Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This is worse for me than it is for you - NOT

Aside: Thanks everyone for your comments yesterday. I just want to make something clear. I will never censor your comments unless you are rude to another commenter or an interloper such as the Jedi twat that I deleted straight away. And I value the difference of opinion. This is a friendly place. Feel free to say what you want as long as it doesn't hurt others.

Unlike the second boardroom at work today. I hurt someone.

I had a call from a client early this morning who had received mail for someone else. Not for the first but for the third time. This is an issue, we are financial planners, our business is based on confidentiality and trust - required no more so than in the current financial environment.

The upshot? I had to sack a perfectly nice little girl for no more than being incapable of the position. I refrained from the "This is as hard for me as it is for you" line because it's not. It was surprisingly easy. Yep, the receptionist/admin assistant got the chop and whilst it definitely didn't feel as bad for me as it probably did for her it was a difficult thing to do.

I hired her in July after having only two suitable applications. Prior to the current economic crisis, it was a buyer's market. Let's face it we were paying award wages and more mature candidates weren't interested despite a plethora of highly qualified people for the job because the wage was low - entry level as we call it here. So we put her on knowing she was green, I had reservations about her 'diction' when using the phone or her 'absorption' regarding sorting mail, she had no nouse re board meetings but I felt most of what she needed to know could be learned and she had good mentors for 12 weeks.

There was a high degree of pressure from people who really liked her predecessor who we have promoted from within but she'd had the advantage of being three years in the position and they'd forgotten that she didn't even know how to make a cup of tea when she first started. I even enrolled the n00b in a Traineeship so that she could benefit from some professional mentoring but when 4 clients over a period of 16 weeks receive confidential financial information that belongs to someone else, it goes beyond human error and frankly becomes a dangerous precedent.

She took it well but I felt so sorry for her. She's tiny, fragile, sweet, tried very hard, stepped up to the plate when I told her she wasn't quite cutting the mustard but frankly, the job was too much for her.

What becomes of a 21 year old who can't hold down a basic Admin position. I wanted to hug her but that would be unprofessional, so offered a verbal reference should she take a less demanding position. Her character was exemplary . . her ability sadly lacking. I feel shitty, I've only done this three times and the other two were easy because the kids lied and were caught red-handed but this one really didn't do anything 'wrong' - she just wasn't up to the job. I thought she'd cry . .protest . . have something to say . . and she was given the opportunity - other than telling me that both her parents had lost their jobs and she was now the breadwinner (Jesus didn't that hit home!). But business is business and basically, she took it on the chin with a vacant look and didn't even take her termination letter or reference with her. I think her last word was 'cool'.

I've been retrenched for 'personal' reasons and I know that gut-wrenching feeling when someone says "I have to let you go . ." I just hope she prevails. I'm sorry Kel but I tried hard to bring you into the fold. And I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.

Managing people really sucks.

No pic because it's not funny being the 'go to' girl.


ian said...

The good thing about being a priest is working alone, without anyone to support you and without anyone to fire.

I had a colleague once - who was just lazy - but I left, so my successor had to do the firing. I decided that my management skills were zero and resolved never to work with anyone again.

Baino said...

Ian, it's an unenviable job especially when the kid's sweet, trying hard but simply has nothing between the ears. We gave her a good chance and frankly, there's only one partner (one of whom I am not particularly fond) who is prepared to do this kind of thing. I'm surprised you have no-one to support you. Management is what inept people do. I wish I'd been a tradie frankly.

Grannymar said...

I never liked hiring and firing. Playing God was not for me. I have spent time coaching, encouraging and training in my working life. Some were like sponges for information and willing to learn, while others seemed to live in a fog so thick that it was impossible to penetrate.

Quickroute said...

A previous boss of mine wasn't very good at hiring or firing and couldn't face firing people so over time we ended up with a large amount of incompetent people. That made life hell for everyone

laughingwolf said...

you had no choice, under the circumstances... and no, that does not make it easier :(

Ces said...

Now, may I apply for that job? You can sponsor me.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Managing people sucks. Big time. I've been retrenched, but I've never had to do it, thank goodness. Thing is here you wouldn't have been able to let her go so easily. Our labour relations act precludes people being "let go". You have to go through a whole process of verbal warnings, written warnings and even then the employee can take you to the labour relations court. Hiring the wrong person becomes a nightmarish business. Consider yourself having got off lightly. But yes, I agree, it's not a great thing to have to do - and it's about balancing the personal with the professional, being businesslike with being compassionate.

Bear Naked said...

Hopefully you will find a suitable replacement quickly.
Sounds to me that this young girl had a bit of a Doris Day outlook on life.
"Que sera, sera."

Bear((( )))

Jay said...

Sorry you had to do that, but Quickroute is right - if you don't, then you end up with a very unhappy workforce very quickly because no-one likes having to do two people's jobs and being paid for one. Happens far too often .. and it's probably worse when the incompetent one is the only one working in that position because the work simply does not get done properly.

I happen to believe that people who are overfaced at work aren't happy either, though I guess at least they're earning. :(

Moon said...

It's wierd how other people blogs seem to mirror my life. Onlt last week I was talking to my boss (he had flown over to be with me for a few meetings), and he is a great guy, and in fact I'd call him a good friend. So I asked him, it must be hard to seperate being a boss and a mate.... he said not really, you'll soon know when I am being the boss.....

I think I would hate it !

Nick said...

I've never been a manager and didn't particularly want to, precisely because of having to deal with those nasty staffing and discipline issues. No matter how many times you've fired someone, I'm sure it doesn't get any easier unless you have a heart of stone. But it sounds like she was so laid back that being fired didn't bother her much, even being the family breadwinner. Some people are too relaxed for their own good!

Maxi Cane said...

I wouldn't feel too bad about it.

She'll realise one day, if not straight away that you were right in what you had to do.

If she doesn't, then no amount of sackings will sort it out.

Miladysa said...


I wouldn't be surprised if you run into her three or four years from now and she thanks you for doing her a favour.

If we were close by I would give you a hug and pass you a mug/glass depending on your preference. As we are not I shall raise a virtual glass to this time next week in the certain knowledge that it will not hurt as much then.

M x

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

It isn't easy managing, but someone has to do it.

She'll have learned from this, I hope, and be able to build from it.

You are looking at it with a healthy perspective, but it doesn't ease the nausea of having to let someone go like that.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Bimbimbie said...

Not a good day then, but at 21 you would expect someone to have a bit more awareness that making such errors is not going to be acceptable to anyone*!*

Megan said...

I've never had to let someone go, but I've seen my mother's mood after she has done so. Not fun...

Baino said...

GM we're a business after all and it was either her or a couple of disgruntled clients. Confidentiality and trust are the staples of our relationship with clients.

Quickie, that's why she had to go. It wasn't that she didn't have opportunity the poor girl just wasn't very smart.

True Wuff I just hope she finds her niche, she's a nice kid.

Oh Ces! You couldn't buy Bristol Board with her salary!

AV same here there are very strict 'unfair dismissal' laws but then the court of appeal for employees is very comples. Her dismissal was fair, there were meetings, warnings and documentation so I don't think it came as a big surprise. And the rest of the workforce had lost confidence in her ability so it was a huge distraction. I feel a bit more relieved this morning frankly.

Bear there are plenty of candidates for the position, we'll just have to raise the salary to match their experience. It's an important job Reception, you're the first person the public sees or talks to but we value it lowly in financial terms.

Jay certainly she took it on the chin. I suspect she's been fired before. She left school at 18 and hasn't held down a permanent position since. I should have seen the writing on the wall but wanted to give her a chance and she was one of only 2 candidates available. High price of low unemployment!

Moon it is a fine line. We're a small business just 17 of us so the delineation between boss and 'team member' is very thin. I have to pull rank sometimes and often they think I'm joking! This'll give me a bit of 'kudos' for a couple of days and reassirt my authority methinks!

Wow Mr Cane! A serious comment . . having a bad day?

Cheers Mildadysa . . well I hope so. Actually being 'retrenched' myself (that was a personal decision on the part of my boss who felt a little 'threatened') turned out to be one of the best things that happened to me but it took a while to realise it!

Ello Scarlett. I hope so but I fear not. She's not a confident kid and honestly capable of little more than being a shop girl.

Bimbimbie, my son at 21 has more nouse in his little finger. Then we can't all be bright sparks.

Haha . . well Megan I was left 'alone' last night and probably just as well!

Kath Lockett said...

Oh Baino, I've been there to. The firer (as a govt manager of fifteen staff) and, last year, as the poor sap that my boss decided to have 'transferred, even though your skills are excellent. I can do this because Managers are allowed to shift staff out because it says so in your Enterprise Agreement'.

At least you know that your reasons for doing so are fair and reasonable. She may need to have a good think about what skills she has to offer the job world.

Still sucks badly though and I hope you hit the chardy and chocolates without feel bad about that as well. :)

Ces said...

As for hiring and firing, I have, as a member of a three-nurse panel hired fifteen assistants. We had to ask questions from a script, stupid questions like :Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I was once asked that question and I replied, "hopefully retired because I won the lottery" - they hired me anyway. I never personally fired someone but had a nurse fired because she said "F---k you! during an argument about medication dosing. She was giving too much Demerol. I was 24 years old and nobody has ever said that to me. I cried. My American and Americanized Filipino friends told me that Americans are like that - with foul mouths. I refused to accept it. I told my director I refused to work in the department where nurses were vulgar. The director spoke to the Chief Nurse and they fired the nurse on the spot! Luckily she did not return and go on a rampage.

kj said...

baino, i have fired (or politely redirected) a half dozen people over the years and i always lost sleep over it, even though it's true that most people actually fire themselves.

i don't miss that role at all. i tend to be more a mentor or trainer these days and not anyone's supervisor, and i like that just fine. i think miladysa is right--she's probably grateful to you.


Baino said...

Yep, read about your woes Kath. Government departments are very good at finding a 'way' round the rules. Myex box managed to take all his good staff with him when he shifted from NSW Police to Dept. Ed. so much for 'equal opportunity employment!'

Ces that's a bit rude! I mean, I know I have a potty mouth but I use it in jest not to abuse someone. Very unprofessional and I would suggest uncharacteristic of a nurse to behave that way!

kj I think she must have seen it coming. We're only now realising all the bits and bobs that she didn't do! Look she's a nice enough kid and will find something where she doesn't have to multi task or take too much responsibility. Nah, I didn't lose too much sleep, it was a gracious parting and I'm happy to be a 'character' reference for her.

Anonymous said...

Must have been really tough! I'm sure though that in teh long run it was better for the girl too.

Baino said...

Well hello Connor. What had to be done was done. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Why is no one asking the important questions? Was she hot?

Baino said...

Good grief, Kahler the 'never comments' Geek Boy . .nah she wasn't hot but trust you!