COLUMN: If He Hollers 'Bad Fit,' Let Him Go

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Martin

A recent conversation with a senior bank manager friend reminded me of a basic business fact. When we put the wrong person in a job or allow the wrong person to stay in a job, we undermine our businesses.

On the surface, that would seem to be about as obvious an observation as you can make. And yet if you speak to many managers (sometimes off the record), most of them can cite multiple instances of bad fits they're struggling with now.

My friend was telling me about the blessing and curse that a tough job market was to his business. He has about 250 retail branches that report to him. For as long as he can remember, employee retention has been a key focus of his team. And it obviously still is.

But he pointed out that in normal job markets, there was a tendency for bad hires, or people no longer happy in their jobs, to leave the company on their own. Now, his problems are twofold.

He has allowed his hiring process to become less stringent than he would like. Too often, his managers have jumped to hire the first marginally qualified person for a job. Their priority has been filling a spot quickly to help an understaffed team. He also admits that he hasn't preached the importance of hiring good fits and good attitudes as much as acceptable resumes.

On the other side, he freely admits that he and his managers are not very good at "managing" people out of jobs they are no longer (or never were) suited for. Bad situations become worse when folks stay in the wrong jobs.

Not long after our conversation, I had the opportunity of hearing Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com speak at a JD Power and Associates event. I subsequently read his book, "Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose."

One of Hsieh's more compelling points is that in order to build a successful team, you need to have core values that you are willing to hire or fire for - independent of performance. He stresses that a person can be individually talented and productive and still be an overall detriment to your team.

The fact that Zappos.com offers people who are already in its training program $4,000 to quit before starting their jobs shows how much the company believe in this. If a person takes the money, it is highly unlikely he will be the kind of employee the company desires, anyway. …