How would YOU handle an employee Mutiny?

How Would YOU Handle an Employee Mutiny?
by Glenn Shepard July 7, 2015 Category:  Management

An optometrist who attended my seminar at Radford University in Virginia had three employees, all women. She worked in what she called a “Hormone Rich Environment”.

One of her employees was the troubled child who did everything wrong. The two good employees constantly complained that the optometrist let the problem employee get away too much.

One day the optometrist caught her problem employee committing a flagrant HIPAA violation so egregious that it could have caused her to lose her license, and fired her immediately.

The optometrist assumed her other two employees would thank her for finally getting rid of their toxic coworker, who they called “The Wicked Witch of the Office”.

She could not have been more wrong.

Instead, they came marching in with their arms crossed and said “How could you do that to her? She’s a single mom struggling to support two kids, and she needs this job. Hire her back!”

The optometrist explained that it was her practice, and it was not a democracy. But her remaining two employees didn’t back down. They dug in their heels and issued this ultimatum…

“If you don’t hire her back, we both quit!”

The situation had quickly spiraled out of control and turned into a mutiny.

Now put yourself in the optometrist’s shoes. You began your day with three employees. By 8:30, you’re down to two, and you’re facing the very real possibility of having no one left by lunchtime if you don’t hire back the problem employee.

What would YOU do?

There’s actually no decision for you to make, because it’s already been made for you. If you made the mistake of hiring back the problem employee, your employees would be in control of your business and you would be powerless.

Employees who give ultimatums like that are terrorists. Terrorists are people who use the threat of harming you to get what they want. Most countries have a firm policy on negotiating with terrorists which is, “We don’t.”

This must be your policy when employees try to force you to do what they want.

The optometrist, who admitted to being a softie in the past, pointed out the door to her employees and told them they’d be missed. They backed off and sheepishly quipped “We were just kidding.”

Managers hope it never comes to this, but sometimes it does. The owner of a window washing company who attended my seminar in Waco, Texas, lost all six of his employees the same day. A hotel maintenance manager who attended in Omaha, Nebraska, lost all eight of his employees his second week on the job.

They both suffered short term. But once they re-staffed, they both reaped the benefits of new staff that respected their authority.

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4 thoughts on “How would YOU handle an employee Mutiny?

  1. This is good stuff. We are culturally taught to bow to public opinion but doing so is often the death of leadership.

  2. I think that I would show them the door. I always caution others before issuing an ultimatum, because I won’t back down! Great examples provided!

  3. One hopes that things dont come to this stage, especially in a small company. But between running a company under threat and dominance from arrogant employees and starting all over, one should definitely go for the latter option.

  4. Reblogged this on Bruce E. Hoffman and commented:
    Interesting read about employees and ultimatums!

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