Don’t Miss the Opportunity

“I have an employee, Sam, who is a constant problem. Today while speaking with him, he became frustrated with the conversation and said he might as well quit. Later I found myself wishing he had. What should I have done?”

As an owner or manager, you need to be alert to things going on with your employees. This situation was one of those perfect missed moments.

If you have an employee who hasn’t done well, you need to work with them to improve their performance. When the employee isn’t particularly motivated to want to improve, he can become frustrated with your efforts. I have heard Sam’s comment before. The trick is grabbing that opportunity.

When an employee says something like “Well, I might as well quit,” your response could be “Okay, I’ll accept your resignation. Let’s talk about the timing.” It’s likely the employee wasn’t truly serious and was hoping you’d realize they are a valuable asset. It’s a surprise to them when you accept that off-the-cuff resignation.

The other side of this situation is when an employee misinterprets something you’ve said and now believes they have been terminated. Again, you need to react fairly quickly unless that was really what you intended to say.

If an employee knows they messed up, they could be assuming they’ll be fired. Be very clear that wasn’t your intention… unless it was. The biggest reason you need to pay attention to this is because, in California, you better have that final paycheck ready if termination is your intent or you’ll be open to fines and penalties.

Ideally, of course, you manage your employees in such a way that neither of these situations would ever occur. However, it pays to keep your ears open for unexpected reactions and keep your responses timely and appropriate for the situation.

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