Employees With Additudes

Business By loriemoms Updated 11 Aug 2011 , 9:59pm by howboutbake

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loriemoms Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 2:50am
post #1 of 67

I dont see many discussions about employees on here...but I had to bring this up. I have been running my business for about 7 years now. I started part time working a full time job, then worked into the cakes full time and a part time job, then went from home business to my current shop.

I grow a LOT every year, too fast really...and I work 18 hour days, 6 days a week (I take Sunday offs,,,just have to!) I come to work at 6 am and leave 10-11 oclock at night. I probably spend 40 hours a week just on invoicing, drawings, and paper work, and 25 hours a week in consultations.

I am the only one who decorates our 10-12 weddings a week, although I have employees who prep the cakes..I get them all iced and ready to go. I only doing the sculpted party cakes, my employees do the rest, the baking, the prep work, answering customer issues, etc. (I do the final pricing approval) We do about 30 party cakes a week and I think we can do more

Recently a decorator quit and went to another bakery (for more money she told me) I was glad to see her leave, because we were close to firing her. She just made too many mistakes, her piping skills were wonderful when she cared, but most of the she didnt care. She had her moods, and her techniques were slow. She would forget wording on cakes, and I would get frequent complaints from my regulars saying they didnt want her to decorate their cakes because they lacked imagination and that Wow. They just werent the cakes I did.

She would leave fondant pails opened, and left colored Buttercream bowls all over the place and would never put away tools. She refuses to help clean, except sweep the floor.

The other employees thought she was God because well, she told them she was. It got to the point where a couple of them ignored me and acted like she was the boss. (When I was not there, she would be the leader because of experience) They picked up her bad habits, not cleaning up, not caring.

I have a new employee now, who is wonderful and I have been training her with my methods. The other two employees miss the other decorator and have become very cliquish and have attitudes to me. I ask them do something (like they were both making filings together and I said they dont need to make fillings together, the other person can do something else..

We have a ton of work to do) and I get snide remarks. I think they think that I cant fire them because I am so busy right now, and I am afraid they are going to quit (it is SO hard to find good help)

I do not know who to handle this at all, I have never been a very good boss, and I dont understand young people today. Nobody wants to work hard anymore. (They complain they are tired after 8 hoursgive me a break!) I am considering hiring a manager so I can concentrate more on my business instead of this crap.

I guess I just want to vent and see how you guys handle these kinds of situation.

66 replies
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cakestyles Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 2:59am
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UGHH That completely sucks. I think hiring a manager is a good move. I would also call these 2 employees into my office (separately) and explain their roll to them, just in case they've forgotten who the boss is.

Than, put out "feelers" for new decorators and when you find a couple of good prospects, fire the 2 slackers if they don't straighten out.

Besides my small home based cake business I own another "non cake" business with 7 employees. The worst part about being a business owner for me is dealing with the employees.

And I completely agree with you. I don't understand the younger generation's work ethic either.
I'm in my late 40's and I've worked my butt off to get where I am, but most of my younger employees think everything will come to them without working as hard as I have.

Good luck! I completely understand why you're feeling so frustrated.

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jason_kraft Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:08am
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Not sure where you live, but around here (San Jose) there are more qualified applicants than available positions. Have you looked at local schools with baking & pastry programs and participated in career fairs to recruit new talent?

Even with good people, managing employees can be a real PITA and that's one of the reasons we decided to stay small with a rented commercial kitchen.

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KSMill Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:11am
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Maybe in the future you could hire a manager, but I think it's important first to set some boundaries and let them know that you are their boss. Bringing in a manager at this point could just undermine you more. I've seen it happen with my mom's restaurant and it's to recover that once it's gone.

I would start by deliberately separating them when they insist on doing things together. i.e., when they're making fillings, pull one aside and give them a very specific job to do somewhere else.

I agree with cakestyles that you should pull them into your office, but doing that might also bring out attitude which young people seem to have an abundance of. Good luck.

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jason_kraft Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:14am
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It's not necessarily a generational thing...older employees can have just as much attitude, especially when reporting to a manager younger than they are.

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Nicole211 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:17am
post #6 of 67

I have a small cakery that I work as my "parttime job", but my "day job" is as a Front Office Supervisor for a large doctors office- I have 24 employees spread out across 9 offices. My LEAST favorite part of my job is staff issues. I too, am in my 40's and canNOT understand the work ethic of the younger generation.

There is nothing worse than staff who won't listen, but I have found over the years, that I (and others) would rather work short (even if longer hours), than work with slackers or attitudes. I make it VERY clear to problematic staff that they are on a short leash and that I am NOT afraid to work without them- and that I would rather work my *%@ off, than work with the attitude.

In the 15 years I've been doing my job, this has worked well. And the few times that the staff don't believe me, or don't care- and I end up letting them go- I am usually thanked by the other/remaining staff. Morale picks up and even though you are all busting your humps, it is a much more pleasant time whie you are!

Hope this helps!!

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Foxicakes Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 8:21am
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It sounds as if you already have a "spoiled apple cart" thanks to the employee who already left. I would say definitely put an ad in the paper, etc to find someone to at the very least help with things that anyone can do (i.e. make batters and buttercream by following recipes).

And, if necessary, cut back on your weekly orders until you find some better help for the decorating side of things. Then, call the two employees in and give them a verbal warning. Follow that with a written warning and then fire them if they don't take you seriously. Following this protocol will not only CYA but will give you some time to find replacements. (And, if you start genuinely looking, they WILL find out one way or another and will know that you are serious!!)

Also (obviously) I don't know what you are paying, but if the other decorator said that she was leaving because of pay, then one thing to keep in mind is that you get what you pay for, even with employees. So, if you aren't paying competitively for the market, than you are not going to get employees that are happy to be there OR that respect you.

They may be thankful to have a job at first, but eventually underpaid employees feel resentful. Trust me...there was a time when I took a job being ridiculously underpaid for my skill set because I was just happy to have ANY income. I figured "something" was better than "nothing", but after the newness wore off and I saw how much work I was doing for so little money, I hated it and literally had to FORCE myself to show up every day!!

However, if you are paying fairly than you don't have that to worry about and you just have two rotten apples that need to be removed before they start to spoil the new girl that you just hired.

Good luck!!

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mcaulir Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 9:20am
post #8 of 67

That sounds pretty painful. The only advice I could add is to very clearly communicate your expectations, perhaps with things like checklists so they know exactly what they should be responsible for cleaning, or whatever.

I'm not sure that being tired after 8 hours is such an awful statement. I'm tired after 8 hours of work.

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scp1127 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 9:28am
post #9 of 67

Put out an ad for every job in your shop, have people ccome to the shop to pick up the application. In my first job out of college, my employer taught me a valuable lesson... always have that fresh resume on hand. And make sure the current employees know it. Yes, you can do without them. In this market, you should be able to get some good help. Make sure all new employees know of your current "clique" situation, and that they will not be working long if the habits of the old are adopted.

My construction company did a specialized job that no other business did. I brought a commercial application into a residential setting. Every employee had to be trained and it took about six weeks for them to actually make me money. I would always drag my feet on firing because of the training. But the moment I would fire them, I felt like a big weight lifted. The bad employees always drag down the good. Productivity changed very little while a new person was trained.

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Lovelyladylibra Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 9:38am
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I see nothing wrong with being tired after 8 hours of work... especially if they're on their feet. Alot people think because the employee is young they have to much energy to waste. but they forget these are the same young folk who like to stay up all night and do young things so they probably are tired.... thats not to blame for their lack of good work though... just something to think about

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southerncross Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 10:25am
post #11 of 67

You certainly sound frustrated that employees don't have the dedication and drive that you have for your business. I've noticed that no one, and I mean no one .is going to work as hard as the person who owns the shop. The owner has a vested interest in putting in the long hours and dedication. Employees often feel that they are just considered fungible fodder.

I think the average employee wants to put in their 40 hour week and go home to a life. For the owner, the business is the life.

Employees need to feel there's something in it for them other than wages. Do you pay overtime? Do the employees have medical insurance, paid vacations, paid sick leave? Are their salaries competitive to others in the market place? These are the perks that motivate an employee. Without the motivation, there's no incentive to commit to a business that you don't own.

I don't think it's a generational issue either. Now days, even in a challenged economy, people are looking to some quality of life rather than long hours advancing someone else's business. Harsh reality but true.

I don't think your situation is so bad that it can't be saved. I would have a meeting with staff and openly discuss what both sides feel is the problem. Just telling someone your the boss and it's my way or the highway isn't going to solve underlying problems. It sounds like some of these employees have been with you for a while and from a simply economic standpoint, it's better to fix the problem with existing employees than incur the cost of new employees who may very well end up showing the same problems down the road.

Judging from your post, you are articulate and insightful. Good luck

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KeltoKel Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 11:34am
post #12 of 67

I am sorry your employees are being so difficult. I definitely think you need a middle person here, like a manager. Do you like the other two girls as decorators?

Can I ask you a question? (I am playing a bit of devils advocate here) What would your employees say about you as a boss? Do they feel your tone is demeaning or are you a micromanager?

My point is that not everyone is great at managing employees and we all have our personality flaws. I am thinking you already feel this way since you want to hire a manager.

Just some gentile advice, please dont think that I am attacking you.

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loriemoms Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 12:34pm
post #13 of 67

thanks for all the good advice! I am afraid I am what they call a Friendly boss, where I teach them what to do, how I want it done, and let them work independently. I never yell or talk down to them. I think that is part of my problem, is they dont look at me as a boss, but as a friend, and that just doesnt work. (if that makes sense!)
I have tried to talk to them in the past, but my biggest problem is me, I am not good at telling people what I feel, and am to be honest afraid of them. I have interviewed a lot of decorators and most of just plan on suck. (anyone in Raleigh area looking for a job, please PM me!)

As far as pay, this girl how left was making 16 dollars an hour. The bakery she went to has a lot of family money, and pays a salary of 35K a year, she said she only had to work 30 hours a week with no evenings or weekends, and had full insurance. I couldnt compete with that. We are too busy.

The salery range I pay is 10.00 an hour for entry and up to 16 an hour for more experienced. My baker makes 12 an hour. From what I could tell, this is pretty much the going rate around here. They also get a weeks paid vacation/PTO a year. And insurance, but none of them have opted for it, since they have to pay for part of it.

I guess I will have to k up the courage to figure out what to say....I love some of the dsuggestions here. And I am sorry, 8 hours a day on your feet is NOT hard when you are 25 years old!!! hahaha!

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btrsktch Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 12:53pm
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I understand completely your frustrations! If you can afford it, a manager can help you with managing the staff and taking a big chunk of your paperwork off your plate, freeing you up more to go home earlier and/or work in the kitchen.

But, have you considered hiring interns? Give a 3 month assigment and each one will come in with a new, fresh, grateful to be there type attitude and by the time they can get jaded, its time to go!

Also, I second start publicly posting for new employees.

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southerncross Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 1:01pm
post #15 of 67

I hate to think that bosses can't be friendly. Life is too short to not be a friend to all. I was the boss for 35 years and still friends with all my employees, even the ones I had to fire. Of course we weren't baking ... if I had employees in my kitchen now, I'd probably shoot them every time the fondant gets fussy on me

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tiptop57 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 1:08pm
post #16 of 67

It is really unfortunate that you had a toxic employee. Here is an article you might enjoy: Managing Employees in Their Twenties

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southerncross Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 1:15pm
post #17 of 67

Great article, Tiptop57

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tiptop57 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 1:21pm
post #18 of 67

Thanks Southerncross hopefully it is helpful.

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idontknow Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 1:51pm
post #19 of 67

wow, I don't know what the US standard is for paid holiday, but one week is not a lot for a whole year! in my full time job I get 25 days paid holiday plus public holidays, and to be honest an employee needs time off to rest and refresh.

I do understand where you are coming from in terms of good staff, as my family have run their own businesses and I know how difficult it is to hire staff that care and continue to care. that's why it's important to make the employee to feel that their work is valued, if you make them feel too insecure then what is to stop them from taking that "who cares" attitude to their work when they think you could easily replace them. of course in today's climate, people don't want to lose their jobs either, but still i believe positive managing rather than negative more beneficial to morale in the end.

Could you not offer them something that invests them in your business in the way that you are invested? Maybe hire a manager/decorator who gets a bonus based on how many cakes/turnover you are making? so if $2000 per week is your average, offer them a 5% bonus if you manage to make $2500? if you think you could be taking more orders than you do then this increased income will offset the bonus you will pay, plus your employee will feel like they have a goal to work towards.

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KASCARLETT Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 2:02pm
post #20 of 67

Most places start at 1 week paid vacation unless maybe you are in a very high position - aka big wig - of a company! lol No, it's not a lot, but it is something. Some businesses will add a year each year up until a certain time. I've heard of places in Germany that can get months and months off each year! That is just unreal to me! icon_biggrin.gif Would be AWESOME, but I don't think that is even feasible in the US! lol

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Sam_paggers Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 2:22pm
post #21 of 67

try working in the uk for an american company.....very little holiday while i watch all my mates take thier 5+ weeks leave.... unfair icon_sad.gif

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kmstreepey Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 2:32pm
post #22 of 67

I think most employees will respect a firm but fair employer more. Some people won't show you respect unless you demand it. You demand it not by being mean but by being firm. Also, I think most people just want to be understood and heard. I agree with others who said take each employee into your office and speak to them individually. Hear them out. Tell them clearly what you expect from them and then follow through with what you say. It's like disciplining little children. If you give them an inch, they will take a mile. And follow-through is everything.

I also agree with those who said don't hire a manager right now. This will undermine you. You need to establish your authority with your employees if you want them to listen to you. Hiring someone else, while easier for you in some ways as you will be able to avoid the direct conflict, will ultimately just tell your employees that they don't need to listen to you.

This is all just my two cents from observation and my own experiences. I hope it helps! And good luck with your situation!

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TexasSugar Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:02pm
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Originally Posted by loriemoms

thanks for all the good advice! I am afraid I am what they call a Friendly boss, where I teach them what to do, how I want it done, and let them work independently. I never yell or talk down to them. I think that is part of my problem, is they dont look at me as a boss, but as a friend, and that just doesnt work. (if that makes sense!)
I have tried to talk to them in the past, but my biggest problem is me, I am not good at telling people what I feel, and am to be honest afraid of them.

There is nothing wrong with having a pleasant boss. Friendly is okay, but you aren't their friend you are their boss, and at the end of the day, they have to respect you.

People treat you how you let them. You don't have to be queen bitch to get respect. You can still be the friendly, fun boss, but you have to be the boss. You have to stand groud, tell them what you expect, and what happens if you don't gain that respect.

People can work independently, but you still need to be there to direct them in the right way. If it comes down to it, give them a daily list of things to do. Set weekly goals, like everyone focusing on cleaning up after themselves more.

While it seems like a lost cause with the current employees, you can still try to get them on board. You can give an "I don't care what has happened in the past, but from this moment forward, this is what I expect for every employee here. If you don't do these things, this and this will happen" kinda of speech.

Just like you would with kids, give them action and give them a consequence if the action doesn't happen. Set rules and boundaries and most importantly, stick to them. If you aren't going to stick to the rules/boundaries/consequences, then there really isn't any point of having them.

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QTCakes1 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:20pm
post #24 of 67

In the U.S. the average vaction time for an entry employee here is 1 to 2 weeks. So, if you quit your job, cause of that, we'll you'll just never be working. Additonal years do get added, but that's after only years working for the same company. Besides, everyone knows Europe is much better about vacation/sick/maternity leave.

And there is no way I would be the boss being disrespected. Not saying kiss my butt, but be respectful, as they would want me to treat them. And like I am a mother to my children, NOT their friend, I would be a boss to my employees, NOT their friend. It would take time for me to see if I could be friends with an employee. If they can tell the difference between work time and play time. And you can. My best friend has been my supervisor. Work is work.

And I do think it is a generational thing. My daughter who is in her early 20's even says her generation has produced some entitled, crappy workers. And I'm not saying there aren't older workers with attitudes, cause they don't like having a younger boss, but they still do their jobs. Like I always told my kids,"You may not like a job you have, but while you are working it, do your job well. That's what your getting paid for, not to like your job. If it's that bad, go find another, but in the mean time, DO YOUR JOB". Good luck.

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carmijok Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:44pm
post #25 of 67

I was the advertising director of a city magazine about 10 years ago and I came on board with existing sales people...one of whom was very toxic. She was the highest seller so she felt she had immunity. She always did her best to try and turn the others to her way of thinking and looked at me like I was some kind of joke.

I tried being nice...I tried working with her to develop her talents. I even did an in-house seminar and let her be in charge of the customer service portion thinking that if she felt she was a big part of the team, maybe she'd back off the whispering, and eye-rolling and basic bitching.

It didn't work. It's a very long story, but to make it short, eventually I had to fire her. Not because of her sales, but because she had been hacking into my email and reading it trying to find something to use against me to take to the publisher. And because she had made a statement at a sales meeting that 'any place would be better than here'...so I took her up on it.

Best thing that ever happened to that office. It was like a weight had been lifted off everyone. New attitudes, new enthusiasm. It was the best move I could have done, and it took me too long to decide to do it!

If you need to fire them, don't hesitate. You will find a way to make it work. Trust me.

BUT first, I'd call each one in individually and do an employee evaluation. Discuss their job, how they are doing it, how do THEY think they are doing and could they do it better and give them your honest assessment of their work. If it's good, praise...if there are areas of improvement, tell them and let them know that in six months they'll be back for another evaluation to see if the improvements have been met and if a raise is in order. In other words let them know what YOU expect from them.

Then turn the tables and ask their expectations of you. What is it they'd like to see from you as their boss? More time training? More incentives? More hands-on presence...what? You might be surprised to hear what would make them happy may not be what you think it is. It's not always about money. Maybe it's letting them feel they can come to you with ideas to help the business (offer an incentive or bonus for ideas from them that you actually implement) maybe it's just the opportunity to feel like they've got a vested interest in your business and are not just employees that come in and do their job.

Then, if you can, one evening take everyone out for dinner or drinks...just for fun. Doesn't have to be expensive...just a happy hour somewhere if you can.
Let them know they are valued.

So often we are consumed with our own duties and we think the employees know what's going on and how much work needs to be produced in order to make a profit...but they don't. They are in their own little worlds. Sometimes it helps if those worlds meet and ideas are discussed. They don't need to know everything, but enough to make them more understanding of your situation as well! If you can get a team, if you foster an atmosphere of openness and appreciation, more than likely your employee problems will improve. If not...then by all means get rid of whoever is causing the situation. But first give them every opportunity to change. You might be surprised.

Bottom line, it's YOUR bottom line. Don't be afraid to have expectations...you will be respected more if they know you mean business.

Just some thoughts from someone who's been there!

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gatorcake Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 3:54pm
post #26 of 67
Originally Posted by loriemoms

We have a ton of work to do) and I get snide remarks. I think they think that I cant fire them because I am so busy right now, and I am afraid they are going to quit (it is SO hard to find good help).

On my view this is the most important element in your situation. I believe it has less to do with your friendly nature than with the level of business you have to do. They picked up bad habits, don't listen, do what they want why? Yes they do not respect your overall way of doing things, but it is because they do not have to. They probably suspect you will not fire them --- why because you cannot afford to. You even note you are afraid they will quit and what that will mean. Here is the problem, why clean? They do not have to because they know you feel you cannot fire them.

You can call them in and talk to them (and hopefully that works) but there are no consequences if they do not change. Sure they could be fired if you find someone else, but if they were so easy to replace they would be fired by now. Do not underestimate their ability to sense that you are not willing (because you are unable) to fire them.

If all possible fire one of them now. So long as you cannot, they have the leverage and they know it. So long as they believe they will not be fired there is little incentive for them do it your way. If you have seen the film you should visualize the scene from Roadhouse where Swayze comes in and says it is my way or the highway. He begins of course by firing those that do not fit in in order send the message.

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AnnieCahill Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 4:15pm
post #27 of 67

Make one an example for the rest.

If someone feels like she is not expendable, and already expresses laziness or attitude when told to do her job, then she will act as if she is not expendable.

I had an old boss who told us all the time "everyone is replaceable." It's $hitty to hear but it's the truth. Especially in this economy.

The good news is, and I have noticed this with all the new members here on CC, that I think more and more people are becoming interested in cake decorating due to all the new tv shows. Hopefully if you put an ad out you will hear from several people.

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Unlimited Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 4:22pm
post #28 of 67

Everyone is replaceable.

Every time I've ever needed to replace an employee, it turned out better for the company and we found better employees. This might be a great opportunity to clean house. I'd first give one oral warning (with written copy), and one written warning.

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Lili5768 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 4:35pm
post #29 of 67

My thoughts are that perhaps you have been too busy and the employer/employee (which actually should be Team Leader and Team Members) relationship just got away from you.

To me, (and I have been a supervisor and manager in a very tough field, so I speak from some experience) employees have to be treated as part of the team, an integral and very important part of a team. because after all, they are the ones that do the footwork and keep the ball rolling.

If this young woman was able to come in there and influence your employees to the point where they now resent your firing her, there was something wrong already.

There obviously was a divide, a gap, a severance in the communication between you and them. A gap which she was able to fill.
Otherwise, and had this not been the case, they would have immediately resented her sloppiness and her general lack of interest, and immediately reported it to you because she was not working up to your and their team standards! Which, ostensibly, they should have been proud of upholding.

Perhaps what has happened is for the better, because although you may have to hire an entire new staff if the current ones cannot come to see and respect you as a leader, and not a "boss", you may have to start over anew, but it may be for the best.

My advice would be for you to re-evaluate your strategy with your team members. Remember, without team members you cannot maintain your current level of operations. They should have as much as you can possibly give them and always be fair with them. They are your business. they are not just "employees".

I sincerely hope my honest advice can be of some help to you!

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QTCakes1 Posted 4 Aug 2011 , 4:41pm
post #30 of 67

She didn't fire her, she quit for another job.

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