The People Manager

Day one of my resumption at this organisation, I was so excited most especially because how I got the job was marvellous and fascinating. I had facilitated trainings and roll-out of HR initiatives at this organisation as part of my responsibility at my previous company. At the interview I was not asked any but one question – “would you love to work with us?” To which I responded in the affirmative. The CEO then told me to “expect your offer letter in the next few days.” I then asked, “is that all?” He responded, “what else were you expecting?” I stated that, “I was expecting that you would review my CV and ask me questions around my capabilities.” His feedback shocked me. He said, “I know what you are capable of. I have watched you from afar and have been wishing and looking for ways to get you over to my company. I am more than pleased to have you agree to join us.”In the course of the day 1 briefing and discussion of my deliverables and expectations with the CEO, my first task was to terminate the appointment of the Purchasing Manager due to allegations of fraudulent practices levelled against this employee by one of the influential Directors on the board of the company. The instructions to the CEO was to dismiss this employee without delay. I enquired if employee has been confronted with these allegations and given an opportunity to defend himself. The response was a resounding NO! As I enquired into the relationship of this employee with the said influential Director, it turned out that the said Director was instrumental in the making of this employee to be in charge of the Purchasing Department and they seem to have fallen out at this particular time. This was indeed a dilemma and a great moment of truth for me. “How would I be perceived?” I thought within myself. “Resuming and terminating a staff I know nothing about other than the story told me by the CEO on day one!” I soliloquized. When I started my career in HR, I made a promise to myself to practice HR with a human face showing care to employees without loosing the focus for which the business is established. If I were to terminate or dismiss you, you should thank me for letting you go. You should leave my office feeling you’ve just won a jackpot. This task on day 1 seemed to threaten my resolve. I explained to the CEO that “from our discussion, my understanding is that we want to separate from this employee”, and he responded “yes”. I then said, “I would like you to allow me handle it in my own way, as I would not want us to incur the wrath the unions and/or push the employee to sue the company.” He agreed with me and I immediately swung into action.I scheduled two meetings – one with the employee and the other with union executives. After some counselling on life, the opportunities and challenges that life brings our way, I broke the news to this employee. To my amazement, he was so happy that I gave him such an honour and regard of inviting him to my office to explain things and not just serving him with a letter. He then explained that before now, when employees are terminated, they were treated like outcasts who had stolen something. Chased around with security until they exit the premises. No counselling of future after work. He opted to resign and was excited that he would have an opportunity to review his entitlement and raise any questions before signing-off. According to him, “this has never happened before.”Following this successful engagement, I proceeded to meet with the union executives. I brought them up to speed with the whole situation. They were equally excited that I considered them valuable partner and thanked me for painstakingly taking time to explain things to them. Up till this moment, each time we meet, he continues to thank me for what I did for him and shares testimonials of how he has progressed after leaving the company. The exit according to him “was a blessing in disguise.”As HR professionals, we must understand that we can get our job done without really hurting the other party to the point that they feel so insignificant. Our goal should be to find that balance that would ensure a win-win for the employer and employee without loosing focus for which the business is established.

A caring manager is one who has genuine interest in the employee’s success and wellbeing both at work and outside work. Are you a caring HR manager? What are you doing to show care, and ensure that your organisation is seen as a caring organisation?
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