Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m a too nice boss with a problem employee. She’s good at her job,
90% of the time, and has been here for five years. But she’s reliably
unreliable about getting here on time, all for family reasons, at least
that’s what she says. I’ve heard about sick mothers, fathers, children,
and cousins, also delayed flights picking up nieces/nephews, her
husband’s truck problems and the babysitter’s boyfriend’s court date.
I’d have had it up to here if the hassle of finding, training, and
integrating her replacement weren’t so costly, and unpredictable. Are
there any ways to get an employee’s attention that work? I want to
motivate her, not spook her to pack up and leave me empty handed,
because I have too much to do already to do her job too.
Dear Fed UP:
Nothing get’s people’s attention like a bad evaluation. You didn’t say if
you’d put anything in writing but annual evals are a good policy in any
organization. You have a legitimate mechanism to give feedback, and
to do so in a way that can jerk her by the collar, shake her up, and still
give enough praise and appreciation that she wont be tempted to float
a resume. Too often, especially for long-term employees, people’s
negative behaviors get accommodated and the annual message is
assumed to be “You’re doing fine because I didn’t evaluate you and
say anything bad.” Be clear that if she doesn’t get in on time on a
regular basis you are going to start docking her pay or otherwise
pushing the costs back onto her. Wallets are a very tender part of
most people’s anatomy.
To protect yourself from being too dependent on her, you should begin
to cross-train an employee that you respect and trust. Do not, repeat
not, say this is part of any long-run plan to replace Ms Always Late.
Remember, you are the boss and you cannot control how peers relate.
But make a big deal about needling redundancy in case people are not around to do their job on a timely basis. All your messages will get
heard. And if Ms Late does become an ex employee you’re part of the
way towards replacing her.