Should You Promote Underperformers?

By November 13, 2015 No Comments

By: Maurice Gilbert, Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search

caped manThere’s an old adage: “Hire slowly and fire fast.” On its face, that statement makes sense, and it’s right up there with, “Marry in haste, repent in leisure.”

But sometimes even the best advice needs to get turned on its head, according to Adam Fetsh, the founder and owner of Rewined, which is one of the fastest-growing companies in America, according to Inc. Magazine.

In a recent interview with Inc., Fetsh described his company’s unorthodox policy:

“We hire pretty quickly, (and) if we get a good feeling from someone, the person is probably going to work out. Then we commit to that person’s success,” he said.  “If we do have a challenging time, we are very, very slow to fire.”

That phrase resonated with me: we commit to that person’s success.

Fetsh went on to describe his company’s tactics, which include taking extreme measures, such as promoting an underperforming employee. His example: “Take our human resources manager. She started in sales and was obviously bright, but lacked motivation. At one point, I was ready to fire her, but we had a heart-to-heart and she said she really wanted to stay. She connected well with people, so I asked her to oversee HR. And she just took off.”

Fetsh says his method with “failing” employees is always to look first at what his own or the company’s failure might be.

“We’ve done about 20 turnarounds. If I were to hire someone from scratch each time, I would have to go through the same process with the new hire. And in the end, there’s a stronger bond with the employees we work with to find success.”

When you consider the costs of hiring – both in time and in dollars – it makes sense to try to re-purpose or re-package your people when possible.

Sometimes terminating an employee is the only option. But Fetsh’s story encourages us to be creative problem solvers, doesn’t it?


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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