Would Dave Fire Him?

Donnie in Oklahoma is responsible for billing at his company. An error on his part will cost the company $4,000. How would Dave handle it if it were his company?

QUESTION: Donnie in Oklahoma is responsible for billing at his company. An error on his part will cost the company $4,000. How would Dave handle it if it were his company?

ANSWER: We would not ask the employee to cover the error. We would cover the error. Your job is to do billing. If this recurs, you can’t do your job and so we can’t use you. We love you, but we can’t have you making these kinds of mistakes all the time. How many times are you going to want to make the mistake and keep the job if you had to pay for it? Well, I don’t want to pay you and have you making these mistakes. But we don’t shoot our wounded. Everybody screws up. I’ve had lots of people who have made lots of mistakes—$4,000 or larger—over the years that cost us that much money, but they did not have a pattern of making those kinds of mistakes that cost me money. If you develop that pattern and you were a team member of ours, we would have to have you leave or do something else within the building if we thought we just had you in the wrong seat on the bus.

I think the thing here is number one, I wouldn’t ask you to pay it as your employer. Number two is I would not fire you over this, but were this to turn into a pattern I would because you’re obviously ill-suited for the job. I need people who are excellent in their positions. But a one-time deal? If you shoot everybody who makes a mistake, you kill all your team. If you’re hiring perfect people, you’ve got a better hiring pool than I’ve got. By the way, they don’t work for a perfect guy either. Cut yourself a little slack. If they don’t, then it’s okay to move on.

No, I don’t think you owe the money. What if it was a $500,000 mistake? The principle is the same. It’s your job to do the billing, but it’s their job to watch over and make sure the billing’s done right, too.