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Or, at least he may be.  Does anybody have experience with "saving" someone in this situation?

I got word late yesterday from one of my directs' direct that his supervisor (my direct) has been saying some *very* inappropriate things to he and others. Those would be *very* inappropriate things.  The allegations include that my direct has kicked at least one of the accuser's peers and has also attempted to kick the accuser.

I've reported the situation to HR and to my manager, so the ball's rolling.  I expect an investigation and, given this team's recently developed morale problems (I've been working with HR and corporate training to try to get to the bottom of the situation) I think that we'll find significant truth to the accusation.

Question 1:  I have no idea where HR will land up on this issue.  It could be anywhere from a letter in his file to dismissal.  Frankly, I intend to lobby for significant consequences if the accusations are true.  Has anybody out there had experience with turning around a person like this?  If so, what worked -- and how long did it take?

Question 2:  I have quarterly skip-level meetings with this team; the most significant complaint is that we're out of AA batteries in the warehouse.  My manager also has grand-skip-level meetings with this team, he also has reported no significant issues.  My policy is to listen and to give time to anybody who asks.  One of my goals is to be approachable.  It's true that I have no idea how long this (alleged) behavior has been going on, but... what am I missing?  What could I have done to prevent this behavior -- or to have at least caught it sooner?

I feel horrible about this situation... for the accuser, for others that (allegedly) have been affected, for the accused, and for me (this guy figures -- maybe figured -- prominently in my plans for the future.)  This guy gets things done (he's a nearly off-the charts High D) -- but it seems that the body count's become unacceptable.

pucciot's picture

Hi I hope this might help:

I don't know much about keeping inc ontact with grand-skips so I'll pass those questions onto someone else.

 

Here are my recommendations for the others.

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Question 2:  I have quarterly skip-level meetings with this team; the most significant complaint is that we're out of AA batteries in the warehouse.  

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Could you contact the supervisor of those people and ask him/her to solve this issue -- or ask what it would take to solve the issue and make sure that is what happens.

And then make a reminder notice to yourself to follow-up again with the front line people that made the complaint again -- twice (2 times) over the next year.  To make sure it is being taken are of over tie and not just a one time fix.

 

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Question 1:  I have no idea where HR will land up on this issue.  It could be anywhere from a letter in his file to dismissal.  Frankly, I intend to lobby for significant consequences if the accusations are true.  Has anybody out there had experience with turning around a person like this?  If so, what worked -- and how long did it take?

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* If indeed there is evidence of any physical violence the answer is dismissal.

Send the message down through your Direct Reports that physical violence will not be tolerated except in self-defense from another's physical violence.  

Every person in this organization should feel physically secure in their person from violence and threats of violence.

Period -- Full stop -- that's it. 

* If there is something less than physical violence send the message that other forms of tearing down the team are not acceptable and can lead to dismissal.

I have found that if someone is a bully, that a manager must be very specific about what behavior is not acceptable.  This means that it will be a constant battle. Because the bullying will look a little different each time.

The downside to this is that the manager will constantly be giving Feedback to the DR, for each infraction.

The DR should be encouraged to take workshops on soft Skills and Teamwork.       Make those workshops available.

-- I do not recommend that these trainings be assigned or mandated - just heavily encouraged.

As time goes by - it could be time for Systemic Feedback. -- Feedback about how much you Feedback that you have to give.

The upsides to this is that one of three (3) things will happen :

1 - The DR shapes up in a few months  -- but don't let him slip back into bad habits

2 - The DR gets sick of getting constant feedback and quits

3 - The Manager can support the case for dismissal as he builds a very large list of Documented feedback about

A: poor team behavior

B: taking excessive time and energy to manage --- Yes, that is a thing

 

 

Please remember that _you_ cannot "save" the DR.

He/She is an adult and responsible for his/her own behavior.

You can only 

Set expectations for Behavior

Make those expectations known clearly - and repeated often

Give them opportunities to find training and make improvements.

 

Ultimately it is His/Her Choice and you must, follow through with consequences of those choices.

Since this is a Skip-Level Direct you will have double the job - 

as you must also coach your Direct Report Manager through this process as well.

Maintain the chain of command structure as much as you can --- and in the process you are also training your DR Manager.

 

Good Luck

TJPuccio

 

 

 

gdc2579's picture

PB,

First and foremost, if we found validity in the allegations (and perhaps even if we didn’t), we would have no choice but to remove that person immediately from a role of authority over the complaining party. 

By now, I’m sure HR has taken some form of action. While I understand that policy may dictate or limit your involvement and options now that HR is involved, I do have experience and suggestions for this. 

While I understand your need for discretion, “inappropriate things” can mean many things to many people. If the statements were sexual in nature, we would not retain the employee.  If they were physical threats of harm, we would most likely cut ties. 

Otherwise, the first step is to get detailed facts about what happened. I would talk to other the person who was allegedly kicked and determine the context around that incident. I am also curious whether reporting party has recently struggled in their job performance and been disciplined. We always take these complaints seriously and fully investigate them, but we do so with full understanding of the parties and motivations for their complaints or behavior. We just cannot make the best call until we have all the facts. 

We absolutely take a hardline against workplace violence, yet there is a difference between that and workplace horseplay. The latter may be dealt with through feedback, coaching, or a performance improvement plan if circumstances merit such actions. 

Experience-wise, I once dealt with a lead employee who exhibited similar behavior. We had complaints of intimidating statements and other behavior that might collectively be labeled as bullying. As we often experience, that information was not all immediately known. Because of that, I received fragmented - often third party -  complaints and negative comments by peers. One area that stood out was his high termination rate for new employees whom he was assigned to train. It was through their exit interviews that I learned he was bullying and intimidation trainess. He was immediately removed from the training program. After further inquiry, he was placed on a PIP and scheduled for relevant training. Sadly for him, another infraction occurred, and he had to be terminated. . 

Our outcome may not be encouraging, but hopefully you find it helpful.

Just remember that performance and behavior can be coached and molded; character cannot. When an employee’s character does not align with company values, it’s time to part ways.  

best wishes,

GaryC

PS. These views are my own, shaped by 18 years of leadership experience and 10 years of MT podcasts, but in no way representing MT.

pb1495's picture

Thanks to both of you for your thoughts.  You're both right, of course, about character and about my ability to "save" my direct...

Update:  Investigations continue.  Some of the allegations go back to a time before I joined the company.  HR's on board with investigating all allegations to really get to the bottom of the situation.  I'll keep you posted...

gdc2579's picture

PB,

Thanks for the update. I recognize that you are in a tough spot, and wish you well as you work through this. 

GaryC

pb1495's picture

Investigation revealed that our witnesses and other (reported) targets of my direct's behaviour wouldn't corroborate the accusations.  My direct admitted to instances of unprofessional comments; we also had one documented case of this behavior.

Human Resources recommends a (documented) verbal warning.  I agree.  Discipline will be administered next Monday morning.

Thanks, all, for your thoughts and insight!