Delegation; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Leadership

tHe Up-aNd-dowN perforMer

Primary Topic—Criticism and Discipline

Additional Topics—Delegation; Employee Problems and Problem Employees; Leadership

“I’ve come to the end of my patience with Roberta Weston,” said accounting manager Sam Best. “The position she’s in is so important to us that we simply can’t afford any more of her omissions or mistakes. For the sake of the hospital and the department, I believe she’s got to go.”

“What’s the problem?” asked human resource director Charlene Harrison. “Problems, plural,” Best answered. “She’s so late in posting the receipts on rent-

als in the medical arts center that we wind up double billing a number of physicians every month. Actually, it’s the same with just about all miscellaneous income—since she’s responsible for all receipts except third-party reimbursement. We’re losing con- trol of income, and I get three or four complaints a week from people who claim they’ve been billed again for charges they’ve already paid.”

Best shook his head and added, “I’ve really tried to give her every chance to turn around, but nothing seems to work. At least not for very long.”

Harrison said, “I’ve reviewed Roberta’s file. The only evidence of a problem I found was your rather detailed performance improvement review of 2 months ago. In that process, you’re supposed to give the employee detailed direction aimed at cor- recting the problem—which you did—along with a warning that task performance will be monitored closely for 30 days and that she could be let go by the end of that period if her work hasn’t come up to satisfactory levels. You did the review, but I didn’t see anything about any follow-up.”

Best said, “That’s because she had shaped up by the end of the 30 days.” “But now she isn’t working up to the requirements of the job?” “Right. Her work was just marginally okay at the end of the 30 days, but within

2 weeks of that the bottom dropped out again, and the mistakes started rolling in.” Harrison asked, “What do you mean by ‘again’?” “This is the third time I’ve been through this with her. I go over the areas in

which she’s not working up to standard, she puts on a burst of effort and does better, and a month or so later she falls back into her old ways.” Best frowned and added, “I can’t put up with it any longer. Three strikes—she’s out.”

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Harrison said, “According to her file it’s just one strike. The only documentation is your single performance improvement review. What about the other two times?”

“Strictly verbal.” “You didn’t write anything? You’re supposed to cover oral warnings with a dis-

ciplinary dialogue form for the record.” Best said, “If I wrote up one of those every time I had to warn an employee, I’d

never get done writing. It’s a lot of work.” “I know it is,” responded Harrison, “but you’ve got to have your documentation.

As it stands right now, if you terminate her she could probably give us a real hard time with the state.”

“So what should I do?” Best asked.


1. Why could the employee give the institution “a real hard time” if she is ter- minated now?

2. What plan of action would you recommend to Sam Best for dealing with the up-and-down performer?

60 Case 16: The Up-and-Down Performer

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