You're short-handed and desperately need to hire another employee, so you hire the first breathing person that mails in a job application.

Or maybe there's been a dearth of clients and your bank account is desperately low. You need a client fast, so you accept the first prospective customer who calls on the phone.

We've all been in those situations and know the fear and panic that can set in. But when desperation drives an impetuous decision, it seldom solves your initial problem and usually adds more problems.

The wrong person is worse than no person.

Let's take the example of the wrong employee. Because you've talked yourself into believing that any warm, breathing body is better than no one, you can be stuck with an employee who is clearly a poor fit. To "make it work," you invest money and time into counseling and training to mold this person into the ideal candidate you didn't want to wait for.

While all this counseling and training is underway, the rest of your staff's morale and productivity plummet as they try to cope with this wrong-fit person. By the time you concede it was a poor hiring decision, you've invested much in a losing proposition.

I remember one professional's office where the entire staff and many clients greatly disliked the newly hired office manager, so there was a mass exodus of staff and customers. Yet the business owner kept the office manager on staff and allowed her tight-knit staff and longtime clients to leave to work and patronize another's office.

The owner's reasoning? She didn't want to concede she had made a mistake in hiring this office manager.

Even after you've let this person go, you still have the original staffing deficit plus the wake of destruction this person has created: lower morale, anger, bitterness, disunity and loss of camaraderie. The problem might even include more empty positions if other employees have left because they couldn't stand to work with this person.

The end result is a much bigger, more costly, more problematic mess than dealing with a one-person shortage.

Same thing with a wrong client. Your panic over a dwindling bank account and silent phone prompted you to abandon your criteria for a mutually satisfying client relationship and allowed you to accept as a client someone who, on a clear-thinking day, would have caused you to run far away.

You know the type: endless phone calls and emails, unreasonable demands, constant complaining and whining, always opting for the cheapest option yet expectations for the highest level of luxury and service.

He is the client who will consume all your time and give you constant stress in return for your attention. No commission or service fee is large enough to justify accepting this client. That's what you get when you're desperate for any client.

So what to do?

When you feel the desperation and panic setting in:

  1. Stop. Force yourself to put any decision on pause.
  2. Remember the stress and cost of previous hasty decisions, and remind yourself that history will repeat itself.
  3. In a prominent location near your desk, post a list of the behaviors of lousy, past employees and clients and the consequences of those behaviors.
  4. Post a list of the attributes of the ideal candidates and clients where you can remind yourself of what you're waiting for.
  5. Compare the qualities of the "living, breathing person" you're willing to consider against the parameters that you've established.
  6. Finally, trust that when you reject the bad decision, the right person will emerge from around the corner.