I have a small team and employed a cabinet maker specifically as an installer about 6 months ago. I made a really poor hire choice and have learnt a huge lesson about hiring so please don't berate me for that stuff up. Started out ok but he is under qualified and has a terrible attitude and seems to be getting worse by the day. We have spoken on several occasions about him not meeting expectations, amongst all the other things he doesn't do the most important factor is he doesn't ever get the installs done correctly or in a timely fashion.
I heard rumours he was seeking other employment about a month ago so I have been putting him on tasks he doesn't enjoy, shutting down and complaints when he attempts to change the way everybody builds things and expressing I am not happy with the level and amount of work being done. I was hoping for a mutual easy resignation but it's not working!!
So now I'm at a point where I need him gone and am looking for suggestions of the most effective way to do that. I struggle with confrontation, it's something I'm working on but isn't easy for me.
I'm planning to issue warnings for not meeting targets but in our complicated cabinet world, particularly installing, It's hard to have an official situation where the grey areas and excuses don't get in the way of a straight up, black and white YOU DIDNT MEET YOUR TARGET
Any advice would be much appreciated. If anyone has had trouble with the tough conversations and read a book that helped them out that would also be great.
My last real job had a great way of firing people. No matter what the reason (this is in the US, 'employment at will' state), the employee would be called in to my office. If they were unhappy (most were - it was that type of place....), I would bring up the notion that I heard that he may have some suggestions to improve his situation, and I'd like to hear them. Without fail, the employee, now boldly empowered, would mention several things - or more. He would pick up the shovel and unknowingly dig his grave.
I would listen intently, and then tell him XYZ Company does not want to be the cause of any problems and we want to encourage his progress towards his career goals. To that end, I had his check in hand where he was paid in full up to and including the entire day. I would then hand him the check, wish him the best, and offer an outstretched hand to shake while I stood up and thanked him for his service as we both walked towards the door. Many had no idea they were terminated until they hit the parking lot.
I'm not proud of this method, but it was safe and effective. Definitely, the guy terminated deserved it, every time. The beauty was that he was given a chance to complain, took it, and then was shown the door. There was no discussion of being late 17 times, or screwing up this or that, or any subjective bulls**t. If they applied for unemployment benefits, the company's standard response was a "change in the business climate forced us to do what we had to do" and they were denied benefits.
The irony was that this method also was used to fire me when it was discovered that I not only accurately explained the company's self insurance internal policy (fire anyone that goes to the doctor, or a family member goes to the doctor), but also kept a tuned up resume handy and was actively seeking to get out. I knew what was up, so I just smiled and explained I could not think of anyplace I would rather be. Took the wind out of the canned plan.
Perhaps I am missing something, but if you have told this employee that he is not performing to expectations, given him opportunity to correct that, and that has not happened, why would you not just end his employment with your company?
Unless you have a union shop, or you have a written employment contract with him, he is an "at will" employee.
I, and perhaps your attorney as well, would define "at will" employment as: "A non-binding employment agreement, subject to spontaneous termination, without cause, by either party."
What is this employee costing your business (low productivity, sloppy work, "poisoning the well", etc.), and why would you continue to tolerate that? If your location requires some form of severance, isn't that worth it?
If you want to play the "compassion card", what I have done in the past was to take the employee to view an example of work as you expect it to be done. Tell him that at his current rate of pay he is expected to produce this level of quality in (insert time frame of your choice), and if he is unable to do that, you would have to cut his pay by $x an hour, because that is what he would be worth to you as an employee. It then becomes his choice, and the problem may take care of itself.
Whenever I have done this, I have always given the employee a good recommendation, because it may have been a combination of circumstances that did not allow him to be beneficial to my business, but he may work out very well for someone else.
Life is too short to live this way man! I have 2 employees with my small cabinet shop. If they are not pleasant to work with, get a return on their work (in other works if they are not making you real money), not doing things they way YOU want them done, you are far ahead to weed them out and find the RIGHT person. It took me 3 years to find my main guy I have now after a few others. But the guy I have now is a real asset. The previous people I had, I had to tell them face to face "this is not working out for MY business, and I need to let you go." It is is simple as that. They will be down the road and before you know it you will be interviewing someone with REAL skills who really wants to do it YOUR way. Simple as that!! If you had a $10,000 sander and every time you ran a piece of wood through it you had to shut it down, talk to it, get stressed out, un plug it, re-align the belt, send it back through and in the end you end up taking the hand held random orbit sander to instead... would you have that sander in your shop using electricity and floor space?? It can be tough confronting them face to face, but it gets easier the more you do it. In the past I would tell the employee we were running short on work and would not need them tomorrow and I would call them when the next big job came in. I never called them and usually they would find other work else where.
It would probably be safer to simply state "Employee ABC was employed here for X amount of time."
A good recommendation for a bad employee is not fair to the next employer, and probably not fair to the employee whatsoever if he/she decides to stay in the same line of work. Sometimes it might be better that they find something else to do. If they are not good at it with you, they probably will not be good at it someplace else. Not always true, but likely.
Furthermore, an ex-employer must be very careful not to invite a lawsuit against the company. Or, to provoke an angry ex-employee into taking personal revenge on his old boss, co-workers, etc.
I never speak negatively about any ex-employee. I simply inform anyone who asks me about old employees that, because this is a personnel issue, I am not at liberty to discuss anyone. Then simply move on.
A very wise superior a long time ago in a previous business had a philosophy he taught me during my early management training. I think they may be appropriate here.
I, too, was reluctant to terminate an employee who was significantly under-performing. I had several meetings with that employee which included additional training on tasks he needed to perform effectively and efficiently as a big part of his job. Other meetings were "attitude adjustment" meetings after he had been trained. I was at the end of my rope.
My management trainer said a trio of things that have stuck with me for over 40 years.
1)"It's not the employees you fire that keep you up at night."
2)"Both you and the poor performer know they cannot succeed in the job you hired them for. And neither of you are happy with the situation."
3)"By keeping a poor performer on the payroll who cannot be made into a good performer, you are keeping him/her from finding a job where they can succeed."
I fired him the next day, and wished him the best in finding a job where he can succeed and excel. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I think he felt relieved as well. No one wants to go to a job they hate.
I don't know what happened to that particular former employee, but I have had a number of other former employees report back to me over the years. Quite a few of them went on to very successful careers in businesses where they were a much better fit.
We had an employee many years ago who was definitely not a good fit for our shop. We knew it. He knew it. We both agreed he should go.
He offered to stay one month, until the end of September while he looked for another job and we finished the work we had started. He became such a dick for the first week that everybody in the shop came to me and said to boot him out right now.
He promptly went down to the employment securities department and filed a claim for unemployment. The claim was allowed because I violated our employment agreement. I had agreed to keep him on for a month but let him go within one week. He drew 99 weeks of unemployment.
I think this was a strategy on his part. Ever since when the time came we parted ways on that day. Don't get blindsided like I did.
My favorite was the time a guy came back a few months after he disappeared from his job and claimed the work he had done caused his belly button to pop out. Yes he was claiming that his job has transformed him from an inny to an outty.
Actually there is such a thing, a Umbilical Hernia, but months later? Not to mention that it is not caused for the same reasons other hernias are caused, like work for example.
Thanks so much. Such great advice! and thankyou for the great moral advise as well as practical.
Unfortunately I am in a part of the world (Australia) where the employee can quite easily pursue unfair dismissal.
I now have a game plan. I have had him sign a locked tight employee contract when he began employment with specific skill expectations and employee conduct outlined. I am going to have a meeting with him and tell him I am not happy with his conduct and tell him he is not meeting expectations. I'll ask him if this is the place that he want's to work at. If he umms and ahhs I will tell him it is ok if this isn't the right fit for him and he is welcome to give an extended notice period and it will be easy to hunt for a new job when he doesn't need to sneak around looking for it.
If he is adamant he wants to stay, performance management will begin. I will write reports on his poor performance and two weeks later give him notice.
Thanks again for all the great advice. Looking forward to that weight being lifted off the shoulders.
The reference thing is a tough one. I agree it isn't fair on the next guy to give a glowing reference so this guy can go and make someone else's life hell but you do wan't to protect yourself from retribution. Perhaps not offering one at all is the best response or simply saying that you had a personality clash with the person so you don't think it would be fair for you to give an opinion on his professional character.
We have learned from experience not to hire anyone without a background check and calling every one of their references. If they can list 3 references of former supervisors or employers that's usually a good sign. Good employees usually have stellar references. If they list friends and relatives that's a warning sign right there.
After yet another meeting with the employee I clearly stated he was underperforming and point blank asked him if he wanted to continue working for us. He said yes so I said he had 1 month to get up to an acceptable level of performance and gave him a performance management program to sign off on. Gave his notice the next day.
FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards(return to top)
WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
A valid email return address must be included with each message.
Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
"Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.
You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.
WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.
Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).
Libel: Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.
Improper Decorum: Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).
Advertising: The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).
Repeated Forum Abuse:
Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.
There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).
The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)
Forum Posting Form Guidelines
The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines
Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Thread Related File Uploads
Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .FLV .MP4 (Image Upload Tips) If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.