“We’ve got to get shit done and we can’t afford to lose anyone!”

I recently began to work with a company that had a problem with employees not showing up for shifts and/or often leaving shifts early.  We called a meeting of the management team and began to discuss the problem and how to correct this type of damaging behavior.  I asked The Boss if the company had a disciplinary policy and the proper forms for the managers to use to correct these types of activities.  The Boss said no, the company never had anything like that.  The Boss said in the “old days” he would just threaten to fire any employee the next time “stuff like this” happened and that would be enough to correct the problem.  Today with the unemployment rate so low, The Boss says he is afraid to discipline anybody because of the worker shortage and as The Boss says; “We got to get shit done and we can’t afford to lose anyone!”

As we continued our discussion, The Boss was not comfortable saying anything to the employee because he was afraid to lose another worker.  I stressed the fact that at least disciplining the employee or even letting the employee go would be the best action The Boss could take.  He argued the fact the company had a backlog of work and he didn’t have people breaking down his door to work at his company.  I continued to talk about efficiencies and the “good” employees having to work harder to make up for the “bad” employees he kept at the company.  As we continued the dialog his department managers joined in and to The Boss’s surprise they were in favor of “firing” the employee and were also in favor of initiating a disciplinary policy they could use to manage their people.

I recommended templates I use including; disciplinary action forms, performance evaluation forms, and job descriptions.  I coached the department managers as to how best to administer these new “management tools”.  Eventually we created an “employee manual” that became part of their culture.  As you can imagine the “good” employees really appreciated the structure and accountability and the so called, “bad” employees self-selected out of the company.

The Boss was also amazed that the efficiencies in the company increased and the moral of his employees improved.  Setting rules in place and administrating the rules fairly can make a huge difference in the culture of any company.  The Boss’s greatest fear of losing all his employees was not realized but greater productivity was realized.   Offering your managers, the proper tools and coaching them how to use the tools makes good business sense and can increase profits without increasing prices.