Quick! What kind of employee would you say you are? If you had to describe yourself, what would you say? Have you ever been a slacker? A type A who couldn’t stop overthrowing the current regime? Were you the quiet mousey type who tried to fade into the woodwork? In my time working with different people, I’ve sort of narrowed the 5 types of employees that I’ve noticed keep popping up. There’s others, of course, but these are the ones who I feel can really make or break a business. These types (all except the last one listed) can be dangerous to have on board.
When there is a job to be done, the bottom line is, the job needs to get done. And it has to be done efficiently. There is not a lot of room for error, as time constraints and business dictates that ideally, you have one shot to accomplish that which you were expected to do. One of the biggest areas of a hold up in getting work done, is an employee who has little to no care in the world, and zero sense of urgency for accomplishing a task. Now, unless your employee is planning to make a career doing YOUR business, it can be a challenge to find people who take the job 100% seriously. But they are out there. We just need to interview smart and pay attention to the prospects cues that they are even remotely a good fit for the job. Personality counts immensely. If you have a super busy sales job, and hire a super shy guy, you can do the math. If you are running a business which deals with NO people, and hire someone to sit in a cubicle all day and crunch numbers, and this person happens to be like me: needing interaction, stimulation and sunlight… do the math. It ain’t gonna work out. Employees and job seekers have to be honest with themselves too. If taking a job just to HAVE a job – while I understand the dire situation one can be in and have been there myself – spells disaster starting at the classified ad, and you know going in, this is NOT a fit for you – don’t waste your time and everyone else’s! Don’t waste their money, either. It is costly to hire.
If we are hiring the right people up front, and we are discussing with these new employees from the get-go what our expectations are, the job at hand, the need for detailed attention, urgency, ownership, etc., then we stand to fare way better than if we silently leave employees to go rogue. Below, I have outlined the types of employees I have run into over the years, and what I know firsthand that it does to the manager, your business and the other workers.
Chill Chester – Chester is a super chill, easy going and agreeable one. This one is all about good vibes. He never really gets upset, and takes everything in stride, and has pretty much one speed…CHILL. When the sh*t hits the fan, as it will, Chester is right there calm as ever, and chillfully happy to stand to the side as the manager needs to jump in and diffuse the situation. He’s got no idea the sense of seriousness or urgency that is needed now. The issue with being so “chillll” is that while things are good, being chill can be fine, but when stuff goes awry, as it will indeed, chill is not the answer. Nothing wrong with having a voice of reason and someone who is unflappable, but Mr. Chill typically seems to be too chill in times of stress. This leaves a manager to go into damage control, yearning for the ability to depend on an employee just a bit more. Full confidence is not there. If you have to stop and troubleshoot for Chester at the slightest fumbles, you aren’t able to do your own job. Which poses a problem business-wise… *enter the block, where your head will fit quite nicely.
Annie Attitude – I think we all experience Annie Attitude on a daily basis at this point, no joke. You know her – the one who is chewing gum, tending to her Instagram, and is so absolutely annoyed to be at work, so put out that you, the customer… or heck, you, the MANAGER, would require her to do anything resembling work, that her face could turn you to stone. She stands at the register, emitting signals that she’s ready to claw someone’s eyes out. She mumbles incoherently, and if you couldn’t understand her, she *tsks* and repeats herself in a mumbled huff. When asked to take care of needed tasks, she moves in ultra slow motion, has her head cocked to the side, resting on one leg with the hip popped out, and a puss on her that could melt your insides. Annie is NOT here to work. Annie is insulted at the thought that she should work. And Annie is here literally for a paycheck. Which she did not earn. That is, if she even shows up for work… and she is ALWAYS late. She is of zero use to your other employees, or your establishment. The mistake that many managers make is keeping Annie on board because they convince themselves that she is better than nothing. She is a warm body, she can fill in until someone better comes along. I mean, who feels like going through the interview process when you are so busy, right? Well… let me be the first to tell you, Annie is not only costing you money by paying her for literally nothing, she’s causing you to lose customers. Which costs you money. Which needs to stop. Lose Annie and hire someone new! And don’t forget to cover ALL bases in the hiring process so that this doesn’t happen again!
Bossy Bill – Move aside – Bill’s got this. Bill knows everything, and will take care of ALL the things. Bill has assumed the silent role of the manager, and takes charge where he sees areas of need and opportunity. Bill isn’t necessarily a bad guy, he could actually be a pretty cool guy! He’s just the type A personality who gets frustrated when people don’t seem to be doing things that he considers important. Perhaps Bills future does lie in management, and he is a great person for that role one day. But today… Bill has a manager, and it is you. And Bill doesn’t respect you as a leader. He may LIKE you, but liking and respecting can be two very different animals. Bill’s a little like a bull in a china shop. He means well, but he basically uses himself as a battering ram and knocks you out of the way to get a job or 12 done. Bill’s going to coach your other employees too. He’s looking out for the business, and perhaps is not bad at it. In fact, some of the employees respond to Bill positively, and do what he tells them. Some other employees may be wondering to themselves, “Who the heck is the manager here?? Why should I listen to Bill, he’s not my boss!” The problem with both of these is that you, the manager, have lost respect from EVERY employee. The Bill followers see him as more authoritative than you. And the Bill haters see you doing nothing to stop Bill from taking over the world. Now, you’re a leader with no followers. Bill won. And that’s not a good look for management. Sit the Bills of the world down and have a serious chat about who is in charge and why, and find ways to use Bills superhero skills for the greater good. Maybe promote Bill to be lead associate, or delegate certain job functions to him, and allow him to be a team leader. But give him a job description, and tell him to stay in his lane. Do this at the beginning, and you won’t have an employee revolt.
Timid Terry – Aw, Terry…this one is a sweet, demure, quiet and soft being. She will do whatever you ask of her. She’s great at working alone, and prefers it that way. But Terry is timid. Real timid. In fact, she avoids everyone…including customers. You can barely hear her talk, and she is so unassuming that you could forget that she’s around. And she’s hoping that is exactly what everyone will do – forget she’s around! This is a hard one, because Terry is so sensitive, that one small critique could send her into a tailspin. But that’s not entirely your problem. Your problem is that you hired her to do a job that she clearly is not a good fit for. Putting Terry on the front of the sales floor in a busy store is so far removed from her personality, that you’ve just set everyone up for failure. Rather than detecting this in your very quiet interview with her, and seeing that her one worded answers and lack of eye contact would not be suitable for a people position, you just said, “Yep! Let’s hire her!” and tossed her limp self out to the wolves. This not only once again ensures that you the manager, will be doing the work of at least 2 people now, but that Terry is failing your business miserably by spending more time straightening out the same display for the 4th hour in a row, hoping the ground would swallow her whole. She’s not selling a thing. But your back corner display rack looks SWEET, doesn’t it! Thanks Terry, you’re dismissed.
Qualified Quinn – Now Quinn… Quinn is where it’s at!! Quinn came to your interview with knowledge about your business, and brought his personality with him! He’s easy to talk to, maintains non-creepy, but steady eye-contact, and has smart questions, and smart answers. Quinn is friendly, happy, and instantly likable. He tells you about himself in an informative, non-egocentric way, and is enthusiastic to work for your company for XYZ reasons.. Quinn seems to be aligned with your business, and when told what his duties would be, he is agreeable, and understands his place in the business. Quinn is also eager to learn, and wants to be as helpful as possible. He admits that this may not be his long-term career path, but while he is here, assures you that he will put in 100%. He is communicative, and understands responsibility and the need to sometimes accept criticism. Quinn is ready to get to work! First, I’d want to know if Quinn has any friends like him who are looking for jobs, or I’d research cloning him…he’s a rare commodity. Quinn will get you repeat customers, and be your right hand. This is the template for an awesome employee.
(I was going to mention the thief employee – but I don’t think it’s too relevant here. That’s the random odd-ball that just happens from time to time, unfortunately, and they can talk a good game.)
The problem with all of these employees except Quinn, is that you potentially have every single one of them working for you right now, and your business and your sanity is suffering for it. You essentially are doing the work of 5 people – your own, and then the 4 unqualified or unsuitable people you have on board. Quinn will suffer too, if he’s in this team, because all things will fall on him, as he sees no one is doing their part, and doesn’t want to ruin his reputation with higher management, wants to move up in the company, and is trying to prove himself. But one can only do so much juggling before the balls eventually fall. And once again, the block for your head appears, and the concerned questions start coming to YOU, the manager. “Why are numbers down? What’s happening there? Why is Annie sitting on the counter doing her nails? Why is Chester following around the hot chick shopping? Where the hell is Terry? And why is Bill working on the budget??”
The best way to trouble shoot this is again, interview, interview, interview, and BE a leader. Communicate with workers, and lay expectations out VERY clearly with job descriptions in hand. Walk the walk and talk the talk as a manager. Lead by example. If you realize that you have an employee who is not working out, do something. Don’t hope and pray. Speak to them, outline your discussion and future expectations, and if they can’t or won’t live up to them, do what you need to do. Your business is your livelihood. Sometimes the nicest thing you can do for someone is set them free from a situation that is not working out, and allow them to seek something that better suits them. That…is being a leader.