Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: GreenEyedHawk on March 23, 2013, 10:51:14 PM

Title: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 23, 2013, 10:51:14 PM
I know I've posted in the past about my assistant/co-worker, M, and how she is not learning the job.

{long b/g}  I apologise for the long and detailed background length, but I need to show why I really have no other choice but to make the decision I have to make.

At this point, it's now been two years, nearly, and she has still not picked up what would be considered the basic rudiments of this job.  It used to be when I would see her making a mistake, I'd correct it or make suggestions and she would repeatedly assure me she understood.  Now she argues with me. 

See, our job is to measure stuff.  We measure all the parts that go into building an integral part of a safety device that is mandatory in a lot of machinery in a lot of industries.  If we let something go that we shouldn't, and a system fails, people can die.  This is Serious Business.

In addition to being the Quality Control supervisor, I do a lot of other stuff.  I wear a lot of hats and pick up a lot of slack because, other than the lead hand, I am the only person in the shop who has done every job, from the bottom up.  I've received the parts, inspected the parts, measured the parts, put the parts together into their sub-assemblies, put the sub-assemblies together, tested the final product and packed the thing up to ship out.  I'm also the second most senior person in the shop, so I'm called on to do a lot of extras. 

M wants to learn all this extra stuff as well, and while I certainly don't have a problem with anyone wanting to learn new stuff, she just...can't.  She is a slow learner, and seems to completely lack the ability to figure things out.  For example, we have these long cables that go with a certain model of device.  They come in 10, 20 and 30-foot lengths.  They come loose in a box and one of the jobs that both she and I have done is to  twist them into coils.  Enough that I can safely say she has handled hundreds of these things.  She also knows that we have nothing else in the shop that even remotely reaches those dimensions in size.  If that were all the knowledge you had to work with, if you saw something on a shipping order that read "20' xxx kit", you'd probably figure out that a 20-foot cable was what it was referring to.  Not M.  Her words exactly?  "I'd never figure out that that's what it was."  Arrrghhh.  USE YOUR HEAD.  Or, when the order says "Part # XXX-XXXXX 90-degree elbow, casting, 2.5" OD(outside diameter)" and you have a bin labeled with two part numbers and two different elbows and are not sure which is which (one is 2" OD, one's 2.5".  The bin labels say as much.) and you work with hundreds of different high-precision measuring devices, would it not cross your mind to perhaps double-check by measuring to make sure you have the right one?  Not M.  "It never would occur to me to measure them.  I don't even know which one the order needs."  IT SAYS RIGHT ON THE PAPER.  READ.  USE YOUR HEAD.

I've even caught her measuring dimensions on parts that are inconsequential to the point where they're not even shown on the drawing she's measuring against.  What, exactly, is she going to compare the dimension she is measuring against?  When I pointed out that the dimension she was checking isn't even on the drawing, she says, "Well we have to measure everything!"  Well, that's great that you want to be thorough, but that dimension isn't on the drawing.  How do you know it's even right?  How CAN you know it's correct if you don't even know what it's supposed to be?

At this point, she is failing to grasp even the basic skills required of the job.  She can't do inspection well.  She can't build things.  (she has repeatedly forgotten a crucial retaining clip on a certain sub-assembly so that under testing pressure, the person doing the testing has nearly been badly injured by a part getting shot out because it had no retaining clip on).  We have soft hose that we cut to custom lengths; I've shown her several times, as have other people, how to cut it straight, instead of cutting it crooked, then trying to straighten the crooked cut by "trimming" the hose.  Yet I'll see her having cut several pieces of hose crookedly and she is surrounded by a mountain of hose trimmings.   That's quite a bit of wastage.  We keep telling her if she is cutting the hose properly, there is no need for trimming; she keeps insisting it's the end result that matters and her cut pieces are fine.  We keep pointing out how much she wastes a)by trimming and b) because the pieces she has trimmed bits off of are now too short.  She keeps saying it's fine.  IT'S NOT FINE.

We build three different types of trigger systems.  She's built them all (with varying degrees of success) many times.  But she has no idea what the difference is between them (one is manually triggered, one air-pressure-triggered, one electric) or how they work. 

{end very long background}

So Bossman asked me t o fill out her yearly review/recommendation, where I review performance, highlight strengths and weaknesses.  I've done this for a few other co-workers/shop hands and never had any issue...but I've also never had to review anyone whose performance is so consistently poor.  I need help coming up with a way to highlight all the issues I've mentioned above without sounding like I'm attacking every little thing.  These are examples of serious issues.   I need to be very clear on them because unfortunately I have to make the recommendation she be replaced.  The decision ultimately is Bossman's, but he understands that I work more closely with M than anyone else on a day to day basis, and I'm the best qualified to do the review.

I don't know how to word the examples I've given above to make it 100% clear to Bossman that I'm not making the recommendation lightly; that I really honestly feel that she simply cannot work in this environment.  She lacks common sense, rudimentary mechanical understanding, the ability to listen and retain information, the ability to follow directions or the ability to figure things out.  In this kind of work environment, with this kind of product, everything is very high-precision and detail-oriented and she really does not have a head for details.  And honestly, I feel 2 years is plenty of time to learn the ropes.

How can I phrase my review explanations and recommendation without it coming across that M makes me want to tear my hair out on a daily basis, and I can no longer in good conscience say that she is qualified to continue doing this job?
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Black Delphinium on March 23, 2013, 11:07:47 PM
Specifics-times, dates, pictures if you have them. Hard to take facts as "picking on".

Praise her enthusiasm, if you feel that you can without seeming patronizing.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: reflection5 on March 23, 2013, 11:15:16 PM
Question:  How is it she has lasted two years being so incompetent?  Not questioning your judgment or the facts presentd; I'm wondering if you complained about her before and if there was a probationary period?
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 23, 2013, 11:51:51 PM
It's ok, reflection5, that's a valid question.

I've given her reviews before, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses and Bossman and I have gone through several plans to help her improve.  I think I mentioned in my post that the ultimate hiring/firing power lays with Bossman, and he is a really nice guy who doesn't like conflict and really wants to make sure everyone gets a fair chance.  It's an admirable quality, but at this point I feel it's time to draw the line and let M go, and I need to make that as clear to Bossman as possible.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Redsoil on March 24, 2013, 12:30:59 AM
In spite of continued support from all members of *team*, *employee X* has failed to show progress in the following areas:

Then list the areas of concern, being quite clinical about performance parameters, with no additional subjective comments.  It's akin to a pass/fail approach.  Employee is unable to__________  Employee failed to ____________   

Even if you make a list of basic competencies for this job, and have a table where you tick a box for various "grades" - competent/adequate/poor/safety concern (or somesuch).  Keep it very very clinical, make it about efficiency and safety.  If, at the end you can note some basic comments, keep them short and to the point.  Then talk to the boss, giving him a little more background if needed, and voicing your concerns, the help given, and the fact that this person is simply not well suited for this type of work.  Not all people are.

Good luck with it!
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: kudeebee on March 24, 2013, 12:37:48 AM
You need to use what you have told us and modify it so that it only includes the facts and not your emotions/etc.

Example: 
You said:  Or, when the order says "Part # XXX-XXXXX 90-degree elbow, casting, 2.5" OD(outside diameter)" and you have a bin labeled with two part numbers and two different elbows and are not sure which is which (one is 2" OD, one's 2.5".  The bin labels say as much.) and you work with hundreds of different high-precision measuring devices, would it not cross your mind to perhaps double-check by measuring to make sure you have the right one?  Not M.  "It never would occur to me to measure them.  I don't even know which one the order needs."  IT SAYS RIGHT ON THE PAPER.  READ.  USE YOUR HEAD.

You write:
An order says "Part # XXX-XXXXX 90-degree elbow, casting, 2.5" OD(outside diameter)".  We have a bin labeled with two different part numbers and it contains two different elbows--one is 2" OD, one's 2.5" OD (which the  bin labels state). M cannot select the right part  without getting help.  She has told me  "It never would occur to me to measure them.  I don't even know which one the order needs."  She cannot read the part order on the paper and select the right one; she does not think to measure them to select the right one.  So someone else must step in and do this part of her job.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: WillyNilly on March 24, 2013, 02:07:03 AM
Is there anyway you can compute the cost of her mistakes?  Like if she averages 6 inches of waste when trimming hose, and averages over trimming 1 hose a week at XX long that comes to how much of a financial loss? Same with the retaining clip - what was the cost of the part breaking during testing and needing to be replaced/repaired? Often putting dollar amounts in black and white is a powerful tool. It moves the situation from one of the boss being nice and realizing this is a money matter.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: katycoo on March 24, 2013, 02:56:20 AM
Divide her performance into issues.

Issue 1:  Overview of issue, x2 examples.  What steps you've taken.  Current position (ie no change? Partial change). Current attitude or coworker regarding issue.

Repeat until all issues covered.

If you decide not to include them all on the report, note that examples are not exhaustive and further examples can be provided if needed.

I think its really important to mention her attitude.  She no longer wants to change, which is a problem.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Slartibartfast on March 24, 2013, 03:28:36 AM
Honestly, I would talk to Bossman first and let him know you're recommending she be replaced.  Companies often feel the need to perform CYA maneuvers in situations like this, so Bossman might have a better idea what the company does and does not want on paper - and what's most likely to lead to him being able to let this employee go quickly.  It may just be needing things worded a certain way - "She can't read the label to differentiate between a 2" part and a 2.5" part" could be vulnerable to her getting a lawyer who says "She's dyslexic and you're discriminating!" whereas "She needs constant reminders to stay on task and refuses to ask for help when she's confused, such as when faced with an order for a 2" part and two boxes, one which has 2" parts and one which has 2.5" parts" might be more defensible.  (IANAL, obviously, so that's just a random example off the top of my head.)

Talking to Bossman in person first will also give you a chance to see whether he needs to be convinced, and if so, what kinds of things you need to emphasize.  If he's inclined to be lenient on her being slow to pick up new things, for example, you can focus on her unwillingness to accept constructive criticism and her unwillingness to ask for help instead.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: menley on March 24, 2013, 06:20:38 AM
Honestly, I would talk to Bossman first and let him know you're recommending she be replaced.  Companies often feel the need to perform CYA maneuvers in situations like this, so Bossman might have a better idea what the company does and does not want on paper - and what's most likely to lead to him being able to let this employee go quickly.  It may just be needing things worded a certain way - "She can't read the label to differentiate between a 2" part and a 2.5" part" could be vulnerable to her getting a lawyer who says "She's dyslexic and you're discriminating!" whereas "She needs constant reminders to stay on task and refuses to ask for help when she's confused, such as when faced with an order for a 2" part and two boxes, one which has 2" parts and one which has 2.5" parts" might be more defensible.  (IANAL, obviously, so that's just a random example off the top of my head.)

Talking to Bossman in person first will also give you a chance to see whether he needs to be convinced, and if so, what kinds of things you need to emphasize.  If he's inclined to be lenient on her being slow to pick up new things, for example, you can focus on her unwillingness to accept constructive criticism and her unwillingness to ask for help instead.

I absolutely agree with this. I once had an employee that was performing very poorly, and I had to discuss it with my manager as I was planning on writing a poor review for him. What I initially intended to go in the review, versus what made it into the review, was quite different based on legal ramifications and a discussion with our human resources group.

Overall, as others said, I would cite specific examples. For instance, you mention that she fails to put a retaining clip on a product, leading to potential injuries. Have any injuries resulted that were, perhaps, OSHA reportable incidents? If so, documenting that might be wise. Discuss with your boss the exact loss of time (don't say hours and hours, which sounds emotional or exaggerating, but specifically, "Because employee X could not perform this task properly, I had to spend x minutes reworking it each time, for a total of x hours of productivity lost.")   
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: YummyMummy66 on March 24, 2013, 08:27:42 AM
It's ok, reflection5, that's a valid question.

I've given her reviews before, emphasizing strengths and weaknesses and Bossman and I have gone through several plans to help her improve.  I think I mentioned in my post that the ultimate hiring/firing power lays with Bossman, and he is a really nice guy who doesn't like conflict and really wants to make sure everyone gets a fair chance.  It's an admirable quality, but at this point I feel it's time to draw the line and let M go, and I need to make that as clear to Bossman as possible.

Right there is your answer.  You have given her reviews and gone through several plans for her to improve upon and clearly she has not done so.   As for Bossman, I would tell them that after two years, you have had enough.  You have done everything that you possibly can to help this woman and it has clearly not worked. If he wishes to keep her on, than her work will rest on his shoulders from now on.  I bet she is gone by the end of the day.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 24, 2013, 10:23:38 AM
You all have definitely given me a lot to consider, with my wording and what's important to bring up and what's just my emotional response because as YummyMummy says, after two years I have definitely had enough.

We had a large order that went out on Friday and it was going to a reseller, which means each item has to be packed a certain way, individually, and labelled a certain way so its part and model number and the machinery it's meant for is readily visible from the reseller's shelf.  Again, there are a lot of details that seem trivial but are actually important.  Another co-worker, D, and I had started packing a smaller order and were just finishing up when M came wandering over, ostensibly to see if D and I "needed any help".  "No," I told her, "We're fine."  She asks me if I am coming back to the QC area after the small order is done and I say, "No, not for awhile.  I'm staying in Shipping, D needs my help.  Why, do you have a question about something?"  Her response, which was in a vague sort of tone, "Oh...no...I just wanted to see if you guys needed a hand and I could learn this stuff too."  A thousand times no.  When there's a massive order that needs to be packed fast, the last thing we need is someone underfoot who doesn't know what they're doing, who is asking questions and getting lost and mixing things up.  Slow time is a good time to learn shipping because the learner can be walked through it step by step and there's no hurry, but when an entire skid of stuff has to be ready to go in an hour?  No.  Absolutely not.

D and I are furiously working and things are going smoothly; he and I work well together, particularly with shipping.  We've devised an efficient system for two people working together.  And yet it seemed like every time I turned around, I was tripping over M or bumping into M or rescuing my paperwork from M, because she "Wanted to learn how to do this too!"  I admit at this point it took a lot of willpower not to shout at her to go back to QC and stay there.  I firmly told her that this was not a good time for learning and that we'd go over it when things weren't quite such a rush, and that some parts had come back from some of our suppliers (we send them material, they machine it and send it back) that needed inspected because the other guys were waiting on the parts so they could finish the stuff for another large order that was coming up right after this one.  She wandered back to her area and not ten minutes later was back again.

Look, I get that she is bored with QC.  QC is boring.  But that is her job and she needs to go there and stay there unless J (the lead hand) or I tell her otherwise.  When I started learning positions other than QC, I didn't just shoulder my way in and demand to learn; I asked Bossman for more challenging duties and was ASKED to take on the new stuff, which is the proper channel to go through.  I get that it must look to her that I get to do whatever I want, but all the things I do and jumping from area to area is legitimately part of my job.  Add to that toe fact that it's hard for me to go from station to station with the constant concern that she needs to be babysat, and I really feel that with her 'assisting' me, I can't even remotely make efficient use of my time.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: JenJay on March 24, 2013, 10:31:41 AM
I don't have any advice on her eval, but as far as talking to her about learning a new area, I'd shut her down with "M, I will train you in shipping when you've mastered CQ. Significantly decrease the amount of hose you waste with inaccurate trimming, memorize the various parts measurements and storage bins, and bring your sorting errors down to less than 2% (or whatever) and we'll talk."  ;)
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: LeveeWoman on March 24, 2013, 10:49:31 AM
I know I've posted in the past about my assistant/co-worker, M, and how she is not learning the job.

{long b/g}  I apologise for the long and detailed background length, but I need to show why I really have no other choice but to make the decision I have to make.

At this point, it's now been two years, nearly, and she has still not picked up what would be considered the basic rudiments of this job.  It used to be when I would see her making a mistake, I'd correct it or make suggestions and she would repeatedly assure me she understood.  Now she argues with me. 

See, our job is to measure stuff.  We measure all the parts that go into building an integral part of a safety device that is mandatory in a lot of machinery in a lot of industries.  If we let something go that we shouldn't, and a system fails, people can die.  This is Serious Business.

In addition to being the Quality Control supervisor, I do a lot of other stuff.  I wear a lot of hats and pick up a lot of slack because, other than the lead hand, I am the only person in the shop who has done every job, from the bottom up.  I've received the parts, inspected the parts, measured the parts, put the parts together into their sub-assemblies, put the sub-assemblies together, tested the final product and packed the thing up to ship out.  I'm also the second most senior person in the shop, so I'm called on to do a lot of extras. 

M wants to learn all this extra stuff as well, and while I certainly don't have a problem with anyone wanting to learn new stuff, she just...can't.  She is a slow learner, and seems to completely lack the ability to figure things out.  For example, we have these long cables that go with a certain model of device.  They come in 10, 20 and 30-foot lengths.  They come loose in a box and one of the jobs that both she and I have done is to  twist them into coils.  Enough that I can safely say she has handled hundreds of these things.  She also knows that we have nothing else in the shop that even remotely reaches those dimensions in size.  If that were all the knowledge you had to work with, if you saw something on a shipping order that read "20' xxx kit", you'd probably figure out that a 20-foot cable was what it was referring to.  Not M.  Her words exactly?  "I'd never figure out that that's what it was."  Arrrghhh.  USE YOUR HEAD.  Or, when the order says "Part # XXX-XXXXX 90-degree elbow, casting, 2.5" OD(outside diameter)" and you have a bin labeled with two part numbers and two different elbows and are not sure which is which (one is 2" OD, one's 2.5".  The bin labels say as much.) and you work with hundreds of different high-precision measuring devices, would it not cross your mind to perhaps double-check by measuring to make sure you have the right one?  Not M.  "It never would occur to me to measure them.  I don't even know which one the order needs."  IT SAYS RIGHT ON THE PAPER.  READ.  USE YOUR HEAD.

I've even caught her measuring dimensions on parts that are inconsequential to the point where they're not even shown on the drawing she's measuring against.  What, exactly, is she going to compare the dimension she is measuring against?  When I pointed out that the dimension she was checking isn't even on the drawing, she says, "Well we have to measure everything!"  Well, that's great that you want to be thorough, but that dimension isn't on the drawing.  How do you know it's even right?  How CAN you know it's correct if you don't even know what it's supposed to be?

At this point, she is failing to grasp even the basic skills required of the job.  She can't do inspection well.  She can't build things.  (she has repeatedly forgotten a crucial retaining clip on a certain sub-assembly so that under testing pressure, the person doing the testing has nearly been badly injured by a part getting shot out because it had no retaining clip on).  We have soft hose that we cut to custom lengths; I've shown her several times, as have other people, how to cut it straight, instead of cutting it crooked, then trying to straighten the crooked cut by "trimming" the hose.  Yet I'll see her having cut several pieces of hose crookedly and she is surrounded by a mountain of hose trimmings.   That's quite a bit of wastage.  We keep telling her if she is cutting the hose properly, there is no need for trimming; she keeps insisting it's the end result that matters and her cut pieces are fine.  We keep pointing out how much she wastes a)by trimming and b) because the pieces she has trimmed bits off of are now too short.  She keeps saying it's fine.  IT'S NOT FINE.

We build three different types of trigger systems.  She's built them all (with varying degrees of success) many times.  But she has no idea what the difference is between them (one is manually triggered, one air-pressure-triggered, one electric) or how they work. 

{end very long background}

So Bossman asked me t o fill out her yearly review/recommendation, where I review performance, highlight strengths and weaknesses.  I've done this for a few other co-workers/shop hands and never had any issue...but I've also never had to review anyone whose performance is so consistently poor.  I need help coming up with a way to highlight all the issues I've mentioned above without sounding like I'm attacking every little thing.  These are examples of serious issues.   I need to be very clear on them because unfortunately I have to make the recommendation she be replaced.  The decision ultimately is Bossman's, but he understands that I work more closely with M than anyone else on a day to day basis, and I'm the best qualified to do the review.

I don't know how to word the examples I've given above to make it 100% clear to Bossman that I'm not making the recommendation lightly; that I really honestly feel that she simply cannot work in this environment.  She lacks common sense, rudimentary mechanical understanding, the ability to listen and retain information, the ability to follow directions or the ability to figure things out.  In this kind of work environment, with this kind of product, everything is very high-precision and detail-oriented and she really does not have a head for details.  And honestly, I feel 2 years is plenty of time to learn the ropes.

How can I phrase my review explanations and recommendation without it coming across that M makes me want to tear my hair out on a daily basis, and I can no longer in good conscience say that she is qualified to continue doing this job?

You need to say exactly this. She's jeapordizing people's lives.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: reflection5 on March 24, 2013, 11:09:41 AM
OP, thanks for answering my question and providing clarification.

QC is an extremely important function.  Two years is a lot longer than most people get to learn the ropes.  To be honest, I feel that all her talk about learning new and different things is hogwash.  She hasn't even learned her own job (or if she has, she's not performing it.)

I once had a slacker co-worker who often went on and on (when boss was within earshot) about learning new things and making things easier for everyone.  Meanwhile, everyone else was doing her job while she socialized (on the days she decided to show up at all).  She lasted a few months.

Quote
Right there is your answer.  You have given her reviews and gone through several plans for her to improve upon and clearly she has not done so.   As for Bossman, I would tell them that after two years, you have had enough.  You have done everything that you possibly can to help this woman and it has clearly not worked. If he wishes to keep her on, than her work will rest on his shoulders from now on.  I bet she is gone by the end of the day.

I agree with this.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Deetee on March 24, 2013, 12:42:19 PM
I agree with the suggestion to talk to the boss beforehand to give him a heads up on what you plan to write. I also suggest that you ask for copies of your previous reviews of the employee so you can refer to the previous unresolved issues and what you have tried to do for training. It will help show this is an ongoing problem.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: cheyne on March 24, 2013, 04:07:47 PM
Go to Bossman and let him know that you are writing M's review in such a way as justification to fire her.  It sounds like you have covered for M under the guise of "training" for a couple of years, and Bossman doesn't understand how much of a liability M is.  By talking to Bossman first he will not be blindsided by M's very poor performance report, and he may have some good suggestions for the report itself.

IMO with your update about M and D and the shipping area, I think that you are not being direct enough with M.  She should not be wandering around other work areas like a bored toddler.  You need to be firmer in telling her what to do.  If she is supposed to be in QC, you direct her back to QC with, "M, I need you to get back to work in QC.  D and I do not need your help, I have no time to train you and I expect you to get back to work now."*  Do not take "No" or "I want to be trained in XXX" for an answer. 

*Normally I ask my employees to do a task, not tell them.  However, an employee like M needs to be told what to do.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 24, 2013, 04:13:48 PM
Cheyne, I'm similar to you in that I seldom *tell* people what to do but you're right...M keeps wandering off and has to be ordered back on task and I just don't have time for that nonsense.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: MrTango on March 24, 2013, 04:35:51 PM
I'd suggest sticking to the facts in your report.

To make yourself more at ease: Better to be rid of her before her inattentiveness to detail costs her, your, or someone else their life.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Deetee on March 24, 2013, 09:18:57 PM
I agree with the suggestion to talk to the boss beforehand to give him a heads up on what you plan to write. I also suggest that you ask for copies of your previous reviews of the employee so you can refer to the previous unresolved issues and what you have tried to do for training. It will help show this is an ongoing problem.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: peaches on March 24, 2013, 09:25:36 PM
I agree with the suggestion to talk to the boss beforehand to give him a heads up on what you plan to write. I also suggest that you ask for copies of your previous reviews of the employee so you can refer to the previous unresolved issues and what you have tried to do for training. It will help show this is an ongoing problem.

POD

I'm a big believer that "bosses don't like surprises". Since what you write will have implications for him, I think it's best to talk to him beforehand.

The emphasis, to me, would be: Worker hasn't improved or grown into the job. She hasn't corrected her weaknesses. Nothing has changed, no reason to think it will. Her performance affects others (their safety and productivity).
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: HappilyInsane on March 25, 2013, 03:16:19 AM
Cheyne, I'm similar to you in that I seldom *tell* people what to do but you're right...M keeps wandering off and has to be ordered back on task and I just don't have time for that nonsense.

"Does not follow directions"
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: rashea on March 25, 2013, 10:09:02 AM
It might be useful to include her in the process. Does your company do self-evaluations at all? Can she pinpoint her own strengths and weaknesses.

I also think you need to be more blunt with her in the moment. When she kept bugging you, I think you needed to say, "You need to go do your own job first, and then see me for your next assignment, which will not be shipping."
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: DavidH on March 25, 2013, 12:22:55 PM
The key is  to write factually without emotion and to be clear. To take two examples from your text: "she has repeatedly forgotten a crucial retaining clip on a certain sub-assembly so that under testing pressure, the person doing the testing has nearly been badly injured by a part getting shot out because it had no retaining clip on).  We have soft hose that we cut to custom lengths; I've shown her several times, as have other people, how to cut it straight, instead of cutting it crooked, then trying to straighten the crooked cut by "trimming" the hose.  Yet I'll see her having cut several pieces of hose crookedly and she is surrounded by a mountain of hose trimmings.   That's quite a bit of wastage.  We keep telling her if she is cutting the hose properly, there is no need for trimming; she keeps insisting it's the end result that matters and her cut pieces are fine.  We keep pointing out how much she wastes a)by trimming and b) because the pieces she has trimmed bits off of are now too short"

I'd start with a summary and then move to examples:

X consistently shows a lack of attention to detail and despite repeated training is unable to master the basic tasks required for the job.  Her continued lack of improvement suggests to me that additional training is not likely to improve the situation.  Following are specific examples:

X has been trained to assemble Y by Z on MM,DD,YYYY, yet she repeatedly (X times) has forgotten a crucial retaining clip when assembling this on her own.  This represents a known danger to other employees and during routine testing prior to shipping a part has shot out and come close to injuring the person doing the testing on Y occasions (documented in the following safety incident reports).  On each occasion X was informed of her error and retrained on how to properly assemble Y. 

X has been trained to cut soft hoses by Z on MM,DD,YYYY and has not mastered this skill.  Her cuts are consistently off and require additional trimming thus wasting product, requiring additional time, and resulting in an end product that is too short.  She has been informed of this problem multiple time (X times) and retrained on each occasion, yet continues to be unable to master this task.

Ideally you will also be able to add specific dates for her training.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: lilfox on March 25, 2013, 02:12:45 PM
I've had to do this before but for peers, not anyone I was a formal supervisor of but people on a team I lead, and it's never fun.

In the one coworker's case, I had worked with him for 1.5 years and just was done.  I did not want him reassigned to my project again.  My manager knew he was a problem employee (his reputation preceded him before he joined our group) so that helped.  In my case I think my manager was using it as a learning experience for me, having to deal with a non-productive team member who challenged my leadership skills (or some such).  So I wrote a pretty blunt but factual summary of his on the job failures to meet expectations and it was not tempered with positive qualities (he was a nice guy but had no work-related positive qualities that I could determine - he had clearly mentally checked out of the job years ago).  He was finally let go shortly after his end-of-year managerial review.

In the OP's case, the employee has gone from "go-getter" to someone who does her job poorly, refuses to learn, and only pays lip service to wanting to expand her skill set.  None of those are qualities worth keeping, particularly if the results of her shoddy work mean inflicting possible danger on others.

DavidH's wording in particular is clear-cut.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: MsOverThinker on March 25, 2013, 02:56:56 PM
I have also had to do this before.  Try to be as dispassionate as possible.  We're finally going to get rid of the person, but it basically took years of holding up over-budget projects and missed deadlines before management was inclined to let them go. 
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 25, 2013, 07:10:08 PM
I had a meeting with Bossman this morning, highlighting my concerns.  Somehow magically I was able to keep my emotions out of it (It's really hard to hide that someone is driving you around the twist) then we brought M in. 

We discussed the review I'd written (thank you David H for the awesome wording suggestions) and all the issues I'd brought up.  M, in a surprising act of professional Darwinism, ARGUED with me.  Bossman pointed out that all the issues I was bringing up (with dates where I Could recall them) were serious and legitimate issues.

She's been officially demoted to just cleaning parts, which has its own set of details to be mindful of.  Stuff needs to be cleaned a certain way, parts need to be "lapped" (smoothed out with emery cloth on some faces) and cleaned and dried a certain way, then put away in an organised fashion, in the correct places.  She has a month to master that and if, after the month, I'm not satisfied, she will be let go.

I feel like a real jerk having to have done it, but there are safety and cost issues to bear in mind and those things are part of my job.  As her supervisor, it's also my job to ensure she is doing her job correctly.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Jocelyn on March 25, 2013, 07:48:16 PM


I feel like a real jerk having to have done it, but there are safety and cost issues to bear in mind 
Don't.
There are two possible explanations:
1. She does not have the abilities needed to do the job. In which case, you would be denying employment to a capable employee, and keeping on doing her work for her, ad infinitum. The best solution is to have her move on to a job that's suited to her abilities, and then offer the job to someone who will do it properly.
2. She has the abilities to do the job, but chooses not to. In which case, SHE has done this to HERSELF.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: chibichan on March 25, 2013, 07:59:29 PM
Seriously , don't be hard on yourself . Yes , it stinks to have to fire someone - but this is not a situation of your making . M is not doing the job she is being paid for . She is doing a shoddy job for full pay , which is incredibly unfair to all the employees who put in 100% effort . It degrades morale and costs your company money . It could potentially cost one of your customers their life. The impact of that would be devastating to your business .

I have worked in places where soft-hearted ( spineless / non-confrontational / too-lazy-to-do-the-paperwork ) bosses have let employees like M coast along for years , expecting the others to pick up the slack or fix mistakes .

The resentment among those who pride themselves on their work was immense , to the point that even the best workers would spend their days muttering " Why am I going out of my way to do it right when her half-butt work gets her the same paycheck ? "

I have also met the "No, really - it's fine !" employee . The only thing you can do to get through to this person is to simply state "The company does not agree ." Take yourself totally out of the statement . She does not care what YOU think .

The very fact that she feels it is OK to argue with you is a sign that she has closed her mind to whatever you are trying to tell her and that she believes that she is doing an acceptable job . It is difficult , if not impossible , to change this kind of person .

Do not feel like a jerk for saving your company from needless expenses , a possible poor-morale epidemic and several potential lawsuits .   
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: LifeOnPluto on March 25, 2013, 09:20:38 PM
I'd have more sympathy with M if she acknowledged her short-comings and was making genuine attempts to improve. But the fact she's arguing indicates she's in denial (or worse, has a sense of self-entitlement). As PPs have said, there's nothing much you can do in that case. I thought you handled this really well, OP.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Cutenoob on March 26, 2013, 05:26:29 AM
I had a meeting with Bossman this morning, highlighting my concerns.  Somehow magically I was able to keep my emotions out of it (It's really hard to hide that someone is driving you around the twist) then we brought M in. 

We discussed the review I'd written (thank you David H for the awesome wording suggestions) and all the issues I'd brought up.  M, in a surprising act of professional Darwinism, ARGUED with me.  Bossman pointed out that all the issues I was bringing up (with dates where I Could recall them) were serious and legitimate issues.

She's been officially demoted to just cleaning parts, which has its own set of details to be mindful of.  Stuff needs to be cleaned a certain way, parts need to be "lapped" (smoothed out with emery cloth on some faces) and cleaned and dried a certain way, then put away in an organised fashion, in the correct places.  She has a month to master that and if, after the month, I'm not satisfied, she will be let go.

I feel like a real jerk having to have done it, but there are safety and cost issues to bear in mind and those things are part of my job.  As her supervisor, it's also my job to ensure she is doing her job correctly.
Good job on the write-up/meeting. That sounds GREAT. And she even argued about it, in front of you and Bossman? Hello, termination paperwork!
I do want to warn you about "cleaning parts". You state that "cleaned a certain way, parts need to be 'lapped' [smoothed out emery cloth] and month to master". Now - me personally am asking - is this procedure documented anywhere? Or is it a step-by-step you've created for the crew? Reason I ask this is that she may try the "it's not in the book" stunt. And "I need written instructions" (may slightly be true but if not brought forward by now it's worthless). Besides that, is this cleaning procedure VITAL to product quality? Will these parts be ready to use after cleaning (or meant to be reused?)
If these parts are to be re-used after the cleaning, I'd personally not trust her. By now she'd have been gone and only allowed to sweep the floors if anything. I suggest that you create an extra task for a crew member to 'double check' her work. (a person you trust at least). Create a checklist of all the possible parts to move through her area (hose, gasket, pipe, doohicky) and have person go oversee the quality of the cleaned parts. You will build documentation with this.
Actually - if boss DOES want her gone, try the above. And you'd have to have a person you trust ultimately (or your own self) to do this, as it's building ammo for her termination. You may have to create a whole new procedure for this, let it roll, see if it works at all and or catches her, then decide, "oh well, let's drop that kthxbye".
Plus, building this against her: she files for unemployment, she won't win. Terminate her w/o rehire eligibility, and no severance pay.
I wish you good luck, and your compassion..much more than I have.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: YummyMummy66 on March 26, 2013, 07:53:07 AM
My dh is one of those who takes price in his job and gets so frustrated when he has to cover the butts of those who do not.

Can I ask a question?  Whatever happened to the ninety day probation period when hired?  This seems to have gone out the window.

I remember always being hired under the ninety day rule and after ninety days, I would always have a review.   Of course, I was always kept on, but there were many who were not in various jobs I have held.  There are too many people out there today who are looking for jobs who are willing and able to do a good job if given the chance.

I cannot understand keeping someone for two years that is clearly not doing their job and now you are even giving her another chance?
Doesn't sound like good business to me, especially in the type of environment you are talking about.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: learningtofly on March 26, 2013, 11:08:49 AM
Don't feel bad.  This is a safety and a money issue.  You can't have her wasting money and you can't have her carelessness hurting employees.  You need to be careful and detail oriented in QC.  She is not and I'm willing to bet she doesn't do a good job on parts cleaning because it's boring as well.  She has dug her hole and has no one to blame but herself.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: JenJay on March 26, 2013, 12:12:25 PM


I feel like a real jerk having to have done it, but there are safety and cost issues to bear in mind 
Don't.
There are two possible explanations:
1. She does not have the abilities needed to do the job. In which case, you would be denying employment to a capable employee, and keeping on doing her work for her, ad infinitum. The best solution is to have her move on to a job that's suited to her abilities, and then offer the job to someone who will do it properly.
2. She has the abilities to do the job, but chooses not to. In which case, SHE has done this to HERSELF.

Exactly!

The evaluation was upsetting for M but that can't be helped. Your honesty was in the best interest of literally everyone else. Not only in your company, but the companies of your clients as well!
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: Minmom3 on March 26, 2013, 12:13:08 PM
I have read and been told many times over the years that you can teach skills, but you really can't teach attitude.  Somebody with a bad attitude is never going to be a good fit, let alone be willing to admit to doing tasks improperly.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: TootsNYC on March 26, 2013, 12:26:42 PM
I saw your update, and while it's good, I suspect you'll be in this position again.

So start documenting now.

And start with end results:


Quote
Worker Guy 1 was nearly injured when a piece flew out during testing--Clueless had not installed the retaining clip. In addition to the potential for injury, we lost 20 minutes troubleshooting the problem, reassembling without error, and retesting.

Worker Guy 2 was nearly injured...

Worker Guy 3 was nearly injured...


We have thrown away approximately X feet in wastage of hoses because Clueless does not cut them to be straight and then trims away hose in an attempt to straighten the end. This also costs about 2 minutes per cut, 50 cuts per day. That's her time only; other workers on the job spend about X minutes redoing things or giving her the same instructions.


Of course, she's got a new assignment, but it'll have its own wastage (of materials, her time, your time, everyone else's time).

So get a notebook and start writing it down. But organize it so that it's not about what SHE did, but about the effect that she had.
--other people lost time
--materials were wasted
--fewer things were cleaned than is appropriate.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: GreenEyedHawk on March 26, 2013, 08:50:35 PM
With regards to what kind of job she does cleaning and lapping and putting parts away:

Part of my job is to regularly go through our parts stock area...I'm one of the only people who knows where EVERYTHING goes, and part of my regular routine in the day is to take a stroll through parts stock and make sure things are where they should be, arranged as they should be (woe betide anyone I catch just dumping stuff in a bin...arrange it properly so it can be easily counted!) and because part of my job also includes receiving everything that comes in (I wasn't kidding when I said I wear a lot of hats at work!) I can easily make a list of part numbers to check daily.

If things aren't done to my satisfaction, M will be gone in a month.  It will take me that long to build enough documentation against her anyways, and if she slacks off on cleaning, she's handing it to me.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: ilrag on March 27, 2013, 02:32:49 PM
OP I just want to say that I work in a similar industry and you are in no way being too harsh with your evaluations of your coworker.
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: artk2002 on March 27, 2013, 05:57:12 PM
Cheyne, I'm similar to you in that I seldom *tell* people what to do but you're right...M keeps wandering off and has to be ordered back on task and I just don't have time for that nonsense.

"Does not follow directions"

"Has trouble keeping on task/maintaining focus/completing work without close supervision."

OP, I'm sorry that your boss is a wuss about this. You need to make it clear to him that keeping her is more expensive (i.e. in higher risk and your loss of productivity) than the momentary pain of letting her go.  As Dear Abby used to say "are you better of with him or without him?"
Title: Re: Have to make an unpleasant recommendation (sorry, long)
Post by: TootsNYC on March 28, 2013, 04:12:53 PM
Cheyne, I'm similar to you in that I seldom *tell* people what to do but you're right...M keeps wandering off and has to be ordered back on task and I just don't have time for that nonsense.

"Does not follow directions"

"Has trouble keeping on task/maintaining focus/completing work without close supervision."


I think these are not concrete enough: "left her work assignment on this date and that date; did not return until directed to do so."