Employees and the Hazards of Management, Part 2

A bowl went missing

The bowl in question. Not really. Just run with it.

My wife had put an expensive mixing bowl in one of the units. We had gotten it from a family member who had no more use for it and we already had a bunch of bowls, so she furnished the unit with it. She told me that she put the bowl in the room, came back 5 minutes later, then it was gone. The only other person who was there was Susan. My wife said she asked Susan about the bowl and she didn’t know what had happened to it. I was gone at the time and had no idea. This was only a $40 bowl, for goodness sakes. Is that expensive?

My wife insisted and so I checked the camera system. I remember stating to her that there was no way Susan would have done it, she monitors that camera system so well and would have to be a fool to have taken that bowl. More likely, my wife misplaced the bowl and forgot about it. I actually said that to her as I was logging in!

Sure enough, pure as daylight, there was my wife bringing in a green bowl to unit 8 and leaving the unit. Not a minute later, Susan comes strolling in and immediately leaves with the bowl in her hands! I was absolutely floored. But it was a bowl, maybe there was some explanation, wasn’t there?

I tasked my wife with going back through the finances and making sure everything was in order. Someone who would steal a bowl in broad daylight might not worry about stealing more. There were a couple rent payments that were documented in our property management software but didn’t show up in the bank account.

We went to our weekly meeting and I had a few strategic questions ready: Did you know there was a bowl missing? Do you know what happened to that? What happened to the rent money that was in the management software as received but not deposited in the bank?

To the bowl, she had no idea, lying right to my face! To the rent money, yes, she got it collected, in cash, but it was stolen from her unlocked vehicle when she was parked at the gas station. The meeting concluded. I kept my cool at that meeting and arranged for our next week’s meeting to explain her termination.

The firing

I’m not going to get into the details of our parting ways. It was not exciting, there was no yelling. I prepared by making a list of everything that needed to be shut off with software and at the bank. I completed the checklist an hour before our meeting. Then we met for 30 minutes. My wife was in the room as a witness. And we parted ways.

In case you are wondering, all the keys are kept in one place, at our office (except for my backups I keep at my house) so I didn’t need to exchange keys or give Susan the opportunity to make copies. The transition went smoothly and we are in the process of hiring a new manager. All told, we had about $1,200 unaccounted for that we don’t expect to get back.

There must be something to take away from this difficult event. In the ER, the only management of people I do is in giving orders. I expect them to be obeyed. The processes we use have been built over the years and are changed only in committee meetings. If there is a management issue, there are people who do that. I manage the care for the patient, but I don’t manage the staff. As such, I have had no training in management and am learning on-the-job.

Consider hiring a 3rd party manager for your business. Do it early, earlier than you think you have the money for. It will pay off. Then again, if you are a reader of this blog, you are probably like me and you want that level of control you can only get from hiring your employee. At the very least, read a book on management. You can’t go wrong by checking out John C. Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

And now we are searching for our next manager. I will do better this time.

Dr. Equity