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Dealing with Workplace Problems

A basic requirement of every job is showing up for work. Surprisingly, there are those who don’t seem to understand.

A friend recently told me about an employee in his office. The person misses work about a third of the time. This has been going on for a while. The employee has the necessary skills and, when she’s there, her performance is decent. However, her position involves intake, so she is needed during business hours. When she’s absent, others have to do more. Intakes get backed up.

The absences typically have a reason - almost always provided at the last minute or after the fact. Sometimes, the excuse is a seemingly reasonable one. Even so, there are just too many no shows.

The employee apparently doesn’t see the problem. In fact, when the issue is raised, she gets belligerent - declaring that she is being treated unfairly.

My advice was requested. It was an easy call: Fire the employee.

I have dealt with similar situations over the years. In our office we try to be flexible. People have families and lives that sometimes conflict with work. We do what we can to work with them. Still, we have occasionally had employees who try to take advantage of our reasonableness.

I am slow to fire people. I don’t do it lightly. However, at some point, it becomes clear that tolerating the errant employee is impacting our ability to serve our clients. It’s unfair to the others in the office. We finally terminate the individual.

Here’s a curious aside: I worry about how a firing will be perceived by other employees. Will they see it as unfair?

Almost always, the reaction is that we should have done it sooner.

Don’t delay dealing with problems, especially problematic colleagues.

That’s a lesson I have learned, forgotten and relearned many times.


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