Quick, what is the speed of light? Now, what is the speed of dark? Does darkness have a speed? Does it really spread or is it just the absence or departure of light? Regardless, I can hear the thoughts now, the speed of darkness is way faster than getting a disciplinary action through HR. No one said it in the meeting but I am sure I was not the only one thinking it! It has been slow going in the action processing department yet we can only work with what we get which, at times, is not much.
In her most recent post at 8 hours & a lunch, Deb addresses hiring and firing speed. She references the HR Capitalist and they are both right on when they talk about managers coming to HR ready to fire someone that day, but without having laid the groundwork necessary to do that. Too often, they haven't had the hard conversations. These last few words really get to the crux of the problem so let's state them again, they haven't had the hard conversations, and again, they have not had the hard conversations.
A supervisor comes into HR and hands over a 2 inch thick file. In it, they say, is evidence that Johnny has a conduct issue. Cool, we say, we will take a look at this and then get with you tomorrow to talk it over. Enter the intern who has the honor of sorting through 6 months worth of documentation. Outcome? Supervisor gets an "A" in compiling paper but an "F" overall. Now, HR people, quick, why the "F" . . . . YES, supervisor failed to talk to the employee about any of the instances, about any of his/her concerns, and really, about anything at all. To top it off, there was a performance review in the midst of the 6 month documentation period and the employee was rated Fully Satisfactory. Houston, we have a problem. At this point, we punt.
We start from the beginning. After reviewing the issues with the supervisor, we set up a meeting with the supervisor, employee and union. This meeting is very important. The purpose of the meeting is to fact find and in this meeting, the supervisor will:
- Explain why the conduct is a problem
- Listen to the employee's explanation for what occurred
- State what his/her expectations are for improvement
- Leave it open for subsequent actions after all facts are considered
After the meeting, the supervisor should consider the facts. In the Federal sector, we use the Douglas Factors. I LOVE the Douglas Factors. These questions are great for thinking through conduct concerns and determining appropriate actions. Note: working with the employee to change behavior without disciplining can be an appropriate action.
Processing actions right takes time. It takes decisive actions at the very first sign of misconduct. It starts with supervisors - no actions can be taken, no change can occur without the hard conversations. Supervisors simply must have these.
HR can help. We can provide the training, we can provide the resources, we can provide support supervisors need. Heck, we have even been known to help script the conversation.
HR can't do it all. We can't make an action where one doesn't exits and we can't move at the speed of light if we are kept in the dark.
Talk to us.