Events yesterday afternoon - which I need not trouble you with - reminded me of the worst Christmas I can remember. At the time, I was working as the general manager ( a sort of downmarket description of CEO) of a newspaper company. I realise now that I was probably a bit of a soft touch when it came to staff management but it paid off in many ways. Most of the time, anyway. Not that being a soft touch really has anything much to do with what caused my miserable Christmas.
It must have been either Christmas Eve or the day before, 23rd December, when I discovered that the advertisement manager, who reported to me, had lied to me about something he claimed to have done and had lied to a regular advertiser about the same matter. In my opinion at the time - an opinion I have not had cause to change - this warranted instant dismissal. But my soft touch came into play. I told him he had a choice: either his letter of resignation would be on my desk immediately after Christmas - in which case I would allow him to take gardening leave, pay him during his notice period and give him a very anodyne reference - or I would sack him with no notice pay and no reference. Of course, I realised all the time that he really had no choice. But that wasn't what caused my unhappy Christmas.
During both Christmas Day and Boxing day, I kept thinking of him and his wife trying to make it a happy Christmas for their two young daughters, knowing all the time that he was out of a job. I knew full well that I had acted not just correctly but even generously - but that didn's do much to assuage the guilty feeling.
I told you I was a soft touch.