… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Saving Face

I am sometimes floored by how many managers seem more concerned with maintaining their employees’ perceptions than with doing the right thing. It seems like whenever I come across a manager who doesn’t have enough cause to terminate an employee, the first thing they fall back on is “What will my other employees think?” You know what? I. Don’t. Care. Not in the slightest.

For example:
A manager finds out the employee was fired from his last job under questionable circumstances and holds a sensitive and public position within the company. However, at the time of the employee’s application he was still employed and successfully passed a background check. Additionally, he has been in his current role successfully for over a year before they learn of this. However, the manager now wants to terminate the employee for lying. Uhhhh, NO! What exactly are we firing them for? They never lied about being fired (because at the time they hadn’t been), you never asked them about it, and frankly, they were under no obligation to disclose this information. They aren’t even having performance problems! But what will the other employees think…wrong!

There’s a funny thing about at-will employment: Just because you can fire an employee for any reason, it doesn’t mean that you should fire an employee for any reason. Now, the manager in question could fire the employee in a misguided attempt to save face with his employees (who shouldn’t actually know that anything is going on in the first place). Technically, they have every right to do so. However, just because they can terminate the employee, it doesn’t mean the employee can’t sue for wrongful termination.

Now, I understand that as a manager, one of your duties is to manage the perceptions of your employees. But isn’t it more important to be fair and consistent than to maintain an image of being fair and consistent? Remember, employees don’t see everything that goes on behind the scenes, nor should they. Your real job as a manager is to do the right thing and discourage rumors, not save face.

4 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Ben Eubanks :

    Like you said, “can” doesn’t mean “should.” We’ve hit that roadblock w/overzealous managers that don’t realize the implications until it’s too late.

  • 2 HR Minion :

    Ben – Too many manager think termination should be the first choice. Makes me grumpy.

  • 3 Rachel - I Hate HR :

    Can I have your problems?

    My managers try to save face by NOT performing disciplinary action and/or firing.

  • 4 HR Minion :

    Rachel – Not doing their job is just as bad as doing it wrong. I can lend you a beating stick if you want?