“Being a manager would be a lot easier without employees,” sighed supervisor Ford Swick, dropping into that chair across from HR director Stu Capper’s desk.
“True, but the pay probably wouldn’t be as good.” said Stu. “Something you want to talk about?”
“It’s Mike Sands,” said Ford. “My most productive employee – and the guy who doesn’t think the rules apply to him.”
Why should top performer be penalized?
“What’s going on?” asked Stu.
“Well, he often comes in late,” said Ford. “And then, he often leaves early. But his work’s always done – and done well. He’s my best performer – hands down. And the other people in the department know it. They’ve always been a little jealous of Mike’s schedule, but now that we’re all carrying a heavier load, I’m beginning to hear some complaints.”
“OK, the obvious question: Have you talked to Mike?” asked Stu.
“Naturally,” said Ford, frowning. “His answer is that his work is always done. Nobody ever has to cover for him. And why should he be penalized because the rest of the department can’t work as efficiently as he does?”
“He has a point – sort of,” Stu admitted. “But the rules apply to everybody.”
“I know. I know,” said Ford. “I’ll tell you what, though – we can’t afford to lose this top performer. If I put my foot down, the company could lose a very productive individual.”
If you were Stu, what would you do next?
Elissa Douglas, HR Director, Independent Living Services, Conway, AR
What Elissa would do: I’d meet with Mike and ask him if he has any special needs that require flexible scheduling. Since he’s a highly valued employee, we can probably give him a flexible schedule to suit his situation.
Reason: Mike may have some needs that we weren’t aware of, in which case we can try to accommodate him. If other employees have a problem, they’ll need to understand that the flexible schedule is a reward for his great performance.
Darla Kofanda, HR Generalist, 1st United Bank, Faribault, MN
What Darla would do: I’d start putting Mike through a progressive discipline procedure, starting with a written warning. If Ford objects, I’d explain that Mike’s behavior is causing morale issues that are hurting his whole department.
Reason: Ford needs to see the whole picture. Letting Mike break the rules will upset other employees. Then their performance might suffer – and they may even leave the company. The health of the whole department is worth the risk of losing one person, no matter how great his performance.
Greg Bowes, Operations Manager, Viking Plastics, Inc., Corry, PA
What Greg would do: Mike needs to understand that it isn’t just his own performance that’s at stake. His co-workers rely on him to come in on time and work the full day. I’d sit down with him to explain that, and then work with him to set a goal for improving his attendance. If he doesn’t reach the goal in a set amount of time, maybe he’s working for the wrong company.
Reason: Mike may individually be a top performer, but he isn’t a great value to the company if he won’t work as a teammate with everyone else.