The Right Thing

There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience. French proverb

Few things perplex the HR professional as much as the manager unwilling to do their work. If you don’t want to manage get out of the way and let someone else do it.

Every HR practitioner in the US (and maybe beyond for all I know) recalls countless instances when a manager rings up the office and loudly proclaims ‘so and so is a disaster – they’ve got to go!’ Typically then they harrumph as the slam down the phone presumably too busy with other pressing matters to attend to the messy details involved in terminating someone’s employment. The HR geek can do that, they think, as they attempt to move on.

Not so fast.

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid does.

No, we will not let you just “get rid” of someone if you haven’t done your job. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or think you are – your number one job is managing human resources. If you don’t get that, you don’t need to be a manager.

What’s your job? As Ferdinand Fournies told us years ago, three simple things:

  1. Tell people what to do
  2. Show them how to do it
  3. Explain why they need to

With these simple foundation elements in place you can actually manage your resources.

What’s that mean?

  • Give them praise as warranted
  • Correct them as needed
  • Coach them
  • Counsel them
  • Move through a performance management process when necessary

This is Managing. This is what you do when you have performance questions. When you tell your HR person to get rid of your problems, and then we can’t find even a cursory example of any history of the issue recorded anywhere we then redefine the problem: the problem is you.

We are happy to insist on high standards, set demanding expectations and treat people like responsible adults. What we won’t do is treat them like disposable items to be jettisoned at the moment you lose whatever interest you may have had in their performance and potential.

We owe all employees – and by definition that includes you the manager – the right to a fair, comprehensive and equitable workplace. One where you understand not only what’s expected but what you need to do if you are not being successful. We will not “get rid” of people discarding them without thought as tired Christmas decorations past their prime.

These are people, not problems.

Want to work on performance the right way? We’ll help you: that’s our job.

Want to cut corners, skirt issues and be vague and evasive with people about where they stand? The consider a career in politics and get the hell out of management: you’re confused.

Do the right thing.


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