Your $20.00 per hour employee costs you $25.00 to $28.00 per hour. That’s when he is giving you 100% effort. But if you’re not skilled in managing employees, he might convince you it’s only fair for you to get less than you pay for because you’re paying him less than he thinks he is worth. In his mind, his value is based on his needs and wants. He has an $800.00 per month housing payment, a $400.00 per month car payment, another $400.00 in monthly child support payments, and a $400.00 per month clubbing or sports bar habit. Plus, he has to pay $400.00 per month in health insurance premiums and at least the minimum on his credit card debt from the occasional impulse buy. Vacation, $4,000.00. Holiday gifts, $2,000.00. Concert tickets $400.00. And so on.
Under these circumstances, he thinks you should be paying him more than the $3,200.00 per month you do. Here’s his value calculation:
$800.00 + $400.00 + $400.00 + $400.00 + $400.00 + Miscellaneous
The numbers are estimated and rounded off to make the math simple. This is not intended to shame him. You just need to be aware of how differently he thinks from you.
You see an estimated $4,240.00 per month go to him, not $3,200.00–even during the weeks when you take no pay because the business is barely profitable. You see him playing games or using social media on his phone instead of finding work to do, and you have to show great restraint. You want to yell at him, but you hold it in.
Sometimes this employee gets paid $25.00+ per hour to do what he can do at home for free!
He needs to help generate $10,000.00 per month for the business, or there will be no job for either of you. But that isn’t his concern.
To you, his value is less than $3,200.00, especially when you consider the energy it takes to manage him. He is exhausting. And you’re already burnt out.
It gets worse. Every project is an issue with him. He refuses to follow procedures because checklists insult his intelligence. Yet he forgets things, and customers complain. When you tell him to use the checklists, he threatens to walk off the job and berates you for “micromanaging” him. You walk away because you don’t know how to deal with people like him–or your anger. You decide he gets the job done sometimes and this is the best you’ll ever get from employees.
Stop Settling for Less Than You Want and Need
Neither of you is 100% right nor 100% wrong in this conflict. You’re just not seeing the full picture. He’s focused on his needs. You’re focused on yours. But the business needs you to find a way to work something out. Whether you continue to work together or not, the numbers will tell the story and determine your future. If you keep settling for less than the $10,000.00 the business requires from this employee, you will either have to get more from another employee or yourself to make up the difference. If you don’t, your business will fail.
I have seen this scenario play out far too many times. It even took me a couple of years to rebuild my business’ health after a few hiring and management failures that I let go on longer than I could financially afford. It also drained my time and energy. That’s why I bring the tough love. I don’t want you to struggle for years because you aren’t resolving obvious conflicts. You can resolve them objectively, fairly, and compassionately. The sooner you do, the better for everyone involved.
Discover How to Work with Different Personality Styles
One of the tools I started using last year with my clients was the DISC Personality Assessment. Most people have found it highly effective in identifying:
- Why some people are more difficult to manage than others
- How their own behaviors under stress can exacerbate communication difficulties
- A few simple changes that can be made immediately
This has been especially useful when managers or small business owners have employees from cultural or racial backgrounds different from theirs. the DISC gives us something more objective to focus on, rather than perceptions. It’s not fool proof, but it gives us a place to begin the changes necessary.
Resolve Current Conflicts Completely
When there is an active conflict between two or more people, mediation is also an option. I use the Seven Choices of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process to help you prepare for a facilitated discussion. Then, we take the Five Actions, step by step. This can seem like a slower process than just commanding an action, but parties have consistently said they felt heard in mediation. They also learned new things about the situation and the other parties that helped them understand the needs beyond their own. They realized there were more ways to resolve the disputes than they had been seeing, and that allowed them to reach an agreement. Not everyone left with the intent to continue their relationships, but many did. Employees went back to work, re-energized and clearer about expectations. Managers motivated these employees with new tools. Businesses began to get results again, sometimes with new people or roles. The possibilities are only limited by the parties.
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Nance L. Schick, Esq., is a workplace attorney, ethno-religious mediator, and conflict resolution coach based in New York City. Her goal is to keep you out of court and build your conflict resolution skills so everyone has a better work experience. She helps managers and business owners have empowering conversations about emotionally-charged issues such as gender, race, religion, and disability. She is creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution, and an award-winning entrepreneur acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018 & 2019), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards).