This case study is about ‘Consistency’. This actually happened. The organisation in question must remain confidential but hopefully the message will be clear.
Sitting in the office one day, we opened the post as we did normally every morning. My team were the HR Team for a national chain of ‘locations’ ….. we will call it.
Our ‘locations’ were based throughout the UK and were all managed independently by an onsite Manager for each location. When managers dealt with staff issues, they were required to send in the documents relating to that issue and any covering letters they had sent so that we were aware of them and could record them on personnel files.
On the day in question, we received documentation from two different ‘locations’.
Location 1: – We have issued a verbal warning to ‘xxxx’ for setting fire to the Apprentice.
Location 2: – We have sacked ‘xxxx’ because he was late for work again this morning for the third time.
So which one of these potential offences would you say was the more serious? Yes, I would agree, setting fire to an Apprentice is not something you should do at work.
Without going into the ‘what happened next’, the message here is about CONSISTENCY. Knowing how to deal with challenging situations at work is never easy but being consistent about how you want your staff to behave at work and being fair about making a ‘punishment fit a crime’ is really important.
If ever you find yourselves in the unfortunate situation of defending your actions in an Employment Tribunal, the first thing they will look at will be ‘were you fair and reasonable in the actions you took as a result of what happened’ and did you follow a ‘fair procedure to reach those conclusions’?.
This will not always go the way you want it to but being consistent, fair and reasonable will give you a much greater chance of success when faced with a situation that you could not foresee coming your way.
The outcome of this (any many other similar situations) was the roll out of Management Training for new or inexperienced managers so that they were much better equipped to understand what was a serious issue and a not so serious one.
Please get in touch if you think something similar could help your managers (or if you want to know ‘what happened next?’).