If the Unions Protect the Rights of Employees – Who Protects the Rights of the Employer?

Have you ever had a situation get completely out of hand only to have it come and bite you in your butt and causing you to swear that “you shoulda do what you were supposed to do a long time ago?”

Let me get even clearer still.

You have an employee on staff that you think is a “good” employee. Yet this employee is NEVER on time. Other employees complain to you that nothing ever happens to Ralph when he comes late. Yet you continue to let Ralph’s transgression slide because Ralph is a “good” employee otherwise.

Ralph could also be the top performing sales person who you allow to get by with not attending mandatory training sessions because he after all – the top performing sales person.

Ralph could also be the employee you’ve given so many chances to despite his carelessness and attention to detail with the accounting figures because you think that deep down inside he is a “good” boy and you will continue to try with him because you know his heart is in the right place.

Get the picture? Fabulous!

Now let’s fast forward to the day that you have finally had it with Ralph. Ralph does something that is the proverbial straw that breaks your back! You feel like you could helicopter slap Ralph into exile – you’re so mad. And so on that fateful day – in a fit of rage – you begin seeking legal counsel as to whether you can dismiss Ralph because “Oh God! I’ve had enough!”

You can’t believe what you’re hearing. You cannot fire Ralph just like that. “Have you ever spoken to Ralph about his actions?” “No” is your only reply in fact nothing has ever been documented. Then you are told that if you dismiss Ralph – that you could be charged with wrongful dismissal and you will be required to compensate Ralph handsomely because you have taken away his property from him – his job. You can barely speak. Whose side is the Union on? “They have no idea the nonsense I’ve had to put up with – with Ralph!”

Sadly – they don’t. But what they do have is a clear idea of good industrial relations practice and what is supposed to happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, to 100 if necessary, before any firing etc can take place.

And frankly – so should you! Who needs to be protecting your rights is YOU! Stop letting things slide.

Lack of consequences will aid and abet any employee to continue to do that which they shouldn’t. If there are no consequences for not performing in the desired fashion, most people will take the path of least resistance. In the Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning authors, Wick, Pollack and Jefferson cite this case: “One poor learning professional in one of our workshops had been asked to put together a half-day program on hardhat safety because workers were not wearing their hardhats on the job site. We asked what happened if they were on site without a hardhat. The answer was “nothing” – which was the problem – NOT a lack of knowledge or skill.”

It is your ship. Be the Captain that you are and direct what happens and does NOT happen on your vessel.

Keep in mind that many performance issues in business are the result of systems or process problems. To begin getting your “ship in order “- ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do all my employees know exactly what is expected of them? I’m not asking whether they can read their job descriptions. Have you communicated what is expected – how you want them to show up for duty, what you’d like to see, the kind of mindset they need etc. Make sure that performance standards are made clear AND documented.
  2. Is the feedback being provided ambiguous? Don’t be afraid of confronting issues and nipping situations in the bud. The only way your people can improve their performance is if they understand what is expected of them and with timely feedback – know how to improve.
  3. Do I reward my employees for doing things right? If there is no positive recognition or reward for doing things right – see that you begin right now to put that into practice. Being recognized for a job well done is a powerful motivator. Don’t let months pass before telling someone that they’re doing a great job.

The time has come, particularly in these times for employers to really address performance in their businesses. You must not tolerate sub optimal performance by making ridiculous sounding excuses that these are the kind of workers you are getting and there’s nothing you could do about them.

First things first – begin working on your Strategic Objective. Make it only a page. Determine what you want to be known for, the kind of people who work for your organization and all your competitive advantages. Then start working on your hiring system. This is no one off exercise. Tweak your system until you start attracting and getting the kind of employees you want to have on board.

Being proactive versus being reactive is your only insurance against protecting yourself and your business. If you decide to do nothing – please be quiet and quit complaining about how unfair the Unions can be! They have systems and processes in place. Do you?

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