Tardy Employee

Q: My employee arrives later almost every day. She misses scheduled interoffice meetings and important client interactions. It affects the work of others. I have repeatedly spoken to her about her lateness and she promises to do better but doesn’t improve beyond the following day.

Lauren: There are several different ways to look at this situation. Today my questions will be focused on you and the employee. That is, the value you place on your employees, and then we will quickly consider your employee’s perspective (let’s call her Mary). If you take the time to think about these questions, and don’t rush through them, I believe you will have greater insight which will guide you to the best path forward for you, your company, and Mary. As an assumption, I trust that Mary brings great value to your establishment, or at least, she did at one time.

Let’s look at you first:

  • How do you value employees in general?

  • What value does Mary bring to you? Your organization?

  • If she continues this pattern, what will things look like in a year?

  • Can you live with this situation if it doesn’t change?

  • Does she have an expertise that is difficult to find elsewhere?

  • How much would it cost to replace her?

  • If you could change this one thing about her, would she then be the employee you want?

  • What’s stopping you from firing her?

  • How do you view being the bad guy?

Now let’s consider Mary:

  • Does Mary complete all tasks assigned to her (despite being late)?

  • Did something change in her life or at work?

  • How does she experience feeling appreciated and valued?

  • How does she indicate that she feels acknowledged for her accomplishments?

  • How long has she been in your employment?

  • How often has she typically changed jobs?

Lastly, a question related to both of you; is it time for Mary to move on but neither of you wants to make the first move?

Change can be difficult to deal with especially when you’ve got a thriving business and you’re stressed. And don’t forget that this has an impact on everyone at the company. People are watching you to see how you handle this situation and to figure out what they can expect from you. You also need to consider how much bandwidth you are losing each day from dealing with this (whether directly, or indirectly). Having an employee under-perform or slack off, even in just one area can negatively impact your bottom line, and even more so when it makes you less productive. Once you’ve considered the answers to these questions, it might be time to set up a meeting with Mary to ask her some questions and to work together so you’re on the same page.


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