The Case of the Well-Meaning Manager

by Gordon Whitehead, Founder of Leaders247

Mona complained to her HR partner venting for over 30 minutes. Her last sentences were, “I’m so sick of Jim’s work – we need to let him go. I hate to say it, but he’s got to go.”

The Hard Truth – Jack, a 10-year HR veteran and the department’s HR partner, took a deep breath, tried to put on a brave face, but then looked directly at Mona and gave her the truth she did not want to hear. “Mona, you’re not going to want to hear this, but you’ve rated him above average for the last two years on every appraisal and you’ve given him an average raise each year. We can’t just suddenly fire someone for performance issues when that person has been rated above average consistently over a long period of time.”

The Right Thing for the Wrong Reason – Mona’s frustration grew. “I can explain those ratings.” She paused and worked hard not to let her eyes roll at this irony. “I have been reading all of those memos that have been coming out of the HR department about being a positive leader. I even read a book on valuing employee contribution and the power of positive feedback in helping increase performance.”

She paused, took a breath, and began to realize her mistake. “I’ve simply been trying to uplift his performance with a positive approach in his reviews and I thought giving him only an average raise would send a signal that he needed to improve to get more.”

Start Over Today – Jack said, “Mona, there is nothing we can do in the near term – we’ve set ourselves up for a negative situation and most likely a legal problem if we terminate Jim right now.” Jack thought for a minute and then added some encouragement. “But, Mona, if you will start documenting his performance issues and build a case properly, within a reasonable period of time, we will have a foundation to help Jim either improve or be dismissed.”