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Too Harsh on Admin Employee?

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#1
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Yes the job is hard, but the 2 other admin employees do not make so many critical mistakes.

After several mistakes over the last 15 months and attempts at coaching the employee on these issues, the employee:

1) Sent a full set of payroll tax returns and UI docs (filled with salaries, W2s, SS#s, etc to the wrong client) via sharefile. Then didn't tell us. We discovered it later and cancelled the link, no thanks to her. Instead she kept it from us and we only saw it in the sent folder because she sent another email saying to disregard the first, and here are the correct docs.

We have coached her SEVERAL times to triple check all docs before sending them. And to have us check her drafts. And we said several times, "there is no pressure or hurry to send these things, go slow, ask us to check them first, there's no quota on your production, quality over quantity, sending the wrong docs to the wrong clients is the worst mistake you can make, etc".

2) She inattentively told a client the wrong day when scheduling them. I batch several appointments into small blocks of time so I can get things done at other times. Having 2 clients show up at once is VERY hard to deal with when there are several back to back appointments proceeding.

3) An hour later, she handed the wrong docs to a client picking up. For example, she gave John Smith's docs to Tom Smith (totally unrelated). Fortunately, my partner checked them and "grabbed" them out of Tom's hands. Could you imagine telling John Smith that we cant find his docs? Or the bad review and loss of confidence from Tom (if he bothered to look at them when he got home)?

There have been several patient attempts at coaching. So this was the last straw, and I wrote her a very blunt warning that says if she cant fix these issues and prevent these mistakes, that I would terminate her. I also gave her more patient and polite coaching in the letter and verbally as well. But the gist of the letter was very blunt. "We've told you several times, and you must fix it immediately or your employment is terminated."

I was very professional, but unfortunately now..... viola, she is crying - and I feel like a jerk.



Too harsh?
 

#2
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ItDepends wrote:Yes the job is hard, but the 2 other admin employees do not make so many critical mistakes.

After several mistakes over the last 15 months and attempts at coaching the employee on these issues, the employee:

1) Sent a full set of payroll tax returns and UI docs (filled with salaries, W2s, SS#s, etc to the wrong client) via sharefile. Then didn't tell us. We discovered it later and cancelled the link, no thanks to her. Instead she kept it from us and we only saw it in the sent folder because she sent another email saying to disregard the first, and here are the correct docs.

We have coached her SEVERAL times to triple check all docs before sending them. And to have us check her drafts. And we said several times, "there is no pressure or hurry to send these things, go slow, ask us to check them first, there's no quota on your production, quality over quantity, sending the wrong docs to the wrong clients is the worst mistake you can make, etc".

2) She inattentively told a client the wrong day when scheduling them. I batch several appointments into small blocks of time so I can get things done at other times. Having 2 clients show up at once is VERY hard to deal with when there are several back to back appointments proceeding.

3) An hour later, she handed the wrong docs to a client picking up. For example, she gave John Smith's docs to Tom Smith (totally unrelated). Fortunately, my partner checked them and "grabbed" them out of Tom's hands. Could you imagine telling John Smith that we cant find his docs? Or the bad review and loss of confidence from Tom (if he bothered to look at them when he got home)?

There have been several patient attempts at coaching. So this was the last straw, and I wrote her a very blunt warning that says if she cant fix these issues and prevent these mistakes, that I would terminate her. I also gave her more patient and polite coaching in the letter and verbally as well. But the gist of the letter was very blunt. "We've told you several times, and you must fix it immediately or your employment is terminated."

I was very professional, but unfortunately now..... viola, she is crying - and I feel like a jerk.



Too harsh?


But did it cost the client $22,400?
 

#3
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Thanks for your reply, but this is apples and oranges.

Of course we all make mistakes, and I'll be the first one to admit that I make my share of them. Who wouldn't?

But you do it and then take the lesson and learn from it.

There is a substantial lack of progression in the op situation here.
 

#4
CathysTaxes  
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No you weren't too harsh. Some women deliberately turn on the tears to make themselves look like the victim. Giving clients the wrong confidential documents and not telling you, imo, would be grounds for termination instead of a strongly worded warning. One of my clients, a notary who does closings, left his briefcase in his locked car, to get lunch. His car was broken into and the briefcase stolen. Not only was he terminated for cause but he couldn't get unemployment. He had offered to pay for those I'd theft monitoring services.
Last edited by CathysTaxes on 26-Feb-2021 6:06am, edited 1 time in total.
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#5
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quietAccountant1 wrote:
ItDepends wrote:Yes the job is hard, but the 2 other admin employees do not make so many critical mistakes.

After several mistakes over the last 15 months and attempts at coaching the employee on these issues, the employee:

1) Sent a full set of payroll tax returns and UI docs (filled with salaries, W2s, SS#s, etc to the wrong client) via sharefile. Then didn't tell us. We discovered it later and cancelled the link, no thanks to her. Instead she kept it from us and we only saw it in the sent folder because she sent another email saying to disregard the first, and here are the correct docs.

We have coached her SEVERAL times to triple check all docs before sending them. And to have us check her drafts. And we said several times, "there is no pressure or hurry to send these things, go slow, ask us to check them first, there's no quota on your production, quality over quantity, sending the wrong docs to the wrong clients is the worst mistake you can make, etc".

2) She inattentively told a client the wrong day when scheduling them. I batch several appointments into small blocks of time so I can get things done at other times. Having 2 clients show up at once is VERY hard to deal with when there are several back to back appointments proceeding.

3) An hour later, she handed the wrong docs to a client picking up. For example, she gave John Smith's docs to Tom Smith (totally unrelated). Fortunately, my partner checked them and "grabbed" them out of Tom's hands. Could you imagine telling John Smith that we cant find his docs? Or the bad review and loss of confidence from Tom (if he bothered to look at them when he got home)?

There have been several patient attempts at coaching. So this was the last straw, and I wrote her a very blunt warning that says if she cant fix these issues and prevent these mistakes, that I would terminate her. I also gave her more patient and polite coaching in the letter and verbally as well. But the gist of the letter was very blunt. "We've told you several times, and you must fix it immediately or your employment is terminated."

I was very professional, but unfortunately now..... viola, she is crying - and I feel like a jerk.



Too harsh?


But did it cost the client $22,400?

If that client fired ItDeoends, he would have a valid reason.
Cathy
CathysTaxes
 

#6
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this is an interesting topic - I refer to things like this as "low skill, high risk".

you're asking your administrative person, with a whopping 15 months' experience, to understand what in essence are the tax-technical elements that you are responsible for; your admin person has zero interest in Circ 230 ; ID protection ; taxpayer confidentiality ; it is the tax pro's job to make sure that "administrative" functions don't compromise the situation.

have you explained the risk of sending Mr. Smith's info to the wrong Mr. Smith? does she understand there is a business issue as well, her livelihood in part depends on Mr. Smith being a client?

I would use her mistakes to teach me how to fix the process. Maybe I spend 10 seconds, throw a post-it note on Mr. Smith's documents in red ink that has first and last name, in an effort to help Mr. Smith also confirm he's getting the right file.

just a minor suggestion, but this could go on forever...practice refinement is never ending!
 

#7
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I have to assume that the OP went through some of the basics on client confidentiality when he first hired this admin. And these mistakes are basic, simple, common sense mistakes and carelessness. I've had a few admins that were terrified of making these mistakes on their first day without being told. If someone doesn't understand these after 15 minutes, let alone 15 months, and doesn't have common sense to know this, that person should not be in the job.

Too harsh? Not at all. I would have fired her.


HenryDavid wrote:this is an interesting topic - I refer to things like this as "low skill, high risk".

you're asking your administrative person, with a whopping 15 months' experience, to understand what in essence are the tax-technical elements that you are responsible for; your admin person has zero interest in Circ 230 ; ID protection ; taxpayer confidentiality ; it is the tax pro's job to make sure that "administrative" functions don't compromise the situation.

have you explained the risk of sending Mr. Smith's info to the wrong Mr. Smith? does she understand there is a business issue as well, her livelihood in part depends on Mr. Smith being a client?

I would use her mistakes to teach me how to fix the process. Maybe I spend 10 seconds, throw a post-it note on Mr. Smith's documents in red ink that has first and last name, in an effort to help Mr. Smith also confirm he's getting the right file.

just a minor suggestion, but this could go on forever...practice refinement is never ending!
 

#8
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In these coaching sessions, I'm curious if you asked her why she thinks she's making these mistakes, and how she thinks she can modify her approach to prevent mistakes like this from happening in the future? Or was it mostly you talking and her listening and nodding her head?
 

#9
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The only mistake that she made that wasn't critical, imo, was the scheduling mistake. Yes it was awkward and I'm sure one client complained because he had to wait, but not critical.

The fact that she hid the first mistake tells me that she knew it was serious.
Cathy
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#10
ATSMAN  
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As a business owner and manager of your employees it is up to you how many mistakes you will tolerate before firing them for cause. I will give an employee at least one chance to redeem after they make a mistake and I have pointed that out. BUT If I don't see any improvement then it is time to let go.

I had a young woman working that was constantly texting or talking to her BF or friends during tax season when the counter did not have any one standing in front. But then one day I had my office door open and I saw a man waiting for her to finish her stupid conversation before she would even attend to the man. I jumped out of my office and went out to talk to the man. I pointed that out to my employee and said that I don't want this REPEATED ever again. Guess what, the next tax season I caught her again and this time I canned her!
 

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ItDepends wrote:Thanks for your reply, but this is apples and oranges.

Of course we all make mistakes, and I'll be the first one to admit that I make my share of them. Who wouldn't?

But you do it and then take the lesson and learn from it.

There is a substantial lack of progression in the op situation here.


Im with you... she has to go.

This business is not for everyone.

I have has umpteen college interns that within 2 weeks grasp the sensitivity and do a great job.
 

#12
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She shouldn't be doing that job.
You have to hire compulsive obsessive personalities for that position, she's not it,
and likely never will be.
 

#13
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:lol: No. Not too harsh. Fire their ass !! Too many snowflake's being raised in this era. Hell we got our asses reamed if we did that. And we never made the same mistake again after the ass chewing !! Snowflakes, got to love them :lol:
 

#14
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Whenever I encounter issues with employees, I ask myself which of the following two categories those issues fall into:

1. Doesn't know;
2. Doesn't care.

While it is typically possible to address "doesn't know" issues, I personally find it very difficult if not impossible to address "doesn't care" issues. This is because, if their competitive wages (even wages above the average) are not adequate to influence them to care, then I don't know what will.

Another way I look at it is, "if this person was offered one million dollars to make sure that X, Y, and Z are done right, would X, Y and Z get done right?" If the answer is yes, then that typically provides a clear path forward.

A little while back I noticed that my administrative employee was falling behind on tasks. I check the cameras and surely enough, this person spent about 1.5-2.0 hours texting over the course of 7-hour day (while periodically looking back to see if I was watching) instead of doing the assigned work. That employee was fired the next day because this was clearly a "doesn't care" matter. Maybe some would say that that is harsh, but they are also free to hire these people away from me. :D
Even more of my antics may be found on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXDitB ... sMwfO19h7A
 

#15
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Ending any relationship is difficult and has the potential to make you feel like a jerk, no matter how well justified that end may be. The fact that you feel like a jerk because she is crying is because you have empathy, not because you handled it in an inappropriate manner.
I agree with many above that this would have been cause for a well justified termination.

She has an opportunity to increase her attention to detail and you have the obligation to oversee her work more closely to confirm she has stepped up to the plate in that regard. If either of you fail in these respects, the service of your business will suffer.
I think many of the folks above don't have the ability or desire to increase their oversight of a person in this role. In that case, it is worth finding someone new to fill that position. That said, employee turnover is incredibly disruptive and costly. If she can improve her habits, you will both be better off.

So much nuance and situation/circumstance specific dynamics in these cases, it's nearly impossible to get a good feel for them from questions/answers on a discussion board.
~Captcook
 

#16
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ATSMAN wrote:As a business owner and manager of your employees it is up to you how many mistakes you will tolerate before firing them for cause. I will give an employee at least one chance to redeem after they make a mistake and I have pointed that out. BUT If I don't see any improvement then it is time to let go.

I had a young woman working that was constantly texting or talking to her BF or friends during tax season when the counter did not have any one standing in front. But then one day I had my office door open and I saw a man waiting for her to finish her stupid conversation before she would even attend to the man. I jumped out of my office and went out to talk to the man. I pointed that out to my employee and said that I don't want this REPEATED ever again. Guess what, the next tax season I caught her again and this time I canned her!


Some employees, especially the younger ones, don't know when to put their phones down! Hubby is the HR manager and if an applicant responds to a notification from his/her phone, hubby terminates the interview. Hubby does not being his cell into an interview and he expects the same courtesy. He is constantly telling office staff to put their cells away.
Cathy
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#17
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"and I have experience with partnerships and real...sorry......I have to take this"

"Hey, what's up man? Nooo, I'm not busy!"

:D

And when he hangs up, do you say: "Hey bro, you're right, you're not busy, and that ain't gonna change today."
 

#18
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ManVsTax wrote:"and I have experience with partnerships and real...sorry......I have to take this"

"Hey, what's up man? Nooo, I'm not busy!"

:D

And when he hangs up, do you say: "Hey bro, you're right, you're not busy, and that ain't gonna change today."


When he hangs up, he'll have to ask my admin person to find me in my office because I'll have walked back to my office at the point he answered the phone. Then, we'll have a frank conversation about priorities.
~Captcook
 

#19
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Collect the cell phones - give em' back at lunch, collect them after lunch, give them back at end of work day.
 

#20
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A community phone box. Very high school esque, for the millennial workers out there I guess LOL


I value my reputation, probably a bit too much, but it is a small town.
I would probably be very tempted to fire someone that gave clients docs to someone else.
 

#21
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This employee has been patiently coached and warned SEVERAL times about these things. This includes explaining the reasons why they are so critical and important to us.

Over and over, actually.

Has it been "us talking and her nodding her head"? Perhaps. I will see if I can get her to "state out loud" how she can fix the issues.

The scheduling is a big issue if I'm taking clients from 1-5pm, every half hour, and the mishap was scheduled for 1pm. They pretty much have to go home. There is a lot of traffic (normally) in our city and the parking garage is small and difficult to navigate in our building.

Plus if I don't document this with a written warning and then I fire her, I could be seen legally as the bad guy.

_____

We spend NON STOP babysitting and parenting energy for all 3 of our admin personnel, including the one in the OP.

Cell phones (endless), messy food everywhere, docs everywhere, falling asleep sitting up, giving crazy tax advice to non clients on the phone, sorting away emails that need action and creating open loops, misfiling downloaded docs, asking clients for document passwords when they have already been clearly provided in the previous email, ignoring voicemails, not reminding clients about tomorrow's appointments again and again, ask the covid question..."why did you hang up again without asking the Covid questions"?. Etc. It never ends.

If one was to observe or listen in, it would sound like a parent talking to a monster of a 2 year old.

"no, don't do that"

"no"

"no"

"no"

"no"

Lucky we check everything. But what's the point of having employees if we have to check everything? Same amount of work, but more overhead costs.

My partner and I consider downsizing at some point and doing less volume as a trade off for the overhead and parenting energy, labor costs, legal costs, and time costs.
Last edited by ItDepends on 26-Feb-2021 2:00pm, edited 3 times in total.
 

#22
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novacpa wrote:Collect the cell phones - give em' back at lunch, collect them after lunch, give them back at end of work day.


I do this at my home with my kids. I would not do this in a professional environment. If employees are not able to devote their attention appropriately, they aren't well suited to a professional environment.
~Captcook
 

#23
sjrcpa  
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It sounds like none of the 3 admin employees should be working for you.
 

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This whole thread makes me so happy to not have employees.
 

#25
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ItDepends wrote:Lucky we check everything. But what's the point of having employees if we have to check everything? Same amount of work, but more overhead costs.


I say this jokingly, but at some point one has to recognize that the only common denominator in all your failures is you.

If there is a common thread among ALL your admin folks, you probably need to evaluate your selection and training for these folks. Either that or you may have one of these three that is a pulling the others into their bad habits.

I wish you the very best of luck.
~Captcook
 

#26
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A couple of years ago i fired a bookkeeper because she kept making mistakes regardless of how much I tried to coach her along. I realized then that this job requires a lot of attention to detail and double checking and some people are incapable of that in the same way that I would be incapable of repairing a car. We all have different skill sets. So let her go and move on. Don't waste as much time as I did trying to help this employee.
 

#27
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CaptCook wrote:
ItDepends wrote:Lucky we check everything. But what's the point of having employees if we have to check everything? Same amount of work, but more overhead costs.


I say this jokingly, but at some point one has to recognize that the only common denominator in all your failures is you.

If there is a common thread among ALL your admin folks, you probably need to evaluate your selection and training for these folks. Either that or you may have one of these three that is a pulling the others into their bad habits.

I wish you the very best of luck.


Yes, you're right and I get it.

It's up to me to implement items for which I can leverage with employees and it's up to me to train and manage them effectively.

I accept these as my own failures. 100%.

Still, it might be easier and more profitable, considering my own (lack of) management skills to "automate" and downsize instead of to "delegate".

Thanks all for the other answers too - I see them and they are helpful.
 

#28
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novacpa wrote:Collect the cell phones - give em' back at lunch, collect them after lunch, give them back at end of work day.


This is absolutely dreadful advice. If you treat employees people like children, they will act like children.

ItDepends wrote:Cell phones (endless), messy food everywhere, docs everywhere, falling asleep sitting up, giving crazy tax advice to non clients on the phone, sorting away emails that need action and creating open loops, misfiling downloaded docs, asking clients for document passwords when they have already been clearly provided in the previous email, ignoring voicemails, not reminding clients about tomorrow's appointments again and again, ask the covid question..."why did you hang up again without asking the Covid questions"?. Etc. It never ends.


The cell phone complaint... If you are angry because employees are looking at their cell phone in front of clients leading to an unprofessional image, or if looking at their cell phone means that they are not accomplishing a reasonable amount of work in a reasonable timeframe, that seems like a legitimate gripe. Otherwise, I tend to associate that specific complaint with bad/micro managing. That said, when I link it with the rest of everything else you wrote, it does seem to suggest that there is a pattern of the employees not taking ownership and pride in their work.

Lucky we check everything. But what's the point of having employees if we have to check everything? Same amount of work, but more overhead costs.


You have admin staff to do work but you check everything? So they know that if they screw up, someone else will be there to fix it for them, so they have no reason to take any level of ownership in the job they're doing?

Honestly, if you make them more responsible for the quality of their work (especially for the little things) you will drive more care in their work. Sure, there will be mistakes made, but expect to pay a few penalties for a few mistakes in advancing a larger goal.

ItDepends wrote:Still, it might be easier and more profitable, considering my own (lack of) management skills to "automate" and downsize instead of to "delegate".


I'm not exactly sure how you plan to "automate" things to remove the human element... in my experience, instead of a human managing another human it becomes a human managing a computer program written by someone else, and at least you can change a human's behavior. Yes, if your portal is connected to your software programs it helps, for example. And I have loved using a calendar solution that automatically sends my clients an e-mail reminder 24 hours ahead of my appointment. But automation rarely is as good as promised.

My gut would be to fire the one admin who sent the payroll tax returns to the wrong client and hid it from you, if not today, then right after busy season. During the summer there is a reset of expectations on both sides with the remaining admin employees. They need to change (and part of this reset means that every issue up to a certain date is as if it never happened) but you need to change, too. Come up with about 3 overarching, 30,000 foot goals that the firm needs to achieve with your partner. Then you have the entire firm add a couple subgoals for each goal that will help achieve the stated goals. Of course your big issues with them (which generally seem to be that they need to improve professionalism and the quality of work being done) are also included with your employees' suggestions in those subgoals. Once you have the subgoals set in stone, everyone can then together create a number of small objectives for each subgoal (cleaning the office and maintaining documentation organization would be examples of specific objectives to attain).

You pick a few objectives for everyone to meet over a period of time (a month or two). If the staff has an idea that might help meet the goals, be willing to invest a reasonable amount in these projects -- not everything will work exactly right, but so long as everyone is learning and moving forward it's fine. An 80% win is a win. You then have one-on-one meetings after the time period is over, and you talk about how you and they did on meeting those objectives, and you select some new ones to accomplish over the next month or two, lather rinse repeat.

This is, of course, a series of meetings and it will take some time to develop trust. You outline the project in meeting 1 and give them some time to think about improvements in your management style and the subgoals. You need to give them a fair amount of time to come up with a list so that you can have a reasonable discussion as adults. Not everything they say will be valid but not everything will be invalid, either, and you don't downplay or naysay their criticisms of you in that meeting. Know that your ego is going to take a bit of a beating, but it's for the bigger good.

That reset of expectations has to be a real reset. And the reset of expectations does come with a reset of compensation. They will have a higher level of responsibility moving forward which would be commensurate to a higher base pay package. There may be opportunities to grow in their admin position where they take on additional, higher-level work. And their contribution to meeting the firm goals means that not only will they keep their jobs, they will participate in the firm with a bonus structure. You want these employees to advance firm goals as much as the partners do, so you need to make them participate in the benefits as well. Not all rewards need to be specifically monetary, and you can use additional vacation days or "close the office early on a Friday" as part of it.

Isn't this going to be expensive? Not at all, because you have a pool of money from what you're not spending on Admin 3. Your other two admins can tell you if you need to hire a part-time person to do some tasks (such as answering the phones) or not, or maybe Admin 3 can just be replaced seasonally. The way you're going to accomplish this is by moving some duties from them to partner level so that the remainder of Admin 3's work can be shared among the other 2. And the reason you're going to have the time to take on the additional work is because you're removing yourself from doing things that you don't need to be doing (like reviewing minor things).

That is, if you think you have the ability to become a better manager. Have a go if you think you're hard enough. Otherwise, if you don't think you're up to it, then maybe you need to cut your losses and run.
 

#29
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Thanks MD. I really appreciate it!
 

#30
novacpa  
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Missing_donut: If you took the teenager's cell phone away - these mistakes wouldn't happen. The office of today is riddled with distractions, cell phones, internet surfing and shopping.
Control it or you have mayhem.
It's old fashion great advice, concentration produces great work.
Distraction produces chaos.
You say "fire the girl" I say "control her environment".
 

#31
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novacpa wrote:Missing_donut: If you took the teenager's cell phone away - these mistakes wouldn't happen. The office of today is riddled with distractions, cell phones, internet surfing and shopping.
Control it or you have mayhem.
It's old fashion great advice, concentration produces great work.
Distraction produces chaos.
You say "fire the girl" I say "control her environment".


Are you running a CPA firm or a child care center? I pull from my experience working at multiple small CPA firms and a few different employers in the private sector when I say this: when you treat employees like professionals, you will retain the professionals and lose the children. When you treat employees like children, you will retain the children and lose the professionals. Ultimately you decide who you have working for you, but I would rather have professionals work for me.

The reason to hire employees is so they do a reasonable amount of work and to do it well so that you don't have to. If they can meet the reasonable work results then who cares if they spend some time on their phone? Obviously excepting if they're playing on their phone in front of clients/other professionalism issues. I need my mental health breaks during the day and I expect others do as well. If they aren't meeting the results required then it doesn't matter whether the cell phone is the culprit or not, because ultimately the results are what matters.

The primary reason that I fire Admin 3 is the attempt to cover up the major error. They knew what they did was very wrong and tried to keep it from the partner. If I can't trust you, how can you work for me?
 

#32
novacpa  
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Missing - think of the Office as you do a Courtroom. In Court you may not have a cell phone "On" - require that all cell phones be in the "Off Position" until break time, then "Off" when work resumes.
Same for Internet - no surfing during work time, no shopping ever.
Remove the distractions - work flow improves. Without having to take
your bad advice of firing the girl and getting sued by her lawyer.
 

#33
CathysTaxes  
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Nova why would he get sued for firing her?
Cathy
CathysTaxes
 

#34
novacpa  
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I prepare tax returns for several Employment Attorneys in the DC Metro area, they sue on behalf of
aggrieved plaintiff's who have been "wrongfully terminated" and do they ever collect, big time.
 

#35
CathysTaxes  
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It doesn't sound to me like wrongful termination. Especially from the clients' perspective. Their information being given to the wrong people. DC sounds like a cesspool of laws that discourage hiring.
Cathy
CathysTaxes
 

#36
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CathysTaxes wrote:DC sounds like a cesspool of laws that discourage hiring.



Hawaii sure is.

If it were not for these laws I would hire more help and provide more benefits (I've had more than one employee call in sick for 3 months at a time to milk benefits, then do it again).

And the court proceedings are jury only (non-summary or something?), which will be made up of personality types that will sympathize with the employee. And I'm standing there as the rich, sharply groomed, salt and pepper, evil-middle-aged privileged business owner. 8-)



That's why I gave her a written warning.

Even though, in general, such a letter is bad for her last bit of remaining morale and thus bad for my business. :cry:

It would have been better if I didn't have to choose such direct words, IMO. "Fix it right away or or fired" is what the written warning pretty much says, though more politely and more technically detailed.

There's better ways to coach an employee, but it's all about CYA. My employment lawyer is super expensive.
 

#37
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Illinois is also a haven for incompetent employees. I'm so glad that I decided to remain me, myself and I. My sister in law, a very smart CPA, had a partner, and when she needed help, she hired her older sister.
Cathy
CathysTaxes
 

#38
ATSMAN  
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I am not trying to pick on attorneys but in my experience they play the sue and settle game all the time. It costs them next to nothing to sue a deep pocket with the expectation that if you are the defendant you will settle for some amount that is less than the legal fees you will incur defending your self and taking a chance that you may prevail!

Believe me, I have seen that with my own eyes and my son was the victim and he has shelled out over $10K in legal fees defending a frivolous lawsuit. They wanted to settle for $4K BUT he was not going to admit wrongdoing for something that did not happen.

The whole legal system in this country is a joke :x :x :x
 

#39
novacpa  
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In the DC Metro area the outcome of a "wrongful termination" case is largely dependent
on the political leaning of the Judge. Republican Judges will routinely dismiss these cases
on Summary Judgment.
However, left leaning Dem Judges will let the case proceed to trial by Jury and that exposes
the Defendant/Employer to huge damage awards $300/500,000.
Avoid getting sued at all costs.
 

#40
fish  
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AlexCPA wrote: .... I check the cameras and surely enough, this person spent about 1.5-2.0 hours texting over the course of 7-hour day


Whoa... really? you have cameras on your employees? That's cold.
 

#41
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He has these scattered around the office:

https://www.adorama.com/kjbc1250c.html? ... l-umbase-p
 

#42
AlexCPA  
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ManVsTax wrote:He has these scattered around the office:

https://www.adorama.com/kjbc1250c.html? ... l-umbase-p



Haha! :lol: It's hidden amongst the other office decorations: https://imgur.com/a/iY97kdZ
Even more of my antics may be found on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXDitB ... sMwfO19h7A
 

#43
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CathysTaxes wrote:It doesn't sound to me like wrongful termination.


That's because it's not. You can fire someone without cause in most states, so long as it's not a protected class, and so long as you don't have a specified employment contract.

In general if you treat people right when they work for you, even if you have to let them go they will respond in kind. An attorney may recommend that you provide a small severance (and of course that severance includes an agreement to not sue) and generally if you let the employee know that you won't challenge their unemployment that tends to calm the situation before they lawyer up.
 

#44
novacpa  
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missingdonut wrote:
CathysTaxes wrote:It doesn't sound to me like wrongful termination.


That's because it's not. You can fire someone without cause in most states, so long as it's not a protected class, and so long as you don't have a specified employment contract.

In general if you treat people right when they work for you, even if you have to let them go they will respond in kind. An attorney may recommend that you provide a small severance (and of course that severance includes an agreement to not sue) and generally if you let the employee know that you won't challenge their unemployment that tends to calm the situation before they lawyer up.


This is simply Bad Advice, and potentially very expensive Bad Advice. Every jurisdiction differs.
Before you "fire" someone, consult a good Employment Attorney, and let them do it, save yourself
the lawsuit and settlement payout that could bankrupt the client.
 

#45
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What is the actual statistical likelihood in your jurisdiction of being sued after firing an employee for cause, nova?

I absolutely agree that one should consult an attorney in their jurisdiction before making major decisions. I would not be involved in a client's decision to fire or not fire any employee.
 

#46
novacpa  
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In the jurisdictions of DC 80% in Maryland 40% in Virginia 5%.
The first thing your client gets is a Complaint that must be answered in 30-days. Take it to
an Employment Attorney $10,000 to start. Answer the complaint and a set of interrogatories
a 1,000 sworn questions to be answered (under oath) and a demand for Production of Documents,
that's another $15,000. POD includes your tax records. Opposing counsel follows by filing a Form 211
with the IRS Whistleblowers Office, stating "during the course of a lawsuit we discovered the following
tax fraud and want a 25% reward under IRC Sec 7623".
Next, depositions of your clients, and all employees who maybe witnesses to the employment abuse.
Next, a jury trial in downtown DC from a DC jury pool.
Next a verdict in favor of the aggrieved plaintiff.
Since its uninsured, your clients pays it all.
Next, you accompany your client to his 347-hearing in Bankruptcy Court.
My advice is to do your best to avoid all of that.
 

#47
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novacpa wrote:In the jurisdictions of DC 80% in Maryland 40% in Virginia 5%.
The first thing your client gets is a Complaint that must be answered in 30-days. Take it to
an Employment Attorney $10,000 to start. Answer the complaint and a set of interrogatories
a 1,000 sworn questions to be answered (under oath) and a demand for Production of Documents,
that's another $15,000. [b] POD includes your tax records. Opposing counsel follows by filing a Form 211
with the IRS Whistleblowers Office, stating "during the course of a lawsuit we discovered the following
tax fraud and want a 25% reward under IRC Sec 7623".
[/b]
Next, depositions of your clients, and all employees who maybe witnesses to the employment abuse.
Next, a jury trial in downtown DC from a DC jury pool.
Next a verdict in favor of the aggrieved plaintiff.
Since its uninsured, your clients pays it all.
Next, you accompany your client to his 347-hearing in Bankruptcy Court.
My advice is to do your best to avoid all of that.


That is a routine fishing expedition that plaintiffs use and a good defense counsel should be able to narrow it down to just matters that are directly related to the plaintiff such as payroll records etc. They are not getting a copy of the 1040 or 1120 or 1065 forms. Most judges will see through the motive and allow only time cards and other payroll records directly relating to the plaintiff.

How do I know, been there!
 

#48
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novacpa wrote:In the jurisdictions of DC 80% in Maryland 40% in Virginia 5%.
The first thing your client gets is a Complaint that must be answered in 30-days. Take it to
an Employment Attorney $10,000 to start. Answer the complaint and a set of interrogatories
a 1,000 sworn questions to be answered (under oath) and a demand for Production of Documents,
that's another $15,000. POD includes your tax records. Opposing counsel follows by filing a Form 211
with the IRS Whistleblowers Office, stating "during the course of a lawsuit we discovered the following
tax fraud and want a 25% reward under IRC Sec 7623".
Next, depositions of your clients, and all employees who maybe witnesses to the employment abuse.
Next, a jury trial in downtown DC from a DC jury pool.
Next a verdict in favor of the aggrieved plaintiff.
Since its uninsured, your clients pays it all.
Next, you accompany your client to his 347-hearing in Bankruptcy Court.
My advice is to do your best to avoid all of that.


I think it might be cheaper just to fake the deaths of everyone in the firm but the dismissed, and relocate on the other side of the country.

Now it's time to learn everyone's "new" names.
 

#49
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I've made the decision to terminate this employee.

I'm doing so because:

1) I have too much admin personnel going into the off season and I realize that I don't need so much even during tax time.
2) This employee does a terrible job.

But she was hired before (senior to) another admin person, who is related to me, who's performance is much better.

We have no seniority rules, etc, and all employees are at-will and non-union.

Still, my concern is "favoritism" or whatever.

Do I tell her she is being terminated due to her poor performance?

Do I tell her that it is because I am cutting down staff hours and the business no longer has a use for her? (100% true, I'm cutting everyone's hours, but I'm keeping on my niece at a reduced schedule)

Of course if she asks about the other employee, I will tell her that is is not appropriate for me to comment, but all she has to do is call the next day and hear that the other employee (my niece) is answering the phone.

It is 100% true that this employee is terrible and that my niece is actually quite good, performance wise.

What's my move as I terminate her?

I'm thinking "performance". Even though both reasons are honest, I have the performance issues well documented. It's a tougher conversation, but feel like it's "safer".

But how do you tell someone that they are "not smart enough for the position?"
 

#50
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Run it past your attorney. You will sleep far better than if taking advice from a public forum.

We are snakebit here as CA favors EEs to a fault, every termination gets run through an attorney. Even though employment is at-will (non-union) AND documented cause, your attorney may recommend other protective steps that you or we would not consider under your specific circumstances, and it will be worth every penny you pay to them.
 

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