We have a mission-critical set of duties within the company that has always come under criticism and scrutiny. In the past 10 years we've had 10 different people perform those duties. Five of those people were fired. Another left after a few months. Yet another left mid-day and never came back.
Those duties were absorbed by my department about four years ago. In that time four people, including myself, have performed them. One passed away and another I had to let go for health reasons. The current person performing those duties is now also under fire.
She has good numbers. Her attendance is good. Her deliverables are on point. Of the 700 jobs she processed last year only two were reported delayed. She's within budget despite the fact we've not had a price increase in 3 years. Measurable scrap rates are below expectations and last year she beat the projected costs on key materials by 10%.
No one seems to care that her overall perfomance is good. I keep hearing vague things from all directions about her "lack of attention to detail". "she just doesn't seem to care", and my favorite, "I just don't think she's a fit for us."
I've asked people repeatedly to come to me with their concerns so I can address them. I've gone to people and directly asked them what behaviors are driving these impressions. Not a single person has come to me to discuss it. They seem to prefer a campaign of whispers.
When I was on vacation the vice president and another department head went to the owner to try to have her fired. They'd not spoken to me once about it despite the fact I've directly asked them to come to me so I can help. On my return I sat down with the VP to discuss his concerns and impelemented a number of improvements as a result. The other department head never responded to my request. Then last week the same VP dressed me down in public as soon as I walked in the door. He cursed at me and attacked her "poor performance" openly. When I looked into it I discovered it had not been her error. SHE SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT IT and was counselled about it. I showed her how to catch the error in the future and added some flags to the paperwork to make it more obvious.
No one bothered to look to see what really happened. They leapt immediately to the conclusion that she was at-fault and then responed in an entirely unprofessional way. I'm at sea as to what to do about this. There's blood in the water and despite her overall good performance I believe I'm in danger of losing her. They're looking for reasons.
The owner has had my back so far. He apologized to me personally. He sees what I see in regards to her performance. But the VP is his son. The situation has many facets.
What would you do? Part of me thinks that as a manager I should formulate a professional response (which is why I'm asking for your help.) Part of me thinks I can't out-manage this. 10 people in 10 years. One person fired on average every other year. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can get the rest of the company engaged in positive changes? If they force her out should I go too? I'm not keen on the idea of putting another human being into that meat grinder and certainly have no intention of climbing in myself.
Any feedback is welcome.