Go ahead and buy the most comprehensive and expensive talent management solution on the market. Spend hours training your supervisors to give honest and timely feedback to poorly performing employees. Document every conversation you have with coworkers who fail to meet goals and objectives on a regular basis.
Your worst employee thinks he is a superstar.
You know it’s true.
Whether it’s Donald Sterling or that guy Donnie from the loading dock, your laziest and most racist employee thinks he lights the world on fire. If you ask him, he is being treated unfairly. It’s other people who suck, and if you just pulled your head out of your butt and opened your eyes, you would see that Donald — or Donnie — is a scapegoat for a larger problem that you’re too stupid and cowardly to address.
Because that’s how it sounded to me when I worked in the trenches of HR, whether I documented a performance management issue in a cloud-based talent management solution or a paper-based personnel file.
Many good natured folks in small HR departments dream of the day where they can use integrated human capital software programs to manage all aspects of the employee lifecycle. I am here to tell you that Donald and Donnie exist in all companies, and no HR software will make this situation easier to manage.
So if your worst employee thinks he is a great guy, you have two options:
- Englighten him and demand clear, immediate changes
- Fire him
Someone has to tell the racist employee that he is not a superstar and that his horrible behaviors are unacceptable. Until there are robots and software products to facilitate those crucial conversations, HR is obligated to be a credible activist for change and intervene at the first sign of trouble. Even if our managers and leaders object to taking a stand, HR must have courageous conversations where we clarify that enough is enough.
And if HR does its job right, Donald (or Donnie) will know that resistance to the rules and norms of our modern society is futile. You either comply or get fired.
Are you brave enough to deliver that kind of message?
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.