Wednesday, June 1, 2011

CFO Services - A Difficult Employee Question

As a Part time CFO I am often in a position to advise clients how to answer the following non financial related question:

What do you do with an inferior employee(s) when the business owner is virtually convinced that the employee market for the particular skill that the inferior employee(s) is in is so thinly populated and thinly skilled the replacement would either be worse or no replacement exists? Assume the inferior employees are not stealing. They just lack the talent, the ambition or they are just plain lazy and incompetent.

Many may say that it is impossible for a skill set in an employee market to be that thin. Many may say this is an easy decision and that you just get rid of the inferior employee(s).

These are all legitimate comments but what happens if the market is really that thin? What happens when the loss of the inferior employee results in a loss of business for an unknown period of time? What happens if the training costs to train the new employee who is being plucked from a thinly populated and talented market is expensive?

I have personally faced these types of situations in businesses that I have owned and they do happen contrary to many who believe that an employee market no matter what the skill set can be thinly populated and thinly talented. In the two specific situations I was personally involved in as the business owner I kept the inferior employees and as a result I believe I paid a higher price versus biting the bullet, letting go the inferior employees and paying whatever price I had to pay including lost business.

What I found was that inferior employees bring down other employees who are more talented, more ambitious and more willing to work. The inferior employees are the proverbial "Bad Apples" that spoil the whole bunch and as a result everyone goes down with them making the whole operation that much more inefficient, ineffective and dis-serving to the most important people in the process, the customer.

Believe me; I understand how tough the decision is to cut the cord. You know that you are going to spend a lot more sleepless nights while you lose business and do not have replacements. You will personally have to work more hours and this can be taxing especially when you already work crazy hours. It tears the very fiber of the business owner, but it is one of those unfortunate situations business owners encounter.

The key is take every precaution you can to prevent this during the hiring process and during the employee's first 90 days on the job.

Even though this is a non-financial challenge a CFO has more value to their clients if they can guide the client through this challenge and provide real life insight. It is the CFO who has prior business ownership experience that is best equipped to handle these situations. At the end of the day these non-financial insights can be one of many valuable CFO Services.