I am not used to being a manager. I am also not used to being a business owner. Today was the second day I had salaried employees working for me.

I just hired 2 new employees, one of them is working really hard and the other has been watching the cardinals game on his computer for most of the day today.

I haven't told him to stop, because I dont know if I can effectivly give negative feedback without exploding or handling the situation totally wrong.

My mentor told me to try to put a positive spin on it, and we ended up trying saying, "good job guys, (good worker) your doing really well you got 2 sales today and (bad worker) we will just need to get your call volume up and you will be closing deals too"

Any other recomendations on how I can effectively tell someone to GET THEIR BUTT BACK TO WORK without exploding or being the stereotyped "mean boss" or really the employer that the employees dont respect

James Gutherson's picture

He must know that that is not right. Just a quick reminder at first like "Come on John, lets get back to work"

It sounds like he is testing the boundaries, and you need to set them now. No-one is going to think you are a mean boss because you don't let them watch TV (or internet video) during work time.

tomas's picture

You really need to give adjusting feedback immediately otherwise your employee will end up confused, wondering why you were ok with him slacking off the first 5 times you noticed but not the sixth.

The thing with feedback is to give it in small frequent doses rather than storing it up and exploding. It is counterproductive to explode because one day you will do it when the employee is just taking a really late lunch break because they were making sales calls all afternoon.

kenstanley's picture

Follow the feedback model, and do it as soon as you notice some behavior you feel needs to be adjusted.

"John, can I give you some feedback?"
[assume the reply is yes]
"When you watch sport at work, here is what happens ..."
Then just tailor the feedback to their DISC model. How ever it will work for them, be it public recognition they are not doing their job, lower sales results, team effectiveness etc. Then of course follow up with "What can you do differently next time?" The obvious answer then is don't watch sport at work.

Almost too easy.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

this is the simple feedback I'd give:

"When you watch baseball at work instead of doing your work, here's what happens: it makes me wonder why I'm paying you. This is not the function you were hired for."

This person is too knew to have earned any slack or latitude. Forget the positive spin. His behavior is not just unprofessional, it borders on unethical. Taking a paycheck without working is stealing in my eyes.

FlatFeeKing's picture

thanks for all the feedback. would any of you tailor your responses knowing that our office only has about 4 other people in it, and they would all hear what I was saying?

jhack's picture

Everyone knows he was watching the game. Everyone is probably wondering what your response will be. If you're professional and calm, but clear and firm, they will all benefit from knowing that you expect them to be professionals.


rthibode's picture

I agree that feedback is needed, and I'm surprised at the mild reaction of others who have commented.

I'm not sure why you wouldn't just fire someone who started working for you 2 days ago and thinks it's appropriate to watch TV/surf the internet all day. To me, this shows unbelieveably poor judgement to say the least.

I'm trying hard to imagine a reason that this employee might see his behaviour as appropriate.

[list]Is it his first job?
Does he believe he is "multitasking" -- is the game just on in the background while he "works"?
Does he have enough work? Is he maybe waiting for something to do while watching the game?
Is he working only for commission, not an hourly wage? Perhaps he thinks his office time is his own since you don't pay a salary?
Is there a history that you need to know about? Has he just been there for two days, or have you just been his boss for two days?[/list:u]

maura's picture
Training Badge

[quote]To me, this shows unbelieveably poor judgement to say the least. [/quote]
Yeah, the phrase "Galactically Stupid" comes to mind.

King, you don't [i]have [/i]to be stereotyped as the mean boss. You [i]could [/i]be stereotyped as the boss who doesn't care if his employees actually do any work. Which is worse?

It's not mean to require value in return for the money you are paying this person. The audacity of even suggesting that employees work for their pay! How dare you! :wink:

Look at it this way. If you are clear about the results you want, and reward those who help you get there, who will stick around long term? Your high performers or your low performers? If you allow low performers to earn a chunk of your profits by watching a baseball game, what will your high perormers think of the future of your business, and their future there? Who will be more likely to stick around if you allow this person to continue to loaf? Is that good for your business?

Again, you don't have to deliver the feedback in a mean way. But this is a small office. Everybody knows what's going on. Either you earn the respect of the good people that you want to keep long-term, or you worry about the ones who will consider you mean for not letting someone sit around all day and get paid for it. Maybe with coaching this person can turn into someone you want to keep long-term, and maybe not. But you won't find out until you try to change their behavior.

asteriskrntt1's picture

First, never give feedback in public.

Second, mean is not a label that applies to boss. Boss means boss. And who cares if they think you are mean? How about the mirror image? They are being mean for taking your money to do nothing.

If you have not already, go listen to the podcasts on giving feedback. It lays out the language to use and how to respond.

However, given the urgency of the situation, and the cancer that can spread from it very quickly, take this person into an office or private/public place (hallway etc) and tell him that it is great he is a baseball fan. You love his enthusiasm and his focus. Now put that love, enthusiasm and focus into doing his job ASAP or he will be doing all his lovin' from the privacy of his own home with no paycheck.


LouFlorence's picture
Training Badge


Much good advice already given here.

My little bit. Get your self into emotional neutral as much as possible and then find a way to talk with your employee privately. I would offer feedback using the model and it would be crystal clear:

"____, can I give you some feedback? When you watch TV and you should be making calls it makes me think I made a mistake to hire you and that I'll fire you if you do that again. What could you do differently?"

This has to be delivered in a frank and unthreatening tone of voice. It will be very effective. You won't need to mention it or the incident to anyone else.


MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Lots of great responses to your question.

I agree that the greatest risk is the risk you'll face by not addressing it.

Small office? That's fine. Whisper it. It may sting at first, but you'll be better off (as will your staff).

Can't wait to hear the outcome of this one.

mikehansen's picture

I do not think the feedback model is optimal in this case. This warrants a conversation about your expectations of his role.

Feedback encourages effective behavior over time by using ½ degree course corrections. You need a 180 degree course correction ASAP. Also, feedback works best when there is a relationship built up (O3s, etc). Not the case here.

If you do not already have it, write up something that explains his duties and responsibilities. If needed, give an example of a typical day. I would use the document as the basis for the discussion. If he indicates that he already understood this, use the behavior of the game watching as an example of how his understanding is different than your expectation.

It is much easier to let someone go in the first 30 days than in is in 12 months. If you know this guy won’t cut it, let him go ASAP and find a better fit. I know this is a hard situation out of the gate. If he is not a good fit, take the 1 day of pain to fire him vs. the 1 year of pain of a bad performer.

Hope that helps,

bflynn's picture

Feedback is absolutely appropriate. In this case, it is not necessary to worry about negative feedback coming first. Set the boundary. Not doing so will severely de-motivate your good employee.

Following the MT trinity, it is equally easy to release someone after the first 30 days as it is after the first 300 or the first 3000.


mikehansen's picture

The key determination should be “Do I need to have a discussion, or do I just address the behavior in isolation?”

Feedback is a 10 second exchange. It is possible that is enough and the new hire understands what their role should be already. If so, addressing the game watching behavior with the feedback model is perfect. In this case, I suspect there is a larger disconnect between the new employee and the new manager which needs to be addressed.

There has been a lot of discussion in the Feedback forums about first time adjusting feedback. In particular:
It can be used out of the gate, but it is certainly harder.

I fully agree with Brian on how following the trinity makes it easier to let a poor performer go. I also think we owe it to our companies to get rid of an underperformer ASAP. For a new hire, if you think they will get there, use the trinity to make it happen. If you know they will not get there, cut your losses.

My .02

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I don't think I'd give feedback. I'd pull him into my office for a conversation. Nobody thinks it's okay to watch the game during work hours. He's testing you, seeing how much he can get away with. If you let it go now adjustments later will be much more difficult.

Feedback is for minor adjustments. This isn't minor. He's wasted "most of the day."

"Mike, when you spend most of the day watching the game on your computer it sends a message to me that you're not working. This is only your second day, so I'm also wondering how much of a problem this is going to be."

Then wait.

US41's picture

I'm going to go against the grain: I don't think feedback is appropriate.

If someone is watching TV on their first day on the job, they're just stupid. Fire him immediately and find someone better.

citius's picture

I am also in the no feedback camp. (I am also in a "right to work" state which gives employers considerable latitude in these circumstances).

The potential harm this type of individual can do to the well-being of an organization (and you) is often underestimated unless you have witnessed it yourself.

Keep it simple. I would consult with my HR partner or company lawyer just to be sure and then I would simply call the individual into my office and tell him that it just isn't going to work out. Pay him for the few days of "work" performed and count your blessings that you identified a major problem so early.

My $.02

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

This is an easy situation on the surface, because on the first day you can get away with almost anything. You could yell, you could fire him, you could give feedback.

If YOU just hired him, WOW did you miss one. I could argue that his behavior on day one is YOUR fault. (I won't...but I could).

I would give him feedback, and make sure step 3 is huge: "what happens is I seriously think about firing you... I think, how dumb can he be, I think, doesn't he know anything about first impressions?"

And I would DEFINITELY not leave out step 4. "What are you going to do differently tomorrow?"

Please do tell me you've listened to the casts about the Trinity...