Difficult Conversations About Time

Shawnee Love   •   December 12, 2019

People work in different ways.

Some are at their most creative at night.  Others like the morning.

Some work better under pressure. Others prefer to avoid time crunches at all cost.

Some intersperse personal and work throughout the day. Others keep them separate.

When the job characteristics or the culture of the company don’t fit the individual, a difficult conversation usually ensues.  Even so, the company in that situation, will usually own some of the responsibility for not being clear about rules and practices around time when they hired the person.

Where the conversation really gets tough is surrounding abuse of time.  This can occur when employees:

  • Arrive late or just in time to start work but spend the first 10-15 minutes getting coffee, turning on their computer, etc.,
  • Spend extra time at lunch or on breaks or simply chatting with colleagues,
  • Leave early, and/or
  • Make personal stuff the priority during work.

Increasingly, employers are frustrated with employees who seem to lack the work ethic they expect of someone being paid for their time.  The discussions around this issue are challenging because many employees truly don’t recognize the problem. They may feel they:

  • Don’t have enough work,
  • Get their work done,
  • Need the mental breaks,
  • Don’t waste as much time as you think they do, etc.

Of course the solution to “not enough work” is to give more.  Idle hands and all that.

But to address the rest of those arguments as well as any others that may come up, you will need to dig into the employee’s understanding of expectations as well as the employee’s beliefs and values around their responsibilities.

If you have been following our blog series on difficult conversations, you know to have these conversations privately and seek to understand first. But ultimately, if you can’t get the employee to abide by your expectations, you have to decide whether you are going to reset yours. If not and you have reached a stalemate because the employee isn’t going to change, you have to decide whether to rehabilitate, reassign or release.

Need help with this or any difficult conversation, we are here for you.