Hire slow, fire fast

I am by no means an expert on hiring new staff members. I do, however, make hiring decisions and understand the gravity of those choices.

Hiring the right person for a position can change the direction of a ministry or an organization. On the other hand, hiring mistakes are both costly and painful.

When a leader chooses a team member, or a church adds a staff member, that is not a good fit for the organization, the pain is felt throughout, and the work is hindered.

I recently reached out to a group of ministry leaders and asked for their best one sentence wisdom as it relates to hiring. Here is some of what I received.

  • “Hire slow, fire fast.”
  • “If you see a red flag, then go ahead and paint the whole wall red.”
  • “When in doubt, don’t.”
  • “Don’t give away the process: If you are going to supervise them, then you need to hire them.”
  • “Don’t hire your friend if you plan to be his boss.”
  • “If you don’t enjoy lunch with a person, you probably will not enjoy working with them.”
  • “Wait on God to provide the person you need.”

This short list offers insight into the potential difficulty of making hiring decisions. Most of us will not be in the position of hiring large numbers of people, so we need to be sure and get it right when we have the opportunity.

Depending on who you ask, there are several considerations that can help those seeking to add to their team avoid costly mistakes and hire someone who will add value to the work. Here are seven that may prove helpful. This list is not original with me, but is used widely by those who make hiring decisions:

  • Character: Talent gets a candidate in the room, but character will keep him or her from making a shipwreck of their work and the organization. Be sure and vet your candidate thoroughly looking for signs of Christ-like character. Pay special attention to any red flags that show up during the interview process or when talking to references.
  • Competency: A potential employee or staff member must have the necessary skills, experience, and education for the position they are seeking to fill. Are they qualified for the work? Ask others who know the candidate if they can see them being successful in the position for which you are considering them.
  • Compatibility: How will they get along with others on the team or in the church? Will they respect the line of authority and chain of decision making? If they cannot, or will not, then do not hire them. Find out from previous employers how they worked with others with whom they disagreed and how they responded when their way of handling a matter was not chosen.
  • Capability: Will they complete the work assigned and find ways to be successful in their role? Every job description includes or should include a statement about “other duties as assigned by supervisor.” Ask questions that seek to discover how the candidate responds when asked to take on a new assignment.
  • Commitment: Have they demonstrated a willingness to stay with a project, or position, for an extended period even when the work was difficult to accomplish? Every ministry position is difficult and there will be times when a ministry leader will want to abandon the work.
  • Culture: How will they work within your Church or organization’s culture? Not all churches and organizations are the same. Some are formal where others are more casual. Some have clear policy manuals and others don’t. Determine ahead of time how the candidate will fit in with your culture.
  • Counsel: What do others say about this decision? Who are two or three trusted confidants that can give you feedback before you make your final choice? I have made better hiring decisions after asking a few key people who know me, the position, and the person being considered.

Every hiring decision must be bathed in prayer. God cares more about the work than we do. If we will seek the Lord, asking for wisdom and direction, then God will guide us through the process in a way that honors Him and advances His mission.

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