How I dealt with employees who called out regularly

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by Tom Watson on July 16, 2017

Running a business is hard enough when you have everyone pulling together and doing their job.

But when you have to operate it short-handed because someone called out it your day turns into a real juggling act.

When this happened to me early in my career, these questions went through my head depending upon the circumstances… Who will cover that account? How will I get all the jobs done? Do I have an extra set of keys? Who wants overtime? The worst option of all WAS ME DOING THE JOB!

I certainly didn’t get into the business to actually perform the cleaning myself. My goal was get the jobs and hire people to do the work. Yet that process breaks down when someone called out. And that’s only when one person called out!

There were days when I had MULTIPLE PEOPLE call out for one reason or another. When that happened I would just call my wife and say “Don’t worry about dinner for me. I’ll be late”. Then I would call a few friends to see who could help bail me out.

Now over the years I got better at dealing with this issue. This was because in the beginning years of my business I was hesitant to let people go. I would put up with a lot because I really didn’t have much choice. I had a lot of work, and NOT ENOUGH RELIABLE PEOPLE to get it all done.

At times I felt like I was on a boat that had a lot of leaks. When I plugged one hole with my finger another hole would appear. As you are aware of, we only have so many fingers to go around! I felt hopeless many nights as one by one people would call out.

This got worse when I bought another cleaning company and inherited THEIR STAFF. My hope was that these new employees would be RELIABLE. But that wasn’t the case, as they were less reliable than who I had working for me.

So I went through a tough stretch to say the least. The hard part was knowing that it would take a while to fix this issue. There are no magic wands in business! You need to find SOLUTIONS, then IMPLEMENT THEM over time.

To make a long story short, I came up with a new theory on how I should hire employees. And I also stopped making excuses for why I should keep poor performing employees around. When staff proved to me they were unreliable, I LET THEM GO.

Sure, this made things harder for a while, but my thought was it was the only way to go. I could not continue the path I was on! I needed to make changes and this forced me to do so. Eventually I refined my hiring process and my business benefited greatly from it.

So the moral of today’s story, if there is one, is to realize that you probably don’t have all the answers when it comes to hiring people and managing them when you first start out. You will figure things out OVER TIME. Just stick with it, keep the faith and you will be rewarded at some point down the road!

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