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When the Would-Be Manager Resigns and Later Reconsiders, What Should the Store Owners Do?

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JOE AND JESSIE WERE just about to open their third boutique pet store in a bucolic town in upstate New York. Opening day was planned for the busiest weekend of the year: Labor Day, which kicks off the area’s most active season.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy E. Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at . nancy@americanpetprofessionals.com

The town becomes chock-full of tourists, there for the pumpkin-picking, vineyards and antiquing. Joe and Jessie’s store happened to be next-door to one of the hippest coffee shops in the pet-friendly town.

Jessie was walking through the store, doing some last-minute decorating, filling end caps with locally made dog treats while humming to herself. Smiling ear to ear, thinking out loud she said, “I can’t believe we did it!” And with that, her phone vibrated with a text. It was from Joe: “Hey, you are not going to believe what I am dealing with right now. Can you call me?”

Jessie immediately called, “Hey, everything OK? What’s going on?”

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“So, you are not going to believe this,” Joe said. “Sandra just stopped in to gave me her notice — she is quitting!”

“What — what are you talking about?” Jesse asked, completely perplexed. “Are you sure you didn’t misunderstand?”

“Oh, I am sure, she told me she is taking a job at the market down the street!” Joe said.

“The market? You mean the grocery store? What? Why? We have done so much to accommodate her the last two years!” Jessie was stunned.

Joe and Jessie had invested a great deal of time and energy training Sandra, bringing her to pet industry conferences and trade shows, grooming her to work full-time in the new location. They always made sure that she could set her own hours to be able to take care of her husband while he was undergoing chemotherapy. Now that he was in remission, they were counting on Sandra to manage the new store.

“I am flabbergasted. We are opening in two days, and our Harvest Fest at the Saratoga store is happening in two weeks. She is supposed to work the booth there. What are we going to do?” Jessie said.

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After a few days of scrambling to have their grand opening, set up interviews to fill Sandra’s position and also hire another part-timer at the new location. Jessie’s stress was through the roof, when this was supposed to be an exciting time with the new store opening. Sandra did give them four weeks’ notice, to fulfill her obligations. That helped, but still, Jessie and Joe were just so upset by putting so much time and energy into Sandra and always being there for her.

After two weeks, they found one part-timer and had interviews lined up for a full-time manager of the new location. And Jessie received a surprise text.

She immediately texted Joe: “Guess who got wind that we were filling her spot faster than she imagined? And you’re not going to believe this — she just texted me to tell me she thinks she made a mistake, and would we let her keep her job? Unreal! What do you think we should do?”

The Big Questions

  • How should Jessie respond to Sandra’s text?
  • What would be the best solution for Joe and Jessie in this situation?
  • What plans can be put into place when you are left short-staffed
Ramie G.
Evanston, IL

This has actually happened to us. On one hand, you want to keep a good staffer that you have spent time training and are invested in, and on the other, you can’t be sure that they won’t do it again. You need to talk to them to see why they left in the first place. Get to the root of the reason, and you will know if it’s something you can both try to resolve and you can keep a good working relationship, or if you need to leave things as they are. Then see why they want to come back and if it’s something you can accommodate. Being understaffed is hard on everyone, but bringing the wrong person back will make it worse and demoralize the remaining staff.

Amdrea D.
Brooklyn, NY

Depending on who they have found in place of this person, I would not let her come back. People have to suffer consequences for their actions. I guess some communication would have helped, but no matter how good you are to your employees, it’s never enough.

Marcia C.
Springfield, VA

Employers can’t expect staff to stay forever. Especially when the unemployment rate is below 4 percent! If Sandra was a good employee, I’d let her stay on and have her help train the new manager. Then keep her at the original store. It’s easier to keep a trained employee than it is to hire and train a new one. I wouldn’t shoot myself in the foot by letting her go.

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Brett F.
Owego, NY

I’d say this: “I’m sorry, but as much as we love you and you have been a great asset to our team, we didn’t expect you to decide to quit and then change your mind. We have filled your old position. We spent a lot of time and money getting you trained and comfortable as a manager of our growing company and enabled you to make a flexible schedule to help your family. You thanked us by taking a position with a grocery store. As much as it pained us, we’ve moved on. If you had communicated with us anything that might have been a concern, we would have been happy to address it at the time. Unfortunately, you chose another path. Amidst having to plan and staff two other stores, a grand opening of our third and a booth at the fair, we were able to fill your spot. It was hectic and stressful, but we did it. Thanks for all your hard work. Good luck in your new endeavor.”

Wendy M.
Emerald Isle, NC

While it would be easy to hire Sandra back since she is familiar with the store operations, if there is a lack of trust, the benefit of rehiring her might be short-lived. Skills can easily be taught to someone who is eager and able to learn. But broken trust can be extremely difficult to reestablish.

Pattie B.
Charlottesville, VA

When an employee chooses to go, they go for a reason. Let them go. If they made a bad choice, maybe that’s a learning experience for both employer and employee.

Diana H.
Rochester, WA

I have experienced a similar situation. My best advice is to not invest all your eggs into one basket. I understand that our choices and finances dictate this; however, for me, it has been a significant financial and time loss. I have had to push back projects six months to a year. Finding qualified and dedicated employees is difficult and takes time. I would put together specific guidelines and requirements if I decided to hire the employee back. These should be in place for all employees.

Michelle P.
Bellevue, WI

I think a sit-down conversation should have happened immediately upon her giving notice to find out why she needed to quit. The fact that she wants to stay says there was a need not met that the grocery could meet — whether it was hours, pay, benefits or some personal reason. I wouldn’t make any decision until a conversation had happened. I certainly wouldn’t let my wounded ego get in the way of the potential to keep a well-trained employee.

Dawn T.
Vero Beach, FL

The best solution for Joe and Jessie in this situation is to sit and talk face-to-face with Sandra find out what really is going on and see if they all could come up with a plan in which they all would be satisfied with.

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. pet business serving the public, you’re invited to join the PETS+ Brain Squad. Take one five-minute quiz a month, and you’ll get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the pet industry. Sign up here.

Nancy E. Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at nancy@americanpetprofessionals.com.

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