How Would You Deal with Charlie Sheen (and Other Problem Employees)?
The embattled star of Two and a Half Men, who has embarked on a full-fledged media assault after CBS shelved his show for the season, insists he is "winning." Our Board of Directors enters the Sober Valley Lodge.
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During that quest, Sheen has assailed his employer, show creator Chuck Lorre, addiction specialists and even some members of the media that have lapped up the act almost as enthusiastically as their viewers. He's also given birth to a laundry list of colorful and generally hilarious catchphrases, including "tiger blood," "the Sober Valley Lodge" and the previously innocuous "winning" -- all of which have fueled countless conversations around the water-cooler and its digital counterpart, Twitter, which Sheen just joined and immediately began amassing thousands of followers.
For CBS, this is obviously a bit of a problem. The long-running Two and a Half Men is one of the top shows on television and the network stands to lose millions while the cast and crew sit idle -- not to mention future losses if the show is canceled outright. Should the sitcom resume, executives must figure out what to do with Sheen, the most bankable star on the small screen, who earns a reported $2 million per episode (and, among other wild claims during his interview tour, upped his quote to $3 million per episode). And given the chord that Sheen's "performance" has struck with the masses, what does the industry do if he somehow has become more popular than ever?
It's certainly not the first time a star employee (of the Hollywood variety or otherwise) has stepped out of line publicly. Even amid the endless chatter about Sheen's endless chatter this week, designer John Galliano was fired by Christian Dior after amateur video surfaced of him allegedly giving an intoxicated, anti-Semitic rant that included the quote, "I love Hitler!" (Newly minted Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, who serves as one of the faces of Dior, was born in Israel and has said she is "disgusted" by the remarks.)
So what's a boss to do? We reached out to our favorite group of bosses -- our Board of Directors -- to get their take on how to deal with admittedly talented, revenue-generating employees who refuse to play by the rules and embarrass their companies in the process. For any manager, it's a lesson in hiring, firing and second chances.
Jodie and Danielle Snyder
"We feel that it's important to run a business with integrity. In the case of Charlie Sheen, CBS is doing the right thing by canceling the remaining episodes of Two and a Half Men, despite its incredible ratings. The employees of a company (a network, in this case) are representative of the culture of a brand/business, and if one is acting out of line, he/she should be fired or reprimanded appropriately, so as to salvage the name of the brand or business. The good news is that there is always someone in line who wants the job more and has enough respect to uphold the reputation of a business.
"In the fashion world, French fashion house Christian Dior recently made the decision to fire its lead designer, John Galliano, for anti-Semitic comments. Galliano's behavior completely contradicted the company's values, and despite his importance to the company, he was let go. Dior serves a strong example of a company doing what's right -- no matter the consequences."
Founder and CEO, Greenleaf Book Group
"Ol' Charlie is a mess. I'm a big fan of giving people second chances, but he's way past that. Whether he's on "a drug called Charlie Sheen" or not, he's toxic. In general, depending on the severity of the behavior, I recommend either one second chance or a straight firing. Life is too short to employ jackasses."
Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, UpSpring Baby
"We recently changed our hiring process by laying out the exact requirements of the job in a scorecard format that is reviewed in the interview. We detail the major tasks for the job, the timeframe in which it needs to be completed and rank the importance to the company. We ask for past experience on each of the tasks we outline in the interview, and basically get the new hire to agree to the requirements before they are considered for the position. This has eliminated confusion and provided clear guidance on the importance the new hire will play in the company."
Founder and CEO, The Go Daddy Group
"First and foremost, you've got to hire good people from the start. From there, if you have an employee who becomes problematic, you absolutely must deal with them directly and immediately. If the situation does not appear salvageable, it is always better to quickly 'prune the tree.'"
Investor and Author of Rule #1 and Payback Time
"I worked as a river guide for 10 years in the '70s, so I've got some serious empathy for Charlie Sheen. Ya gotta walk a mile in a guy's shoes. You have no idea the constant horror of having women throwing themselves at you. Remember when he was paying hookers and someone asked why would Charlie need to hire a hooker, his agent said that he doesn't hire them to sleep with him, he hires them to go home after. I get that. "I live and work with Melissa and she's at least two different women. She doesn't judge me either. She just tells me, 'You do that and I will hurt you.' We do good cop/bad cop with employees (and sometimes with ourselves). If you want to know how to deal with employees who get out of line, its easy -- be the good cop and then send them in to see Melissa and they'll straighten right up."
Elizabeth Busch, Anne Frey-Mott and Beckie Jankiewicz
Co-Founders, The Event Studio
"It is always important to be firm but fair. If the act is inappropriate and damaging to your company's brand and reputation, the employee must be let go immediately."
Founder, The Relentless Foundation and New York Entrepreneur Week
"When the actions of an employee adversely affect the family atmosphere of the company as a whole, we take a poll to understand the consensus opinion of our team. At the end of the day, one bad apple can spoil the tree and we believe everyone should have their opinion heard when an employees actions jeopardize the greater whole."
Director, Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas
"Fortunately, I don't watch TV nor read People. Based on the nature of the question, I think a severe dope-slap is in order. For further commentary, I'll need to send you to my publicist and PR agent ;)."