Thursday, 11 December 2014

An unhappy Christmas

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.


Sarah said...

It doesn't help does it? I once had to write monitoring reports on someone I knew was going to be sacked. It seemed wrong to be giving him hope when I knew what they were going to be used for.

Of course you did the right (and very generous) thing and of course he brought it on himself. It's the others his actions affected that is most upsetting and that's something he has to live with. You shouldn't have to but it's hard not to.

joeh said...

That would have ruined my Christmas also.

Sadly some employees recognize a soft touch and take advantage...they deserve the sacking!

Mike @ A Bit About Britain said...

I admire your sense of empathy. But it was the employee that screwed up - and it doesn't sound like a one-off either - but anyway you had no choice. And you were incredibly generous in the circumstances. If it's any consolation, I think I used to be a lousy employer; it's much easier not having people working for you!