In Part 1, Dave made the case that we no longer have the luxury of hiring slow. But what happens after you’ve made that hire, and after a while you realize that things are not going the way you had hoped?

In the past, I too subscribed to the theory of “fire fast”. We were taught that you hire for a specific skill set, and if your new hire doesn’t demonstrate those skills quickly, then they were either deceitful or overconfident in their abilities. Better to cut our losses early and try again, right? Not so quick there!

In the early days of my business, I would have told you it was my job to make hard choices, take risks, and ensure the rest of the team is doing their jobs. Problem was, I never really bothered to tell them what their jobs were. Sure, I handed them a job description when they came on, but did that really communicate my expectations? Not so much.  Then I fired them when they did not meet those expectations… the ones that existed only in my (very hard) head.  As entrepreneurs, we have a tendency to assume people can read our minds. We think, “I am paying for a professional, they should be able to figure it out!” This is delusional thinking.

I learned through painful mistakes that the job of a leader is not to run around barking orders and telling everyone what to do. Being a leader, at least a good leader, means creating and sharing vision, and sharing it in a way that others want to be part of it and contribute to it.

One of the primary things we do for our employees is provide clarity. This means that each team member understands where we are trying to go as a team, what it will take to get us there, and what is needed from each individual team member to accomplish the goal.

The next thing we provide is competency. This means identifying the skills team members need to accomplish their goals, and providing them opportunity to become capable in these skills.  This can mean self-study, mentoring by other team members, or formal training classes. It is up to us to ensure that opportunities for learning are prioritized as part of our culture.

Finally, we need to provide the resources our employees need to be able to do their jobs well. This means they have the tools and the time they need to do the job well, as well the support needed from other team members. By not providing these things we are setting up employees to fail. That is not only costly, it is unfair!  In reality it is YOUR failure, not theirs.

When a goal is not being achieved, as leaders we need to look first at the process and not at the person. Why did this process fail? What could have led to a different outcome? Then we need to look inward and ask if we really provided clarity on the goal. Could expectations have been better communicated? And crucially, did I get the hell out of their way and let them do their job?

The last part can be the toughest. As self-made entrepreneurs we tend to default to telling people “how to do it” instead of telling them the result we need and letting them find ways to accomplish it. This is demoralizing. In the business of technology, we hire smart people to solve interesting problems. So get out of their way and let them solve them. They might even find a better way to do it than you would have!

The next time you get that urge to “fire fast” take the time to ask yourself the hard questions, own your mistakes, make changes, and prove to team members you are invested in them. Your team will thrive, your business will thrive, and life will be a lot easier.