Conduct an Investigation….Because It’s the Right Thing

You are the Production Manager for a medium-sized manufacturing company.  You come into the office one morning and you look over the notes and reports from the night shift.  You see that one of the employees failed to complete his assigned housekeeping duties as nothing is marked off completed.  So, you prepare a Corrective Action and notify the Supervisor that you will be in that night to issue a Written Warning per company policy.

You are a Customer Service Manager for a large call center.  One of your lower performing employees has been absent for 3 days and has not called in.  You send an e-mail to HR to terminate the employee per the company’s policy regarding no-show/no-calls.  

Do you see any issues here?  Many managers I have worked with would not see issues.  In fact, I have had a number of these types of incidents during my career.  Fortunately, I was able to intervene in both.  Why, you ask?

Let’s take a look at the first situation.  The Production Manager is making an assumption that something was not done simply because the paperwork was not complete.  Now, yes, I do understand that completing the paperwork is part of the assigned task.  We have no idea of knowing what really happened here.  It would be in the Production Manager’s best interest to talk to the employee first.  Maybe there was a critical failure and the employee had to divert his attention to solving the issue all night.  It’s possible that there is a good explanation for why the housekeeping was not done.  

In the second instance, which unfortunately has happened way more times in my career than I would like to admit, the manager again has made an assumption.  When that manager send me that e-mail, I’m going to pick up the phone and ask the manager if the employee is okay.  9 times out of 10, they have no idea because they have not even bothered to check on the employee.  They assume they have abandoned the job.  What if the employee is laying in a hospital and unable to make a call?  The point is that a simple call to the employee may help to clear up the situation.  If the calls are not returned, I even attempt to send a certified letter just in case.  

In all situations of employee discipline and termination, I am always going to question the manager about his/her conversation with the employee in question.  If they tell me that they have not spoken with the employee, I send them back to do that.  I had to learn this lesson the hard way.  Early in my career, I did walk into a termination meeting with the manager only to find out, after telling the employee he was terminated, that we had misinformation about the situation.  Embarrassing!  Get your facts straight first.  It’s the right thing to do.  

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