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Do the Right Thing!

Why do companies always make it so hard on themselves? When it comes to making decisions about policy interpretation, employee relations and handling ‘delicate’ situations, companies tend to make it very difficult on themselves. Perhaps it is human nature that the first reaction when faced with an employee situation is to always check the policy. Than, when the policy doesn’t explicitly indicate what we should do, we start to try and ‘interpret’ the policy to make it work for the situation at hand. To compound things, there is always an employee or employees who are waiting on a response from the company or their manager – a response that is time-sensitive or urgent for them.  Meanwhile, the organization continues to analyze, overanalyze and find ways to make the policy fit the situation as the hours, days, etc. go by and the employee becomes increasingly frustrated with their company.

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.netWe need to start to change our mindset as leaders. Policies exist as a framework…guiding principles if you will. They are not meant to be a one size fits all, prescriptive formula for each and every employee situation. In the employee relations realm, we are dealing with, wait for it…….people!  So there is no formula, no silver bullet to solve each and everyone’s challenge. We need to act as leaders, listen to our employees and make a timely decision. I am not advocating that every decision has to be in an employee’s “favour.” What I am getting at is let’s try and simplify our lives a bit and work off of the motto – “Do the Right Thing.” I am not talking about situations of clear right and wrong…or even questionable business ethics.  I am talking about the everyday situations when we as leaders are faced with questions, concerns, etc. involving our people, we need to do the right thing by them in those situations. For the record, I also don’t subscribe to the theory of “What you do for one you have to do for all.” I believe situations need to be evaluated on their own merits; but at the end of the day…..DO THE RIGHT THING.

If an employee’s parent becomes suddenly ill and the employee needs a couple of days to look after them, but your “sick leave policy” only applies to the employee being sick, as a leader – do the right thing.

If you bereavement policy covers 3 days, but the employee has to spend a day or two traveling out of town to get to the funeral and be with their family – do the right thing.

If employees are impacted in their ability to do their job for reasons beyond their control (broken equipment, lack of access to premises, etc. – do the right thing.

Let’s stop running to policy manuals and handbooks for the answers. Let’s be leaders and make a decision and do the right thing. Now I know many of the accounting types reading this will say, “Yeah, but if we just always pay employees in these situations it will end up costing the company a lot of money. We aren’t a charity and can’t just always pay them regular pay for every time they are not at work.” To which I respond, “How much does it cost you to replace an employee?” Better yet, what is the cost to your business of a disengaged employee? I would suggest that instead of a few thousand dollars of direct cost you are now talking tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars of cost because draconian management practices cost companies this much every year in lost productivity, disengaged employees and ultimately turnover. If you want to be an employer of choice and have employees that go the extra mile – DO THE RIGHT THING.

I would love to hear from you if you have seen/experienced other examples of not doing the right thing, or better yet – examples of leaders doing the right thing. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net



2 Responses

  1. Great article. I’ve seen draconian management practices over & over again … it doesn’t help the organization meet its goals or its potential. One size does not fit all.

    • Thanks Jennifer. You are so right. Many companies spend hours/days on these types of decisions but will spend thousands on a piece of technology with very little consideration. Classic case of short term pain….no long term gain! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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