I have a team member that will leave at 5:00 pm every day, even when situations call for more work to be done afterwards. He works very hard when he's there, never comes in late, and he's a salaried employee. He is valuable to the project, but he also causes heartache when he refuses to stay a little late for a task that needs to be addressed right then. I've been asked by several members of the team to replace him. He knows his skills are vital to the project, and he uses it against the team and the company. His skills won't easily be replaced if I let him go, but he does just as much damage and he does good at times. I've tried talking to him, but he refuses to listen. Is there a good way to handle this situation? Saving Changes...
You have a volatile situation. When you accept a salary position you are expected to put in the extra time at work when the need is there. There is no bell ringing at 5pm that you are done for the day. There is nothing wrong with going home at 5pm if you are done for the day and your support is not needed.
It's better to cut this person off right now to cut your loss and replace that person.
Your team member seems to be a valuable resource to the team. Often team member might not realize the importance, urgency or priority of as task or assignment.
If he works very hard and is on time at work, is it possible he is overloaded with more work or complex assignments?
Is he made aware of the priority of the tasks or does he need guidance?
Are there deadlines provided when the tasks need to be completed? Does he adhere to the deadlines?
There are times a team member might not be happy with the rewards or recognition system. Could this be an issue?
Does he adhere to organization work hours and does not prefer work late? I think this cannot be the only reason to replace him.
Communication with him about the above things might help to bring to your notice if there is something that needs to be addressed. Saving Changes...
This is interesting. However, from your narration it seems you work in a matrix kind of structure where you have no full control over your team members. Salaried employees have terms of reference such as reporting times and departure. These are the times they “sell” to the organization in exchange for their salary. So if he reports on time and leaves at 5Pm daily as you have stated, he is within his employment terms of reference.Beyond that would be working overtime really which should be avoided.
That being the case, I would suggest that you inform him of all the work he needs to undertake beforehand and agree on the timelines for delivery of the same so that it doesn’t impact other activities that the team is handling. The same should go for the entire team. However, if all fails you or the team should not be held hostage as no one has a monopoly of skills.
Hi Bruce - I would suggest you to set your expectations right with your team member. Inform that team member that when there is a pressing need, business may expect him to complete the work prior to leaving the office. Maybe you could give him time off for extra work (since he is salaried and if your organization has comp off). It could also be possible that he has other commitments after office hours (maybe sick family member to attend to or have part time job, etc.). For example, we have a team member on our team whose has set his expectations very straight. He would be in office by 6:30 AM, but he has to leave work at 3:00 PM to spend time with his kid. Apart from the salary, he is not expecting anything else (like growth or promotions).
You may consider option to provide him infrastructure to allow him to work from home when there is pressing need - like providing him a laptop(?)
Give your situation to him and try to find out what are his constraints. Alternatively, you can plan for work and give him heads-up in advance. Normally, I have seen at few projects that 'urgent' work tend to show up always at 5:00 PM when we are about to leave for work. When we dig deeper into this the symptoms would have started to show up 2 or 3 days ago, but when it falls on your lap it would be late evening and its already bumped up in priority. Favorite time to bump up is on Fri 5:00 PM. If this is the norm, then the problem may not lie with your team member, rather the person(s) reporting the problem. You may have to set a process where any problems reported beyond X PM will be dealt the following business day (unless its stopping business completely). When this expectation is set, business will try to be more proactive.
Hope this helps.
What i understand is - He is not flexible when you are in need . this is not helping your organization.
If his skills are vital to the project - bring a back up resource to work with him. let him know that you are bringing a backup to cover him after he leaves for the day day. so that he knows you u are giving him the freedom that he needs. roughly after 30 days days. backup resource will have the confidence to slowly take over. probably he might not co-operate with backup resource, but eventually he will if you make him responsible and accountable for backup resource performance.
Give him responsibility of SME or lead and ask him to document and train/cross train the resources under him to reduce the dependency on him.
I am also curious to know what are his skills that is creating the dependency to the project or Organization? Saving Changes...
Problem is a gap between perceived reality and desire reality. You can work on perception, you can work on desire or you can work in the gap. People always behave in a way for a reason. If I would in your situation (I was lot of times including today) I will work on that. I always tried to not replace people.
Empathy. Understand what more about this individual, the hidden side. Maybe his wife has a night job and he needs to get home for the kids. Maybe his kids have activities to go to. Maybe he has a sick parent he is caring for and needs to relieve the nurse.
Or, not. But go into a discussion with empathy to understand more about the other aspects of this individual.
From there you can work to find a common ground. Read what Sergio wrote. It's a bit scientific, but it is accurate. Don't let negative emotion skew your perception.
2 replies by Bruce Watts and Ellik Hawkins
May 22, 2018 5:32 PM
Thanks for the input Andrew.
Jun 14, 2019 9:37 AM
Andrew Craig nailed it! Good people are hard to find. Work with him to figure out a solution. If this person is younger, they may have different values than older generations and they may strive for a work/life balance. My point is take some time to get to know what he values. If he is truly that valuable to the project, and he's not rude or condescending to others about his skill set, then he's worth keeping around. I am curious about your organization's overtime policy as well. Does he get flex or comp time, or is he expected to "donate" his time after 40 hours? If so, the organization may need to look deeper into their policies.
There is a gap in expectations from you, him, and others. Which is normally a good thing, coming from diversity and mutual respect is needed to close the gap. Your team rules should set expectations, they are not set in stone and not sacrosanct, you can and should adapt to situations like this.
A leader takes the resources available and builds a team from them.
No. People have different reason for leaving work on time. Maybe family is more important than work. Maybe they have a sick relative to attend to. Maybe they do volunteer work. Maybe they value work-life balance. Everyone's value system is different. Who's to say their value system (even if it is as simple as "I won't work when I'm not being paid") is any less valuable than ours? Saving Changes...