Michael, for his part, doesn’t like confrontation. He reluctantly talked with Denzel about six months ago and thought it was getting better, but really he was ignoring the problem. Instead of directly attacking the issue with Denzel, he used the “hint-hope” method and suggested that Denzel should be nicer. He even ended up giving him a raise in order to encourage him to be nicer. That was six months ago. It didn’t stick.
From Michael’s view, he cannot afford to lose Denzel for Denzel is the press operator. Denzel knows what needs to be done and cannot be replaced. Michael, of course, does not know how to print, which is a significant drawback in a small press shop.
From Lisa’s view, they cannot afford to keep Denzel for he is rude, confronts her in front of customers, and does not even follow her directions on which jobs should be done in what order. What to do?
This is where the rules change.
In the large corporation where Michael and Lisa previously worked, people were expected to do their jobs and follow the organizational chart. It’s the same in small shops as well, but with one caveat.
As they were organized, Denzel reported to Michael and not to Lisa (which was an error in our view). Nonetheless, that’s what was done. Michael protected Denzel, not because of his stellar performance, but out of Michael’s fear of the unknown. As a result, there is stalemate between Michael and Lisa.
This is where the “First Lady of Printing” has a trump card. If there is anyone working in an organization who disrespects the “First Lady,” regardless of their position, that’s intolerable. Denzel has to change or go.
Of course, one should give Denzel an opportunity to change, and it doesn’t appear that Michael really did that. But, in my opinion, he probably won’t change anyway. So, although Michael needs to really have a “do or die” talk with Denzel, he also needs to immediately get on with the task of looking for alternatives to Denzel so that he will have the backbone to discipline (or discharge) Denzel when the time comes.
Now back to the rule. In businesses like ours, we have many valuable employees who are to be cherished and nurtured. However, anytime an employee is disrespectful to the owner or their spouse, that is breaking a fundamental rule and their behavior must change or they must be terminated.
Tom Crouser is principal of Crouser & Associates, Inc., 4710 Chimney Drive, Charleston, WV 25302, 304/965-7100. You may reach Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out the unique business opportunity for small press printers offered by CPrint International at www.cprint.org. Tom is now Twittering weekdays. Follow his tweets at www.twitter.com/tomcrouser. This article is available as a podcast at www.quickprinting.com/podcast and from iTunes.