Communication; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Rules and Policies

a Good eMployee?

Primary Topic—Criticism and Discipline

Additional Topics—Communication; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Rules and Policies

Housekeeping supervisor Ellie Richards was faced with a situation that left her feel- ing uncomfortable about the action she would have to consider taking. In discussing the matter with Stan Miller, the other housekeeping supervisor, she began: “I have no idea how I should deal with Judy Lawrence. I just don’t recall ever facing one like this before. Her attendance has deteriorated and this once truly good employee is causing problems for the department as a whole.”

Stan asked, “What’s the problem?” “Excessive absenteeism,” Ellie answered. “Judy has rapidly used up all of her

sick time, and most of her sick days have been before or after scheduled days off.” “What’s unusual about that? Unfortunately, we have several people who use

their sick time as fast as it’s accrued. And most get ‘sick’ on very convenient days. I have a couple I can count on to do it regularly.”

“What’s unusual is the fact that it’s Judy Lawrence. She’s been here 7 years, but this apparent sick time abuse has all been within the past few months. She’s used up her whole sick-time bank in 7 months. And most recently, she was out for 3 days without even calling in.”

Stan said, “You can terminate her for that.” “I know,” said Ellie. “Especially when you take her other absences into account. You’ve warned her

about them?” After a moment’s silence Ellie said, “No, not in writing. Just once, face to face.

I really didn’t want to put pressure on her.” “Any record of it? Fill out a disciplinary dialogue form for her to sign? Some-

thing you’ve filed—even in your own office?” “No,” said Ellie. “I really hated to. I know I should have taken some kind of

action by now, but I can’t seem to make myself do it.” Stan asked, “Why not?” “Because she’s always been such a good employee. She’s always been pleasant,

she’s always done what she’s been told to do, and she’s always done quality work.

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She’s still that way, except for her attendance problems of the past 7 months. I’m really afraid there’s something wrong that she’s not telling anyone.”

Ellie shrugged and continued, “I guess what I’m really hung up on is: How do I discipline someone who is usually a good employee, and do it in such a way that it doesn’t destroy any of what is good about her?”

Stan shook his head and said, “Good performer or not, I’d say you ought to be going by the policy book. That’s all I can suggest.”

Questions:

1. How would you advise Ellie to proceed in the matter of Judy Lawrence? 2. Do you feel that Ellie’s failure to take action thus far affects her ability to take

action now? Why or why not?

Case 5: A Good Employee? 39

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