Building a team is hard. When you are a small business, not only do you focus on product but also the team represents it. They are actually more important than the product itself. There will be days when it becomes apparent that someone on your team isn't playing by the rules and it's time for them to go. Those are the days that will challenge your faith in people. Those are also the days when you look at the team members who are more than pulling their weight and support the very thing you are building. I paused to think whether or not I should even share this story. At the end of the day, if just one other business owner becomes a more cognizant of ways their team members could take advantage of them, I've done my job.
Let's start with Saturday. I float in and out of the cafe generally unannounced. It was a super slow day and we packed up early and headed back to the cafe to load up for the next market. I looked around and there was a team member who didn't seem to be there. Hmm, they must have gotten all their things done and left. Let's make sure they clocked out. Nope. They didn't. I clocked out for them. Sent them a text, "Hey, clocked you out at 12:45." Sunday. Yay! I get to make dough! Time to get ingredients out! Wait. All the bins are empty. That stinks, they should have all been refilled before the team member left EARLY on Saturday. Ok. Make note that we need to have a coaching conversation about work expectations.
Monday 5 AM. I get up and decide to gather some time sheet data regarding clocking ins and outs before I have my discussion with the team member on Wednesday. Partner plug: we use, www.wheniwork.com (WIW) as an application to do all time sheet reporting. I look back a few days and the team member seemed to be clocking in and out PERFECTLY. Hmm...putting in almost a full shift. Just shy of their full 8 hours, but that's cool. There's an interesting little icon that pops up next to each time entry. Like a "warning/error" flag. Hmm...what's that? I double click on the icon and the error message reads "wrong location". Apparently, when a user clocks in and out, the applications prompts them that "are you sure" button. Meaning...you knowingly (i.e. it's not an accident) have to click through to get to the next step. So I click on it. The beauty of WIW is it uses GPS capabilities and captures it in a map. That's strange. They clocked in perfectly just a couple minutes before their shift. But wait. THEY WERE AT HOME! Ok, must have been a mistake right? Nope. As I clicked through that entire pay period. Clock INS and OUTS were from somewhere OTHER THAN work. That sick feeling came over me. Anger, disappointment, disbelief others I can't even put words to. I did a real time chat with the WIW team and asked them to send me a month and a half of GPS information. Just a small sample of the almost 2 years this person has worked for me. Of the 54 clock ins and outs...43 were from somewhere other than the cafe. It goes back further than I want to even think about. Theft of service.
Monday 5:30AM-11:54AM. I'm pissed. I'm sad. I'm annoyed. I'm, I'm, I'm...disappointed. Monday 11:55. Me: "I have to let you go. You've been clocking in and out from home." Them: "Well, some of those times I was making deliveries." Me: "At 6 in the morning? 43 times in the last month?" Needless to say the conversation was relatively quick. But what I took from it was this person had absolutely NO REMORSE. In fact, in someways they were defiant thinking their actions were actually justified. They storm off angry at me. Which took me back to being pissed, annoyed, sad, disappointed...and on the verge of losing my faith in humanity. Monday 12:01. I walk back into the cafe feeling like I just got punched in the stomach. I spent almost 2 years nurturing, training, teaching, respecting and giving growth opportunities to this person and what I get in return is dishonesty, disloyalty, disrespect...and plain and simple theft. After doing the math, a lot of theft.
I kept thinking "what did I do wrong?" I was assured by the rest of my team that what I just did was right. I don't want this experience to mar my opinion of people. I don't want me to be distrustful of my staff. I need to understand that each person is who they are. Many are good. Many are bad. Many are ugly. Our jobs as small business owners is to be aware but not afraid of the latter 2 buckets. Yes, you will get good ones that morph into bad ones...then they morph into ugly. But then you may even have the bad ones that morph into good. At the end of the day, they are who they've become and it's up to us to recognize when (hopefully sooner than I did) it's time that they just can't be part of the team you are building.