There’s always that one person. You know the one. They saunter in 25 minutes after they were supposed to turn up, and it’s the third time this week. And that’s not even taking into account the number of times they were late this month. There are a few questions you have to ask yourself before getting angry and firing them on the spot.

Do they have a reason?

Most of the time, there will be a reason why they’re late. Alarm didn’t go off, traffic was horrible, forgot their umbrella at home on a pretty miserable rainy day. And that’s fine, if it’s not often.

But for some, there will be an underlying reason why they’re constantly late. And it’s up to you to get to the bottom of it. Take them aside, and ask them if everything is okay. Perhaps there’s a family issue, or perhaps they’ve recently moved to a new suburb and are still working out their transport to work. You can then talk about changing their schedule to help them out for a bit until things cool down. It’s best not to jump to conclusions, and wait until you have all the information before making a rash decision.

Are they good at what they do?

If the answer is yes, you need to decide just how important they are to your business. You should take them aside, let them know that you’ve noticed their lateness, and that it’s starting to become an issue. But you don’t want to be so hard to the point where they want to leave your business. Let them know how important they are to the business, and how you would prefer not to let them go for their constant lateness. If you see an improvement, let them know. If you see no improvement, it may be time to let them go.

Do your customers/clients like them?

Take a hair salon, for example. If you own a business where there’s a one-to-one relationship between your employee and a customer or client, you might have an employee who is requested time and time again. If the late employee is well liked by your customers, it may be a bad idea to simply fire them on the spot. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it would hurt your business more if you were to fire them versus having them come in late each day. You could have a conversation about changing their hours, if that’s what it takes to keep both of you happy.

Is their lateness hurting your business?

If their lateness is affecting your business in a negative way, you need to let them go (only after asking the above questions). You can’t afford to have someone in your business who lacks care for what they do and the person employing them. If, however, their lateness isn’t affecting their work or your business, you should work with them to fix the problem, or accept the fact that this person will always be late, but that they will always get their work done. Be firm but fair, and get your point across to them that you aren’t okay with the lateness but are willing to make it work if they are willing to keep up their good work. As soon as you see a change in their work, bring up the lateness issue and discuss it. Communication is always key!

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