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    15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 14, 2010 10:24 AM by stokestrip

    Hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft

    hannah Wayfarer
      In august I opened up a business. I have a college student who came highly recommended to me by a mutual friend for a 12 hour a week position. I set up a time to interview with him via email. The day of the interview he showed up 1 hour and 10 minutes late and brought a friend with him to the interview. There was no private place to interview so his friend sat in the interview and even answered some of the questions for the one being interviewed. He offered no reason for being late and I chose not to talk to him about it at that point in front of his friend. I attempted to talk with him about the work and attempted to go over a job description.

      He took the job desciption and did not look at it and proceeded to inform me that this was his senior year and he really had all he wanted at this time in his life, that he really wasn't certain that he wanted to work. Then, he proceeded to tell me how he thought things should be run that college students don't have clock in hours that they show up when they want to, that they don't really mind being accountable to their peers but not employers because it puts a damper on their free spirit.

      I took this information to my friend and a couple hours later I received a phone call from my friend that this student was now on board. I took my friend at his word and I emailed the student stating my concern that he showed up an hour and ten minutes late for the interview and against my better judgment, I gave him a second chance. On the day of his second interview he showed up 10 minutes late and offered an excuse this time, stating that he was sorry he was late but he was out hanging with the guys. I went forward with the interview and again he proceeded to tell me he was a senior and didn't really want much else, but that he wanted to give it a try. Again, I gave him a job description and we went over it, and he seemed on board until I saw him lay it down when he went out the door. Again, against my better judgment I agreed to work with this student.

      We worked out a schedule via email after he received his class schedule, and he would show up but his attitude wreaked with argument, disrespect, etc. I talked with him about this and he blew up in my face, told me that he was leaving and would come back in 2 days to "let me know" if he wanted to continue working. This young man has alot of wonderful qualities to make this business succcessful, but I am astounded at his attitude.

      When I shared with my friend what had happened he said to me that he would have never hired him if he had said to him what he had said to me. Then my friend proceeded to tell that he would talk to him to see if he wants to continue, and I said no, if this student comes back in 2 days, I am going to listen but I unless I see a real commitment and attitude change, I am letting him go. Once against my better judgment caused me concern, twice cost me my sleep, and now my friend wants a 3rd chance for this student, I just cannot see it. What is your counsel?
        • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
          DomainDiva Ranger
          Hannah you were not 'too soft'. You refused to see the warning signs presented to you in plain sight. Please do yourself a favor and dismiss this 'friend of a friend' and then deal with the 'friend' as a business owner not as a friend.

          Love is love...business is business. You are the one that has to watch out for the bottom line and the checkbook.
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
            Lighthouse24 Ranger
            I concur with Diva. You have a responsibility to your customers, vendors, community, and yourself -- and this "student" is never going to help you fulfill that responsibility. Your only obligation as a friend might have been to consider hiring the student, but nothing more. When he showed up late and brought someone with him, that would have been the end of that if it were me. So you are not in any way letting your friend down -- the student is. Best wishes.
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
              Iwrite Pioneer
              Your friend would not tolerate this. Why should you?

              Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a person is fire them. There is a lesson they need to learn that doesn't come from more chances. Every job has its limits. Don't get me wrong, I know about coaching and counseling, and I believe in them. But I know some people need to be fired, it is a fact of life. He is not even trying.

              Would you have accepted this behavior from a person who walked in off the street to apply for the position? Let your friend hire him.

              We all want to help people but you are not helping this person by extending them anymore chances - what lesson does that teach him?

              Iwrite
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                  hannah Wayfarer
                  thank you. in answer to your question, would you have hired this person if they had come in off the street? My answer is absolutely not
                    • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                      Iwrite Pioneer
                      I once worked for a major pizza delivery chain and was asked to turn around a unit that was doing horribly. I walked in and introduced myself, and no one cared. They continued to play cards, eat pizzas, talk on the phone or the variety of other things I watched them do. After about an hour of observing not one order go out on time and employees taking raw ingredients out to their cars, I called my boss.

                      "Henry, this is Derek. I'm at unit 23 and I have a problem," I said.

                      "What's the problem?" he asked.

                      "I don't have any employees." I said.

                      "You what?! You don't have any employees?!! What happened to them?" he said.

                      "I fired them all. I can do bad by myself." I said.

                      Yes, I fired everyone of them.

                      And for the rest of the week and a half, me and another manager ran the unit by ourselves - open to close, 7 days a week. In that time we were able to lower the delivery times, reduce complaints and get the numbers in line. When the old employees came in for their checks there was a note attached telling them that if they wanted their jobs back they had to attend a meeting the following Saturday morning. Almost all of them showed up, and I explained to them that the behavior I saw that first day was unacceptable, period. And if they wanted their jobs back, they would have to come up to the standard. Most of them agreed. This unit went from the bottom to the top 5 in 9 months; six of these employees went on to get management positions; and my boss got a record bonus which he shared with us.

                      Later he asked me, "why did you fire them all?"

                      "I needed to get their attention. They had learned bad habits, and I had to make them understand I wasn't going to put up with it." I replied.

                      Yes, me and the other manager were dog tired but we never had to hold a unit meeting about following the rules. No one challenged our authority. And some of our employees' parents thanked us because they saw better grades and behavior.

                      This being a boss thing is a priviledge. You have done more than most would because you see someting in this young man, the problem is that he doesn't see it.

                      I wanted you to know my advice comes from practical experience working with young employees in less than ideal conditions and places. I know how hard it can be. Good luck.
                        • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                          hannah Wayfarer

                          Wow! you actually released all of them. I appreciate your comment on seeing more in this student than he sees in himself. I really wanted to give him a chance, but because he got in my face yesterday when trying to discuss his attitude, I don't believe in the interest of the business to give him another chance would be a good choice. I have worked with teens for several years and some were volatile as this college student was yesterday and I coached and gave counsel with much generosity and compassion in that setting. However, in my way of thinking, a senior in college is at a stage in life when he must make a personal choice to conduct himself professionally and with proper respect for his employers.
                            • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                              Iwrite Pioneer
                              Yep. But more like "fired." "Released" sounds too sterile. I had to do something to get their attention.

                              I was charged with two options:
                              a) reorganize the unit
                              or
                              b) close the unit

                              Option "b" would hurt more than the employees, it would've been a hit to the community.

                              You are right, a senior should know better.
                                • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                                  Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                  Yes, firing is like a hammer -- it can't be the only tool in a manager's tool belt, but it is the right tool in certain circumstances.
                                    • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                                      Iwrite Pioneer
                                      And should always be used like a hammer - if you are going to use it, strike fast and true.

                                      My actions were a calculated move, part of a plan. They had to know I had the power and would use it because previous managers had not. I knew I was going to be rehiring some of them, I just wasn't sure who. That was up to them. And I never threatened them with firing or write ups, I don't believe in that. Nor do I believe in firing out of anger.

                                      The two toughest decisions I have ever had to make were hiring and firing, both can have a profound effect on a person's life. To look in a man's eyes and realize he is at the end of his rope and the policies of the company will not let you hire him is tough. Just like having to let a family's only bread winner go because you can't afford to keep him or her.

                                      I believe in the end that all the permanent firings I have had to do were failures on my part as a manager - either I hired wrong or I trained wrong or I coached wrong or I managed wrong or I communicated wrong. Looking at it like that, forces me to strive to be a better manager. I'm still learning.

                          • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                            hannah Wayfarer
                            Thank you for taking your time to offer sound counsel
                            • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                              Navigator
                              Hannah,

                              Wow, how frustrating! Seems like you have already answered your question on what to do here-- pretty overwhelming evidence. Trust your gut.
                              • Re: hired a friend of a friend and I was too soft
                                stokestrip Wayfarer
                                You have to have a person who respects the company they work for. Clearly this potential employee had no respect for anything. When the person was over 1 hr late for the initial interview you should have told them on arrival that extreme lateness was unacceptable and not even given an interview. When you see a problem in business, nip it in the bud immediately. Even in giving the 2nd chance when they were late the 2nd time and had the audacity to give an excuse that they were hanging out, that let you know they did not view the job as important. You can't be "nice" in business. Set guidelines and standards and never give more than one chance for blatent rudeness and disregard.