“You should fire her. “ Peter says on Friday morning as I get into the shower.
I hear his voice – clear as the water from the showerhead. My shower is a telephone booth to the nether world. Peter doesn’t seem ethereal or dead when I speak with him. It feels like he is on the other side of the door without the apparition. My brother-in-law did well in business and he gives me advice regularly about the small business I own. I am the boss to ten employees and as the cliché goes – “it’s lonely at the top.” Learning about all of the ins and outs of human resources has been on the job training. I am ambivalent about dealing with Carla, an employee who has worked for me for two years. “I’m not sure of my legal responsibilities as an employer. She’s had several chances to change. Is that enough?” I respond.
The tension from the office has spilled over into home – another sign that something needs to change. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve talked to Carla three times and she only seems to get about ten percent of what I say each time.” I say as the water massages my tight neck muscles. “Maybe I need to talk to her again, and tell her that she is responsible for keeping inventory in check again.”
“She’s really good at making up excuses and not taking any responsibility. That’s alienating the other nine employees.” Peter challenges. “She called Jim “her little man” in front of your client last week “
“I know. I know. Somehow, Jim doesn’t see it the way the rest of us do.”
Jim, my partner, didn’t seem to notice the comment, but the client and I did. Somehow Carla has gotten the idea that now that she has been promoted to manager she can sit and wait for the work to come to her. Lately, I’ve seen her manage more of her own life – her husband’s vasectomy appointment, dentist appointment for her children, and grooming appointments for her two dogs and one cat. Meanwhile the rest of us are running like crazy to get it all done.
“I feel like I am in some sort of life challenge.”
“Well, that sounds a bit melodramatic.” Peter says.
“I don’t think I can change her. I’ve tried and it’s not working.”
“I don’t think you can change Carla either, and you need to think about the other employees that she is making miserable. Think about when Janice and Frank quit last month. Don’t you think she had some role in that? Are you willing to lose any more people?” He says frankly.
“I need to let her go. She has been a thorn in my side – arrogant, flirtatious, and loud.” I say.
Peter is silent now – I have no body language to read in this conversation. – no shrug, no eye roll, no head shake when I say something. It’s time to stop waffling, and do something the silence says.
I step out of the shower and quickly towel dry. If I am going to remedy this situation, I’ll need to be in the office a little earlier than usual.
“I can do this.” I tell myself as I set my bag down in my office and take a deep breath.
“Carla,” I say, “can you step into my office, please.”