In the role of leader or manager, hiring and unfortunately at times firing, comes with the position. Most managers grumble over the hiring process and can distinctly remember their first bad hire. Leaders and managers alike often practice all kinds of creative versions of procrastination to keep from having to fire someone. The latter of course, being a difficult experience for all parties. The key, however, is not to make either the process of hiring, or firing, even more difficult with one of these five bad bits of reasoning.

But, I really like her!

While this may sound as if a manager is building an inappropriate relationship with a team member, this reason is actually based on a concept known as likability. Hiring someone because you click with him or her and can see yourself working well with this person is not bad all by itself. This reason becomes bad hiring criteria when it’s the only one being used. Dig deeper. Match up objective criteria you have determined before the interview. Ask questions that require them to tell you a story about how they’ve handled the scenarios or skills most valuable to you or the position.

He’s been here forever

Okay, so the employee has become a fixture, walked into the office off of the Mayflower, or has been around since God was a toddler. Great. Tenure is prized and valued. Tenure also creates long term, seemingly indelible habits. If those habits are bad and the person’s contributions are no longer in the direction of the company, it might be time to update the office. Removing long term team members is a far harder decision than picking out new furniture. No question. Dealing with the damage that a well-respected, long time employee who is no longer performing and might be engaging in sabotaging future progress, is much, much more difficult.

She’s really good at what she does well

No employee, nor leader is expected to be good at everything. Rarely are they even expected to be perfect at anything. However, a common reason that leaders keep problematic team members, under the guise of one day being able to rehabilitate him or her, is because the one thing she does right, she does really well. Well, that’s swell if you, your office, and your revenue can afford to have one person only doing one task or function. Most cannot.

He’s an eighty percent-er

An eighty-percenter is someone who consumes eighty percent or more of the leader’s time in managing this person’s behavior. He always causes drama. He is a pot stirrer. He’s passive-aggressive. He has a poor attitude. He’s up to something but you just can’t quite put a finger on it. He’s an eighty percenter. The key question to ask yourself if you are leading this type of employee is this: is the time you are spending on this one poor performer or at least challenging team member, costing you money, results, time or development, in, or from, other team members? If the answer is yes, you’re hanging onto someone who is literally taking money out of your pocket. Don’t agree? Wait and see what happens when the others you could be developing quit from neglect, or are let go for poor performance. If the team members are gone or not performing up to par, don’t they start looking at the manager of said situation and for his replacement?

It would be really hard to find someone else

There are several factors that make hiring difficult. Most common is a lack of specificity about what a manager is looking for in the ideal person. Second, third, and fourth could include the terms HR, job market, salary option, or our recruiter. Hiring the ideal new employee takes work, time, and effort, as well as persistence and usually close partnership with HR or recruiting. Get specific on what you want. Seek it out like a heat seeking missile and stop being tempted to hire someone just because you’re tired of looking. Oh, and for what it’s worth, hiring is easier when a manager isn’t using one of these top five bad reasons in the process.

Hiring and firing for any manager or leader is rarely easy. It can certainly be made easier by avoiding these common errors and beliefs. What also contributes to how smoothly one adds or subtracts an employee from the team, is the strength of the relationship you have with Human Resources. They are your advocate, not your enemy. They can help to accelerate the process and are not only there to apply the brakes on your sense of urgency. The best candidates come from HR and Management working together as a team. And yes, there is a list that immediately comes to mind of top ten reasons why that partnership sometimes, doesn’t happen.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at, or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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