What's your problem?

One of my employees is serving a three-month notice period before leaving for another company. I'm sad to see him go, but recognise it's time for him to move on. The problem is that he is playing up at work. He arrives late and leaves early, fails to attend meetings and is ignoring important tasks, which will make his successor's job extremely difficult.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've had a word with him, but his attitude is that if he's leaving, why should he care? How can I persuade him otherwise? Normally, his behaviour would be a sackable offence, but I don't want to sack him and possibly cost him his next job. Can you advise?

A: From everything you tell me, he deserves to be sacked. It's not as if he's just demob happy; he knows exactly what he's doing (or rather, isn't doing) and glories in it. Your conscience should also twitch a bit on behalf of his next blissfully ignorant employer. If this employee can behave with such boorish irresponsibility under these circumstances, he's not going to be a long-term satisfactory hire for anyone.

Did you, I wonder, give him a reference? If so, you'd be entirely entitled to rescind it - and to send a copy of your revised version to his future boss. You may even have a moral duty to do something like this.

Anyway, tell your less-than-admirable and soon-to-depart employee what you have in mind - show him your re-written reference, if you like - and give him one last chance before sending it off. It really should work.

For safety's sake, check with your HR people and company lawyer; but I doubt if you're laying yourself open in any way.

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