Good cover, lousy book

Another update from the Jungle….
NS12016-2Gene is the managing partner of a professional services firm and he’s extremely proud of the team that works with him.  He insists that they follow a reasonable work schedule leaving time for family.  He rewards every employee with a bonus when the firm hits revenue targets.

The result is high productivity and soaring morale. People want to work at his firm and Gene has the luxury of picking job candidates that best fit his philosophy. It was all smooth sailing until six months ago when he hired Avery.

Avery looked great on paper. His three page resume looked impressive, full of academic achievements, extensive industry experience, and a history of community involvement.  Avery showed up for the interview in an expensive suit, looking thoroughly professional. He was relaxed, articulate, and generated a good vibe when he met the whole team.  He seemed like a great fit for the firm and Gene hired him.

Within a week, Avery was a problem.  He told several senior partners that his old firm had a much better system for tracking client services.  Then he told the secretaries they were being unfairly exploited and should go on strike for higher wages.  After that he asked junior staff members why they worked so hard when there was no obvious path to promotions since all the senior partners were years from retirement.

Gene learned about the underbelly of discontent when a delegation of junior staff members cornered him to complain about Avery.  The youngest secretary said she didn’t appreciate being told that she ought to feel exploited. That was one of the milder comments.

Gene’s always been told not to judge a book by its cover.  But it’s obvious that underneath Avery’s polished façade lies a wealth of baggage picked up from the conditions he experienced with previous employers.

How should Gene handle this situation?

  1. He can fire Avery immediately since the state has “at will” employment. But with Avery’s baggage, a wrongful termination lawsuit seems inevitable.
  2. He could try to counsel Avery on his attitude but worries this will simply delay the inevitable outcome.
  3. He can tell Avery that the firm isn’t the right fit and offer Avery a generous severance package in exchange for leaving immediately.

In the actual situation, the firm chose the third option because the management team decided that a toxic personality was too big a risk to keep on the payroll and the severance package limited any possible wrongful termination claims.  Everyone lived happily ever after (except “Avery” who carried his baggage to the next employer’s office).

If your company is struggling with HR issues, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor can help you create HR policies that are appropriate for your company’s size and then serve as a resource to your staff as the policies are implemented.


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