Here I am, sitting in Starbucks trying to get a little work done. At the next table there is a manager and his employee having a discussion about her suspension. I guess they thought Starbucks gained them some privacy. Yeah, right. I really tried to mind my own business but believe me, everyone else was listening in too. It appears this young 30-ish year old woman was suspended and she asked to meet her manager here to discuss the situation.
My first take away is for you leaders. Don’t counsel at Starbucks. This guy should know better. He looks experienced, but boy is he making a lot of mistakes. If this woman decides to file a formal complaint, this manager’s company is going to have their hands full. Apparently she was suspended from work without being given a good explanation – according to her.
Second take away – If you are going to suspend someone, you better follow a process. In California, unions aside, I don’t believe you have to give someone a reason for letting them go. I may be mistaken, but the point you need to remember is to check your local labor laws. If your company lets someone go, I don’t think it wise to meet them at Starbucks later to “discuss” things. The discussion should have happened in the office as part of the suspension/firing process. This manager has another problem on his hands in that he has no witnesses as to what was discussed. It becomes a “he said – she said” conversation. Not something I’d like to face in a courtroom.
Third take away – By meeting this employee at Starbucks, the manager abdicated complete control over the situation. He met her at her request. The meeting was hers, not his. He had no control over anything, except his response – which believe me, was pretty lame.
Fourth take away – If you have to counsel someone, be direct. This manager could not address any of the specific complaints this young woman brought up because he wasn’t prepared. He hemmed and hawed and basically said nothing. Perhaps that is a good thing.
For Those Who Want to Keep Their Jobs
This young woman was a piece of work. I heard about 5 minutes of conversation and I have no doubt she was fired for her attitude and her inability to get along with others. While she thought she was being diplomatic and making a case to keep her job, remember she was just suspended, I thought she sealed her coffin. Here is what she did, and you should avoid.
- She used the “I” word constantly. I thought…. I want…. I need… She couldn’t understand why her “team” kept ganging up on her. Apparently they don’t like her and were trying to get rid of her. While I don’t want to be to harsh, I know I would never hire her because the universe obviously revolves around her.
- She constantly talked without coming up for air. She talked… and she talked… and she talked. If I were her, I would have been listening instead of talking. While she was so busy trying to make her point, she didn’t take time to get her manager’s perspective. She also didn’t take time to read his body language. It was really clear that all he wanted was to get out of here. He was leaning back, not engaged. He wasn’t looking for solutions. He was just nodding his head at her verbal onslaught.
- She blamed others without taking any responsibility for the situation. She didn’t “understand” why she was let go. She couldn’t “understand” why her team didn’t like her. She pointed out all the other bad things that her team mates were doing and she didn’t “understand” why she was being singled out. She never once said, what can I do better? What can I do to save my job?
- She played the “poor me” card. “I really don’t want to lose this job, especially in this economy. I don’t know what I’ll do if you don’t take me back.” While I’m sure this is true, the way she played this card made it seem as if she was playing with this “man’s” emotions. Poor lil’ ol’ me. Yeah… uh-huh.
While I feel sorry for this young woman, it was really apparent to me that she was suspended for being a trouble maker. I have a hunch that her performance at work matched her performance at Starbucks. A lot of talk, with not much to show for it except upset team members.
As for the manager, he made some terrible mistakes to. Perhaps the leadership at this company is just plain lacking. I wanted to walk over to them both and give them my card but thought better of it. I just hope that this young woman doesn’t try to sue the company as the manager really left them open to some interesting questions.
All the best!
All the time!