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Over the past few weeks, I have been helping a client with several personnel issues concerning recent recruits. These included an apprentice going completely feral including throwing eggs at one of the company’s vans, a technician becoming very upset as a result of the apprentice’s behavior, a very unstable and unpredictable senior apprentice, and worst of all a secretary who thought she was the company owner pushing her own fixed management ideas into the company and so cutting across the GM’s intentions.

This company had stellar growth until these two or three people were recruited. Instead of aiding that growth, the actions of these few almost destroyed the company. Production plummeted. Promotion required 3 or 4 times the expenditure to produce enough business. And debts increased from almost zero to many tens of thousands of dollars. All this happened within the space of a few months.

What these people did was mostly very subtle, almost unnoticeable but the effect was huge. What did they do? The secretary constantly said little things to the owner about employees, none of them positive. She was also critical of the management system in place suggesting that a certain employee “should go to college to learn real management skills”, and, “I feel that this method of paying bills you have is not standard. It should be like this.” This was despite the company having NO bills older than one week and zero debt! The feral apprentice had an incredible ability to irritate anyone around him. He could exhaust people just by being close. Work slowed whenever he appeared. The senior apprentice, mentioned above, would be very productive one day then very unproductive the next day, was upsetting to others one day and cheerful an pleasant the next. Up and down, up and down in his work and attitude. These 3 people, over a period of a few months, cost the company several hundreds of thousands of dollars, on top of their own pay. 

I have since helped the company implement a system of testing during the employment process to avoid hiring the wrong people and also educated the staff on the principles of human interaction. Along with this, the company was helped with far more detailed employment contracts that spell out exactly what is required of the new employee and the requirements of the position.

Within one week of implementing these changes, and the 3 people described above either removed or allowed to leave, the company is back to the very production and income it experienced before they were employed. Higher production, with fewer people, is possible if you choose the right people and keep out the wrong ones.

Peter Simpson