This story ends
with the police handcuffing and removing a part time sales associate from the
We decided to
tell this true story to illustrate just how horribly things can go wrong when
you're not really on top of...
In the very
early years of her career, Jane (not her real name) got her first store
management job. She inherited a team that left quite a bit to be desired, but
she tried her best to work with them. Some of them came along very well; even
thrived under Jane's leadership. However, one employee, who we'll call Cindy,
did not do well at all.
She was constantly late for her shifts, her sales were not very good and she was
usually half asleep while on the sales floor.
employee needed guidance in the form of performance management. Jane had several
conversations with Cindy to get to know her a little better and find out why her
behavior was not up to standard. Cindy, it turns out, had just lost her mother
at a young age and Cindy found herself caring for younger siblings. She said
that was the reason she was late so often - due to child care responsibilities.
She said she was tired all of the time - again, due to child care
She said her sales were not good because she was depressed and upset most of the
Well, what does
a new, fairly inexperienced Manager do? She fell for it ....hook, line and
sinker. Now, to be fair, the story was true. Cindy had just lost her mother. And
some new responsibilities were thrust upon her with regard to her younger
siblings. However, Jane did not do her part as the Manager. Jane allowed Cindy
to behave poorly. She did not take any disciplinary action for tardiness and she
allowed her to underperform in all aspects of her job.
Jane found it difficult to manage Cindy's
performance because there were too many emotions involved.
wondering what happened as a result of this situation being allowed to fester.
Well, other employees were shaking their heads in disbelief. They knew that
Cindy was taking advantage of Jane's sympathetic nature. And morale plummeted
whenever Cindy was working in the store because everyone knew that she was not
pulling her weight...not even close!
evening, Cindy arrived for her shift and asked to speak with Jane in the
Cindy asked for a raise. Yes, the poorest performer in the store wanted
a raise because, she said, she just wasn't making enough money to look after her
been a pushover up until now, finally realized she was being taken advantage of.
There was no way Cindy was going to get a raise and, in fact, was lucky to still
have a job. So, Jane told Cindy that she was not going to get a raise in pay.
She also told her that if she improved her sales she would start earning
commission and the problem could be solved that way. Cindy was very upset and
just kept repeating that she was not going to leave without getting a raise.
This is where the situation got ugly.
Cindy to go and calm down and come back when she had regained her composure.
Cindy refused and followed Jane out onto the sales floor. Jane immediately
turned back and, again, instructed Cindy to leave the store or sit in the back
room until she had calmed down. By now, though, Cindy was yelling "I want a
raise" at the top of her lungs. Thankfully, there were no customers around to
hear her - but how long would that last?
Jane tried her
best to convince Cindy to leave the store but with no success. Finally, as
the yelling continued, Jane called security and they came to the store - with
the police. The doors to the store were temporarily closed while the police
tried to convince Cindy to go with them. She refused repeatedly. Finally, she
threw herself on the floor in her attempt to resist being handcuffed. Fixtures
were flying across the sales floor. Merchandise was all over the place. Cindy
was banging into the fixtures and didn't seem to care about being physically
Another staff member stood, mortified, in a corner waiting for it all to
end. Jane was shaking with horror at what was transpiring. She
wondered how she ever let this situation get so out of hand and vowed never to
let it happen again.
In the end,
Cindy was removed from the premises and, of course, no longer had her job. Jane
learned some very valuable lessons through that entire experience, and here they
on one associate for a prolonged period of time is unfair to the other
employees and to the organization.
accept substandard performance regardless of the reasons.
regular discussions about performance so it does not get completely out of
specific issues to get each one sorted out.
action plans for, and with, the underperforming employee and hold them
that you cannot solve your employees personal problems by being 'nice' to
them - they have to seek help for themselves.
this Store Manager learned these hard lessons through experience. What would be
really unfortunate would be if she continued to manage performance
the way she had done with Cindy - which was, basically, not
managing it at all and being too 'nice'. Jane went on to become a highly
successful retail manager who was promoted to higher and higher levels.
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