One of the hardest thing about running a small business is deciding when to hire, and then finding the right person. I don't care how many personality inventories or other hiring tools you use, you just can't tell (well...I can't tell) how someone will work out until it's too late. I'm leaving out the obvious, like employees who steal supplies or embezzle funds, who misrepresent their qualifications or experience or who take files to competitors with them when they leave. These are tales of regular run-of-the-mill employees who are lurking everywhere.
The majority of our employees over the years have been outstanding (you know who you are and all of our customers know who you are!): qualified, professional, offered great ideas, were over-and-above reliable and took great care of our customers . Then there were some others....
Am happy to say these are not all MY previous employees, but they are all true stories from business-owner friends:
-the female employee who was surfing porn at her desk - and then was surprised when she was let go. (This prompted the employer to add "No surfing porn" to the employee manual going forward...)
-the bookkeeper who should have tipped someone off when she used, um, unconventional bookkeeping terms. Employees were encouraged to take educational seminars once a year at the expense of the company. In her 4th year of employment, the bookkeeper asked to take "Accounting for Non-bookkeepers". (She was replaced shortly thereafter.)
-the employee who called in sick - and then posted photos of a trip to the amusement park that day on Facebook (Cliché but true, and apparently quite common!)
-the female warehouse employee who, when "flicked" with a towel by a male employee, threatened to sue for sexual harassment. The HR manager investigated, tried to work it out with both employees but the female insisted on going forward with a claim. When the male employee was fired, the girl was crying and said she didn't mean for anything bad to happen to him. (People aren't playing with sexual harassment today.)
-the employee who ran the mail through the postage meter and put the envelopes in a pile to mail. When it was pointed out that some of the envelopes did not have addresses on them, she acknowledged that she had noticed. When asked what she thought would happen when the letters were mailed with no address on them and that perhaps she might have told someone about this since obviously a mistake had been made, she just shrugged and said that it was not her job to address the envelopes, it was her job to affix the postage. (Definition of a disengaged employee long before employee engagement was a thing.)
-the administrative assistant who gave her notice when she was expecting her first child. In the process of training her replacement, was nice Sybil while the boss was in the office and crazy Sybil when the boss was out. The final straw was when she had a screaming fit at her replacement in the middle of the office. When she was asked to leave earlier than the 4 weeks notice provided, called the boss, with her husband yelling in the background, who finally grabbed the phone to threaten the boss and then called the boss various assorted names. Later, the employee asked for a letter of recommendation. (You can't make this stuff up).
-the older salesperson who provided excellent references. Once hired, didn't want to drive too far to visit clients, didn't want to set any appointments that required driving in rush hour and didn't want to do much work of any kind. (Note to potential employers: when you're calling business or employment references, it might be important to ask if they are related to the candidate.)
-the litigious employee who was planning to and secretly tape recorded conversations with the boss. When the lawsuit was filed, the employee provided edited tape recordings that left out all of the crazy ranting by the employee. (Attorneys and Judges didn't fall for this either).
-the employee who was hired by a small firm after being with a major corporation for many years, only to find that there were no "people who do that" - HE was the person who would do _____ (insert any sort of actual work here). (Culture shock for a guy who thought executives at small companies just played golf with clients for a living).
If you are a business owner or manager, chances are good you have some fun employee stories. Please share!