The Impact of Fast Firing: Rebuilding Trust and Ensuring Fairness in the Workplace

Trust has been top of mind this month and I found this episode on ‘The Impacts of Fast Firing’ from Charles Feltman and Ila Edgar’s podcast ‘Trust on Purpose’ particularly thought-provoking. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Hire Slow. Fire Fast,’ and on the surface, it appears to be a practical approach to employee recruitment and management. After all, we want to invest our time and effort in making the right choice for both the employee and the employer. If, over time, it becomes clear that an employee isn’t the right fit, it seems logical not to cling to that mismatch. The idea of ‘Hire Fast. Fire Slow’ would sound absurd, right? However, there are crucial aspects of this corporate mantra that require careful consideration. In this podcast, Charles and Ila explore the consequences of rapid terminations within an organisational context and highlight the importance of trust in managing these situations effectively. It’s important that if you are a leader who is considering letting someone go, pause and reflect on some of the following in our evaluation of the situation:
  1. What is the rationale for this termination?
  2. Have we truly comprehended the underlying circumstances for this individual – what might be going on for them?
  3. How might we have contributed to their performance struggles?
  4. Do we genuinely understand the challenges they face, and have we explored ways to support them in bridging the performance gap?
  5. Are they the right person in the wrong role?
  6. Do our systems, structures, or processes play a role in these challenges?
  7. Did we provide adequate support during their onboarding process?
When it comes to any termination, we must ensure that we have thoroughly investigated every aspect. If we indeed took the time to hire slowly and effectively, it’s possible that we may have overlooked critical steps in creating an environment that nurtures individual success. The Impact of Fast Firing: Rebuilding Trust and Ensuring Fairness in the Workplace A few key insights I took from the episode…

Impact on trust:

  • Fast firing erodes trust: Rapid terminations without clear explanations or fair processes can lead to decreased trust among team members and diminish overall morale and productivity.
  • Perception of fairness: Employees who witness fast firing may question the fairness of the decision-making process, causing doubt about their own job security and trust in leadership.

Considerations before firing:

  • Evaluate alternatives: Before resorting to terminations, leaders should explore other possibilities, such as performance improvement plans, coaching, or reassignment, to help struggling employees improve their performance or fit within the organisation.
  • Fairness and transparency: Ensure that you provide employees with feedback, a fair chance to improve, and opportunities to express their perspectives.

Mitigating negative impacts:

  • Build trust through clear communication: Clearly communicate the reasons for terminations, emphasising that they are based on objective criteria and align with organisational values.
  • Provide support to remaining employees: Address the concerns and emotions of team members who witness fast firing, offering support, reassurance, and opportunities for open dialogue.
  • Foster a learning culture: Encourage continuous learning and improvement throughout the organisation, emphasising that terminations are not intended as punishment but rather as opportunities for growth and development.

Rebuilding trust after fast firing:

  • Open dialogue and transparency: Engage in honest conversations with the remaining team members, providing explanations and clarifications to rebuild trust and address any lingering concerns.
  • Consistent fairness: Demonstrate fairness and consistency in decision-making going forward, ensuring that all employees feel secure in their roles and trust the organisation’s commitment to a just and equitable work environment.
By understanding the potential consequences of fast-firing and proactively addressing trust-related concerns, leaders can foster a culture of trust, transparency, and fairness, contributing to a healthier and more productive work environment.

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