Author Topic: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*  (Read 11431 times)

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kitchcat

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The employee from hell and how to get rid of him *update post 21*
« on: September 12, 2012, 12:32:55 AM »
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?
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 01:15:03 PM by kitchcat »
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Awestruck Shmuck

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2012, 12:39:56 AM »
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.

Deetee

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 12:48:20 AM »
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. 

jedikaiti

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2012, 01:01:52 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.
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rashea

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 08:45:32 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.
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Redsoil

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 08:50:50 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.
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camlan

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 09:05:56 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.
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bopper

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2012, 11:33:05 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.

lowspark

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 12:30:06 PM »
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.

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2012, 12:49:05 PM »
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?
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TootsNYC

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2012, 01:05:48 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!


Darcy

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2012, 01:33:18 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.

cicero

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2012, 02:15:00 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

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2012, 04:13:54 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!

LazyDaisy

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Re: The employee from hell and how to get rid of him
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2012, 06:30:45 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.
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