Welcome to the Summer Camp Leadership blog. For those of us who lead summer camps, making a positive difference in the lives of young people is our passion. Turning that passion into a reality, however, takes more than the ability to lead songs, teach archery or plan craft projects. Creating camp experiences that truly transform lives takes leadership. Leadership that creates a vision for the future, leadership that inspires and engages others, leadership that remains focused and stays the course. My hope is through this blog you'll find ideas, inspiration and tools to help you be a great summer camp leader.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hire Slow, Fire Fast

One of our most important jobs as a camp leader is making sure we have the right staff. A key to being successful in building a quality staff is to hire slow, but fire fast.

When we're looking for new staff, we need to slow down and take our time. Too often we succumb to the pressure to fill a position quickly. There's work to be done. Our other staff are having to take on additional workload. We think we have the perfect candidate who might get away if we don't act. For any number of reasons we can feel pressured to make a quick decision.

We need, however, to force ourselves to take some time. Take time to really understand the job and its needs. Take time to allow for a broad recruitment effort that yields plenty of candidates. Take time to really get to know the leading candidates and how their skills match your camp's needs. Take time to help the person you've selected discern whether the job and your camp are the right fit for them. 

What happens when we decide the person we have in a staff position that isn't the right fit? We need to take the opposite approach from hiring, we need to move quickly. Firing a staff member is never pleasant. For many of us the natural tendency is to want to give the employee a chance and hope they can change. Unfortunately, keeping poor performing staff has several negative consequences.

Employees who are performing well often become frustrated with poor performers. They also can become frustrated with us for not doing something. Our inaction creates a message that performance doesn't matter. Our acceptance of poor performance lowers the standards for and the expectations of our staff. Our campers and guests suffer which damages our camp's reputation. Waiting only allows the damage to grow.

When we discover we don't have the right person, fire fast. Then hire slow in picking a replacement.