Gross misconduct: What does it take to get the sack around here?
Virtually every organisation has a list of behaviours that are considered to be “gross misconduct”.
Gross misconduct is something considered so serious that it strikes at the heart of the contract of employment, and effectively tears it up. So serious that an employee can be dismissed, without warning or notice, even for a first offence.
So here’s a question for you.
Without looking them up, write down the behaviours that your organisation considers to be gross misconduct.
Go on. Have a go. I’ll wait for you.
How many did you get?
Over the last 10 years I have asked this question to at least 1000 managers. Every time, the same thing happens.
Some managers can reel off 3 or 4 behaviours without hesitation. Theft, fighting, swearing at customers…With a bit of prompting they can usually come up with a couple more – being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, bullying…
And then they stop.
No-one can think of any more.
Odd that, isn’t it? These behaviours are so heinous, so outrageous, that you can be sacked for committing them. Most organisations have a list of at least 10-12, sometimes many more.
And yet the managers who are responsible for maintaining standards of behaviour and performance within their teams don’t actually know what the most serious rules are. And often they aren’t entirely sure where to find them either.
Even odder when you consider that those managers are subject to the very same rules, and could themselves be dismissed if they were found to have committed gross misconduct. They don’t even know themselves what they could be dismissed for.
There are three key issues here:
Managers are expected to know and follow so many rules and procedures in organisations, that realistically there is no way they can possibly remember them all.
Senior managers assume their shiny new rules and procedures, which they sent via email to their managers and loaded onto the intranet, have been briefed to the teams below them. But managers have so many instructions and requests that they don’t have time to really read and digest everything they receive any more.
And it’s unlikely there will be any rigorous checks whether the manager is enforcing the new rules and procedures - who’s got time to spend on supervision in today’s frenetically paced business world??
So managers enforce the rules they agree with, or they understand, or the ones their own boss enforces. And the rest just become tumbleweed.
If your managers can’t remember the rules they are supposed to enforce, then you have too many rules.
It’s time to take a good, long look at your rules. If you aren’t going to enforce them consistently, across the whole organisation, then they aren’t really rules are they?
Maybe it’s time to get rid of the ones that no-one can remember, and focus your attention on the rules that really matter.
If you'd like to find out how to reduce the HR paperwork in your business, while still protecting yourself and your employees, please give me a call on 0790 2903086.
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