Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just wondering

A very good employee has a perfectly fine performance record. One day, she becomes aware of a task that needs to be done at her company. It's a money task and she wasn't hired to handle money. Maybe she mentions it in passing to her supervisor, who takes no action. So she decides to take on the task herself and starts doing it. Let's say it involves tracking and handling some of the outstanding bills that people owe the branch of the company in which this employee works.

After a few years, it occurs to the owner of the company to wonder how the outstanding accounts are doing in that department. When the employee is asked about it, she shows her work. It turns out she's done a pretty bad job of it. Now there are several thousands of dollars that customers never paid and some of the bills are years old (five figures). The employee insists that she was doing the company a favor by taking care of this important job that had fallen through the cracks. She stepped up when no one else did and she did her absolute best to accomplish it. If it turns out that money has been lost, it's not her fault since it wasn't her job to begin with.

Does the company have a reason to terminate or at least reprimand/punish the employee? Or is the company at fault for failing to keep track of its own finances? I lean towards placing more blame on the company. How could no one have checked up on outstanding bills for years? The company shows a great deal of mismanagement.

Then again, I also don't think the employee did a good job of assessing her skills and recognizing when she was in over her head. Having taken responsibility for a big pile of money like that, how can she say that screwing it up isn't her fault? I think she should have gotten more guidance from the supervisor, who also bears some of this responsibility.

So, disciplinary action? Termination? A handshake?

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