Terminations

Reasons for firing employee

The Not-So-Little Prince

Another update from the Jungle…

unnamed-36Vicky is the HR person for her company because her business partners are guys who would rather face a starving lion bare-handed than deal with employees. Lately, she’s been seesawing between the urge to kill one of the younger workers or to knock his block off.

Gus is a 30-something millennial who thinks he is a prince who can set his own rules. So Gus ignores the rule that says he should show up on time to work everyday. He also ignores the one that says he should tell his supervisor if he leaves the office during the workday.

Vicky learns that Gus has continued to ignore her verbal warnings when she receives a phone call from Frank, the company founder. Frank is a brilliant man, but he refuses to learn how to use an electronic calendar, his email account, or the internet. When Frank started his career, people actually talked to each other. He sees no reason to change his unnamed-34work habits now.

Frank asks if she declared a work holiday without telling him because he’s alone in the office and needs help with the copier. Vicky is flummoxed. She runs through the list of all twenty employees while Frank breathes heavily down the phone line. Gus is missing.

The next day, Vicky calls Gus to her office. Gus arrives twenty minutes late and slouches into a chair. He takes a big gulp of his energy drink, bored and disinterested, and demands an explanation for being dragged away from his work.

unnamed-35Vicky stares at him through a red haze. The last time a young male addressed her in such a surly tone, he got whapped up-side the head and lost his driving privileges for a month. But her son was sixteen at the time, not a 30-something! With superhuman strength, Vicky restrains herself.

She explains to the oblivious Gus that their small staff requires collaboration, and that means notifying others when he leaves the office. Gus drains his energy drink and tosses the container in the trash, splashing Vicky’s foot. He suggests that Frank should be given an iPad with everyone’s calendar loaded on it. Then he would know where all his staff is at any time. Vicky feels the red haze gathering again.

unnamed-37What options are available to Vicky?

  • She can congratulate herself on her self-restraint for letting Gus live.
  • She can look around for a frenemy who can be conned into hiring Gus.
  • She can give Gus a final warning but begin planning to replace him.

In the actual situation, the millennial was given another chance to improve. He is apparently still unaware of how close he is to termination for cause.

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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He’s Not Fitting In

Another update from the Jungle…

Sue is the HR manager for her company, and she’s trying to figure out what to do about Mo. She needs to decide how to handle all the complaints she’s received about him. Instead, she’s brooding on the unfairness of her life.

She could have taken a vacation to someplace nicer, say, the big island of Hawaii. It’s only got an erupting volcano. She’s sitting on a powder keg that could erupt into serious bodily injury or multiple EEOC investigations. She thinks back to how it all began the day Mo started working for the company.

Mo is a recent immigrant to the U.S. He has several university degrees earned in his country of origin which aren’t recognized by U.S. authorities. As a result, Mo is working at a job far below his skill level. He’s not a bad guy, but he hasn’t quite figured out the customs of his new country.

His biggest problem is that he annoys the women in the office. His female co-workers lecture him on equality and women’s rights. He listens with a polite smile, but the message isn’t sinking in.

The women complain that he never cleans up after making a mess in the breakroom. He tries to pawn off the most menial tasks on female co-workers. Most irritating of all, he won’t hold the elevator when he sees a female co-worker dashing toward it at the end of the day. The women are talking openly about knocking some of his sexist edge off Mo with a blunt instrument.

Mo’s supervisor is no help. Fred’s too busy scheming how to win his next promotion to notice what his staff is doing. Fred’s female subordinates would be happy to wave goodbye to Fred if he gets his promotion. They blame him for not coaching Mo to act more “American”.  Sue tried coaching Mo herself recently but got the same smile as the other women.

What options are available to Sue?

  1. She can join the other women who spend their lunch hour window shopping for blunt instruments with which to blunt Mo.
  2. She can encourage Fred to watch Mo like a hawk until he finds a justification for firing him.
  3. She can recommend that Mo be reassigned to a manager who is better at coaching workers to grow and improve.

In the actual situation, HR was unable to find an adequate solution to the problem because senior management failed to take the issue seriously. The misunderstandings continued until the company closed the office as part of a reorganization of operations.

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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Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Another update from the Jungle….

Danny is interviewing for a new job, and the question he dreads most has just been asked. Why did he leave his last job?  Danny stares at the in-house recruiter of his prospective employer and thinks back to his former job.

Danny is a young salesman, bright and energetic. He was hired straight out of college into his dream job. He thought his former boss, Sam, was his friend because they talked about sports when they weren’t talking about business.

They often hung out at a sports bar after work watching sports events.  They also called and texted each other about games they were watching during the weekend. Unfortunately, Danny hadn’t made the mental transition from college buddies to business colleagues.

He learned this hard lesson during March Madness.  Danny hosted a party for some of his college frat brothers. Since he was hosting his own party, he couldn’t attend Sam’s party for colleagues and clients.

As the game progressed, Danny called Sam to discuss the latest score and joke about some of the action. But Danny was drinking heavily and jokes that amuse frat brothers don’t necessarily amuse a boss, particularly a boss trying to entertain his own guests.  After the tenth call in as many minutes, Sam ordered Danny to not call him again. Danny laughed drunkenly and agreed. A few minutes later, he called Sam again. Sam hung up and turned off his phone.

The next day, Danny was met at the office by an HR rep who explained that getting drunk and making harassing phone calls to a boss was inappropriate. She informed Danny that he could resign and receive a severance package or he could be fired.  Danny chose the first option and returned home to nurse his hangover.

This sorry sequence of events flits through Danny’s mind as he stares at the in-house recruiter. What are Danny’s options?

  1. He can admit that he got drunk, showed poor judgment, and was invited to be successful elsewhere.
  2. He can trash his former employer as a rotten place to work.
  3. He can say that his former employer wasn’t a good “fit” or that he is looking for a new challenge.

In the actual situation, the young employee was given a few coaching tips during his exit interview, regarding appropriate behavior outside the office.  It’s always a good idea to add a segment in the on-boarding process to remind new hires that what they do on their own time can negatively affect their employment.

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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Chaos Cathy

Another update from the Jungle….

picture-2Chaos Cathy is a good worker when she pays attention to her job. Too bad she spends most of her time picking fights with her co-workers. One week she complains about a co-worker’s perfume. Another week she complains about loud voices talking on the phone.

picture-1Chaos Cathy’s whining is a symptom of her perpetual competitiveness. She complains that her cubicle is smaller than the cubicles of her peers. After weeks of drama, her manager finally agrees to find another cubicle. But the new cubicle has no window. True, the window in her current cubicle offers only a view of the trash bins behind the building.

Chaos Cathy’s boss flatly refuses to move Rob, a more senior worker, from his cubicle so that Cathy can have it. Chaos Cathy flounces down the stairs to Weary Wanda, the HR manager, to complain that offering a windowless cubicle is retaliation for complaining about the terrible working conditions. picture-3Wanda is weary because she’s got to listen to Chaos Cathy’s constant whining while also getting an earful from Cathy’s annoyed co-workers.

Weary Wanda is an experienced HR manager and mom. She lets Chaos Cathy rant while her mind drifts to what she’d like to eat for dinner that night. Eventually Chaos Cathy stops talking. Weary Wanda says she’ll look into the matter and encourages Chaos Cathy to go back to work.

picture-4A week later, Chaos Cathy is back. Now she’s complaining that her manager has encouraged his other subordinates to abuse her for exposing his incompetence. Chaos Cathy launches into a convoluted description of abusive co-workers, travel to Mars, and stinky perfume from the next cubicle to prove her boss is incompetent and prejudiced.

Weary Wanda asks how Chaos Cathy would like to have her complaints resolved. Cathy replies that she wants her manager to get off the planet. Weary Wanda explains that HR can’t force a supervisor to get off the planet so Chaos Cathy needs to think of another solution to the problem. Chaos Cathy says no other outcome is acceptable to her.

What are Weary Wanda’s options?

  1. She can recommend that Chaos Cathy drink more boxed red wine in the evenings to calm her nerves.
  2. She can transfer Chaos Cathy to another department run by a supervisor that Wanda doesn’t like.
  3. She can explain, as politely as possible, that chronic complainers like Chaos Cathy rarely help their long-term career aspirations.

picture-5In the actual situation, the complaining employee’s insubordinate behavior towards her manager escalated until her employment was terminated. She unsuccessfully sued for wrongful termination.

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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I’m Mad as Heck about the Election!

Another update from the Jungle….
unnamed-4Dawn, the Chief Talent Officer for her company, is slogging through the remaining weeks of the political campaign. She hates what it’s done to her job. This week she’s thinking of changing her title to Chief Tortured Officer

Helen, the Voice of Doom, didn’t take the hint a couple of weeks ago when Dawn tried to politely tell her to get lost. Helen continues unnamed-6to show up every morning to depress Dawn with her worries that the election will degenerate into violence and mayhem.

After Helen leaves Allen, the Philosopher King, drifts in the door.  His garbled theories on democracy in America sound profound until you listen closely. Then you realize he’s just fogging up the room with BS. Besides Dawn couldn’t care less.

She has a real political crisis this week. She’s been summoned to the President’s office. Rory, the Prez, also wants to discuss the election and what it means for the office.  Rory’s channeling Jack Nicholson’s “Colonel Jessup” from “A Few Good Men” pacing the office and growling.

unnamed-15The workforce is as divided as the nation and it’s getting ugly. Yesterday Rory broke up a fight in the employee parking lot. The Trump and Clinton supporters were trying to rip the opposing candidate’s stickers off car bumpers.  Rory waded in, knocked a few heads together and ordered everyone back to work.

He’s not worried about a little fight in the parking lot. He’s mad as heck that no one seems to be working.  The company’s internet connections are smoking hot as workers visit “news” sites to hear the latest salacious details abouunnamed-14t the candidates and their families. Then they stand around arguing about what they’ve read.

Rory glares at Dawn and asks if he can fire a few people to set an example for everyone else. Dawn begins to explain (again) about the progressive discipline policy. Rory cuts her off.  If he can’t fire anyone, can he ban politics from he workplace?

What advice should Dawn give the Prez?

  1. She can give him a quick civics lesson about free speech.
  2. She can draft an email for him to send to all employees reminding them to do their jobs while on the clock.
  3. She can suggest that he should visit the gym more often to work off his aggression and grit his teeth for one more week.

The good news is that presidential elections happen every four years and we’ve got one more week to go.  Then we’ll all go back to arguing about sports.

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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I Can’t Take It Anymore!

Another update from the Jungle….

Kathy was a solid performer for her company until about a year ago.  She rarely missed work and she was always prepared for meetings.  Then she fell off a cliff.

Her clif2f had many causes. About a year ago, her mother began showing signs of dementia. Kathy’s siblings long since moved away, so Kathy’s been taking her mother to doctor’s appointments and filling out Medicare claims forms.  She’s reached the stage where she loathes the “plain English” of Medicare forms.

Her husband, Bob, is helping more after being laid off his job a few months ago. But Kathy’s mother no longer recognizes Bob and won’t leave the house with him.  That means his
biggest contribution is cooking most of their meals. Since this involved reorganizing all the kitchen cabinets, Kathy’s not convinced he’s helping her.

3Meanwhile, Kathy’s daughter moved home from college after her wine and pizza plan didn’t lead to a
viable college degree. She leaves dirty dishes in the sink and is surprised that this upsets Kathy.

1

About six months ago, Kathy began taking medication for depression and anxiety. The medication leaves her feeling like she’s underwater.  It affects her ability to concentrate. She now has the attention span of a three-year-old on a chocolate high.

Her boss is running out of patience with her sloppy work and blown deadlines. Of
course, he doesn’t know all the gory details because Kathy’s too embarrassed by her screwed up life to tell him. She always prided herself on her professional competence.

Today, her boss calls her in for another performance review. He’s angry about a blown deadline and considers firing Kathy. But that would mean finding and training a replacement. It would also mean losing Kathy’s years of knowledge of the company and its culture.

What options are available to Kathy’s boss?

  1. He can proceed to the next phase of the progressive discipline policy which is firing Kathy for poor performance.
  2. He can keep limping along and hope that Kathy’s personal life improves.
  3. He can ask the HR representative if there other options for resolving Kathy’s situation without firing her.     

The above scenario is a composite of several actual incidents.  As the population ages, more baby boomers are finding themselves caring for incapacitated parents and assisting unemployed adult children.  Businesses are not charitable organizations and they can’t fix their employees’ problems. But they can support employees by adopting flexible work schedules and creating referral lists to local organizations that provide eldercare and other social support programs.    

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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Queen Bee

Another update from the Jungle….

Dan is a branch manager for his company and he’s coasting toward retirement.  He lost interest in his current career long ago after several major battles with his assistant. Her name is Adelaide and officially she’s the executive assistant, but unofficially she’s been running the branch office since Jimmy Carter’s administration.   

When Adelaide decides how things should be done, everyone agrees. If they don’t their careers take a nosedive, as Dan learned during his first year as branch manager. He came in full of ideas for improving efficiency but Adelaide decided the office was fine “as is”.  After months of battling, she won and Dan began planning his post-retirement career.

Dan’s boss i2sn’t happy and he’s trying to figure out how to increase profits in Dan’s office. He decides to test a new whiz-bang software program in Dan’s office to see if it helps the bottom line.  He notifies Dan that a vendor rep will arrive on Monday morning to train the staff on the new software. Dan passes the information to Adelaide.

Monday morning, the vendor rep shows up to begin the training. Adelaide sails into the conference room almost 30 minutes late and majestically informs the vendor rep to start over.

The vendor rep quickly recaps half of her scheduled 60-minute presentation. As she highlights each feature, she asks attendees to imagine how the feature can improve their efficiency.

The vendor rep soon notices that everyone is watching Adelaide. If she nods, the comments are positive. If she shakes her head, the others say they can’t use the software feature. It’s obvious that Adelaide would rather eat broken glass than adopt the new software. The vendor rep limps on to the end of her allotted time and wraps up the meeting. The vendor rep has promised to give a status report to Dan’s boss.

What kind of report could the vendor rep give to Dan’s boss?

  1. She could lie and say the training went well, knowing her company has a big contract at stake.
  2. She could say that Adelaide is determined to block the use of the new software.
  3. She could decide to not give any report since she plans to ditch the sales career in favor of ha3nging out at the airport with the Hari Krishnas.    

In the actual situation, the senior manager was angry that his pet project was shot down and he fired both the executive assistant and the branch manager.  Unfortunately, he failed to follow the company’s written HR policies when he fired them; but that’s a different story.

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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Falling to Pieces

Another update from the Jungle….

Patsy was named for Patsy Cline and she has a pretty good singing voice. So she moved to Nashville with visions of international fame dancing through the lyrics in her head.  She took the first job she could find while she pounded the pavement seeking a record contract.

4She never landed a record contract and her last three employment gigs were as abbreviated as her open mic gigs. But her luck is about to change. She just got a job with a regional company that is distantly connected to the music business. Sure it involves doing boring stuff that she did at several of her previous jobs but she enters the new employer’s offices with a smile on her face and a spring in her step.  

After a day with HR, filling out paperwork and learning about all the things that can get her fired, Patsy’s enthusiasm wavers. But she arrives early the next day determined to do well. The HR rep shows her where the bathroom is located and guides to her a rabbit-hutch sized cubicle. Then the HR rep abandons her to go deal with an HR crisis.

Patsy leans around the cubicle corner to ask Doris for a little assistance. Doris is on the phone. Rebecca, on 1her other side, clues Patsy in to a few basic procedures, such as which database takes which customer information.  Patsy realizes from prior experiences that she’s just gone through “orientation” and she sets to work.

In the first week, almost all her work is rejected for a variety of reasons. Patsy tries to explain to co-workers that in her last job they did it this way. Her supervisor says in front of co-workers that she doesn’t care how the company’s main competitor does business.

Before her first paycheck, Patsy’s demoralized. As her probationary period ends, the HR rep tells Patsy that she’s being dropped because she “just doesn’t get it” and her co-workers think she’s whiny.  

What should Patsy do next?

  1. She can reach across the desk and slap the HR rep for not ensuring she received proper training.
  2. She can leave quietly and bad-mouth the company on her Facebook page.     
  3. She can find a friend like Merle Haggard’s “Leonard” to help her until her singing career takes off.    

The above scenario is a composite of many employers who expect to find ideal employees without investing in training. It’s a doomed process similar to seeking your life’s soulmate in a 2nd Avenue bar on Saturday night.2

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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Masters of the Universe

Another update from the Jungle…

Masters1Jim and Tony run a venture capital fund that specializes in distressed assets. They buy companies, replace the management team, cut most of the employees to generate savings and make the company look profitable (on paper). Then they sell the company.

A business magazine features them in an article and uses the term masters of the universe. After the feature article, Jim and Tony decide to branch out from distressed assets and buy a company that has been successful without being spectacular.

Jim and Tony begin their ownership by holding a company-wide meeting with employees at which they talk about the company’s wonderful financial future. This sales pitch is interrupted by Linda who asks them to reconcile these comments with their established practice of boosting profits by firing most workers. Jim evades her question. So Larry asks pointblank how many jobs will be cut. Jim looks at Tony. Tony shrugs. The meeting ends abruptly.

Masters3After studying the company’s bottom line, Jim and Tony decide that the first employees to go are Linda and Larry. They tell Sandra, the HR rep, to prepare the paperwork. She cautions against firing two of the most respected workers. Jim looks at the org chart again and concludes they are peons.

On Friday, Linda and Larry are ushered out the door. Their first port of call is an employment law attorney where they discuss wrongful termination, retaliation, and age discrimination.  The attorney has a vision of becoming famous by taking down the masters of the universe. He agrees to represent Linda and Larry.

Master2Within weeks, a third of the workforce resigns following Linda and Larry out the door. Jim and Tony are initially relieved; they only had to fire two workers. But the remaining workforce is demoralized. Within six months, the company has lost several key clients and the bottom line is tanking. Jim and Tony call a meeting with Sandra to discuss staffing levels and the status of Linda’s and Larry’s lawsuit.

What should Sandra tell them?

  1. She can say that she warned them that firing Linda and Larry would have dire consequences.
  2. She can tell them that as masters of the universe, she expects them to solve their own problems.
  3. She can hand in her resignation, having already received several job offers.

The above scenario is exaggerated but may seem familiar to anyone who has experienced a change in ownership at an employer. Creating a plan with HR for handling inevitable layoffs can smooth the transition. It is also helpful to see employees as more than just a cost to the bottom line.

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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Promoted to Failure

Another update from the Jungle….

actionplanJulia, the HR manager, is watching her company’s diversity and inclusion program go hideously wrong. Julia pushed every level of management all the way to the C-suite, urging them to broaden the pool of employees eligible for promotion to management. What did all her effort get her? Margaret.

Margaret worked in operations for many years and understands the technical side of the job but her interpersonal skills are dismal. She’s whiny and needy and self-absorbed. Some of her shortcomings might have been fixed if the C-suite had accepted Julia’s recommendation to create a management training program.

Instead, Margaret was promoted to manager without training or a mentor to help her. Now she micromanages her subordinates and refuses to delegate any decision-making authority to them. But she’s afraid of being held responsible if something goes wrong so she fails to make any decisions.

When other department managers complain that their work is disrupted, Margaret blames her subordinates of incompetence. Her subordinates show up and don’t do their jobs since they know bossany actions they take are likely to be undermined by Margaret. Most of them are applying for transfers away from her.

The stress on Margaret is so intense that she suffers from migraines and works from home several days a week. When she does come into the office, she is so unpleasant that everyone avoids her.

The steady rumble of discontent is growing so loud that the C-suite is having trouble ignoring it. Julia is desperately searching for a solution to the whole mess but she’s run out of time. In today’s mail she receives an EEOC notice letter that a complaint of racial discrimination has been made against Margaret by Margaret’s secretary.

What should Julia do next?

  1. She can recommend that Margaret be appointed special liaison to the company’s suppliers with an immediate posting to, say, Shanghai or Taipei.
  2. She can investigate the charges and then artfully respond to the EEOC in a way that is slightly more flattering than the actual situation warrants.
  3. She can notify the C-Suite of the EEOC investigation and use this as an opportunity to convince the senior managers to approve a training program for new managers.

In the actual situation, the EEOC concluded there was no racial discrimination because the new manager treated all her subordinates like crap. The employer hailed this decision as a victory. The new manager was eventually reassigned during a departmental reorganization but the employer still doesn’t have a training program for new managers.

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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