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The Guide: I want to fire someone for repeatedly not submitting their timesheet, but it feels petty

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Dear Guide: I have a casual team member who has repeatedly failed to submit their timesheet. I have explained to them several times that this must be done on time, as not doing so prevents them from getting paid and creates additional administrative work for me. Not to mention the time and frustration of chasing them for it.

It is a simple, administrative process and there is no apparent reason preventing the person from doing it. They are young and I suspect disinterested in the work. This reflects more broadly in the quality and quantity of work they produce. I have several other team members who are both more productive and who reliably submit their timesheets.

I have warned this person about the timesheets. I want to replace them. However, something feels petty about firing them for simply not submitting a timesheet.

— Petty Manager

Petty Manager: I agree that firing someone for merely failing to submit their timesheet would be disproportionate and unreasonable.

However, this is not what you would be firing them for. You would be firing them for their repeated failure to listen to and address your corrective guidance.

The fact that the guidance related to their timesheet is incidental.

A team member’s ability to comprehend and address their manager’s guidance is fundamental to high performance. It’s an important skill that we must all learn.

In a sense, it’s more damning that they weren’t able to demonstrate this skill on such a straightforward matter.

Underperformance is usually explained by one or both of two factors.

Either they didn’t perform because they weren’t capable of doing so (i.e. they lacked the skills to do it, which seems unlikely on such a straightforward task).

Or because they didn’t take your instruction seriously.

Either explanation is problematic.

Notwithstanding any disability that might affect the individual’s ability to complete the activity (you indicate no apparent or disclosed reason, but it’s worth checking), this appears to be a reasonable requirement, given everyone else’s success on the task.

Thoughts? If you would like to share a response to today’s dilemma with the Guide and other readers, add a comment below.

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This information is provided as general advice only and is not a substitute for obtaining professional advice. Impact Society does not accept liability for any action taken based on the information presented here or for any loss suffered as a result of reliance on it.