We have been described as a nation of slobs. I disagree. No, we aren’t living in the early 1960’s, a time where gentlemen wore hats and long sleeved shirts beneath their tailored suit coats. But we haven’t migrated to the other extreme. I saw a guy in an office the other day that proved the point. He was wearing a wrinkled suit and a tie that landed half-way up a shirt that may, or may not, have ever been tucked in to his ill-fitting pants. He was a mess, but he was still close to where he needed to be. And I got to thinking that there are three types of slobs.
Naturally Sloppy – This is someone who couldn’t keep his shirt tucked in and his tie straight if his life depended upon it. Those around him realize that neatness must be like singing, a talent that some people have and some just don’t.
Personal Style – Convinced that this is either in style or HIS style, his shirt and tie are just part of his total look. Much like the 3 day beard (not 2 day not 4), it is specific in what is and isn’t out of place. His look has its own internal logic and truth.
The Attention Seeker – Starved for any attention, even negative, his appearance is a faux rebellion. His attention is intentionally disruptive. He wants to be the focal point even if it will lead to being reprimanded or to be excluded from other activities or opportunities.
Unless this is the first time you have read this blog, you know that this post isn’t about guys walking around with exposed shirttails. It is about employees. Bad employees.
Good employees will have to wait for another day. People who excel at their jobs are never truly appreciated. That is just the way it is. Employees who do their job, nothing less and never anything more, seldom warrant much attention positive or negative. This post is about the people that set the boss’s teeth on edge.
The Incompetent – Overmatched. It is a daily battle. They fight the job and the job wins. This is an employer problem. They have assigned the wrong person for the job. We wouldn’t assign a guy 5’2” tall to guard an NBA center, yet business routinely puts the equally unqualified into jobs that they can not do. It is not the employee’s fault.
The Clueless – This worker is absolutely positive that she is a rising star. She is the reckless driver on her cellphone who has never been in an accident, but has caused numerous fender-benders. Her mistakes are intentional. She just doesn’t know that they are mistakes.
The Saboteur – The worst of all employees and we have all had one. “No one could be that stupid”, you yell as you discover another mistake. At some point the employer realizes that this employee wants to be disciplined and he hopes to be fired. Being fired feeds into his internal narrative that everyone picks on him, nobody appreciates him, and that he was just too good and the other employees were jealous. And, if you’re fired you get unemployment insurance.
One of my clients is dealing with a Saboteur. Stuff disappears for a day or two, everyone gets upset, and then the hero finds the missing item where others had already looked. Forms are misfiled, telephone messages are consistently wrong, and the rest of the employees are now left to wonder how long such behavior can be tolerated. It is all so disruptive. It is all so unnecessary.
My client knows what he has to do. He has to terminate the malcontent. But it is hard. For one, he has to admit that he totally screwed up by hiring the guy. For another, he also has to overcome his disappointment. My client had been looking for a key person for a number of years. He thought that he had finally found the right guy. Firing any employee is difficult. This will be that much harder. But being a business owner requires a certain level of intestinal fortitude. He can’t allow one employee to destroy his business.
So when it comes to negative behavior we are left to ask whether or not it is intentional. And then we have to act.