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Evaluating a new employee for installations4/9
I'm an installer. I typically work with one helper and scale up for bigger projects, so I work closely with any employee. Needless to say, we can't afford too many mistakes, because any error is bound to be very expensive. Additionally, the maxim of "good help is hard to find" is true, and many of us learn to live with some level of compromise.
I have a new helper I hired a couple months ago. He is both smart and honest, and mostly seems able to pick things up. Occasionally though, he seems to space out or be distracted, which can (and has) result in potentially costly errors. To me, these seem largely to be problems with lack of rigor.
The other potential issue seems to be his health. Though he's only in his late 20s, and in ok shape, he pops Tums multiple times per day, has frequent headaches, and sounds a little stressed out in his personal life.
I've invested a fair amount of time in him so far, but am not sure whether he will last much more than a year.
My questions to you are:
I appreciate your guidance.
I will address your questions one at a time.
First, on employee "benchmarks", I presume you are talking about new employees, not a seasoned veteran. My first thought is always towards safety, is this person safe and thoughtful of other's safety. Second, are they productive in the tasks I assign to them. Third, are they trustworthy, do they show up every day and put honest effort into their job. Fourth, do they show interest in what they are doing and motivation to grow with the company. Ideally, the new employee will have all of those traits, but in reality that is rarely the case. For me though, as long as they are safe, show some motivation and aptitude for the job, they'll get their chance. No one starts out being "great" at their job.
Do I have an "allowable" level of mistakes? Yes, don't make the same one twice. The old saying goes, "If you never make a mistake, you're not trying hard enough!" and I think that's pretty true. An employee who makes a mistake is given a little (or a lot) of counseling. Not just "don't do that again", but I delve into it a little and ask "Why did you do that?" "What did you expect to happen?" And then we talk about how to not make that same mistake again. That doesn't mean I fire every person who makes the same mistake twice, but there is a different conversation the second time around.
On the last question, you need to be very careful on how you handle an employee's health issues. Remember it's not their fault that they get sick (if they truly are sick). I go strictly on a case by case basis. Does the illness prevent them from doing the job safely and effectively? Are there any "reasonable" accommodations I can make to make the situation better? I have never fired someone for being sick, but I have fired people for not showing up to work. Personally, I am very careful on how I handle people with health issues. Remember other employees can also see what's going on. You don't want to be too lenient that other people say "I'm going to play that game too." But you also don't want people to think you will fire them if they miss a day.
I hate to say this without knowing the person but it sounds like he might have a medical issue or a drug / alcohol issue. Try to observe if mistakes or lack of attention happen on a regular schedule. Certain days of the week or how many days in between episodes.
The level for mistakes is what you can afford.
Concerning employee evaluations, their health shouldn't play a part in it.
On another note, if you were completely sure about him, you wouldn't be asking on here for advice.
Sounds like he is an alcoholic. Continue to employ him at your own risk.
Or... consider trying to live off of the wage that you are paying him. Would you have ulcers?
I have lived on a lot less, and ulcers are caused by a virus.
When one's liver becomes so diseased that one is vomiting blood, well, then it's probably too late to lament the fact that one is a drunk.
Without commenting on anything else, frequent headaches and stomach issues could be as simple as diet. I have to avoid quite a few things so as not to suffer from both of those issues.
Wow, to assert that someone who has frequent headaches and takes Tums a few times a day is a raging alcoholic is a huge stretch in my mind. That is just one of a thousand possibilities.
Personally, I would keep a close eye on the situation, ask questions and if I start seeing things like staggering, coming in consistently late or notice a strong smell of alcohol on his breath, then I would address it head-on.
Does he have health insurance? Can he afford to go to the doctor? (Copays and deductibles can be too much for low paid workers.) If he was a machine, and one of his parts was broken, would you invest in getting it fixed? Or just watch it deteriorate?
I agree wholeheartedly..... when does indigestion and headaches equate to being an alcoholic. I see why you work in the woodworking industry, not in the health care industry!!!!
I do not believe it is that much of a stretch to think that he may be an alcoholic. I have had the same situation happen to me several times and each of those times the person has turned out to be addicted to alcohol or drugs. The first few times I couldn't understand what was happening and learned later what the real answer was. Now when I see the same symptoms, that is where my mind goes. Call it experience.
Either way,if the person isn't doing the job correctly and you are concerned about his ability, maybe it is time to cut the cord.
Wow! Amazing how everyone has somehow come to a conclusion of alcoholic/drug addict with the barest of facts. No where in the OP did I see the mention or thought of having an actual conversation with the employee to air your concern and perhaps get a valid response to work with. You hired a human vs. purchasing a machine. Big difference.
I used to ride my Harley with a friend on the weekends that popped Tums like candy. Went on for the better part of 18 months. When he finally went to the doc, they said "shoulda seen us way earlier". Long story short, we buried him less than 3 months later from end-stage stomach cancer. RIP Larry
FWIW. if you can put Foster Brooks and alcoholic in the same thread than you're older than dirt, same as me. No one under 55 would get that....
I have worked in many companies, many different industries, and invariably, when one sees an undependable guy who has headaches and gut issues, he's a drunk.
It is so prevalent that it's not even funny. Probably the most common addiction you will see. I have seen guys drink themselves to death before they reached 30. Others somehow make it into their 50s. But they all end up the same way, dead. It is insidious and I won't tolerate working with them.
Based on a lifetime of experience my money is on alky.