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Hire and Fire for Attitude – Hiring Employees

“He does great work but is really difficult to work with.” “She produces great results at the expense of people.” I hear these complaints all the time. I feel like people need permission to hire and fire because of fit. So here it is, it’s ok to hire and fire people you don’t like working with. You can find people who do great work and are nice to work with, and you deserve to have both.

Results are often considered more important than the seemingly ‘softer stuff,’ how people got those results. And it doesn’t feel legitimate to want to get rid of an employee who is unpleasant to work with. We question ourselves thinking, “Maybe it’s not that bad? Perhaps I’m being too sensitive?” Or, “He does great work and is really reliable. Maybe I need to get over that he isn’t enjoyable to work with?” “It’s really hard to find and keep good, reliable, employees. I should just suck it up.”

What if employees who are unpleasant to work with or don’t practice your organizational values, aren’t good employees? People don’t want to work for a manager who is knowledgeable but mistreats people. And likewise, people don’t want to work with people who are super friendly and fun but do no work.

Some organizations evaluate employees both on the results they achieve and how they get to those results. That makes perfect sense.

Here are a six tips for hiring and firing employees for fit:

  1. Share your organizational values and behavior practices overtly when you interview candidates. Make it clear that people who don’t follow those practices won’t be happy or successful in the organization.
  2. Create an opportunity for candidates to do an extended practical interview, during which they can get a feel for what the culture is really like, outside of a formal sit-down interview. Then give candidates an opportunity to opt out of a job because they didn’t feel they fit in during the practical interview.
  3. Trust yourself. If you don’t like working with someone, there is a reason. Trust yourself and the reason.
  4. Set clear expectations around how employees, coworkers, vendors and customers are expected to behave when doing business with your organization. And be willing to let internal and external customers and suppliers go because they aren’t willing or able to follow your behavioral practices.
  5. Coach and give feedback for how people achieve results.
  6. Let employees go who don’t respond to feedback on interpersonal behaviors. Or let them know it’s time for them to look elsewhere.

Suffering at work is optional. You deserve to work with people you enjoy working with.




Shari Harley is the founder and President of Candid Culture, a Denver-based training firm that is bringing candor back to the workplace, making it easier to give feedback at work. Shari is the author of the business communication book How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Building Business Relationships that Really Work. She is a keynote speaker at conferences and does training throughout the U.S. Learn more about Shari Harley and Candid Culture’s training programs at

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2 Responses to “Hire and Fire for Attitude – Hiring Employees”

  1. lisa tauser says:

    This is an interesting topic. I’m sure many have worked for a company that had one employee who just didn’t get along with people and cause varying degrees of damage in the employee moral and overall productivity. I worked in an organization where an employee was allowed to remain employed because of the work product. It was common knowledge at all levels of the company (and even among remote employees) this employee caused an excessive amount of collateral damage not just in producing the work product but also in interpersonal communication skills. The employee went out of her way to damage the reputation of any employee who stood up to her bullying, which was manifested by speaking falsely about an employee, spreading half-truths and gossip, interrupting meetings with trivial announcements, etc. Despite all of this, no one in authority (her direct manager, middle managers nor executive managers) did anything to either curb the behavior or terminate the employee. I was told the HR Department’s policy was an employee can’t be terminated because of personality conflicts … despite the state in which we worked being an at-will employment state. I wonder how an HR Department in another company would view terminating an employee based on personality conflicts and/or creating collateral damage despite producing good work.

  2. Julie says:

    A part of me feels relieved at reading this article. But isn’t the reality that you need to show what the employee did and you must have documentation? You must show that you gave them instructions that they did not follow, even if you are in at at-will state.

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