13 ‘A Serial Firer'

Many people I interviewed described National Office as ‘a revolving door'; Jim has a reputation for being a serial firer. He will fire quickly if someone is not doing a good job, though he'll often try to find another role for them first. ‘I do not fire lightly,' Jim said.

His strategy in hiring is to choose based on character (as best as he can determine), and from there see how they go in the role.

I look for character, above all. There was a young man, Joel, who began working for me on a casual basis doing basic, unskilled tasks, and he is now one of my senior managers. He is paid more than double what he started on. I hired him and keep him because of the kind of person he is. When I look for employees, I ignore qualifications. Work background and experience matter more. But the absolute key is character.

From day one Jim trusts new employees to an extreme degree, and if they live up to expectations he is delighted. But if it becomes clear they are not performing well, he fires them. From the outside it looks ruthless. Staff joke about his firing habits, but many I spoke to also respect his firing decisions. They explained it's simply part of business to only keep those who do a good job, and a number said they know they'll always have a job while they're doing good work. Though some staff leave or are fired quickly, Jim has a few staff who have been with him for over twenty years, and multiple others near ten. ‘You either spend a very short time or a ...

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