You Can’t Shoot A Three-Legged Dog – Think before you fire
There are lots of small businesses out there that “carry” a staff member. You know, that person in your team that’s had more than the regular share of life’s dramas. But when push comes to shove and you have to make some tough business decisions, the answer isn’t always your first thought.
For example, you may employ someone who has had ongoing health issues, family problems, a permanent disability, financial problems, or they could be a refugee. But they’re a good person and have always been loyal to you. They don’t whinge about the crap biscuits you buy for the lunch room and they’re the one who’ll hang around after the Christmas party to stack the chairs and put the bins out. Your clients know them as a familiar face and they’re like your favourite pot plant. Half useless but nice to have around. And then occasionally, when you’re on a rampage because your cash flow is awful, and you just got sued, you start waving your pistol around looking for someone to sack. Someone who costs you more than they generate in revenue! Someone who tells customers you can’t take on any more work ’cause you’re too busy!! Someone who has had the most sick days in the last year!!!
You know who I’m talking about? Yep, it’s your own three-legged dog. That semi affordable, frustrating ditherer with the weird hobbies. Yep, that’s the one you’re going to sack! No more cake! You’ve been carrying them for too long, blah blah, puff your chest out, rant, rant. Then someone convinces you to sleep on it because you’re a bit worked up. And, given rampages are statistically proven to occur on a Friday, you end up having a beer or six and settling down. Crisis averted.
So, Saturday morning comes, and you’re a bit wounded from the extra drinks. Your bacon smells like regret so you pull back from the front line.
You remember that your three-legged dog never complains when they are asked to do the crap jobs and they always buy a ticket in your kid’s school raffle.
They turn up to every work social event to pack the eskies and, though quiet, they are part of the fabric.
They inadvertently provide a counter balance to your Alpha males and hard-nosed office bulldogs.
They will never steal your tools or your clients to set up in opposition and have never asked for a pay rise.
They wear the company uniform with pride and occasionally ask after your ageing parents.
They like and respect you and appreciate the job you have given them.
Their only crime is they have been dealt a tough set of cards in their personal life and it’s now time you considered that. ’Cause when you see a three-legged dog on the street, what do you see? You see a champion. A dog that has survived a tragedy or an illness. A dog who still wags his tail despite the wounds life has inflicted upon him.
My advice is that to sack them will cause collateral damage on a scale you did not expect. Long-term customers who knew them will see you differently. Your team members will see in their boss a new and heartless side and you’re ageing parents will be disappointed you didn’t find a better solution. So, avert your gaze to something else on Monday and take comfort that, at least today, your good side over came your bad side and karma’s not waiting in the car park. Because you can’t shoot a three-legged dog and that’s a fact.
We’re here to look after the finance and administration of your business – and occasionally give a bit of sage advice – so you can get on with doing what you’re best at.