Many owners have hired new employees just to take on the responsibilities their seasoned employee is no longer capable of doing.  I find that more established practices that have retained the same employee since day one or close to it have gone up, down and sideways with them.  Most were promoted to higher positions as the practice grew.  As time marched on, more responsibilities were piled on: managing the front desk and billing staffs, taking on Human Resources, accounts payables and additional day to day issues when things began to break down. 

You were counting on someone who was being pushed into doing things that were beyond their ability and so they started pushing back.  Many of those employees were against upgrading billing systems and implementations were tough so they stopped in the middle of the project.  Some employers just had to out-source – but they didn’t let their BFF go.  They just paid that person and rolled with the punches.  Why?

I understand the part where they grew up with you and the company, but they got paid too.  When you are looking for more money and realize that you are spending anywhere between $45,000 to $75,000 on a salary and not getting a return on that investment do you reconsider that the time is now and cut ties?  Many unfortunately don’t. 

It is not always that this particular person is not good at anything but if you have thrust them into any role not yet established and let them fly without experience you are inviting failure.  They begin to get pushed and pulled in a thousand directions without the experience to handle running a business and then they get burned out.  If you are in this situation, I recommend you get out as fast as you can and begin rebuilding or talk to the employee and find out what is on their mind.  Assess their skills and abilities and how they could add value to your practice and other employees.  They may have to take a step back, even a cut in pay, but if they can excel it is good for both of you.  If not, it is time to let them go.  Discussions with the employee usually make it easier as they know and will understand your decision. 

Here are some of the many reasons I have been given for not letting long time unproductive employees go:

  • Loyalty (to a fault)
  • Feeling guilty about not supporting them more
  • Not knowing what to do when they go – who to hire or promote
  • Worried they will talk about you negatively
  • It is better to have someone than no one
  • The rest of the staff will feel bad (that rarely happens)

But the reason I really believe to be true is this:  You cannot bear the thought of confrontation.  I recommend you get over it. 

Diane McCutcheon, President
Diane McCutcheon, Business Management Consulting Services, Inc.

This mindset absolutely affects the productivity, morale and attitudes of the other employees as they are the ones trying to pick up the slack.  After a while, everyone’s productivity is affected and the owner gets tough on almost everyone except the one that matters.  Here’s a great and common line:  “I’m hoping they will quit.  I keep taking away responsibilities.”  Really?  Why would anyone quit a job that is giving them top dollar, fewer responsibilities and no accountability and why would you do this to a person who has tried to do their best? 

Paying  for Poor Productivity

By Diane McCutcheon, President

Included in the results of every assessment I did last year, was the recognition of an employee or two who had worked for the company for many years but for the last 2 or 3, their productivity had consistently gone down.  While I have heard too many reasons too many times before, it still amazed me that so many owners accepted this performance and chose not to do anything.