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Remember when things just seemed to work? Yeah, neither do we.

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“Now entering the game…”

by | Sep 3, 2015 | The Workplace

With the drama and excitement of the baseball season in full swing, it’s time to look at how a manager should deal with an employee that’s not on their A-game.

Say you’re the shift manager of a small retailer and it’s a busy day and everybody is working pretty hard to make the customers get the best experience possible. Everybody except one of your employees that is. She’s been going through a tough time in her personal life and though she tries her best to keep it from her affecting her performance, you can see she isn’t treating her customers well and it could affect future business. What do you do?

Well, you may think the answer is an easy one, but it’s actually a problem many managers face everyday. Now we’re not talking about a chronic issue with an employee, rather they are just off their game. And just like a baseball manager who prepares for the chance that the pitcher in a ballgame sometimes just doesn’t have their best stuff and needs to be pulled from the game early, you must have some contingency in place for your employees as well.

So, back to the question at hand. Do you send them home without pay? Do you pull them aside and scold them for poor performance? Do you decide that you’re too busy to do anything about it and just let her continue?

If you answered yes to any of those then good luck playing in the Mid-Tennessee A Ball League (may be a real thing), because you blew the call for sure.

The correct answer is you should pull her aside, show some empathy, and have her finish her shift in an area of the store that doesn’t require any, or very little customer contact. You should be able to do this because you prepared for this possibility by having all of your employees trained on each other’s jobs so they can be switched or replaced as needed.

If you just absolutely can’t switch her to another department, then as the manager you need to take some of the stress off of her for the day and redistribute some of her workload to the other employees and yourself. Again, since this is an isolated issue and not a chronic one, and because these down days hit everyone, the rest of the team will be okay with picking up the slack. Their bad game may be just around the corner.

Now this may seem like a lot of work just to deal with an employee’s bad day, but remember the guiding principle we follow at Instinct is that the experience your customers AND employees have is your primary concern because your success as a business is tightly linked to it. Moreover, we are trying to elevate the level of humanity in our workplaces and nothing is more human than helping a fellow employee through a tough time.

Ask anybody who’s ever been on a winning team and they’ll tell you the key to their success was knowing that everyone in that locker room was supporting each other and could be counted on when the game was on the line. You may spend your days in aisles or at counters instead of fields and courts, but the rules are the same, and to be sure the victories are still sweet.

Robert Westfall

Robert is a writer, behavorial researcher and decision-making consultant. He is the founder of Instinct, a firm specializing in helping organizations be more human focused and planet conscious.  You can learn more about his work at www.TheHumanInstinct.com and follow him at twitter.com/WeAreInstinct

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