Why You Should Never do an Employee a Favor

February 19th, 2010

Today is a first for Don’t Step in the Poop.  Today’s blog post is a guest blog from a reader of DSP.  His name is Lyle Ledbetter.  Lyle’s been a reader of mine since the old days and I value and appreciate his support for Don’t Step in the Poop.  Lyle is a Luddite who, in his words, only turns on the computer to talk on that Skypie thing and read Don’t Step in the Poop.

So, imagine my surprise to get this e-mail from him (probably typed by Ms. Ledbetter).  Inspired by my recent job vs. business series, Lyle wanted to share business advice for current and prospective business owners.  Since I happen to agree with this advice, I thought I’d put it on the blog. His advice is ruthless, but sometimes a little ruthlessness is what’s needed.

Feel free to commment and let’s hope we can get Lyle to respond to comments because he “doesn’t do that whole blogging thingamajig”.

Rules are Rules: Why You Should Never Do An Employee a Favor

When it comes to running a small business there are many roadblocks to face, but fear not…

I’ve got your back! Having been run through the wringer a time or two, I have learned things as many do, the hard way. Through it all it has taught me one of the most valuable lessons in business, and it is that the rules apply, to everyone and everything. So this is my journey….

I hope it helps you on yours.

“The Favor Effect”

I can’t tell you how many times over the years I have heard,

“Lyle… I need to ask you for a BIG favor”.

Translation : “Lyle, I really want the day off, and I want you to say it’s all right”.

This is what I call the “Favor Effect” and it can potentially destroy your business…

…but only if you let it!

Part of my background has been in the plant management of small production-based businesses, where it is important that everyone is at work every day. Typically the businesses were in cities with populations under 60k and had high turnover ratios to boot!

If you have ever run an enterprise in this type of environment then my message will probably hit home. If you are planning to start up a similar venture then this could very well save your life! So sit back and relax, because I am going to give you the bottom line and share with you some kick-ass ammo to “fight back the slack”!

How The Favor Effect Kills Employee Morale

Whenever you comply with an employee’s request or “favor”, that would normally go against policy, you are basically telling your entire staff “the rules don’t matter”.

Without order there is chaos, when that happens, you might as well fire everybody and start all over from scratch. I promise, if you do a favor for just one employee then it will be expected from everyone else five-fold. Thus creating the snowballing nightmare I like to call the “Favor effect”.

One of the problems is that employers think when they do a favor for an employee that it makes them a “nice guy”. Yes, typically when you do a favor for someone you are being good-natured, but when it comes to your business that’s just being plain stupid. Anytime you feed into this behavior you are setting yourself up for failure.

The negative side effects it can have on your business can really throw a monkey wrench in your daily operations. (see: absences, decreased performance, etc.) Most, if not all, end up contributing to poor employee retention.

That, my friends, is what will break you down in the end.

Listen, I used to be the “nice” guy at work who tried to help people out with their lives. I always thought that my generosity would be appreciated, and returned with loyalty. Until… I spent the first two years at a company eating crap-cakes for breakfast three times a week. I went through over forty people in under the two-year mark, and we only employed eleven–which included me!

I just had enough, and I knew if I didn’t start raining down thunder soon, things were going to get completely out of control. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. You will find that some people stick by your side, and you will have some pretty good laughs along the way. That being said, it still does not substitute for the precious time I lost with my family because of other people’s problems.

The truth is I was to blame just as much as the people who were being irresponsible, because I simply could not bring myself to say the word “no”. As a boss, you must learn to trust in the word “no”.

My Personal Favorite Excuses for Not Coming in to Work

Speaking of the word “no”, I wanted to share with you some of the excuses or “favors” that I have heard over the years. Some are common, some might sound fictitious, but I can assure you they are 100% real. There have been many, but my personal favorites usually presented themselves in the form of a last minute call-in. I will share a few, and give you my “on the spot” response.

My baby daddy got arrested for back child support, and I need to get him out.

Lyle’s response: What for? Doesn’t that cat owe you child support? Every dollar counts, and I don’t think your children can afford for you to miss work.)

I’m sick, but my doctor isn’t seeing patients today. I’ll be back at work tomorrow though,  I think I just need to sleep it off.

Lyle’s response: In that case, go to the emergency room and bring me a note when you’re done. If not, you need to come in to work.

I’ve got my period… and it’s bad.

Lyle’s response: Go to the store right now and buy some cranberry juice and midol. Make sure you take it before you get to work, because nobody wants to listen to you bitch all morning.)

I can’t come in because I don’t have a ride.

Lyle’s response: I freaking love this one! Next time someone tries to pull this one, you offer to pick them up. I bet you $2o within 30 seconds you’ll get more excuses than a porcupines’ got prickers. Whatever you do, try not to let yourself get poked (and you know where!).

Whatever the excuse is remember this: they are all attempts to transfer responsibility–to make their problems into your problems.

DON’T YOU DO IT! The valuable time you waste dealing with this BS could be spent on refining your business and improving your bottom line.


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