Author Topic: Can bad employees be reformed?  (Read 2381 times)

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watson

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Can bad employees be reformed?
« on: November 13, 2013, 11:22:28 PM »
A little long but been thinking about this for the past couple of days. 
I have been hearing this same story over and over again and it is not just in one type of workplace of different types of work places.  It is a little different each time but it goes like this. There is a department or a team that run wild. They do what they want, when they want. They get away with it because they are good at what they do and get the best results. They also have someone looking out for them, their supervisor who does not care what they do as long as they get job done and team are all like yes men to the supervisor. Also the supervisor does not have to work as hard and passes on their work to the team. Things start to disappear in the workplace or a customer's place of business. Supervisor covers for the team. The team's behavior towards others is really bad and since they do not follow company procedure and expect others to take care of it for them.
There was one story I heard where an employee left their company phone in a rental card and then started screaming at someone in the office for a replacement. Instead of writing out an expense form, one employee would throw their receipts on the desk of the employee responsible for reimbursement and then hover over them to get their money. A friend of mine who used to work at a maintenance services company told me about a field rep was promoted to management. It was a complete disaster because even though he was great in the field, whatever it was that made him great, did not help in management. He was a second under the manager who just did not care. This guy put together his own little posse to surround him and they did as they wanted. It lasted for a year until he mouthed off to a customer on the phone who turned out to be friend of the owner.  They get away with this for awhile maybe years and then something happens. Supervisor gets fired or transfer somewhere else. A complaint is filed against the team by another employee or a customer complains about the team or business is not as good and people are looking for something to cut. Then an executive gets involved and finds out what the team have been up to. Executive finds out about missing inventory or missing lunches or things going missing on other employees desks and then the party is over.
What people tell me is that in that type of situation where you have a group who think they are all that is that they have to go. Maybe a company keeps a few people if they are needed but the supervisor and the ringleader get the pink slip. I talked another friend about this who asked "isn't that  like throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Wouldn't it be better to replace the supervisor and send the group to get retrained? Or get the whole group retrained?" It got me thinking that might be a good thing to do. But everyone has told me that the best way to deal with situation simply to get rid of them and if they are an important part of the company, have replacements ready to go before they get fired. Because what happens is that if they stick around, they get angry about changes being made and cause more problems for the company.  One story that was told me was when another supervisor was sent in to assist in getting the team into shape but it was useless because the team would ignore the orders of the new supervisor and the old supervisor would do everything to undermine the new supervisor.
What do you all think?

GreenBird

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2013, 12:51:04 AM »
I think that when things are as bad as you've described, the entire team needs to go.  You're describing situations where the entire team is behaving as badly as they can get away with, and covering for each others' behavior.  To my mind, this makes them all untrustworthy employees and they should all be let go.  You could never rely on any of these people to work in the company's best interest, because they've already proven that they'll take advantage of any opportunity to act out.  And what message does it send to your good employees if misbehavior like that is rewarded by continued employment and endless second chances?   Your good employees will leave due to low morale, and you'll be left only with employees you can't trust. 



camlan

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2013, 06:04:25 AM »
Pretty much agree with what GreenBird said.

As a rule, people do not like change, even good change. No matter how good/nice/kind/effective the new supervisor, they will makes changes--that's what they've been sent to do. And the team is going to resent every single one of those changes. And they will resent the new supervisor, who is also a change. And they may active work to undermine the new supervisor.

You might be able to salvage individual members of the wayward team, if you can split them up and find them jobs elsewhere in the company, where they will work with none of their old team members. But it's taking a risk, because they might be very unhappy about the changes. And they might take that out on their new co-workers, or clients, or the company as a whole.

As for retraining--what would you retrain them in? They probably can do their jobs, if they've gotten away with all this stuff for a while. I'm not sure you can train people to be polite to others. You can tell them to follow company policy, but how do you make them do that when they haven't been for so long? The team has gotten into bad habits, and bad habits are hard to break. And I'm not sure it's the responsibility of the company to work with them on that.
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Ceallach

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2013, 07:14:28 AM »
Sometimes individuals can change, but in my experience it's rare.  And for an overall bad team to change the individuals need to change or be replaced.  Clearly not all will be capable of or willing to change!

I've always said there is no downside to performance managing poor performing staff - it leads to one of two outcomes, they either improve (yay!) or they leave and you can get somebody else.  Often they quit after a warning or two before they get fired.   So I don't comprehend wussy managers who allow bad employees to continue, particularly with the negative impact it has on both productivity and on team morale!  It's just laziness, or sometimes favouritism.
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Sharnita

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2013, 07:16:05 AM »
If you have an entire team like this then the person you might need to ask if you can retrain would seem to be the person or people who interviewed and hired them.

*inviteseller

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2013, 07:55:11 AM »
If it is a whole team, once they are split up, you may be able to take away the pack mentality and get some decent employees who can work well with others.  But I have worked with some truly bad employees..lazy, entitled, obnoxious and no matter how many times they are counciled, retrained, written up they don't change because that is their personality.  They typically aren't nice people outside of work either and they see themselves as the Bestest Worker Evaaaaahhhh and how dare anyone try to tell them what to do.

blue2000

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2013, 07:57:59 AM »
Fire the supervisor and demote or move anyone who is a 'pseudo-supervisor' - not in a paid position, but given authority by someone. Sometimes the manager has pets or team leaders that do part of his work for him, even if the company does not endorse this.

I have seen groups change around quite a bit with different managers, but it depends on the people in charge. If you remove only one rotten managerial apple, the rest will keep going. If you remove all management, supers, and leaders, the group will generally change. And yes, the ones who benefit from the bad behaviour will complain, but they would complain anyway.



(thinking of my co-worker who often speaks wistfully of the 'old days' ::) ::) ::) and the manager who used to harass and insult people and get away with it. Co-worker does not participate in that anymore, because he would get blasted by our current manager. Co-worker does not like keeping his mouth shut, nor does he think this is a good working environment. But he behaves, because he has to.)
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pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2013, 09:35:31 AM »
Once, I was discussing different branches with someone (at the time, I was a relief manager, and he was the person sent out for equipment repairs and the like).  We both agreed that one office had a poor team, contentious, slow, backbiting, and just plain difficult.

He said that the only solution was to completely eliminate the office and move all the employees into different offices.  This had been going on for so long, and the culture of that office broke down any new person until they were the same way.  Only by completely breaking apart the old team would you have a chance of rehabilitating any of the members, and I think that would be true here.

The group dynamics are poisoned, and the only way to save individual members is to eliminate the group.
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dawbs

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2013, 09:50:45 AM »
I think there are a lot of variables, but it's darn hard to reform UNLESS everyone is behind a no-holds-barred enforcement of the rules/regs/expectations.

This year, I was put 'in charge of a team of 4 young people.  This group's supervisor had resigned and he had basically let this crew run amuck for quite a while.
My boss backed me in pushing these people HARD to come up to expectations and making things work how they ought--I was their interim supervisor, and they've now been handed over to their new supervisor.
Two of these young people are awesome employees (they have their faults, but they're doing well).  One is an adequate employee--She's not incredibly awesome but she's trying and I'd like to keep her on.  One is...well, likely going to find himself unemployed soon.

But I think it was as 'easy' at it was because all 4 of these folks had the capacity to be good employees--if they would have been hired and immediately had reported to a good supervisor, they probably never would have developed problems.  But they had the misfortune to be assigned to a problematic supervisor who liked having a herd of special snowflakes--so they had to be untrained to get them back to their original potential.

Lynnv

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2013, 11:49:50 AM »
I have been in a situation where I was brought in to deal with a bunch of 'bad' employees.  There are two answers to the question.

If the person in question was a good employee (or had the potential to be a good employee) and was brought into a bad team/bad boss situation, then s/he has been trained to be a bad employee.  S/he can be retrained to be a good employee with the right boss and coworkers.

If the person in question was brought in because s/he would fit in with the bad group and genuinely never should have been hired in the first place, then no amount of training or positive surroundings is going to fix it.

The really tough part is telling if an employee is inherently a problem or has just been trained to be one. 

In my case, of the 10 employees that I started with, I fired 2 within 2 weeks (they were actually caught stealing from the company).  1 more got fired within 2 months as she just could not go with the changes.  The other 7 did change.  They never wanted to be problem employees, they just got trained to be such.  1 of them was awesome (she took over my job when I left), 2 were really good, 2 were good/average, and 2 were marginal but trainable.  Those 7 never wanted to be "problem" employees, they just had a boss who created a horrible environment and trained them so poorly that they couldn't really help it.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2013, 11:52:17 AM »
Quote
I talked another friend about this who asked "isn't that  like throwing the baby out with the bathwater? Wouldn't it be better to replace the supervisor and send the group to get retrained? Or get the whole group retrained?" It got me thinking that might be a good thing to do. But everyone has told me that the best way to deal with situation simply to get rid of them and if they are an important part of the company, have replacements ready to go before they get fired. Because what happens is that if they stick around, they get angry about changes being made and cause more problems for the company. 

"Better" for whom? "Good" by whose set or criteria?

A company doesn't think like a mother, or a teacher, or a psychologist, or a pastor.

The *fastest* way to eliminate this problem is to ditch them all and start over. It's a LOT less work.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2013, 12:38:04 PM by TootsNYC »

jaxsue

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Re: Can bad employees be reformed?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2013, 12:25:18 PM »
OP, your op would be more readable if it was broken up, rather than a wall of text. Thanks!