I want him gone today!
As an HR professional I have often heard this phrase many times in my career. It is often met with my trade mark gimlet eye stare followed by the calming technique of finding out exactly why my otherwise normally rational manager would start the conversation with that phrase. What is also quite common is that HR will be blamed for said individual not exiting the building stage right that very day even though we had little input into the situation that led to the phrase “I want him gone today!.”
In my experience little management of the individual would have taken place which makes any formal procedure/process quite difficult to justify or put in place without breaking the organisation’s own policies or several employment right legislations! Often in situations like this we have to advise taking a step back, assessing exactly what is happening and then deciding on the best course of action. It is not always easy for managers who are focused on outcomes and the bottom line to hear that advice, especially if to their mind the situation is untenable and the only option is for the employee to leave immediately so that they can get on with the job at hand.
Now don’t get me wrong there are instances where you can act swiftly and immediately to exit an employee but this is all dependent on the circumstances. Not all situations can warrant such actions and equally such actions in most cases can be very difficult to either justify or defend if called on to do so. These snap decisions are often made and uttered in frustration at something that has happened or a mistake that has been made. The most common scenario where this phrase is normally uttered is during an employee’s probation period or prolonged/frequent periods of absence. Often even though there is a probation policy in place, there would have been nothing put in place to either support, train or inform the employee of what the role requires and the company’s expectations. Absences though time consuming to manage and costly to a business also have to be managed carefully to ensure there are not disability or pregnancy related as we could fall foul of the Equality Act provisions.
Replacing staff even those who are causing issues can be a timely and costly exercise. Taking the time to get to the root cause of the issue may be a better solution in some cases. It’s a fact of life that even the best employee will have an off day, even a rising star will sometimes fail to shine and everyone at some stage especially when engages in highly stressful roles will have burnouts. Rather than react negatively when errors happen, take a step back and think, look at it from another angle before firing off that email to HR with the phrase “I want him/her gone now!” if for nothing else than in the interest of preventing such an email to be subject to a subject data access request!