At a recent Roundtable meeting, David shared his concern regarding an employee who was padding his timecard with overtime hours he wasn’t working. This wasn’t the first time Joe had been caught stealing; the last time it was for taking scrap material. Unfortunately, Joe is the only person who performs a complicated assembly process in the factory. So, David has been conflicted regarding how to handle the situation.
Members peppered David with questions. “What did you tell Joe when you reprimanded him about stealing scrap material?”
“I told him the next time he stole anything he’d lose his job.”
“What does your employee manual say about theft, because that’s what Joe is doing when he adds hours to his timecard; he’s stealing from you.”
“I don’t have an employee manual.”
“You don’t have much choice; you must fire him. You can assume other employees know what Joe is doing. If you don’t do something, morale will suffer, and you’ll lose the respect of your other employees.”
“But you don’t understand, Joe is crucial to my process! I can’t fire him.”
Except for David who had done the job years ago, Joe was the only person in the company who knew the process. From his point of view, if he fired Joe, he would jeopardize shipping dates for important customers.
“What if Joe got hit by a bus tomorrow and couldn’t come in to work. What would you do then?”
David thought for a minute and said, “I guess I’d have to go back on the floor and figure out that process; then I’d train someone else how to do it.”
“I think you’ve got your answer.”
“You’re right. I have to fire Joe tomorrow,” David agreed.
David also committed to calling his industry association to see if they have a sample handbook for members.
There are lessons to be learned from David’s experience.
Always make sure every position has a trained back-up, especially one that’s critical to your process.
Have an up-to-date employee handbook: assure each new hire receives a copy and signs off on having read it.
When is the last time your employee handbook was updated? What is your back-up plan for all your critical positions?
The road is easier together,