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    How would you handle a longtime employee who isn’t cutting it?

    Q: “I have a retail shop that's been in business nearly 50 years. And I have an employee who's been with us for half that time. I wanted to promote her from just the floor to ordering. She had been on ordering since 2018, but the past few weeks I was checking her work, she isn't doing her process correctly at all. I had to demote her back to the floor. I gave her every opportunity, sat down with her numerous times for training, but she chose to order however she wanted. I gave her a raise thinking she would take things off my plate, but now she's adding a whole lot more. With the busy holiday season, I don't want to lose a good employee. I already demoted her, but would you wait to cut her pay back to her old pay? Would you not cut her pay? How would you handle a long-time employee who isn't cutting it?”

    A: Wow, that's a lot. Well for one: did you do a 360 assessment? An employee review needs to establish, "this is my definition of what good performance looks like?" If you did, you would need to followup your performance review process by adding, "these are the resources you're going to need, and then here's your decision-making ability." During your onboarding process for any position, you'd want to have written these points and goals out so they are idiot proof. That way, if they didn't meet your goals and objectives you could go back and ask, "Did you follow these practices ?" If they didn't, look in the mirror. Oftentimes an effective employee happens because their employer understands unless an employee is prepared for how to succeed, their work performance and employee morale will suffer.

    See also, Why And How To Do An Employee Review


    Demoting somebody at the holidays never feels great, however, I fired a guy on Christmas Eve. That's a whole other story that's in one of my books. Because ultimately, when you go through and given an employee feedback that they have missed your expectations for sales goals or customer service, you've done your part in employee performance management.

    During such a job review I tell them explicitly in a written evaluation, "These are my two warnings, and if you do it a third time, I'm going to have to let you go." They are making you do that part of the job and ultimately it is their choice to improve their attitude and become an effective employee again.

    I think it's a human resources conversation. You don't want to lose them, but the danger is 25 years sounds like an entitlement. It sounds like you're trying to find a place for them to work in order to help them use their strengths and weaknesses in a new area, not necessarily with sales. If you feel like it's a demotion in pay, then you have that conversation with them. I don't know how much you decided to give them, so if we're just talking fifty cents it's probably not a big deal, but if you doubled their salary, that would certainly be something to do sooner than later.

    How do I deal with an employee that's not performing? I would give them every opportunity to know and exceed your goals and objectives. I would say, "this is what success looks like, this is what I need to see from your attention to detail and attitude.

    I need to have the following done in the next week, and if you don't do it, then I may have to cut your hours or demote you or even let you go.".

    I know that sounds rough, but at the end of the day, it's either you or them. Why not make it them?"

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