This article first appeared on September 6, 2011.
I’ve got a staff member who is consistently late. She hasn’t taken heed of my subtle warnings.
I don’t want to come across as an overly-tough boss, but I do want to instill a proper work ethic in her. How should I approach it?
Well, firstly it’s not really your role to instill a proper work ethic in your employees and frankly, if time doesn’t appear to be important, all the subtle warnings in the world will not change her.
However, it is your role to enforce the agreed hours of work that the employee is being paid for and that hopefully have been clearly set out in her employment contract.
So it is time to have a critical conversation to address her behaviour and the resulting impact it is having on her performance, other employees or the company.
An informal review does not mean that you have to play “time police” or “tough boss”.
It is a two way communication process that is designed to discuss performance issues, outline your expectations, discuss her future personal goals and come to a mutual agreement on the future direction.
Make sure you have a copy of her position description and contract as a point of reference.
It is also important to give her an opportunity to discuss any external reasons that may be impacting on her lateness.
Now back to her behaviour, I would like to share this story with you about one of my clients.
Dan is the managing director of a very successful IT company. From his perspective being on time and following the rules was critical.
However, members of Dan’s sales team saw the world completely differently and didn’t worry too much about time and they resented feeling restricted and controlled.
Dan was not prepared to be flexible and ended up becoming angry, frustrated and considerably out of pocket with having to recruit and train new people.
Why have I told you this? We can sometimes become so rigid in our own belief of what’s right that we forget to take into account that others may not see it the same way.
This is why it is now considered to be so critical to spend time getting to know your employees.