Is being too nice hurting your business?

Yesterday I was having our monthly group consultation/coaching call with a client’s managers. One brought up an issue you may relate to. He had a 5-month new staff member who has been absent and tardy too often, and has been verbally warned. The staff member had viable excuses — family deaths, personal illness, even an auto accident. But she also stretched the limits — she had to be with a friend who was in the hospital, her car wouldn’t start, and she was late getting back from lunch because she got caught in traffic. Thus the verbal warning.

The supervisor was asking if he should be nice and give her some more slack, as her current absence was an unexplained illness. He had counseled her to get a diagnosis then report back so they could explore her options. Of course, she had to take the day off to see the doctor!

He was at his wits end. Her absences meant his department didn’t run as smoothly as needed, but he also wanted to be compassionate to her illness.

I suggested he wait til she returned (today), get the report, then decide whether she should be put on leave of absence (with a doctor’s letter), or if the doctor couldn’t find anything, tell her one more absence or tardy in the next 30 days would result in her termination. (Since I’m not up on HR laws on this matter, I told him to check with his HR department first.) While it is important to be compassionate, he had come to the end of his patience and she was abusing his compassion. He had a unit to run and her frequent absences made it difficult to get the work done.

If you were in this situation, what would you do? I’m sure he’d love more insights!

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