Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: kitchcat on September 11, 2012, 11:32:55 PM

Title: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: kitchcat on September 11, 2012, 11:32:55 PM
BG: I'm a 4th year (senior) undergrad at my university and I was hired as the photo editor for campus publications for this school year. I have two bosses (editors-in-chief) and I oversee a small staff of photographers that report to me. For the most part the job has been great so far...except for one photographer, who I'll call Sam. When the photographers applied for the jobs, they were read a list of duties, which included responding to all work-related emails within 24 hours. Sam said this would be fine. Also, we do not work set hours due to the nature of our work. We simply have our work turned in by our deadlines, meet at designated meeting times, and get paid a weekly salary. /bg

Well, we're a few weeks into the semester and Sam is driving me insane. He DOES NOT respond to emails. Because we work with very strict printing deadlines, emails are very time-sensitive and communication is key, seeing how we don't see each other on a daily basis.  For example, on Monday I sent out an email to my staff to set up one-on-one evaluation meetings, providing them with a list of available appointment times for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Sam never responded to my email, nor any of my subsequent emails asking when he wanted to meet. He's clearly not even reading my emails because his work reflects the fact that he is missing key information needed to do his job.

I told my boss about the issue and they gave me his phone number so I could get a hold of him and ask him what the deal was. They also told me if he continued to be an issue, they *could* fire him, but it's a difficult process. Sam never answers my calls, but will respond to my text messages. When I asked him why he was not reading/responding to my emails, he apologized and said he'd "get on it." (Never answering my question) I told him to consider this a warning.

Well the next day, my boss emails me because Sam stood up a client for a scheduled appointment. I don't know what his excuse could have been because Sam scheduled the appointment himself! I sent Sam a very firm email telling him that his behavior was unacceptable and he needed to shape up if he wanted to keep his job. He apologized profusely (never explaining himself) and promised to change his behavior. He proceeded to then ask me questions about basic job information that he would know if HE READ HIS DANG EMAIL. I told him it was in my previous email and reminded him to read/respond to all emails within 24 hours.

Well the issue is now, the only way I can get him to respond to me is via text message. Even if I send an email, he will not read it unless I text him and tell him to read it. I'm really going batty here. I'm not this kid's babysitter and I shouldn't have to check up on him MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY to get him to read email (and that doesn't even guarantee he'll respond).

I've asked people who know him and they say he is terrible about reading/answering emails. I don't know how this kid expects to get through college, this job, or any future job if he can't be bothered to read a dang email! I've talked to my bosses about it and they're response is basically, "well he responds to texts, so text him." Um...we're talking about pretty dense emails, not one or two sentences (which my bosses know).

On top of all this, Sam's work has been pretty bad. He takes fewer assignments than any staff member, consistently turns in incomplete work, and what is turned in is poor quality and barely usable. I really want to fire him and hire someone who's actually going to be productive, but my bosses seem to be taking the "let's wait and see if it gets better" approach. His terrible work habits are stressing me out, and unfairly putting a bigger burden on me and the other staffers. I have no idea why they don't get rid of him now when there is no redeeming reason to keep him on. My bosses are very aware of the situation. How do I make them understand that he is just dead weight, I'm not his babysitter, and he needs to go YESTERDAY?
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Awestruck Shmuck on September 11, 2012, 11:39:56 PM
Gah, that sounds very frustrating!! If they won't sack him, ask that they supply an email - sms service. That way you can sms reeeeeally long emails to him without typing them out twice, and he'll have no excuses.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Deetee on September 11, 2012, 11:48:20 PM
They don't want to sack him because it is too much trouble. Right now it is no trouble for them and lots for you.

So I think you should make it more trouble for them. Tell your bosses that you are having serious problems communicating with him and you NEED their help.

State that from now on you will only communicate by email. Request (to your bosses) that your bosses be copied on all communications. Let him know that he is on notice and you are taking this step so all interactions are fully documented. For this reason all communication must be via email.

Tell your bosses that if he doesn't shape up within a week you will no longer work with him. And if he messes up after that, you won't work with him. Lay out the hob requirements that he needs to meet. If your bosses want to keep him they can find him another position. 
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: jedikaiti on September 12, 2012, 12:01:52 AM
1) Tell them that if they want communications to him to go via text, you will CC them on all emails to him so THEY can text him.

2) Request return receipts on every email you send him, if possible. Save them (if they ever occur). Save screenshots of every text exchange with him.

3) Quit letting him have any assignments, unless you have someone reliable covering the same thing.

4) Every time he asks a stupid question (read: one that he wouldn't have to ask if he'd read his email), simply tell him "the answer is in your email - go read it."

5) If he persists in asking stupid questions or failing to complete assignments, simply tell him that if he does not wish to fulfill his job duties, he is welcome to quit at any time.

6) When all else fails, tell him to consider his resignation accepted - especially if he's asking stupid questions via text and you've replied with #3 repeatedly, and possibly #4 as well.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: rashea on September 12, 2012, 07:45:32 AM
Can you set something up so that anytime you send an email, it sends a form text to him telling him to read the email? Or recommend that he do something similar?

Honestly, he isn't doing his job, and I would demand an excuse for standing up a client. It's fine that he apologized, but that should have involved an explanation, and I'm not sure why you didn't ask for one.

ETA: I think I'd sit down with him (if you can catch him) and tell him it needs to change, or he needs to resign. Have him craft an agreement and sign it. Maybe he'll quit when he can't follow through and you'll be off the hook for firing him.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Redsoil on September 12, 2012, 07:50:50 AM
I wouldn't be spoon-feeding this problem child.

Do your job, send out the emails, let the chips fall as they may.  This will be the best way to get the bosses to fire him when he doesn't do HIS job.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: camlan on September 12, 2012, 08:05:56 AM
1) Document everything. Dates, times, his response time or lack thereof.

2) Find out what is necessary to fire someone. If Sam is a university employee, contact HR and get all the details. If Sam is considered a student-employee, the rules might be different; I think you'd have to go through the student employment office. There will probably be several steps involved, including giving him some chances to improve.

3) Speak to bosses again. Tell bosses you are putting Sam on probation and giving him an improvement plan, or whatever is required by the university. Yes, firing is a difficult process. But if you never start it, it will never happen. Since they have a "wait and see if it gets better" approach, get them to commit to a date by which he needs to show considerable improvement.

4) Insist that Sam come to you for a face to face meeting. Go over the improvement plan. Make it clear that his job is in jeopardy if he doesn't not respond to your emails--you can make it part of the plan that he send you a confirmation email in response to every email you send. His job is also in jeopardy if he misses any more appointments. Have very clear expectations--you must reply to every email that I send you within 8 hours--with clear results--not responding to any email within 8 hours will result in the start of termination proceedings. If the university has a verbal and written warning system, this would be his first verbal warning--make sure that he understands this.

Sam may shape up; I've seen it happen. Or he could get himself fired. It's his choice.

Also wouldn't hurt to check your job description and those of your bosses to see who has hire/fire privileges. You might be able to fire him yourself, without the bosses' approval.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: bopper on September 12, 2012, 10:33:05 AM
I would go to your bosses and tell them that you would like them to start the process of firing Sam...you have verbally warned him, but they need to start the formal process of a Performance Improvement Plan.

Like others said, maybe he can improve.  But you treating him normally didn't work, you specifically talking to him about the issue didn't work, so only formal reprimand/PIP is the last thing left to try.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: lowspark on September 12, 2012, 11:30:06 AM
I would simply tell the bosses that you will no longer be assigning any work to Sam for the following reasons, listing everything you've said here in short bullet points.
- he doesn't respond to emails
- he stood up a client
- quality of work is not up to expected
etc.

If they want to continue paying him, fine, but as far as you're concerned, you no longer have any need for his services.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Cat-Fu on September 12, 2012, 11:49:05 AM
Out of curiosity, are your "bosses" other students? (At my college, the EIC was, and the person who did the firing and hiring was the faculty advisor.) TBH, I wouldn't be expecting advanced manegerial techniques from a student. Is there someone above the editors-in-chief with whom you can speak about this?
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: TootsNYC on September 12, 2012, 12:05:48 PM
Look, if you're going to spoon-feed anybody, spoon-feed your bosses.

Find out what it *does* take to fire him, in detail, and then provide it.

Lead them through the process. It'll be good experience!

Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Darcy on September 12, 2012, 12:33:18 PM
Every time something happens (no email response, etc.) pass it back up the chain. Don't compensate for his failures or pick up the slack. Find out what it takes to fire someone, and start making notes of everything, all the while passing his mistakes up the chain. Make it your bosses' problem, not yours.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: cicero on September 12, 2012, 01:15:00 PM
Look, if you're going to spoon-feed anybody, spoon-feed your bosses.

Find out what it *does* take to fire him, in detail, and then provide it.

Lead them through the process. It'll be good experience!
good idea!

for now - I would stop with the texts. you *have* procedures in place - follow them. email him, when he doesn't reply, assign the work to the next person. etc
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Slartibartfast on September 12, 2012, 03:13:54 PM
Is Sam being paid regardless, or only when he actually does work?  Are other photographers having to do extra to pick up his slack?  Are you the one scheduling things?

1) If you have the authority, just stop scheduling Sam for anything.  Send him an email saying "I'm not sending you out until you can prove to me you're reading your email in a timely manner - email me back if you want to keep working here and we'll see what we can do," then just don't count on him.

2) Talk to your bosses about hiring someone else.  It doesn't really matter whether they fire Sam or not - what matters to you is getting someone else to actually do the work!  You can honestly say "Sam has decided not to continue" - because if he had wanted to, he would have replied to your email.  (Which you know he never read, but still, not your problem!)

That ought to either prompt your bosses to fire him, or to just hire someone else and leave Sam technically a member of your staff but with no duties.  Either way, it's not your problem anymore!
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: LazyDaisy on September 12, 2012, 05:30:45 PM
POD Slartibartfast ^ if you can act as if he's already gone and just don't contact him or assign him anything. This will lessen your load because you won't be chasing him and it'll help with scheduling because you will never be caught short last minute then don't use the photos he does turn in because you will have already booked someone else to cover the event etc.

My guess on why it's so difficult to fire him is that he has some sort of financial aid/scholarship or is a foreign student visa and firing him will involve multiple departments etc. Then again, maybe there really isn't a "difficulty" he's just the son of a big wig donor or Board of Trustee Member and the school isn't willing to risk ill will.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: whatsanenigma on September 12, 2012, 08:51:09 PM
On top of all this, Sam's work has been pretty bad. He takes fewer assignments than any staff member, consistently turns in incomplete work, and what is turned in is poor quality and barely usable.

You have been given lots of good advice so far, but I am wondering if the bolded above might be your way out of this.

Because it seems to me, even if you found the magic wand to wave that would magically make him have a perfect work ethic and always do exactly what he is supposed to, in terms of responding to emails and such, it wouldn't solve the problem.  Because apparently, he's not very good at actually taking pictures.

So, I am wondering, is there possibly a way to have him reassigned to another type of job? One where he will be held more directly accountable, or that he will just be better at doing, or more motivated to do?

That could be how you could focus a conversation with your higher ups, by saying that this job might not be a good fit for him on any level and is there something else he could try.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: weeblewobble on September 15, 2012, 04:31:26 AM
Would it be possible to just stop sending him assignments?
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Lexophile on September 17, 2012, 02:15:39 PM
Well the next day, my boss emails me because Sam stood up a client for a scheduled appointment. I don't know what his excuse could have been because Sam scheduled the appointment himself!

Next time he stands up a client and your boss emails you to find out why, say that this has become status quo for Sam and if they (the bosses) don't want to do anything about it, this will continue to happen because you've done everything you can to try and get this guy in line.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Virg on September 17, 2012, 03:03:00 PM
Firstly, the failure to respond to email is a red herring, so you should drop it entirely from your complaint to your bosses.  You should also not take any advice that involves ignoring your boss's suggestion to text him about emails.  Sure, it's hand-holding, but your boss told you to do it so ignoring it won't make your case stronger.  Set up any email that goes to him to send an email also to the portal that sends text messages to his phone, and that'll take care of your boss's suggestion because any email you send will trigger a text to his phone so he'll know to read the email.

Next, you'll have to document what's bad about his work, and use that as the key to getting him gone.  Hoow he responds isn't going to make your bosses fire him, pointing out shoddy, incomplete or nonexistent work will.  Mentioning that he stood up a client works too.  Play down the lack of contact and play up the bad job he does when you do get hold of him, and he'll be gone soon enough.

Virg
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: MissRose on September 17, 2012, 03:23:30 PM
He is truly committing professional darwinism.  Some areas it is hard to let people go but document every communication and copy people on it too.  Gradually cut back his work too.  Someone should sit him down, and explain what he is doing with poor quality of work + lack of response, and say "Sam, your quality of work is not up to par, also you fail to respond to any emails which are a required part of the job.  You have X time to either get things up to par, or we will have to take steps to let you go.  Also, if we let you go, we will not be a reference to you for any jobs.  Have we made ourselves clear?" Also, he should sign something acknowledging the need to respond to ALL emails and get work to acceptable quality, and if he slips up, he is sacked.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: Hmmmmm on September 17, 2012, 03:35:42 PM
Firstly, the failure to respond to email is a red herring, so you should drop it entirely from your complaint to your bosses.  You should also not take any advice that involves ignoring your boss's suggestion to text him about emails.  Sure, it's hand-holding, but your boss told you to do it so ignoring it won't make your case stronger.  Set up any email that goes to him to send an email also to the portal that sends text messages to his phone, and that'll take care of your boss's suggestion because any email you send will trigger a text to his phone so he'll know to read the email.

Next, you'll have to document what's bad about his work, and use that as the key to getting him gone.  Hoow he responds isn't going to make your bosses fire him, pointing out shoddy, incomplete or nonexistent work will.  Mentioning that he stood up a client works too.  Play down the lack of contact and play up the bad job he does when you do get hold of him, and he'll be gone soon enough.

Virg

POD to this.  And instead of texting him the entire content of the email, text him that he has an email to read and respond to within 24 hours.  Do this until you get rid of him. 

Sorry your going through this but you'l find out in your career there will always be the employee that requires hand holding and babysitting. 
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
Post by: kitchcat on September 20, 2012, 12:14:33 PM
OP back with an update.

A couple days after posting this thread, I emailed my bosses with a detailed list of issues with Sam and stated that I did not feel I could continue working with him in the current situation. My bosses responded and we had a meeting to further discuss the issues. They decided on the following action plan:

So, we had our meeting with Sam, which he was very blasť about. It was really obvious he did not want to be there and didn't answer our questions with anything more than a "yeah." We gave him a few tasks to complete by the following week, and I emailed him these tasks as well.

Well, the following night is our weekly staff meeting where I give out assignments to the photographers. Five minutes before the meeting, Sam texts me to say he can't make it to the meeting. Why? He had a fight with his girlfriend and "needs some alone time."  :o My bosses and I were both speechless. Seriously? This isn't an optional meeting. This is part of his JOB. I responded that missing the meeting was unacceptable. He never responded.

His deadline for the tasks I gave him is tomorrow and he has not turned in a single thing so far. He's not generated any new work since our meeting. So there has been no improvement, but at least my bosses and I are on the same page now about getting rid of him.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: HonorH on September 20, 2012, 12:24:07 PM
Update: WOW! To think this idiot has a job and I've been looking for work for a year and a half. I'm telling you, it crisps my booties! Does he not realize just how bad the job market is? And that behaving like this can follow him for years? I don't feel bad for him at all.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: Queen of Clubs on September 20, 2012, 02:43:59 PM
I'm glad your bosses are now on the same page as regards firing him.  He couldn't have made it more plain he doesn't care about his job (or doesn't get that he can be fired!) if he'd hired a plane to skywrite it for him.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: Danika on September 20, 2012, 05:50:48 PM
That's a good update. I'm glad Sam didn't put in minimal effort, just enough for the bosses to say "he's improving" and then you'd be stuck working with him for another month until the issues happened again. This way, it's over and done with.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: still in va on September 20, 2012, 08:29:15 PM
sounds like a win-win to me.  kitchcat doesn't have to deal with Sam's attitude towards work (or lack of same) anymore, and Sam will get plenty of alone time.

kitchcat, this is a complete and total SCORE for you.  that's great!
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: Winterlight on September 24, 2012, 01:01:53 PM
Update: WOW! To think this idiot has a job and I've been looking for work for a year and a half. I'm telling you, it crisps my booties! Does he not realize just how bad the job market is? And that behaving like this can follow him for years? I don't feel bad for him at all.

Some people think that "student" jobs just don't count when it comes to resume history. They learn the hard way when the boss gets a call and says, "We had to let him go because he was consistantly late on deadlines, stood up clients and produced shoddy work."

I had a student job in library school. I did well enough that I was invited to come back for another school year, despite only auditing classes, and I got a stellar recommendation from my boss that helped me get my current job.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: Brockwest on September 24, 2012, 01:20:16 PM
If you were the only supervisor, my advise would be to start a paper trail of documentation of errors made.
I agree with the post to text him that an e-mail was sent...it satifies your bosses statement, but still creates a papertrail. On each e-mail give a "respond by date."
 
Each time he commits an error, document it in writing with a request to him, in writing, to explain himself.
When he doesn't respond to the request, document that failure also, then request him to respond why he didn't respond.
Death by a million cuts.

This is important in job situations, as an employer is required to have evidence to show unemployment or the union that there was a paper trail.

That being said, I'm quite concerned that your supervisors are properly concerned. I noted the college aspect, and am also wondering if they are students.  It doesn't make sense that they are not concerned.

You should Copy your supervisors on each e-mail.

Once there are enough documented failures, then you can force a Plan of Action that he must sign, that lists the areas in which he is deficient, and that he has X amount of time to correct the errors or he faces dismissal.

Document each new failure, with the statement that he is not following the Plan of Action.

Be careful, without your supervisors full support, you are potentially putting yourself in jeopary, especially if he has the ability to cry discrimination. 

If you have the ability to use only the other workers, and assign work to only them, that is good for you. I fear it's what he wants...to get paid without being assigned work. You need to look out for yourself.
Title: Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
Post by: DragonKitty on September 24, 2012, 02:27:35 PM
Wow!  I wish I could use that as an excuse to miss work.  I'd fight with my husband all the time.   ;)