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Going Wrong

Generally speaking the employers that I come across are far too nice for their own good. Anyone can make a mistake and the important thing is to learn from it so you don’t keep doing the same old, same. However, there are some employers who are so determinedly wrong-headed (arrogant and stupid are the phrases that come to mind) you wonder if they have a business death wish.

The seven main errors made by employers are as follows.

1. Recruiting badly. So many employers don’t bother to decide clearly what it is they want. Nothing is 100% but if you don’t specify your requirements and define a data capture process to extract the relevant information don’t be surprised if you don’t attract the right candidates.

2. Failing to set standards. Management by keeping people in the dark is not conspicuously successful. If you don’t tell employees what you want and help them understand what success looks like, they won’t be able to achieve the organisation’s aims.

3. Not keeping proper records. Some records are necessary for legal reasons. All are necessary for good, accurate and timely management. You can’t rely on your memory to give you accurate records and if you do so you’ll find that you have frustrating pantomime type conversations along the line of:

“I told you to do that!”

“No you didn’t”

“Yes, I did!”


4. Letting problems and issues go on for far too long. Managers avoid dealing with problems for all sorts of reasons, none of them really good justification. We call it ostrich management. The worst case I ever came across was a 15 year delay in dealing with a problem. If you stick your head in the sand, it gets harder to deal with a problem and a failure to respond appropriately is a tacit acceptance by you of wrongdoing so there’s a risk that other people start to do it too.

5. Failing to investigate and address employee queries and concerns. Recently we advised a young man who had raised concerns at work about the harassment. These concerns were genuine and well-founded about a sexual predator and eventually because the company did nothing about it the Police were informed.

This links us to the next major error made by employers......

6. Punishing employees who try reasonably to assert their rights. The company decided to discipline him for entering sales incorrectly. He and another employee had previously told the company that they are dyslexic and find it hard to read the writing on the till. They had asked for colour coding to help them distinguish, especially with all the different types of wine. The company had nevertheless not done so which is a failure to make reasonable adjustments. We are now arguing that he has suffered victimisation because of his complaint relating to improper behaviour and being treated less favourably for making a protected disclosure.

7. Sanctioning disproportionately harshly. Many ostriches wait 15 years before taking any sort of formal corrective action. Then the next time the employee does something wrong a red mist descends and they try to sack him or give a final warning for a minor matter. Punishments must fit the crime. If you have taken informal corrective action and that doesn’t work escalate to discipline quickly, but err on the side of caution as regards level of sanction.

You do need the patience of Job to be a good employer – and it helps if you follow these pointers. Call us for expert HR advice and keep your blood pressure down!

Russell HR Consulting provides expert knowledge in HR solutions, employment law training and HR tools and resources to businesses across the UK.

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