3 scenarios where line managers need to man up

by Human Capital12 Mar 2014
It’s never fun having to terminate a person’s employment, but there are three types of employees that need to exit the organisation, even if – especially if – your line managers are uncomfortable letting them go.
As a HR professional, you rely on your line managers to make difficult decisions about terminating employees. Occasionally, if they fail to do so, you can wind up with an under-performing staff member that is well overdue to be shown the door.
“Sometimes you need to man up and make the right decision, even if it isn’t easy,” said Lawrence Polsky, managing partner of PeopleNRG.
“Firing someone may be the most humanitarian thing to do and the best solution for all parties involved – even if it is difficult or emotional at the time.”
Having trained more than 60,000 business and HR leaders worldwide, Polsky recalls three recurring staff scenarios where decisive action is required:
  1. The ‘one more chance’ scenario
How many last chances should one person get? “My experience with leaders in general is that they’ll do everything to give a problem employee one last chance – and another, and another,” Polsky said. “If you’ve already told them the goal, coached them on it, been available, supported them, removed barriers, discussed the performance problem, then guess what? You’ve already given them that last chance. Fire them already!”
  1. The ‘someone is better than no one’ scenario
When you let someone go, you also let go of valuable organisational information, data, experience and expertise, which can lull management into believing it’s ‘better the devil you know’. Once, Polsky candidly told a client to replace one of their managers, rather than invest in his coaching of said employee; “All the leader could say was, ‘It would be too disruptive to let her go’. Three months and much coaching later, the manager quit.”
  1. The ‘taking work problems home’ scenario 
While it’s normal to occasionally talk about work at home, it’s not normal for the same ‘people issues’ to crop up over and over again. “If you repeatedly bring work issues home and keep discussing the same problems with your spouse, this indicates a conflict between the values and behaviours that the firm finds acceptable, and the employee,” Polsky said. “The bottom line? The employee is a problem and must go.”
Do you have trouble getting your line managers to make tough decisions? Share your stories here…


  • by Gayle F 12/03/2014 12:59:25 PM

    Sadly, I always feel excited to work with a manager who has the intestinal fortitude to do what needs to be done and works in a professional manner and understands due process. But more often than not, most managers just don't have what it takes to do their job and delegate it to HR because we "look after the people stuff". Those managers need to step up or step out.

  • by Catherine Cahill 12/03/2014 1:03:24 PM

    "Man up"????? Shouldn't HR professionals avoid such sexist statements?

  • by Catherine Cahill 12/03/2014 1:04:31 PM

    "Man up"? Shouldn't HR professionals be able to write without using such a grossly sexist generalisation?

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