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Firing an employee because a better option came along

[email protected]

Active member
Say you've got an employee that shows up on time, does exactly what he's told and no more. He's entirely forgettable aside from the stupid things he always forgets to do, like check coolant level after lunch even though he's been told numerous times to do so. He has absolutely zero desire to learn anything, just wants his check and to go home. Which is fine; He's making good parts.

Now say you've got a chance to hire a guy who is a known entity, is smart, is willing to start at the bottom and learn the trade, and is hungry. He is much more personable than the other guy, and stands a good chance to be a star employee.

You don't have enough work for both of them.

Do you fire somebody that hasn't done anything wrong, to hire a better option?
 

BoxcarPete

Active member
Say you've got an employee that shows up on time, does exactly what he's told and no more. He's entirely forgettable aside from the stupid things he always forgets to do, like check coolant level after lunch even though he's been told numerous times to do so. He has absolutely zero desire to learn anything, just wants his check and to go home. Which is fine; He's making good parts.

Now say you've got a chance to hire a guy who is a known entity, is smart, is willing to start at the bottom and learn the trade, and is hungry. He is much more personable than the other guy, and stands a good chance to be a star employee.

You don't have enough work for both of them.

Do you fire somebody that hasn't done anything wrong, to hire a better option?

If you are confident that the new guy will indeed be an upgrade, and stick around long enough to make it worthwhile, and you can still sleep at night, yes. But the fact that you are asking means there's a possibility that one of those conditions might not be true.
 

TheBigLebowski

New member
Say you've got an employee that shows up on time, does exactly what he's told and no more. He's entirely forgettable aside from the stupid things he always forgets to do, like check coolant level after lunch even though he's been told numerous times to do so. He has absolutely zero desire to learn anything, just wants his check and to go home. Which is fine; He's making good parts.

Now say you've got a chance to hire a guy who is a known entity, is smart, is willing to start at the bottom and learn the trade, and is hungry. He is much more personable than the other guy, and stands a good chance to be a star employee.

You don't have enough work for both of them.

Do you fire somebody that hasn't done anything wrong, to hire a better option?

It sounds like you know what you want to do but will feel guilty for doing it.

In reality the only way to ever know if the guy really has those qualities is to hire him and find out, there is no such thing as a known entity until youve worked with them day in and out for years. The downside is when it doesn't work out the other guy will have found a different job and now you've got 0 good employees.
 

Bondo

New member
Since you know what the existing guy can do, can you afford to keep him for 3-4 months and grow the company knowing all he will do is what he will do.

If the guy is a $12/hr button pusher and deburs parts well, then I would keep him to have him just work on jobs like that.

The real dilemma for me in this situation is "kid" makes 60k a yr for the business as he runs jobs worth 100k minus programming, material, mishaps and what not. He costs me 32k a year in expenses (payroll, taxes, WC) so a profit of "kid" is 28k a year.

Is 28k a year worth keeping him or is there a chance he could blow up a machine, burn the shop down, run the forklift into someone's truck?

If he is worth keeping, then you can have the same type of talk with yourself about the new guy. Like how long till he can be a programmer? How can I make even more money with both vs just 1. Can I use this new guy as a way to finally take a vacation?

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

CarbideBob

Active member
..
known entity, is smart, i
How many times has this failed?
Who is leading the current guy that is just doing enough to get by.
I have seen this so many times. I want a star player on the team and that will make all better.
I can see the logic for doing such but you maybe playing dice. Been there and done it.
Bob
 

wheelieking71

Active member
You definitely have quite the moral dilemma there Matt. I completely understand it. I've been there!
When I got crazy slow and had to let one of two guys go, I had to chose to let the one who is my brother-in-law, and had about a years seniority, go.
Over the new guy who was just the most fantastic dream employee. It sucked big fuzzy nuts! But, I did what I had to do.
And there really is only one answer for you if you ask me. Work the slacker to his breaking point and make him quit.
Start piling on responsibilities that he doesn't like. And you take over the ones he does. It won't take long.
Tell him he is just too slow, and not dedicated enough. Then put some hustle in for a week or two to show him what you need.
He will check out before long.

Yea, its a crappy situation. But, just remember, you have to take care of #1! You, your business, and your family.
 

Scruffy887

Active member
You are facing the single biggest dilemma facing a small shop trying to grow. I was there a very long time ago and it sucks. But you can grow and often it takes schit luck. At some point you need to step back and supervise. Keep yer fookin hands off the green button! You hired them to work and you need to do the other crap.
 
O

otrlt

Guest
Hello Matt,
Your actions in this situation may lead you into a bigger problem. You've heard this one before;

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush
 

boosted

Active member
And there really is only one answer for you if you ask me. Work the slacker to his breaking point and make him quit. Start piling on responsibilities that he doesn't like. And you take over the ones he does. It won't take long.
Tell him he is just too slow, and not dedicated enough. Then put some hustle in for a week or two to show him what you need.
He will check out before long.

Yea, its a crappy situation. But, just remember, you have to take care of #1! You, your business, and your family.

Wheelie I'm often on the same wavelength as you, but that's kinda gross. I think you also have an obligation to your employees. It's like ending a relationship with a girlfriend. The right thing to do is just end it if you are looking to upgrade, not try to push them away by making things miserable.

I don't think you mean it this way, but "looking out for #1" is just boomer speak for "fuck you - I got mine". That's the worst kind of business owner (and human really).
 

wheelieking71

Active member
Wheelie I'm often on the same wavelength as you, but that's kinda gross. I think you also have an obligation to your employees. It's like ending a relationship with a girlfriend. The right thing to do is just end it if you are looking to upgrade, not try to push them away by making things miserable.

I don't think you mean it this way, but "looking out for #1" is just boomer speak for "fuck you - I got mine". That's the worst kind of business owner (and human really).

No, its not "boomer speak". It is exactly what it sounds like. Matt (all of us) have to make the smartest decision to benefit us.
If this is a bad thing for the person/people it affects? It is their fault. Not Matt's. Is it Matt's fault this guy is a slacker? NO
The way I meant it was: is this guy holding Matt back, and/or costing him money? I agree, its kind of messed up.
But think about it this way: it may wake the slacker up and open his eyes? Sorta like giving him another chance.
Without having to lay it out so harshly. It sure beats: "your a slacker, your fired" don't you think?

I have a moral dilemma myself right now. Two weeks ago (first thing in the morning, first day back from holiday break),
my #1 guy (only guy) put in his two weeks. "More if needed". It really isn't needed right now.
Today should have been his last day. End of day he comes to me and asks if he can go part-time instead of quit.
I want to say no. But, I really like the guy...........

Moral of the story: sometimes we have to make fucked up decisions where there is no cut & dry answer.

EDIT: for the ones who really used to pay attention to my shop thread: we all remember what finally drove Tommy to quit, right?
 

gbent

Active member
How many folks here would like to find a guy who shows up every day, makes good parts, and does (nearly) exactly what he is told? The name is verboten now, but you have a "useful idiot". It is your job to make sure he is "useful".

Ok, you have a star prospect. Are you willing to put the time into him to make him a star? Do your business plans forecast the type of growth that will keep your prospect challenged? Or will he learn everything you have to teach and move on in a few years?
 

boosted

Active member
No, its not "boomer speak". It is exactly what it sounds like. Matt (all of us) have to make the smartest decision to benefit us.

Agreed, but I think you also have an obligation to your employees. You are captaining a team, and they count on your leadership, just like you count on their productivity. You aren't stuck with them for life, but you also shouldn't just cut them loose on a whim if it benefits you.

Firing a productive employee to make room for one that is possibly better is pretty crappy move from an ethical standpoint. I certainly balk if the justification is "I have to look out for #1". If it's a failing business, perhaps that's true, but where do you draw the line? How successful do you have to be to change that mindset? How much has to be at stake for you to hurt somebody who works for you so that you can make the "smart" move?
 

idacal

Member
If his wages are cheap enough keep them both, otherwise if the new guy doesnt work out are you going to be screwed getting your work done? Could you hire another drone for what your paying this one? Im dealing with this right now and it sucks, the guy i got is great personality, doesnt cause issues, but will never be an operator and is to high payed to not have responsibility. He does stupid screwups that cost a lot of money and time, and i need an operator, or no one, have 2 years working with him, i going to try going without help for a few months and see what actual affects it has on my income.
 
The best thing you can do is be fair. Which is very hard in a situation like this.

Let me stress this first, mind you this is solely my opinion: one of the worst things an employer can do is just up and fire someone who was never officially given a heads-up that something was amiss. Not even given a chance to do better. Barring, of course, extreme circumstances. And I know that HR jerkwads do it all the time. Doesn’t make it fair. And, if you have done that already with this guy - good on you, that makes the prospect of termination easier to stomach.

To me the fairest thing would be this: hire the new guy. Let him work thru his probation period if you do that, otherwise just make sure he does right for a couple months. Then let your slacker know what’s up. Tell him, professionally, where you need him to improve. Try to avoid comparing the two, to avoid any bad blood between them (or at least at this stage, it’s probably inevitable). If he gets upset and pissed off, walk him out at that point. But, some people don’t realize how poor they’re doing until it’s laid out there plain to them.

From a different viewpoint it seems stupid to not realize it, but you never know their upbringing or previous work history; they may not know. If you straight up tell him shape up or ship out, and how, and he doesn’t- it’s on him.

Anyway! The ideal situation is, within these two-three months that the new guy is doing his thing, perhaps you can find work for your slacker. If it’s cheesy production work or, if it’s sawing, staging, packaging, that kind of thing. Something that doesn’t take as much thought or care. Then you can keep both guys and you’re better for it, best case scenario.
 
O

otrlt

Guest
Say you've got an employee that shows up on time, does exactly what he's told and no more.

What more do you want Matt?

This employee will certainly be hired, if you let him go. The reason that he doesn't want to do more, is because he does not have confidence in you.
 

Covenant MFG

New member
Risk with the new guy is that if he's really a motivated star, he'll have about three options in 2-5 years:

1. Stay with the company for the long term as it grows, become foreman/production manager for you, possibly buying you out when you want to retire. If you can get the guy to get married and buy a house, and you grow reliably as well as his paycheck, this is decently likely. Or, he becomes content at a certain skill level and is a reliable cash cow programmer and stays there until retirement.

2. The guy wants to do "uber cool stuff" and jumps into a more challenging (and higher paying) role somewhere else. Depends how advanced of programming and fixturing you're doing, but there's always someone with a fancier specialty.

3. The guys saves up, finds a deal on an older machine, works nights and weekends and eventually goes full time on his own. If he's got a good relationship with you and/or strong ethics he may not take some customers or coworkers with him.


Question with the new guy is how soon can he break even on the cost/revenue generation, and are you willing to take potentially high gains for 2-4 years over reliable(ish? People scrap stuff) but moderately low gains over the long term.

When I first got hired where I work now (I only had operator experience but was pretty eager), I shadowed a machinist for a few months before another apprentice - who got his job done but sounded like the operator in the OP - got let go after a pretty bad crash, and I took his place. He got a great job at another solid company the next day but I still feel bad.
Anyway, fast forward about a year and a half and I'm not a top producer (20+ programmers and manual guys, no operators) but doing pretty well. I got an older Haas and been working on growing that on the side, probably a year or two out until I'm ready to head out on my own.
 

ILikeMachining

New member
Sounds like #2 guy would take over your business and hire #1 guy. Maybe you should figure out how to expand your existing customer base and have them both on the payroll making YOU MONEY.
 








 
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