David FullerGeorge has a small manufacturing plant he bought six months ago because it had good revenue and came with some real estate. However, he didn’t know much, if anything, about the industry.

The previous owners kept everything in their heads and had very little documentation. George quickly realized that customer orders were being lost, there was duplication of inventory orders, staff were covering up mistakes, and there were many inefficiencies in the business.

Because of George’s need to figure out how the business is run, he has been learning every aspect of it. He has also been trying to document processes and implement new procedures to reduce errors and save money.

Just last week, a staff member came up to George and told him in front of other staff that he wasn’t going to follow the new procedures. George almost lost it but walked away in order to keep his cool.

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What should George do? What would you do?

 Whenever we have a decision to make, we need to weigh our options. George had a number of options:

  • Do nothing should always be our first consideration. What happens if we do nothing? If we let things rest the way they are? George could do nothing, but what would happen with the other staff if they thought they didn’t have to follow any procedures that the company implemented?
  • Fire the staff member on the spot. When we get into situations where our adrenalin is running high, we typically make rash decisions on the spot. As much as George probably wanted to fire the person, he walked away to keep his cool. George also realized that it’s difficult to find employees in the current economic climate.
  • Set up a meeting to deal with the insubordination and the employee.
  • Change the procedures and go back to the old way of doing things with less accountability.
  • Throw in the towel and sell the business.

While George may have had other options, these were the thoughts that went through his head.

George decided to set up a meeting to deal with the insubordination and the employee when he had cooled off. George documented the event in case it happened again and gave notice to the employee that future insubordination could result in dismissal.

The next time I met with George, he told me that he had indeed fired the employee after another event even though he knew he would be hard to replace.

The result was a sense of relief in the workplace. The culture changed and George realized that the employee had been causing drama throughout the organization. George also noticed that his team viewed him with more respect.

Would you have handled the situation differently?

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. For interview requests, click here.


The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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