inheriting a longtime employee who isn’t doing his job, former employee was jailed for stealing $100,000, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Inheriting a longtime employee who isn’t doing his job

I’m a young manager who is having an issue with one of my employees. He has been with the company for 35 years and is over 65. His previous supervisor was a longtime friend of his and basically allowed to him to get away with not doing his job for years and years. Now, as they say, there’s a new sheriff in town and I am having a very hard time getting him to do his job functions.

There are a number of objective job functions that he simply avoids, but he does the primary job duty well. I’m not sure what to do. I was hoping he’d simply retire, but he advised that he doesn’t want to retire for at least another year. So now I am faced with disciplining someone who’s been poorly managed for years and who has been with the company even longer. I don’t even know how to go about having the initial conversation with him because HE thinks he’s performing the job well (due to the previous manager).

How key are the job functions that he doesn’t perform? If they’re relatively minor and if his value to the company is high enough because of the primary work that he does well, it might be reasonable to redefine his role so that the stuff he’s not doing is no longer part of it. That’s not crazy if he’s otherwise a high performer and the work allows for that kind of rejiggering — but only if he brings a ton of value; if he’s not, then you shouldn’t be rearranging things to accommodate that.

If that’s not the case, though, then you need to give him clear and direct feedback. Just be straightforward: “Bob, I’ve noticed that you’re not doing X and Y. They’re important parts of your role and I want to get them back on your radar. Can you make sure you’re doing them weekly (or whatever makes sense here)?” Then if you don’t see it happening, you revisit it: “We talked a couple of weeks ago about the need for you to do X and Y. It hasn’t happened. What’s going on?”

If he points out that he hasn’t been required to do this work in the past, you can say, “I can’t speak to what Jane needed when you were working with her, but what I need from this role is ___. Can you do that?” Then, if you’re still not seeing the work getting done, then you treat it like you would any other serious performance issue — meaning that you escalate the seriousness of the conversation and start imposing consequences. More here.

2. Can I apply for a different internal role less than a month after starting a new job?

Less than a month ago, I started a job that was a small step up from my last position. I’m currently an office assistant. I don’t want to come off snobbish but I am overqualifed for the position (it doesn’t require a degree, none of the previous employees in this position have had a degree, and I have a graduate degree in a field relevant to the work done in the office).

A colleague, with similar qualifications and education to me, may be leaving the office soon. This position would be the next logical step in my career path, something I wanted to move in to after I had put in a year plus at my current position. However, now that the opportunity looks like it may arise, I want to jump on it.

However, I think my supervisors would be hesitant to consider me as they have had trouble keeping my position staffed in the past. They’ve praised my work and they have said I fit in well with the office culture. I’m sure that they like me as a person and an employee, but I don’t think they would want to open my position again. Are there ways I can convince them otherwise?

I wouldn’t try to convince them. You can broach the topic once, lightly, but if they don’t bite, you shouldn’t pursue it — because you’ve only been in your current position for less than a month, and it won’t reflect well on you if you’re already pushing to get out of it. Broaching it lightly means saying something like, “I realize I just started, and I’m happy in my role, but I’d love to move into a position like Jane’s in the future. It’s absolutely fine if it doesn’t make sense for me to throw my hat in the ring for it since I’m new to my current role, but I did want to mention it and see what you think.” But that’s it — you can throw it out there, but you can’t do more than that without raising real questions about your commitment to your current role.

Also, be careful about considering yourself overqualified. Having a degree for a job that doesn’t require one (graduate or otherwise) doesn’t in and of itself make you overqualified. If you have education or experience doing A but you’re in a job doing B, your’e not overqualified. I’m assuming that your masters degree isn’t in office assistance, which means that you might be differently qualified, but you’re probably not overqualified. (To better illustrate this, I might be overqualified for a position writing captions because I’ve spent years writing more complicated pieces, but I wouldn’t be overqualified for a position in retail, because I have zero experience in retail work.) Here’s a good column from Suzanne Lucas about this.

3. Should I let my former employee’s new employer know that he was jailed for stealing $100,000?

In my previous organization, I had an employee who stole over $100,000 dollars and went to jail for it. He is now out if prison and I recently spotted him as a suggested connection on LinkedIn and saw that he’s been hired by a company where this should have been a red flag (a job where he’s in a position to control money). Obviously his profile says nothing about the theft/conviction, but it also outright lies about his responsibilities/accomplishments from when I was his manager.

Is there any way to legally reach out to this company to let them know the truth? Or even simply suggest they run a thorough background check? Or would I be setting myself up for a lawsuit?

Well, there’s no law against telling the truth, in references or in other situations … but there is a legal concept called tortious interference, which is a legal violation related to intentionally damaging someone’s business relationships. It’s possible that could come into play here, but I don’t know enough to say for sure.

I think it probably doesn’t matter though, because I’m going to advise against you doing this. It’s just not your responsibility. His new employer is responsible for doing whatever kind of background check they deem necessary, and they apparently didn’t (or did and were somehow convinced it didn’t matter). That’s their call, and the only people who will be harmed if they made the wrong call are them (as opposed to, say, someone working with children who had an abuse conviction in their background). I’d stay out of it.

4. My job takes my tips and uses them to fund group activities

I work at a front counter and my job is taking my credit card tip money. They use it to go out and do group activities with the money. Is this legal? Can they dictate what happens to the money? If not, what can I do? I live in Georgia and do not see were the law says this is legal and they have never asked me if they can have the money for activities.

No, they can’t do that. In most states, it’s legal for tips to go into a pool, when that pool is then divided among certain staff members (which can’t include the employer), but they then need to be paid out to you from that pool. They can’t confiscate them to fund activities. Contact your state department of labor for next steps.

5. Cover letters for text boxes

I’m in the process of looking for a new job, and am applying online for one in particular. I’ve uploaded my resume, but it also allows you to copy/paste text for a cover letter into a text box to be included. Would love to hear from you regarding how to approach that kind of cover letter – should it just be a few sentences? Will it even be reviewed? I’ve not done this before.

I’d just write a normal cover letter and paste it in there. If there’s a character limit in the box, you’ll obviously need to trim your letter down to meet that, but other than that, I’d treat it as you would any other cover letter. And yes, I’d assume it will indeed be reviewed if they’re giving you a place to put it.

{ 127 comments… read them below }

  1. Jessa*

    I am not a lawyer, but I’d talk to your company’s lawyer regarding that employee in number 1 before I started trying to push him out a year before he intends to retire. Even if he’s a terrible employee, you might have a hard time convincing the EEOC of that since he’s been there that long and is so old and has never before been disciplined. You could possibly have to fight an age case. It might actually be better for your company to make some kind of agreement to get him out.

    If I had been there for 35 years and suddenly some new manager started telling me how bad I was doing when I’ve been there that long and nobody else has said anything, I’d certainly call my lawyer and say “they’re starting all kinds of discipline all of a sudden, isn’t this an attempt to push me out? I’m 65 and have been there 35 years and never had an issue before now.”

    I might lose such a case, but the company would still have to fight it, and I might actually win it. Particularly if I can show 35 years of good service and no real change in the job description. If the company said why weren’t you doing x y z, I would say I never did x, y, z, and nobody complained.

    Now there may be details that the OP didn’t supply, where there HAD been attempts to make the worker do the job and it was documented before they got there…but OP1 is going to look like they were brought in as a hatchet person to get rid of the old, probably overpaid due to seniority worker.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She doesn’t need to fire him or even go to serious discipline necessarily — we’re way far away from even contemplating that at this point. But she does need to have a conversation with him about what he’s expected to do.

      Being held hostage to fears of unwarranted legal action leads to sooo many bad workplace situations. But there’s pretty much always a way to handle the situation that lets you avoid real legal issues and still manage the way you need to. There’s nothing wrong with consulting a lawyer if the OP wants to be extra sure, but a possible solution really shouldn’t be “live with it because we’re scared to actually manage this guy.”

      Of course, this is all moot if he’s actually a high performer and the stuff he’s doing isn’t that important.

      1. Jessa*

        Absolutely agreed, not even saying do not discipline, just saying that while you’re working with the employee, heads up the people who MAY have to make a decision if you get pushback from the employee. 99% of the time I agree that being held hostage to legal issues is a pain, I’m just saying that in this case, the evidence could very easily go against them if the employee digs their heels in. Otherwise hopefully the OP would have said that there were notes in the file about x y and z regarding this employee. And no I never meant “live with it, or be scared to manage the guy,” I just meant, keep in the back of your mind in today’s litigious society in the US this particular scenario could bite someone if they weren’t expecting it.

        However, on another note, if you DO end up wanting to get rid of someone who is 65 and has been there for 35 years, it might still do better to ease them out into retirement somehow. Simply because at this point 35 years of service, good or bad you kept them that long. I think objectively there’s a point in time where you have to say “we kept this guy for x years, we can’t treat him like garbage even if he’s not performing anymore.” Just as a matter of human kindness here. It’s one thing to have hired someone at 50 and even 10 years later letting them go, but this guy has been there since his 30s. This isn’t a new employee and while it was totally on the prior management to manage, it’s not actually his fault that they didn’t. He may now believe his job no longer includes the things OP wants.

        And of course for all I know, guy is totally reasonable and things go great.

        1. Dani*

          I once had a coworker like that. He decided that he no longer wanted to do certain parts of his job. And he knew that in my country (Germany), it is extremely hard to fire for performance reasons and next to impossible after 25+ years with the company. So he simply stopped doing the parts of his job he didn’t like. He was a freight forwarder and one of his accounts had to be billed for import customs fees. These were significant sums of money that the employer paid in advance and then billed to the customer, so not billing them had a significant financial impact. He told his coworkers quite openly that he didn’t want to do that part of his work anymore and that the company couldn’t do anything about that anyway. His told his manager that he was too busy to do it (he spent at least one hour of his work time on the phone with his girlfriend and quite a lot of it chatting about personal stuff with customers-turned-personal-friends). His manager tried to get him to pick up the slack for a few weeks but eventually got frustrated and pushed his neglected job duties on to me. And while I believe that you need to make allowances for older employees sometimes being a bit less productive (and no, he really wasn’t a top performer), this one really galled me because the guy simply got to decide what he wanted or did not want to do. So I would recommend thinking about how to deal with this guys colleagues as well, if they have to pick up his work on top of their own. My manager went with a big thank you and lunch at a nice restaurant – it worked for me :-)

        2. MissM*

          I once had a 30+ year employee that I inherited, and progressive discipline eventually led to termination. It was very uncomfortable, and he really, really didn’t believe it was going to go that way, even when he clearly wasn’t meeting any of the PIP targets (he was performing at about 30% of his target). However, during the discipline process he signed off on the PIP and follow up documentation, which included his goals and actual results, and didn’t ever dispute the fact that he wasn’t meeting the goals. HR said we were in the clear, but to make sure we offered him an “early retirement” bonus upon his exit, where we again got his signature not to contest the dismissal.

        3. neverjaunty*

          Frankly, if this company allowed bad management of Bob for years and years, having to make a nuisance payout (via retirement/severance) to make Bob leave happy is a good lesson to the company. Manage poorly, don’t document and tolerate bad employee behavior, and it costs money.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Oh, absolutely. I was just observing that if the fear of a lawsuit means giving Bob some go-away money, well, sometimes that’s the price of bad management practices.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I used to work with an older worker who was usually the slowest person at the job, spent a lot of time on the phone having conversations with family, and just generally didn’t seem to care much. I don’t think that most older workers are like that, but this one was, and reading this letter made me think of him. It’s no fun working with someone who isn’t pulling their share, especially when it seems like they’re deliberately under working, and especially when you have to pick up their slack.

    2. AnonForThis*

      I second this. I had a new manager take over and when she asked us each what we did it became apparent one person was bullying another into doing her work and just sat at work and did nothing all day. Or would spend a full shift licking envelopes instead of sending to the mail room to be stuffed. She was given negative reviews but they attempted to fire her when she fell asleep on the job and was missing for quite a bit of time. The lawyers for the employer came back and said she had to be brought back and basically told the employer there was no way to fire her but you can humor yourself by following these steps. The only thing they did allow was changing her schedule to match all the other employees and removing special privileges. She’s still not doing any work but she’s finally retiring in under a month.

      Watch out for HR, any documented disciplinary paths, and also who was protecting this employee for so long in the past. It turns out there were 2 ladies who had let this happen for years because of a mix of favoritism and a general hatred of employees under 40 “trying to force them out” which was a made-up issue at the time till they all stopped working. It turned out that they’d been coaching all the older employees not to work and then used this test case as an example of “they can’t fire you even if you don’t work” which sadly was a message received by all. People don’t work, they drink at lunch, they are rude to people because they know HR won’t support firing people. So so so glad I walked away, though I do miss the cocktail lunches that came out of this incident.

  2. V*

    OP 1: I’m a bit confused how these things are part of his job, when he hasn’t done them for 10+ years. I’d even take a step back from what Alison recommended and start the conversation with:

    “Bob, I’ve been looking at the assignments in our group, and in most cases the chocolate teapot designer does quality checks on one in 10 teapots produced as well. Is there a reason you’re not doing this?”

    As a valued senior employee with good reviews up until now, I’d be pretty upset if my new manager started moving my workload without even asking me why things are the way they are; maybe I don’t do quality control checks because I deal with three really demanding customers, and I don’t have time to do quality checks and also spend 30 hours in meeting with them every week trying to work out their requirements for the fall teapot lines.

    1. jag*

      I agree with this. If the company functioned well for a long time with this guy doing XY but not Z, it seems to me that the job description is part of the problem as much as the employee.

  3. CoffeeLover*

    OP 1: If I was in your position, I would let this go. You’re going to have a hell of a time changing learned behaviors in someone that has been in that position for 35years and is a year from retirement (note: has already checked out). Unless he’s really making your life hard by not getting key tasks done, it’s just not worth the battle for someone that is leaving anyway.

    OP 3: If anything I think you have a moral obligation not to say anything. The judiciary system is meant to rehabilitate people. The cycle of crime exists because no one wants to give a con another chance. Let him have his chance. If he screws up again, he’ll get caught, and that’s on him, not you. Of course that doesn’t apply if he’s actually a danger to people.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      OP1: But there’s no guarantee he’ll leave in a year. He could stick around a lot longer. The OP really needs to figure out if the way he’s doing his job is a problem or not (and again, it may not be — she needs to figure that out first) and address it if it is.

      1. Seal*

        +1000 to this! I was stuck with the employee I describe in my post below for almost four years before he finally retired because everyone kept saying he’d retire “next year” and my boss kept telling me to wait him out.

      2. Jessa*

        Also it’s very possible that the parts of the job he let go were originally shuffled off to other people who have now left, or are doing other things, and he was never given them back as it were. Someone is doing those tasks, either they’re supposed to now, or they’re not getting done. The question is then, if they’re NOT getting done and haven’t been for years, why care now? And if someone else is doing them and not complaining about them, is this then really an issue?

        1. AVP*

          Sure, there are plenty of tasks that can be shunted around for years but really need to be taken care of eventually and find a permanent home. And if the OP is a new manager, she should be learning the right way to manage people well now, rather than picking up bad habits and not learning how to do it right. This is a perfect opportunity for that.

      3. Artemesia*

        This is really key. If it is annoying but trivial ask yourself how much of your life you want to make miserable. If he is really a weak stick and it matters for productivity or others are having to pick up the slack to the extent that it annoys them, then maybe take it on.

        I have seen a couple of people forced out when new managers came in and things that were allowed to slide were dealt with. One was a woman who had been there decades and whom the chief AA/office manager had protected. When she was gone, management happened for this woman. In her case, she was a ‘receptionist’ who was pretty much a block of cheese just sitting at a desk who refused to learn to use the computer to do other tasks and who didn’t step up to some needed tasks that we didn’t have a position for that were akin to the reception role. She thought her longevity protected her and would allow her to continue to sit there like a lump doing nothing all day. She was fired with no repercussions. The other was a man who had become increasingly difficult to work with. I actually protected him for awhile but he continued to not pay attention to what he needed to do and when I essentially stepped back, he was fired.

        It can be done and sometimes just insisting someone do their job is enough to get them to leave. But worthless employees who have been there forever are often masters of the art of passive aggression and know how to work the system way better than the ‘new young manager’ so be sure you have lined up your management support before you take steps to bring pressure on this guy or you will have him still not doing the work and laughing at you. And people like this don’t retire — why should they? They are already retired.

      4. Liane*

        The employee is retiring next year *now*, but he could easily change his mind for any number of reasons, from needing the money for unexpected expenses to realizing his retirement/Social Security payouts will be better if he waits 2–or 3!–years to deciding he’d be bored/lonely.
        Also, Next Year is almost here. Does he mean to retire in a couple of months or not until next winter? What he’s doing may not be a problem if it’s only for 2 or 3 months, but might be a problem if it lasts longer, or simply includes a busy time for this business. (This might be unlikely after 35 years.)

    2. MK*

      OP3: I agree that the OP shouldn’t say anything. If the company hired someone for a position controling money without a bakground check, it’s not the job of random strangers to safeguard them. I also note that it’s speculation on the OP’s part that this person will control money, based on the company’s work. It’s not a given; not everyone who works in a bank, for example, has access to funds. It’s even possible that the company knows about the employee’s past and is choosing to give them a chance (in my country there are programms that offer incentives to employers to hire ex-convicts as a way to rehabilitate them. If that’s the case, reaching out to the company with the purose to lose this person therir job could even harm the OP’s reputation.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        I agree: this situation is really none of OP3’s business.

        This sort of topic has come up before here on AAM, and personally I’m a firm believer that you don’t start messing with another person’s job unless you somehow have a complete and accurate knowledge of the situation, and there’s a high probability that inaction will result in someone getting hurt or killed. I don’t see any of this in OP3’s case.

      2. KH*

        I agree here. With all the checks and reporting requirements, I find it hard to believe the company would not know that he has a felony.

    3. neverjaunty*

      It’s not just OP #1’s life, but the other employees’. I have worked at that company where everybody (particularly newer employees) had to pick up Bob’s slack because oh, that’s just how Bob is, he’s been here too long to change. It was horrible for morale, and a company like that ends up with a lot of Bobs, because other people get frustrated and leave.

    4. Melissa*

      I think it’s dangerous to assume that people a year from retirement have “checked out.” Some people do excellently until the very end. From what it sounds like, this guy has simply never done his job right, and his former manager let him get away with it. His proximity to retirement has little to do with his performance.

  4. Seal*

    #1 – I inherited a similar employee, but in my case my boss liked this guy and kept advising me to wait him out since everyone thought he would be retiring soon. Unfortunately, my boss retired before my problem employee did! As it turned out, my new boss and I were on the same page. We wound up rewriting job descriptions for everyone in the department (some of which hadn’t been revised for well over a decade) to better reflect what people actually did or were supposed to be doing. With accurate, up-to-date job descriptions and clear expectations, it was much easier to hold people accountable for their actions. Once it became obvious that things were going in a new direction for everyone and that slacking would no longer be tolerated, my problem employee retired.

    My advice is whatever you wind up doing with your problem employee, make sure your own boss will support your actions and back you up as necessary. I’ve seen too many bad work situations perpetuated or made worse because a manager’s manager refused to support them when trying to solve performance issues (and ultimately, this issue is about performance, not your employee’s age or years of experience).

  5. AnonyMouse*

    Re #3: Alison, I’m curious if your advice would be at all different if this person’s role was one that involved managing/accessing money for other people, not just his company. Without getting into the details, I have an acquaintance who used a role like this to steal a substantial amount of money from a seriously vulnerable customer. In that case it’s irrelevant now, the person involved did her time and now works in an unrelated field and is mortified by and fully repentant for her crime. But I’m just wondering if you’d advise the OP differently if the money managing role was a riskier one, and she wasn’t confident the previous employee had really changed. I don’t personally have a strong gut feeling about what the right thing to do would be – I take your point that it’s not really a former manager’s responsibility, and also CoffeeLover’s point about the justice system and rehabilitation…but I do think it’s a bit more complicated with a position where someone could take advantage of unsuspecting people in any way.

    1. MK*

      I don’t get the feeling that the OP actually knows what the former employee even does at this company. They say:

      “he’s been hired by a company where this should have been a red flag (a job where he’s in a position to control money)”.

      That sounds more like an assumption to me, not like the OP is certain that the ex-thief will be managing money.

    2. MissM*

      If by handling other people’s money, you mean like an investment advisor, those kinds of jobs typically require a license, which he would be unable to get considering his conviction. However, he could get a job as a bookkeeper/controller with a non-profit, and that would present more of a dilemma. If he was the controller for the Widows and Orphans Fund, would you want to let them know?

      1. some1*

        I’m an admin who supports advisors. Even I needed to complete a lengthy questionnaire regarding any criminal history (including any misdemeanors) and they did a criminal background check and credit check AND I had to get fingerprinted. Even a personal financial crisis like bankruptcy or short sale could jeopardize my future employment.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I agree that makes it harder, but ultimately I still come down on the side of it really not being the OP’s business. She doesn’t really know the details here (what the job involves, whether they do know of the person’s background, etc.) and messing with someone’s livelihood is a big enough deal that I think you’ve got to be certain of the facts and seeing real danger to people’s safety before you reach out to strangers about them.

      (But I say strangers for a reason. If she knew the new manager, for instance, I’d say something.)

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Oh yeah, in this situation I definitely agree the OP should stay out of it – I was mostly just wondering what you would think in a related but different situation. And I agree with what you said, especially this: “I think you’ve got to be certain of the facts and seeing real danger to people’s safety before you reach out to strangers about them.” Thanks!

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        That’s very true. But we had a guy locally who moved from embezzlement in another state to prison to a position in county government, and then moved up to where he had control of money again. Yes, it was on the county to do a better background check, and it was on the county to have better checks and balances. But a lot of taxpayers lost a lot of money over the many years he was in that position.

        Should an employer know about a employee’s history with hate groups? It seems like there could be situations where one should at least ask the employer if they did a background check.

  6. Tenley*

    Aside from everything else, I mean, there are office morale issues to take into consideration when an employee at retirement age who has never been disciplined and believes he is properly doing his job becomes the first messy casualty of “the new sheriff in town.” I mean from an employee’s perspective that absolutely would send a message — even if everyone agrees he should have been gone years ago, which sounds questionable, it’s still almost certainly going to raise hackles and upset longtime good workers. You sound like you really do want to come in with guns blazing, and that’s adversarial at the least.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Eh, that’s not my experience… I worked extremely closely with someone similar to OP1’s and what many of the longtime good workers wanted was somebody to recognize that he was slacking and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. His performance was still relatively good, but his attitude was awful and he was difficult to work with. It went on for the better part of 10 years. His replacement an employee in the “close to retirement age” range who hasn’t checked out and my work life is so much less stressful now.

      1. Artemesia*

        The person I didn’t hire who felt entitled to the job and made as many waves as possible about ‘age discrimination’ sort of had the wind taken out of his sales when upon claiming this to someone 3 levels up the food chain from me had the thoroughly annoyed VP tell him ‘they hired someone who was 58 years old for that job, I’m not getting ‘age discrimination’ here.’

      2. neverjaunty*

        Yep, this. The other employees might be cheering that somebody finally got Mr. Slackerpuss out the door after years of his boss coddling him.

        The key is really the new boss’ attitude. Someone who is just cracking the whip to assert power, and who enforces rules without communication, is very different than someone who takes the time to find out how job responsibilities are assigned and adjusts things while listening to employee feedback.

        1. catsAreCool*

          “The other employees might be cheering that somebody finally got Mr. Slackerpuss out the door after years of his boss coddling him.” This!

      3. AVP*

        I totally agree with this – I would think the office morale would go the other way than Tenley is suggesting. Often in this situation, everyone knows the longtime employee is coasting and are wondering why he’s not facing any consequences.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      I agree that this would “send a message”, and probably not a good one.

      I don’t know what the law says about this kind of thing, but I’d wonder about the employee’s thoughts on retirement. The OP states that the employee plans to retire in a year? Is there any way you could sweeten the retirement package if he left earlier than that?

      And – as I believe it has already been mentioned – does the stuff he’s not doing really matter? (Ie, TPS cover sheets) if in truth the problem is largely that he’s flaunting your authority, I’d let it go or as suggested, rewrite his job description so it matches what he’s doing. Thirty years from now, when you’re giving a speech at the party, looking back on a long, successful career as a manager, do you want to tell everyone that you kicked things off by firing a long term employee who was just shy of retirement?

      1. neverjaunty*

        On the other hand, thirty years from now, when you’re giving a speech at the party, looking back on a long, successful career as a manager, do you want to tell everyone that you let Bob coast and dump work on his resentful co-workers for years because you were POSITIVE he was going to retire real soon now and you didn’t want to stir up trouble?

        1. fposte*

          Agreeing with this. I totally get sussing out the percentages and figuring out whether it makes more sense to take action or let it slide–that’s a reasonable approach to just about every situation. But I don’t see any reason to assume that letting it slide is always better in this situation, and most organizations could find something a lot better to do with their money than pay somebody to camp for part of their day.

          1. Anonysquirrel*

            I agree. It’s just that OP never supplies an indication of whether or not the employee (let’s call him Bob) is slacking or not – and in fact, it appears that Bob has been led to believe that he’s been doing a good job. I don’t envy OP being in this position – but based on the few tidbits we’ve been told of the situation, it doesn’t seem right to simply dump Bob alongside the New Jersey Turnpike. And there isn’t anything in the letter about other employees being unhappy about Bob, either.

            With all of that as background, I’m not quite sure what to think of OP’s words “now I am faced with disciplining someone”. It seems a bit early for ‘discipline’.

            1. Natalie*

              I think Alison covers that, though, in the advice to first figure out if he’s a good performer or not.

              1. Mister Pickle*

                You’re right, Natalie: Alison’s original advice to OP is solid. And I’m glad. Because In the original letter, OP says that “Bob” isn’t aware that he’s doing a poor job, and then goes on to mention having to discipline him. This strikes me as patently unfair.

                And to answer neverjaunty’s question, I’d rather tell people that I took the time to think through the situation and investigate and ended up doing the right thing. Frankly, there seem to be many people who are jumping to the notion that “Bob” isn’t pulling his weight and needs to be fired. And there’s no evidence to support this.

        2. A. Nonny Mouse*

          +1. We have a “Bob” my department, and various managers have allowed him to get away with doing less than half of the work he’s supposed to do and getting annoyed with anybody who asks him to pull his weigh. Management figures he’s going to retire soon, so who cares? Actually, everybody else in the department cares! We’re furious that Bob is allowed to get away with his laziness and bad attitude, and the fact that he’s never faced any consequences for his behavior is one of the (great many) reasons I’m seeking out new opportunities.

          No, the OP shouldn’t come in with guns a-blazin’ and yes, it’s too early to discuss discipline. Maybe her “Bob” is avoiding work that isn’t actually important, or maybe the rest of the department is fine with covering the things “Bob” doesn’t do. But it’s also possible that the rest of the department resents Bob because he’s received special treatment over the years and she’d be alienating them if she allowed it to continue.

        3. PoorDecisions101*

          As other commentators have said, it really depends on whether Bob’s other work is good and if he’s well liked.

          Recently had a coworker around Bob’s age who was laid off. Yes, he was a bit slower than everyone, but he also was hard working and made it up in longer hours. Seemed even more callous as he had cancer and it didn’t affect his work.

          This is one of the reasons I’m less than enthusiastic about my work lately.

          If Bob is generally okay with the rest of his work, I’d say wait it out. Can’t hurt to bring up the other areas he should be doing, but if he doesn’t have capacity, let it go.

    3. catsAreCool*

      This assumes that the employee actually thinks he’s properly doing his job. Some slackers (regardless of age or longevity at a company) just like to slack as much as they can get away with.

  7. Amy*

    #1 been there, one time with a whole staff whose former supervisor was fired for not managing them. I wound up leaving the job because of them! My supervisor didn’t support me so I could only do so much. I’m there now, too, but with only one person. My supervisor has been more supportive but it’s been a long haul. Coaching has been a little helpful but only with close supervision, since my supervisee didn’t think he’d ever been doing anything wrong. I got stuck with younger people who had made up their own rules for years, not someone close to retirement. One year may not be enough time to effect true change, so I agree about working around the problem tasks if there are other staff who can take them over.

    1. Artemesia*

      I had an acquaintance who was told to ‘manage’ a difficult employee and did so. He insisted she do the work she was hired to do. She whined to her friend the daughter of an important board member who ‘mentioned it’ to the CEO who mentioned the complaint to her underlings. What resulted was an ‘investigation’ of my acquaintance the manager. When nothing was found to indicate the complaints about him (filtered through this grapevine) were accurate, they investigated him again. His life was made miserable by sycophants doing what they thought the CEO wanted i.e. trying to get rid of him. It was kind of like ‘who will rid me of this troublesome priest’; I am not sure the CEO even thought much of it — it was a sort of throw away but once she mentioned it to her subordinate, they went into a feeding frenzy trying to please the boss by going after this guy, who was simply doing what he had been instructed to do i.e. manage the weak subordinate. He eventually left after a lot of nervous days and sleepless nights. It ruined his job and a chunk of his life.

      Never underestimate the power of connections and longevity and knowing how to play the game.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        And the start of this was a board member who did not say “Go through proper channels. There is a system in place for these things, use the system.”

        This board member was basically undermining the very company s/he is supposed to be upholding.

        Alison, maybe a post (sometime) about how to be a good board member would be helpful. I think a lot of people do not realize what board members should and should not do. This, of course, includes board members themselves. We’ve had previous posts about boards that were overstepping.

  8. Alliej0516*

    #2: I totally agree with Alison about being careful about considering yourself overqualified.  After 30 years in my industry in varying levels of responsibility with great success, I was laid off last year when our company closed. Because of the job market I had to take an admin position in my field, working from home. I have been a resounding failure at that job. Luckily, Tuesday is my last day, & I am moving back to what it would have been a lateral move from my previous position. Different jobs take different skill sets, and learning those skills successfully can mean time and experience needed, not just a degree.

  9. MissM*

    #1 – I inherited an employee like that once. In my case, he’d been with the company more than 30 years! One thing to keep in mind is that someone who has worked for the company that long likely has a lot of friends in high places (people he worked with before they became senior management). My boss was on the same page as me as far as the need to discipline the employee, but my boss made sure to talk to his boss and on up to make sure that we were not stepping into a political mess.

    1. catsAreCool*

      If this worker is skipping unimportant things, probably no one cares, but if co-workers constantly have to do his work for him, he might have friends in high places and enemies at his own level.

  10. NewDoc*

    #5 – This might go without saying, but be sure you check the formatting carefully if you copy and paste, as the little box is likely plain text. For residency applications, our deans advised retyping our whole essays into the box rather than risk missing random formatting errors that crop up while transferring.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      You can save the file as a text document then copy and paste from that and this will remove any random formatting and saves on re-typing the while thing again.

    2. Mephyle*

      Yes, and many of us are just as likely to introduce typographical errors if we have to retype – errors that we may not catch even upon rereading our text (which can be quite hard to do anyway, if the box is small and lacks a scroll bar).
      Saving a copy of the letter as plain text before copying it into the box is a much better solution.

  11. Not So NewReader*

    #2. Alison’s advice is right on the money. OP, look around, you probably have one person that stands out as your biggest fan. This would be the person who compliments you the most frequently, stops and talks to you frequently and overall is a friendly welcoming person. Hopefully, this person is your boss or one of your bosses. If you see such a person, tell them something along the lines of what Alison says here. Then step back and let that percolate.
    My biggest fan at one job got me five promotions within the first year. Yeah, I took a very low level position, just to get my foot in the door. He also advised me that I had to take the positions offered, because that is how I would get more offers. Between his good words for me and my heeding his advice the promotions just rolled. Yes, I did step back and wait for each promotion- I did not get involved in the process.
    More recently, my current boss was successful in advocating for a raise for me. Again, I mentioned it, then stepped back and let it take on a life of its own.

    Both of the stories start in the same place-I was new at both jobs so I spoke with a person who knew my work and who knew how to advocate for me.

    1. Artemesia*

      Great advice. The trick here is to let a key player know you want the new position, but are aware it may be too soon — but you want them to know in case similar thing appear down the line. And then shut up and hope for the best.

  12. Not So NewReader*

    #3. Is it possible that the former employee is lying on LI? Jobs involving money management have gotten a lot more strenuous to get into. I would tend to think the guy is not telling the full story on LI and let the rest go. His actual job might be snow plowing or vacuuming rugs, and he could be spinning that into almost anything. Also, I would hold this thought at the forefront of my thinking: The employer did not call for a reference check. Why would that be? There has to be a reason.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Probably, but that’s on the employer. OP #3 didn’t say this person changed their name or hid information such that the new employer couldn’t possibly have found out about the conviction. Maybe they didn’t bother to do even a cursory check; maybe they knew and decided to give this person a second chance.

    2. Kat M*

      You know, that’s a really good point. If the thief was lying about what he did at OP’s organization, there’s an excellent chance he’s lying about his current position as well.

  13. Illini02*

    #1 I totoally agree with Alison, first figure out if these things are really necessary for him to do. As someone else mentioned, either these things haven’t been done for years, or someone else is doing them. Either way, I don’t get why its a problem. This kind of seems like the “new sheriff in town” is trying to make a statement by taking out the biggest (or in this case oldest) guy in the yard to make sure that everyone knows you are in charge now. I’ve never been a fan of that tactic, but I know some people like to use it. I just think people should gain respect by, you know, doing things that make people respect you, as opposed to “making statements”.

    #3 This is 100% not your concern. They don’t work for you. This company didn’t reach out to you for a reference. It has nothing to do with you. Why do you want to meddle in this persons life? Its like if I saw an ex girlfriend of mine was dating a new guy, who I didn’t know, and I felt the need to send him an anonymous note about how she cheated on me. Maybe she was truly sorry and will never do it again, so why should I ruin any future chance at happiness? I know there are some people who do that, but it is petty.

    1. neverjaunty*

      If you were the “someone else” who is picking up Bob’s unwanted job duties, in addition to your own job duties, then you’d probably have a stronger opinion as to why it’s a problem.

      1. Illini02*

        It really depends on context. Sure, maybe I would be. Or maybe the other person was someone who just started in the department, so they know nothing else.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Whether or not they “know nothing else”, if there are job functions Bob is supposed to be doing that somebody else is stuck with, that somebody else is doing Bob’s work to the detriment of their own job duties. Or if they’re simply not being done at all, or done correctly. That’s why it’s a big deal.

          OP #1 doesn’t have to go in guns blazing, and neither OP nor AAM suggested that would be the correct approach. But this is a management issue, and it is a big deal when an employee hasn’t been doing their job correctly.

      2. catsAreCool*

        I used to be the person who had to pick up the slack for an underperforming worker. I was NOT happy about it.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      Re #1: This. On re-reading it, OP’s letter is somewhat sparse on details. It’s quite possible that his “new sheriff” comment was meant as something of a joke. But for better or worse, it can be read as a “tough guy” statement. And yeah, I’ve known managers who’ve fired people just to “earn respect”.

      Note that OP says nothing about the employee being resented by other employees. It may be true – but there’s no evidence beyond the guess-work of some people responding to the letter.

      Re #3: This, too!

  14. MaryMary*

    OP3, There’s a chance the new employer is well aware of the employee’s past. Before I started my current job, they hired an accountant who had been fired from her prior job for theft. She was a social acquaintance of the owner’s son and convinced him it was all a big misunderstanding and that she hadn’t done anything wrong. Our owner even helped her with her legal bills. After about two years with our company, it was discovered that she was stealing from us as well. It’s unfortunate that she took advantage of our owner’s trust, but in this case the new employer was fully aware of the employee’s history.

    1. OP #3*

      This is my concern in this case. He’s a rather personable guy. Just about everyone in my organization thought he was an outstanding employee until the theft came to light, and even then until all the information became available, the initial reaction was “this has got to be a mistake”.

  15. Rebecca*

    Re #4 – how common is this? When I leave a tip, I expect it to go to that particular waitstaff employee, or at least to the waitstaff group (if tips are pooled and shared). I had no idea businesses would do this. That’s pretty crappy! Pay your staff below minimum wage, then take the credit card tips to fund “activities”. I feel certain that the wait staff would much rather fund their own activities with the tips they earn.

    1. Artemesia*

      I leave cash for the tip whenever I can and especially in certain types of ethnic restaurants where I have heard tips are confiscated routinely. I have always assumed that restaurant owners will cheat on this if they can. At least with cash the worker has a shot at keeping the money. (With very expensive restaurants, I just put it on the tab; I figure waiters in those places are more likely to have the clout to protect themselves — but little diners, or small mom and pop restaurants — I assume they won’t get the tip if it isn’t cash.)

      1. reader*

        I do this too. Though it’s because they get their money right away and don’t have to go through the receipts to get calculate what they get. Also no way of knowing when they get cashed out. Daily? Weekly? Why they get paid?

        1. Natalie*

          Some restaurants will also deduct the CC processing fees from CC tips (legally, at least in my state). Tip cash when you can.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Eh, it’s a problem at all kinds of restaurants, “ethnic” or otherwise; waiters in expensive places are probably more likely to keep their mouths shut about occasional tip and wage theft rather than ruin a lucrative gig.

      3. Butter*

        Some servers just don’t know the legalities of the job, especially if this is their first job. To see a well known example of this, just google “Amy’s Baking Company” and “Kitchen Nightmares”. If you have time, just pop some popcorn and watch the crazy unleash itself on the tv episode. Some websites have some great commentaries on the whole thing. I personally would love to see this episode dissected by this crowd with all the bad management techniques, etc..

    2. some1*

      A couple of restaurants in my area have been dinged in the press (and rightly so) for using server tips to pay credit card fees.

      As far as expecting your entire tip to go to your server, it’s common that servers are expected to tip out the bartender, bar back (employee who keeps the bar stocked) and the busboy. Or with large delivery orders (like ordering 10 pizzas at a time), it’s customary for the driver to tip out the cooks who helped get the big order together.

      1. Artemesia*

        All these ‘tip out’ plans are very different from the owner just taking the money; in an economy where workers have no clout and are easily fired at will if they cause trouble, it is easy to steal their tips.

    3. Raine*

      It’s really not that common — for one thing, the wait staff already is making way under minimum wage, generally, and it would cause a heck of a lot of uproar almost immediately (people couldn’t survive). I have worked at a place where we pooled tips and one of the managers was stealing those from employees, but that’s a little bit different than the organization treating it like it’s their cash. Which makes me wonder if the OP is working for a place that pays minimum wage and treats this as a non-tipping position, basically (like, a cashier at a bakery shop or something).

    4. NowProwl*

      Gotta say that I’m happy to live in a state where they have to pay minimum wage before tips. Can’t imagine making $2/hr only to have my “inbetween” money be confiscated.

  16. reader*

    #4 – One issue not raised is that the wait staff get taxed on tips. The IRS expect you to report all tips or they have a standard percentage that you can use. So paying tax on something you don’t get is just so wrong.

    1. Raine*

      Yeah I’d really like to hear back from OP because this is some sort of position at a counter, the OP didn’t even mention it’s at a restaurant or such. If they’re being paid at least minimum wage, the employer might not be treating this as a tipping position in the first place.

    2. Alma*

      If you’re in the US, check with Wage and Hour Div/US Dept of Labor. You can file a complaint anonymously. They will advocate on the behalf of all the employees, and not single anyone out. Your state may have other regulations. The Dept of Labor is rather insistent on adherence to regulations.

  17. clt*

    #1 Maybe it would help if you did not think of yourself as the sheriff and the conversations you need to have as disciplinary. You are in charge of a team that has certain functions that need to be done. You have a team of people with particular talents and skills and interests and traits, and who at this point may know their jobs better than you do. It’s your job to match those people with those tasks in such a way that the functions get accomplished and the employees stay motivated. This will take a lot of conversations, getting to know each employee, what their skills are, what their interests are, what motivates them, what frustrates them, what parts of their job description fit them and what parts don’t. In a frank conversation with this particular employee, you may learn all sorts of things that could move your concerns toward a solution.

    If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend Fierce Conversations and its follow up Fierce Leadership by Susan Scott for learning how to have really productive one-on-one conversations with employees.

    1. Was Layla*

      Totally agree. If the menial tasks I hate were reassigned to a more junior co worker / position years ago , why is this an issue ?

  18. kacey*

    OP #3: I can understand you being upset that this person is finding new work after they betrayed you/your company, but it’s possible they have totally changed. I could even see, if someone felt true remorse and had changed their ways, someone who had been caught doing something might be extra, extra careful and detail-oriented.

    Some companies believe in hiring ex-cons and giving them a second chance. Maybe that’s the case here. This person has served their time and been punished for their crime. There is no need for them to be punished over and over again. One of the reasons people re-offend is because they run out of options because of this type of prejudice.

    1. jmw*

      While it may be possible that the person has changed, usually once you are convicted of theft you have kind of burned that bridge and have to find a new line of work where you are not in control of company funds. It’s not about punishing the person over and over, it’s about the person having to live with the natural consequences of his actions. $100,000 is a LOT of money – this isn’t like someone not getting a job because they shoplifted as a teen. Imagine if you found out that the person in charge of payroll where you worked had a prior conviction for grand larceny and you weren’t sure if the company knew about it. Wouldn’t you worry a bit about your next paycheck clearing? Wouldn’t you worry about your company being taken for a ride, maybe going out of business?

      Hopefully this person was honest with the company about his past, and they have made a conscious decision to make this hire and also have appropriate anti-fraud procedures in place. If he was not honest, well, that’s not so good. His LinkedIn profile seems to indicate he may be less than honest.

      I would not want to be in OP#3’s position, because I would be losing sleep over this.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I wouldn’t. It’s none of my business. And if he lied about his responsibilities at the old job on Linked In, he may be totally fibbing about the new job as well, to make his profile look better. As we’ve seen before, lying on your resume is easy to check. Let him hang himself, because if he’s a liar, he will.

      2. catsAreCool*

        “usually once you are convicted of theft you have kind of burned that bridge and have to find a new line of work where you are not in control of company funds.” This!

    2. OP #3*

      Thanks for answering my question. I agree that letting it go is the best course of action. I’m still pretty angry about what he did. His actions affected a lot of people in pretty terrible ways (the investigation was pretty painful). So it would be difficult for me to look at the situation objectively anyway. Some folks on here have mentioned that there’s a possibility he is trying to turn his life around. I doubt that’s the case, considering he outright lied about his former responsibilities in his LinkedIn profile, but I can hope. My biggest concern is that he will get away with something like this again. He’s an extremely intelligent and charismatic person, unfortunately.

  19. Is it Performance Art*

    #4, Does not getting the credit card tips bring anyone’s pay below minimum wage? Because that’s going to be a big deal. Not to mention, that if they’re being taxed as if they’re making the hourly wage plus tips (including the credit card ones), they’re paying taxes on money they never received. I’m sure that the customers wouldn’t be very happy to find out that if they want to put a big tip on their credit cards for great service, the person they’re tipping won’t get any of that money either.

    1. Nanc*

      Good point about tips being taxed. I’m pretty sure tips on a credit card get reported to the IRS as income and the employee is expected to pay income tax on them. If the workplace is using any sort of POS software it’s pretty easy to report. And the business is not only stealing from the employee, but the employee is paying income tax on those stolen tips. This is a case where it might be worth seeing a lawyer. And finding another job. Good luck OP4, you deserve better than this mess.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        I wonder how this works. I frequent a restaurant where the counter people take your order and bring your food to you when it’s ready. They have a tip jar out on the counter and there’s a line for tips on the credit card receipt. Would they be considered waitstaff? This confuses me. Generally speaking, I tip any food service staff very well. In this case, I don’t tip because I don’t think they’re waitstaff and their customer service isn’t anything to write home about.

  20. Decimus*

    #1 – The best way to handle it would probably be to ignore the past and essentially “reassign” the problem employee to his own duties. As in bring him in and tell him “Your job duties now include A, B and C tasks, is there a reason you can’t do it?” and if he can’t come up with a good reason (eg. “I don’t do that because client Z takes up my time”) then you just formally inform him that he needs to do those tasks from now on. Ignore that he should have been doing those tasks already, just make it clear from NOW ON he must do them. And then his past actually doesn’t matter, because it’s not “he was a good employee for 35 years and then one day the manager fired him” it’s “he got good reviews until the day his job duties were adjusted due to business demands” which is easier for everyone – you, him, coworkers, potential lawyers – to comprehend.

    1. Alma*

      The employee in question may be trying to maximize his Social Security benefits by waiting a year… or three… to retire and begin drawing benefits. This sets a really poor precedence for others who are in the workforce. Is this an instance where because he is not doing X, Y, Z he could transition to part-time? That may be an option to give him – if you are not performing all of your accountabilities, you have no need to be here full time. Document, document, document.

  21. Wander*

    OP #1: When deciding how vital those job functions he doesn’t do are, make sure to take into account office morale. We have our own problem employee who’s been there for years and years and only does the very basic job functions. (Unfortunately for my office, upper upper management refuses to acknowledge there’s a problem, so it’s unlikely to ever change.) The things he skips out on are things that everyone is responsible for – like cleaning or making sure equipment is in the proper condition. (He knows full well he’s supposed to do this too.) It’s not vital that he does it, because, well, he doesn’t anyway, and we pick up the slack. It is, however, a huge morale downer for everyone else to see him sitting around, playing on the computer, chatting with people, while the rest of us spend an hour or more doing the rest of the job. If it were suddenly it was changed so that officially those were no longer part of his job duties? People would view it as reward for being lazy, and the resentment that’s already there would double.

  22. Mena*

    #1: I, too, inherited a non-performing employee that my manager had done nothing about. She sought another position within the company and I was faced with putting her on a PIP and getting rid of her, or allowing her transfer to the other position. I felt it was wrong to saddle a colleague with this person, however this is exactly what my manager did to me. In the end, I wasn’t in the best position to speak to her non-performance (my manager was and should have!!) as she was a new employee to my team. I ended up allowing her transfer but still feel badly about. My manager should feel badly too but she’s didn’t seem to be concerned to see this employee become someone else’s problem. I’m waiting to see the fallout.

    #4: are you paid minimum wage? If so, I question whether you are even entitled to ‘tips’ left behind.

    1. Artemesia*

      Tips left for staff should go to staff; it is a violation of trust with customers to confiscate them. Some states require minimum wage for wait staff; they still get tips. Many other tipped professions make minimum wage.

    2. CA Admin*

      Wow, really? Not entitled to tips if thy make minimum wage?

      Try living on minimum wage and then come back and say people shouldn’t be entitled to their tips.

      1. Mena*

        I didn’t say that I personally feel they are not entitled – I’m speaking of how these laws differ state-to-state.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Presumably management is paid more than minimum wage. Why should they get to collect and spend tips?

      1. Mena*

        Crazy but true in some states. That is why tips need to be handed to the person you are tipping. The jar on the counter doesn’t suffice.

  23. K*

    Regarding #3, I’m unclear on whether or not the person went to jail or prison. It says both at different times in the letter. Was he convicted or just arrested? If he was arrested but never convicted, it might not show up on a background check (not sure how that works).

    1. Zillah*

      In my previous organization, I had an employee who stole over $100,000 dollars and went to jail for it. He is now out if prison…

      From that, it seems like the person was indeed convicted and served prison time.

    2. Kelly L.*

      Pretty sure he was convicted. I know there’s a technical difference between jail and prison, but I’m pretty sure the LW was using them colloquially where they mean the same thing.

    3. OP #3*

      He plead guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison. Not very smart all the whole jail vs. prison thing.

  24. Mike C.*

    I’m not sure what the concern over possibly hiding the theft of $100,000 – it’s the kind of that will pop on on the most trivial of background checks and even google searches.

  25. Cassie*

    #1 – I’d go with taking the job description and sitting down with the employee to see what he is and isn’t doing. Maybe he doesn’t know he is supposed to do the other tasks, or maybe he does/did know but never thought it was important because nobody made him do it.

    I’d suggest that the OP go over job descriptions with each employee (if possible) – job descriptions change over time and there might be stuff that has been re-assigned to someone else but never officially noted. And it would suck to take on new responsibilities but not be properly credited for it (compensation, job title, whatever).

  26. OP1*

    Hi everyone, this is OP1. Thanks for all your insightful responses to my query (and thanks to Alison for answering, too!). I didn’t provide a lot of detail in the initial question, but it seems like there are a few common questions/issues. So I will address those here.

    First, with respect to legality, I am an attorney and I have been in touch with HR about the issues with this employee. And you are largely correct that we would prefer to essentially pay him off to retire early rather than terminate him, but frankly we’re not anywhere near termination at this point and I think that would be true last resort. My use of the phrase “new sheriff in town” was tongue-in-cheek and not meant to imply that I am trying to make a name for myself. I know the people I supervise quite well and have worked with them in various capacities for years; they certainly do not need any kind of wake up call from me.

    Second, the job duties the employee isn’t performing are necessary and place additional work on both his peers (i.e., other people in a similar position), my assistant (who took over a significant amount of the technological workload from him because he simply didn’t feel like doing it), and another manager who supervises an aspect of our business that is closely monitored by the federal government (and for which there are significant, substantial fines if we fail to comply). Some of you said that maybe the things he’s not doing are unimportant because he hasn’t been doing them. That’s because other people have been picking up his slack. And while my assistant claims not to care about “helping” him in this manner, the other manager certainly does and she regularly sends me emails showing me where he’s not doing his job. Further, he is well aware of these requirements because we went over them at length in his annual review (January 2014) and then, again, in September 2014 when I noted that he still wasn’t performing appropriately.

    Third, in terms of the time until retirement, he said he wants to wait another year and then “see how it goes”. He has flat-out told me that he will continue working if he wants to continue working. If he was performing appropriately, I would have no issue with this, but he is not performing appropriately. The one-year timeframe is my optimism. Every year he stays here he is able to maximize a full pension to which he’s entitled. He also has a stay-at-home-wife under the age of 65, which I suspect factors in his decision to continue working.

    Fourth, he is already on a PIP. I plan to meet with him again in January (he works remotely and is about two hours from the home office, so we don’t see each other face-to-face as often as we otherwise might). We will go over the PIP and see how he’s doing. I think it is a good idea to comprehensively go over his job description with him to ensure he understands his responsibilities. I have already done this, but I don’t think it can hurt to do it again. The current PIP has been in effect since September. If there’s no improvement (and I haven’t seen much), then we will take additional steps. And yes, I have been documenting this very closely via email and Memos to his HR file (he is copied on the Memos, too, so none of this should come as a surprise).

    Many of you commented on the fact that this stuff may come as a surprise to him because of his previous manager’s leniency. Our company went through a huge shift in 2005 and some employees/contractors are of the “old guard” and some are of the “new guard”. The company is loath to fire people who have been with us for a long time, and I understand that attitude. I believe that many in my department, including the VP, believed that he would retire when his manager retired and that this would effectively end the issues; the company thus made the tacit decision to not manage him due to that assumption. He obviously opted not to do that, which leaves me in my current position. Frankly, I just feel lucky that I only inherited one problem employee instead of five.

    Thanks for everyone’s feedback!

    1. HR Manager*

      Maybe you used to work for my old company! We had so many people like that; it was scary.

      One of my manager peeps inherited this type of problem worker, and even worse, paid to relocate this guy to our region because of an office closure. The previous workers should have known to use that as an excuse to offer early retirement. By the time we came to addressing performance issues with his manager here, he was in a tough bind. He was facing losing a job, a new mortgage in an expensive city, so I understand why he would prefer to hunker down and ride it out vs taking the modified early retirement option with us.

      He ended up improving some, but not enough for us to keep him in his job. We ended up demoting him to a job that we were comfortable he could perform well, but this poor guy wasn’t being told he wasn’t doing a good job for 25+ years, and the performance issues were surprising to him when they started being raised.

Comments are closed.