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Problem with member of staff

(26 Posts)
problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 16:59:01

A brief background, my dh and i run a small food shop business with 8 staff, 3 who work in the production side and 5 who work in the shop. An employee, who for this thread i will call sally, has worked there for 6 years. I took some time off with my dc during which time she was hired and i came back to work last year for 3 days per week.

I would describe sally as quite hard faced and can come across as a little agressive and intimidating at times. Amounst the currant staff, she has also been there longest by 6 months and will use this to make others think she is in more authority so because of this she did not like me coming back to work last year (my dh has always been there but is not as hands on as me with staff in terms of making sure everything is done the right way.)

Since i have come back i have stopped some things sally was doing such as ensuring she starts work on time (she was coming in 2-10 minutes late a few times a week,) stopping a little fag break she was sneaking in 30 minutes before she went home and stopping her having a snack put by each morning for her breakfast (staff are allowed to have food within reason on a break without charge, the snack she was having put by was something we were selling out of everyday and staff are not allowed to "put by" anything for themselves.) She did not ask my dh if she could have this put by and if she had the answer would have been no. The staff member who she intimidated to put it by for her was told off.

Just to add i am quite a quiet person and i like to let the staff in the shop get on with their work because the other 4 staff are very capable and pleasent and i will pick up miner problems when they occur. When i say to the other 4 staff can we do it like this or change something they are all very nice and accepting and do what is asked. When i go to sally i get attitude and she can be very hard to tell something to.

So sally was not impressed i was back and became more moody. My dh had a word with her at christmas about her attitude and moods, she blamed me for her moods. Upon investigation my dh discovered she has bad moods when i am not in work (so cannot be all my fault) and discovered the other staff cannot stand sally, hate working with her and say the atmosphere changes when she comes in. They also said she is very lazy and they do not like telling her anything personal because she like to stir things up to get people into trouble.

Things went quiet for a short while, sally and i don't really speak on a personal level and she can be very difficult to deal with proffessionally. In the past few weeks my dh has been busy doing house decorating so i have been at the shop more.

My dh had left her instructions to put the hot food in the oven for delivery at a certain time - then she will ask me who is doing the hot food and will put it in at a different time my dh has said.

I have asked salads be done in a certain way to keep things uniform for the customers - again she is the only one who goes against this and does them a different way because she doesn't like being asked by me to do something. When i pick her up on it i get attitude and "okay."

I have called her out to say hot food is ready to be delivered and will be egnored (sometimes if she is serving she will not hear which is what i assumed she was doing) and when i go out i find her stood against the side chatting to another member of staff doing nothing.

In catering we have a safe food book which has been clearly stated to all the staff what cleaning jobs need to be done and be written in the book. Upon closer inspection today i see she hasn't written in it at all - the other staff have. I pull her aside and ask her if her writing isn't in the book because she has done the jobs but not written it in the book or because she isn't doing the jobs? Her answer was she was too busy, i point out to her that she often stands propping up the counter chatting. She then tries to use the excuse "i don't know what the jobs are that need doing" to which i remind her it is written on the wall what extra cleaning jobs can be done and also say she can ask or look through the book to see what other are writing. Other staff inform me she is lazy and doesn't want to do the cleaning.

So today i suggested a meeting with me, her and my dh tomorrow afternnon to go through the issues. She clearly has a problem with authority and undermines us at every oppertunity.

Obviously i want to handle this calmly, fairly and legally. So tonight i am writing down the issues we want to raise with her and how we want them resolved. This will be an informal meeting with her so do i set out a timeframe for said issues to be resolved or see what she has to say? The jist i get from when i have picked her up on things is for her to deny being told or shown (which i know she has.)

Sorry about any spellingsmile

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 10-Jul-13 17:13:38

Firstly I would start training records that the staff sign as well as you to prove they have been shown how and when to do things.
I would then introduce performance reviews ( it gives you a chance to compliment your hard working staff) this allows you to set areas to improve for her and if it fails to work can be used to manage her out ( take professional advice how to do this).

lougle Wed 10-Jul-13 17:27:15

Do you have policies and procedures for performance and capability?

Do your contracts set out the role, or do you have an employee handbook which does?

You need to take away any of the personality issues. It doesn't matter if other staff 'like' her. The issue is whether she is behaving in a manner that is disrupting the team. Again, it doesn't matter if she 'likes' you. If she is behaving in a subordinate manner, that is what needs addressing.

If it is informal, you need to be clear about that. If you are setting improvement requirements, then I would argue that it is not informal. If it is simply a 'you don't seem happy, what's going wrong? chat, fair enough. If it is formal and will possibly lead to sanctions, you need to give notice and allow her to be accompanied.

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 17:28:58

It is so difficult because i don't want to lose good staff because of her. She has done some back stabbing towards them and they cannot tell her anything on a personal level for fear of this. Between that and her work practise i am stuck between a rock and a hard place.

lougle Wed 10-Jul-13 17:32:21

They're there to work with her. She's not their agony Aunt confused

You can't criticise her for being disliked.

Behaviour, not personality.

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 17:35:23

Her terms of employment agreement state her job role, we do not have contracts and no we do not have a handbook.

She is behaving in a way which disrupts the team, everyone works so close nit in the shop it is hard. I am not bothered if she likes or dislikes me, she does get annoyed when i don't want to be personal with her in conversation - i prefer to talk about work and the day to day runnings.

I say informal because i know it is best to try and resolve something informally first. I will underline the issues, hear her response to those issues and try and work out a way around that. Is this not informal then?

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 17:40:32

I never said she had to be anyones agony aunt. When you work in a small shop environment you do talk amounst yourselves about non work related things, as like in many jobs.

InTheRedCorner Wed 10-Jul-13 17:58:39

I think you are going the right way about it all, set some targets and arrange to meet again in 2 weeks a month to see how things go.

Try and pick some positives to include so it doesn't all come across as negative.

"You are very good with interacting with customers, I'm going to set you a target of making sure the hot food is out by xxx"

Do you use email to communicate at work?

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 18:01:31

We have an enquiries email for customers - is that what you mean?

InTheRedCorner Wed 10-Jul-13 18:57:09

No not really, I just wondered if your DH could cc you when he emails her about delivery times etc so you are all aware of what is expected.

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 20:41:52

We are a very small business, there is no office department, she comes in, checks the wall for delivery invoices, does the cold bits up and my dh does the hot things. Sometimes she has to do them in which case he leaves instructions, it is only a box or two she has to do so nothing tasking. You can shout from the back door and will be heard from the front of the shop it is that small a place so emails to staff do not come into it. Plus we do not have computers or ipads etc in the shop.

nenevomito Wed 10-Jul-13 20:55:59

Make a list of things you want her to do - make the salads correctly / put the hot food on in time. Set about 4 of them.

Meet with her and go through them and get her agreement that they are reasonable and arrange to meet with her in 2 weeks time. Put it in writing and give her a copy. Both of you sign it.

At the two week meeting, go through each of the things. If they've not been done, then keep them on the list and add another two targets - At this point, ask if she needs any help to meet them. If she says yes, but that in place. Get her agreement that the targets are reaonsable again and agree to meet within another two weeks. Put it in writing and both of you sign it.

After two weeks meet again. If the targets have been met then great, if not, put her on a formal warning that she needs to do them. Put it in writing after the meeting, get her to sign it and set a meeting one week later.

If after that week she's got the message and is working properly, then problem solved. However, if all of the targets are not being met, you have a list of targets that she's agreed are reasonable, a paper trail of how she's not done them.

At that point you can either warn her to do them or you'll let her go, or simply let her go. You'll have signed agreed reasonable targets that she's not met and has been given plenty of warning to get her act together.

Advice: Don't put targets like 'be nice to your colleagues'. Make them things about prep, salads, time keeping etc.

problem163 Wed 10-Jul-13 21:19:10

Is that legal though? I mean it sounds reasonable enough but I thought there was more to the process than that, especially letting someone go?

InTheRedCorner Wed 10-Jul-13 21:34:32

babyheave has given great advice.

Set out your expectations, get her to agree to them, set a new meeting date and check your expectations are being met.

Setting smart goals may help you plan for the meeting here

It's totally reasonable after 2 meetings and objectives not being met to be given a warning.

Good luck.

FadBook Wed 10-Jul-13 21:47:27

Yes it is legal.

What babyheave has advised is the start of the process.

If she doesn't improve after say 8 weeks, come back on here and we can advise you how to go through a disciplinary procedure.

I would mention quite clearly in one or more of these reviews if she is not meeting targets that her employment is at risk. If she asks what this means explain factually that you employ her to do x job and as her boss, you set the contents of that role which she isn't currently meeting the required standards. She can be nasty, defensive and angry towards you but ultimately, with evidence, you have the power to remove her from the business if she isn't performing.

The paper trail of setting targets and reviewing targets, and ensuring support is there to meet targets is what you need in place before dismissing her.

nenevomito Wed 10-Jul-13 21:59:00

Yes - you may guess that I've had to do this a number of times before!

It goes two ways and the turning point is usually the 3rd meeting. Either they realise that the targets aren't going to go away and they are risking their job and they get it together and meet them, or they don't, by which point you have a load of evidence that you've set clear, reasonable and agreed expectations and offered support to meet those expectations, so can look to dismiss.

All the way through put it in writing with her signed agreement.

Few other bits of advice.
1. Invite her to the meetings out of the earshot of other staff. Arrange them before or after the end of her shift if possible.
2. Keep it as impersonal as you can. You have expectations for her role and you expect them to be met. Its no about her liking or disliking you or vice versa.
3. At all times keep her informed about what you are doing (performance management - how you want to help her to improve in her role) and, after the first (or first two) meetings, be clear - and again put in writing - what the consequences may be.

flowery Wed 10-Jul-13 22:34:37

Please don't follow that process! From zero to "simply let her go" in 7 weeks without formal disciplinary procedures?

I don't give free advice on here to employers because I think they owe it to themselves and their staff to do things properly, but I can't just ignore that and let you consider following that procedure.

InTheRedCorner Wed 10-Jul-13 22:34:39

And remember to ask her if she needs or wants any help, training or guidance in achieving the targets set.

FadBook Wed 10-Jul-13 23:10:18

I hope my advice hasn't got misinterpreted here - I haven't advised to "let her go" at 7 weeks, just that a disciplinary may take place at that point of review meetings and targets not being achieved (which I would then give advice if the OP got to that stage to proceed to disciplinary, resulting in potential first 'formal' warning).

OP there are HR Consultants (similar to Flowery) in your local area that can give you specific advice on how to manage this correctly. Alternatively, take a look on Acas website and their guidance on disciplinary handling.

The core of what is being said on this thread (review meetings - set targets - review again - document meetings) is right, the process you follow after this needs fine tuning and specific professional advice should be sought.

flowery Wed 10-Jul-13 23:20:22

Fadbook I'm referring to babyheave's advice of 20.55.59, which states exactly that- that she can be "simply let go" at what I tot up to be 7 weeks without any mention of even one proper disciplinary process let alone the 3 or 4 you'd need to go through to get from a clean record to dismissal.

problem163 Thu 11-Jul-13 07:46:41

If it came to doing a formal process I would gain advice from the small business federation, I have gotten advice from them many times.

I guess I just wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing as it cannot continue this way with her.

FasterStronger Thu 11-Jul-13 08:25:05

ACAS are really useful they have a free helpline that provides good quality information.

you need to forget how annoying this person is (and believe me I have employed such people grin), and just focus on the things she does wrong that can have the worst effect on your business.

e.g. food safety issues.

is this listed as gross misconduct in your company handbook? if you don't have one, you need to create one and use it to define GM as anything that can seriously adversely affect your company.

as others have said, you need to be very careful regarding following the proper processes but don't think all the law is on the employee's side. I have used employment law to get rid of 2 people who took the piss.

ACAS do a really good booklet on their website about disciplinary processes. the first time I worked through it, I found it really stressful and difficult. the second time I thought employment law is actually very fair to both sides, when used properly, and it was much easier.

I don't think your employee will change her behaviour so I would be looking at exiting her, while also giving her a genuine chance to change. but not discussing this with anyone other than your DH. in terms of conversations about this at work, this topic is about fairness to her, and the business, and providing the customers with a quality service with good food safety practices.

she thinks it is all about her. you need to refocus the conversations on customers and the business.

problem163 Thu 11-Jul-13 10:48:15

You are right and yes I have found the asas code of practice usefull and complicated at the same time.

Interesting gross misconduct can include not following reasonable instructions - something she does alot. The trouble is when she denys things such as my dh giving her instructions, him going, her then asking me who is doing it (hoping I will say I will do it) then her not following his instructions properly. She will deny that even though we both know she did it - what do you do then?

problem163 Thu 11-Jul-13 11:35:04


lilystem Thu 11-Jul-13 11:50:33

I too run a small business with a small number of employees.

I can't recommend the acas helpline enough. I literally ring them at each stage if I have a situation like yours. They even sent an adviser out to me when I wanted to implement a Bradford formula.

Good luck.

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