No greed.

And number four:  Respect.

Those are the four core beliefs that I possess, that Dominque possesses and that currently everyone at my company, Ohio Cashflow, possesses.

When we look at bringing someone onboard, those are the four core standards by which we evaluate every single individual.

Now, I’ll bet many of you are saying, “How on earth can I evaluate somebody I’ve just met?” Well, that’s a very good question, because you are right; it is not easy. And you can’t fully evaluate someone until after you hire them. So you have to take the leap of faith.

You’re always going to have your preliminary questions to ask an applicant for a particular position, but beyond that, you need to rely on your gut instinct to tell you whether to take that leap of faith and hire that person. You’re going to have to go into that relationship being vulnerable, exposing yourself and knowing that you might get hurt.

Then, you can start evaluating that person.

Here’s how we evaluate potential hires

Here’s how we do it:

Every three months we write everyone’s name on a board, and then we create four columns: “Loyalty.” “Honesty.” “No greed.” And “Respect.” And then we just go down the list and see how many we can tick off. If you cannot tick off all four for someone, it is time for that person to go. It will not work and you have to part ways. And if you don’t want to part ways, you’re just delaying the inevitable, which—when it does happen—is going to leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.

Let me give you an example of someone who didn’t live up to our standard of “respect.” I once had a partner who was a 50 percent owner in our business. Dominique and I were working day and night, doing, I’d say, 95 percent of the work, while this guy was making 50 percent of the profit and just coming in once a week to collect his check. That is a lack of respect. He did not respect the time and the effort that we put in on a daily basis. He did not respect where we have been to get to where we are. And he did not respect all of the things we were doing every single day in order to generate that profit. If he did, then he would have been sitting right next to us putting in the same amount of work as we were. But he wasn’t, because he didn’t respect us or our ethics. So it was obvious we had to part ways.

In another case, we had to let a particular fellow go because he was using the company’s resources for his own personal benefit. That is greed and that is also a lack of respect. He was greedy because he wanted instant gratification and a quick profit, not caring about anything or anybody else. And he also was disrespecting us by using company resources that it took us years to establish.

Few things cut as deeply as a lack of loyalty, though. Another of our employees quickly became a former employee after he used our proprietary database to tap into a few investors for personal loans to fund his own rehabs and his own flips. He violated our trust by establishing side relationships with those investors who initially reached out to Ohio Cashflow in response to the hours of hard work his colleagues had done to market and brand this company. That former employee was not loyal to the company, to the brand or to me.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have been through many more situations like those. And those instances hurt—both on a personal and on a financial level. But then when you find the amazing gems to take their places, it makes it all worthwhile.