FLA-KEYS

FLA-KEYS

It came as no surprise to me the first time that I realized that a common abbreviation of the words “Florida Keys” spelled out “FLAKEYS.” There must be something about these southern latitudes that just attracts people who in their own ways are a bit “south-of-the-border” – flakey, if you will.

Business owners in the Keys often complain about the seemingly endless lack of quality employees, as if somehow we all expect this to be the deep end of the talent pool. Let me say right now (before anybody misunderstands where I’m going) that there really are a lot of conscientious, hard-working people in the Keys. Many of them work two (or more) jobs just to be able to afford our high cost of living. They support themselves and their families and are the real backbone of our community.

BUT (and there almost always is a but) – the tropical yet transient nature of this place inspires more than a few less-than-industrious souls into uprooting whatever they might have had elsewhere so that they might begin their new way-more-fun life in the islands. After all, it’s so much easier here than back in the Real World, right? And any actual job is simply a way to pass time and earn some cash for the next happy hour or late night at the bar! What could be better? Hey, some don’t even bother with jobs… or homes… or basic personal hygiene… but I digress.

These are the kind of employees who think they should get a raise simply for showing up for the job. (Employee: Dude, you have no idea how much effort it took for me to get here to work! Boss: You’re 90 minutes late!! Employee: Yeah, but I’m here!) If that’s the major part of the qualifications, then showing up on time deserves a raise and a promotion, and showing up on time, sober, and ready to work means that the employee is probably ready to start his own business.

There are those employees who already know so much more about the business than the employer or business owner does. The boss makes suggestions or offers criticisms, no matter how constructive, at her own risk. The result usually comes down to misplaced hostility or emotional meltdown. These people are best left in the care of a competent therapist, someone like the GEICO drill sergeant, on their way to Mamby-Pamby Land. Unfortunately, the trip often gets sidetracked to a barstool and more self-medication.

After all, there’s nothing that rum (insert the substance of your choice) won’t cure. And there are plenty more jobs out there. And if there aren’t any jobs left on the island… there are plenty more islands! It’s a perpetual employment merry-go-round!

I’m not for one second postulating that there are no bad employers. There are plenty of people in management positions who have no business managing their DVD collection, much less managing other peoples’ lives and careers. There are those who will, let’s say, book an employee (perhaps a musician) for a series of gigs, and then cancel the gigs while lying about the reason for the cancellation. There are those who repeatedly double-book: committing two employees to do the same job at the same time. If you recall the Peter Principle, it really applies in most of these manager-gone-wrong cases.

Yes, it can be frustrating to deal with unreliable employees or bad bosses. If you have a good employee, treat him well. Let her know how much she helps you with your business. Who knows – they might just stick around for a while!

Likewise, if you have a good employer, show up on time, sober, and ready to work. Who knows – you just might own that business one day! (Or at least get that promotion!)

And if you want to commiserate about bad bosses or flakey employees… you can find me at the bar!

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