The Good Employee

By: Becky Boswell Smith
June 3, 2010

How much of your time at work is focused on employees? In fact, often only one or two employees.

The answer probably is too much. We all have one of those people for whom nothing is ever quite good enough. We listen, we support, we negotiate, we compromise – whatever we do, we can’t make that person happy.

Well, a smart retailer in Chicago named Jay Goltz has one answer, maybe the best one. He shared his thoughts in an op-ed piece in The New York Times recently and I liked what he said.

His solution: fire the unhappy ones.

You can’t make them happy and after all, that really isn’t your job anyway. You need to provide a good working environment, training, fair and equitable treatment and wages, offer as many benefits as your company can – and if that isn’t enough, get rid of the bad apple.

Here’s how Goltz says it:

You can try, you can listen, you can solve some problems, you can try some more. Good management requires training, counseling and patience, but there comes a point when you are robbing the business of precious time and energy.

Don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t happen a lot. There’s no joy in the act of firing someone. And it’s not always the employee’s fault – there are many bad bosses out there. Bad management can make a good employee dysfunctional. On the other hand, good management will not always make a dysfunctional employee good. And sometimes people who would be great employees somewhere else just don’t fit your company, whether it is the type of business or the company culture.

To Goltz’s point, let me add a guarantee. I promise you that long before you take action, your other employees know there is a problem and wonder why you don’t do anything about it. Every day you postpone action, you lose credibility with your other employees.

After all, what is the major advantage you can have over your competitors? Yep, it’s your staff. When your customers are greeted with a smile, a personal touch and genuine interest in helping them find something to buy, you are the winner.

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