I say to my associates and partners, and mean it, they can contact me at any time but during an evening I may have taken wine, so you may need to confirm anything agreed by email. Therefore, it was unusual for someone with whom I am acquainted to message me unexpectedly through LinkedIn on a Friday at 9 pm. This is a woman, Alexandra, I have met once but without any real view of a follow up.
Initial pleasantries quickly led to, ‘I was alright until I was let go on Wednesday’. The actual agenda was clear. The good news was I hadn’t had any wine, yet. We moved to a long telephone conversation which showed, at face value, appalling treatment by her employer.
Over that weekend, I drafted a note for her to send to the owner, which I think explains the situation and the mistakes. It is shown below;
Following our brief meeting on Wednesday, I wish to formally submit a grievance.
The issues include:
I took on the extra role only two months’ ago and had one days’ training. I wasn’t given the job description more than a month later, and you dismissed me eight days after that. I have never had a formal appraisal.
It is very obvious that the meeting had a prejudged outcome. This takes us to the issue of Prejudice. You have deliberately forced a situation in which I have been wholly undertrained to be the Sales Ledger Clerk. I have been highly flexible in taking on extra responsibilities as well as the role of Purchase Ledger Clerk, in which I am thoroughly competent. I am now aware that the new person is being paid £5000 pa more than I am. In retrospect, it is now clear why the woman, who it transpires is my replacement, was asking questions about my job. She was also aware of your decision to dismiss me. Again, a gross breach of confidentiality. You have created a concerted effort to create the excuse to terminate my employment.
This accelerated and legally uncompliant dismissal is wrong. Please do not think the offer of part-time receptionist was an adequate alternative role. In fact, it confirms your careless and inappropriate management of the situation.
After a little tweaking I left it with Alexandra to submit. There was no need for her to let me know what she did, so I have no certainty, but she was seriously considering forgetting the problem and ‘just getting on with life’. This is, of course, exactly the reaction the ‘manager’ wanted. If unchallenged he has succeeded and will, in all probability, repeat it in the future. Are there broader impacts? Yes, he has dealt with one issue, but has he created others?
On this occasion I advised the individual, however, more often I am asked to assist an organisation. Good management in this type of situation isn’t difficult, even if the conversation can be stressful and embarrassing;
The two words to follow are professional and compassionate. It takes a lot more time to prepare for an Employment Court case than to behave appropriately in the first instance. The financial costs of losing a case can be painful, but the reputational costs can be much greater.
I don’t know if this manager sought advice from a Human Resources adviser or what any advice was. In previous cases, I have been astonished at the interpretation management have followed and, if it was the advice given, how some HR advisors function. A little knowledge can be dangerous and to quote Red Adair who extinguished fires on oil rigs, ‘If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur’.
Naturally, the name has been changed and all references which might have pointed to a particular employer have been removed. This is a graphic example of poor management and the low regard in which employees are held. Justice at work is based on equity, fairness and transparency; these are not standards which are imposed to annoy and frustrate management, and if applied consistently will improve productivity, staff retention and organisation success.