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Dave Ramsey's EntreLeadership: Compassion and reasonable boundaries

Dear Dave,

How do you manage a situation where you feel an employee may be taking advantage of you when it comes to time off? I have one person who seems to have endless things pop up throughout the year, and she’s always asking for extra time off. This year, she has already used up her paid time off (PTO), knowing she has fertility treatments scheduled later in the year that would require time off. I’ve always wanted my business to remain family-oriented and employee-friendly as we grew. But I’m starting to feel my heart harden, too, like she may be taking advantage of me.

Kate

 

Dear Kate,

The fact that you’re conflicted about this shows you have a good heart. Team members are individuals, not units of production. We all have unique hopes and dreams, and you should recognize and respect that. But it sounds like this particular employee also has a habit of making dumb mistakes where her time off is concerned.

 

I’ve experienced this kind of behavior from time to time as my company’s grown. And as time’s gone by, I’ve started listening to my gut to differentiate actual needs from stupidity. I try to treat other people the way I’d like to be treated, instead of just through the lens of what I want or what’s good for Ramsey Solutions.

 

If a team member is going to make a series of bad choices, I’m going to assume at some point they don’t really want to work here. You can be the nicest, sweetest person in the world and still do dumb things that make you unemployable. But holding someone accountable for their actions doesn’t mean you lack compassion.

 

We’ve had situations at my company where someone runs through their PTO, then something comes up. We evaluate the situation, and we might extend some grace and give them extra paid time off. Sometimes we might give time off, but it’s unpaid. Other times, it might be out of the question to give the time off (or for the person to keep their job at that point). Every situation’s different, and we decide things like that on a case-by-case basis.

 

Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this lady’s desire to have a family. I think that’s a great thing. But she knew these treatments were in her future when she took the other PTO. You’re showing great concern and compassion for your employee, Kate, but it’s almost like you want her to win more than she wants to win.

 

God forbid, but let’s pretend this lady’s husband was in a bad car wreck. She’s going to need time off to help take care of him. Of course, she gets extra PTO. No question, that deserves some grace. And if any of your other employees don’t understand that or like it, they can hit the road. But that’s not the case, is it? This lady had a planned life event, and she messed up her time off situation all by herself.

 

I think in this situation, you probably let your compassion go a little too far, and now you’re having a hard time with the consequences. If it were me, I’d give this lady a little extra PTO for the treatments, but I’d also have a gentle but firm talk with her about managing time off more wisely.

 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting reasonable boundaries on compassion.

— Dave

 

Leadership and small-business expert Dave Ramsey is the CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored eight national bestselling books, including “EntreLeadership,” and he’s a host of “The Ramsey Show” and “The EntreLeadership Podcast.”

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