A Short Course on Happily Achieving in Business: #1: Hire Hard and Fire Easy

Read Part 2.

In past blogs I’ve been talking a lot about how to be happy in your personal life. But how you handle yourself in business also has a lot to do with happily achieving. Most people I know invest the majority of their time, emotion, and energy in their careers, businesses, mission, vocation — whatever they choose to call it. So today I want to talk about how to get better results more easily in your business, which will help you achieve more happily as well.

There was a time when I felt that if I wanted something done right, than I’ll have to do it myself. That was my first mistake. In business this approach is ridiculous: not only am I not excellent or even proficient at everything, but there are simply too many things to do! If you ever want to build something greater than yourself, you must involve other people.

Once you accept the fact that you need a team, the next step is to hire people you trust — but exactly why do you trust them? Are you hiring people because you know and like them, or because you know that they can do the job?

This was my second mistake. Several years ago, I put someone in a position in my company that they weren’t qualified for. They had never even showed competence, let alone mastery, in that area. But I figured (wrongly) that because they could be completely trusted and I loved them, they would work diligently to do whatever was necessary to learn their position and do it well.

But that was laziness on my part, although at the time I did not realize it. Hiring people because they are your friends, or because they are in close proximity to you, is usually a bad idea that will cost you in the end. It did me. And eventually it cost me the friendship when I had to let this person go.

The lesson here is hire hard and fire easy. Take the time to find the right fit for the position you are filling. Even if you need to hire someone right away, slow down, because the wrong hire always costs more than interviewing properly for the proper fit.

But equally important, you have to be willing to let people go if they are not doing their jobs. Companies are more likely to develop critical problems not because of who they hire but because they hang on to people they should fire for far too long.

When I say fire easy, I don’t mean that you should fire people who make mistakes. We all make mistakes: that’s how we learn. I do mean that if there are systematic problems caused by an employee who is incapable or unwilling to make progress, he or she should be fired immediately.

This includes people you may like personally or be related to — and that can be tough. But ultimately I believe that if someone isn’t able to do the job they were hired for, there is no way they will ever be able to happily achieve in that particular position. And it certainly will cause you a lot of time, energy, and frustration having to manage someone like that. Far better that you let them go so you can find the right person for the job, and they can find a new position that will allow them to use their talents to happily achieve.

In the next blog post I’ll talk about the second lesson for happily achieving in business: effective communication with the people on your team.

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