The Absent Leader – The 5 Rs

The Absent Leader – The 5 Rs

The story so far… Jim’s problems just get worse. His best project manager Jane, has been signed off sick with stress for two weeks, just when he needed her to write a report for the MD on the Freedman project she was co-managing. He’s talking with the HR manager about it, and feeling a bit got at.

Maya got up and turned on her coffee machine. ‘You said you were worried about handling conflict, but there’s another way to look at it. It’s handling poor performance. Is there any way you can find out exactly what Miranda has or hasn’t been doing?’

‘There’s the work log – we have to keep that so we know what to charge the client.’

Maya poured the coffee into the cups. ’That’s the place to start then, so you know you have all the facts. Look at Jane’s too. It will give you a comparison. There are several reasons for poor performance. Can you guess what they are?’

‘Strikes me Miranda’s just a lazy so-and-so.’

Maya sat down and took a sip of her coffee. ‘You could be right, but I remember seeing her references from her last job and that didn’t seem to be an issue. Let’s think of other reasons before we jump to conclusions. It could be that the work is too difficult and she needs more training.’

‘I remember asking her if things were okay about a month after she started. She didn’t say there was a problem.’

‘People don’t like to Ken, it’s awkward. My advice as your HR manager is to sit down with her and explore what the problem is. Then you can look into solutions. We often refer to the solutions as the Five Rs. Resources – does the person have the resources they need to do the job?’

‘I made sure she does, they have everything they need, no problem there.’

‘Okay, then she may need the second R – retrain. You really need to look into that. Maybe she can’t cope. The third R is Refit. Some people are good workers but only in the right job. One option to consider is if she would be better somewhere else in the team swapping with someone who can do this project.’

Ken stirred his coffee. ‘Hmm, got a biscuit? Thanks, my favourite. I could consider a refit, I know that Jim was interested in the work, but he couldn’t be spared at the time. He’s a hard worker.’
Maya held up her hand, ‘Let’s not jump to conclusions, it makes sense to look at all the options. The fourth R is to reassign her somewhere else in the company.’
‘Push problems on to someone else, you mean.’

‘Not necessarily. Some people work better in a different place. With a different boss.’

There was a long pause. Ken reached for another biscuit. ‘I guess you mean me.’

‘You’re not a bad manager, Ken, you just need to work on a few things. I need to tell you the fifth R – release. If all else fails, let the person go. But you can’t just fire her, there are strict procedures to follow. If you think it gets to that stage come to talk to me before you take any action.’

‘Okay, but I’ve still got to have a difficult talk with her.’

‘Right, and the sooner the better. You did the Staff Appraisal course, didn’t you? I suggest you get out your notes and remind yourself of the steps and stages, they’ll be much the same as you need now. Really importantly, make a Performance Improvement Plan. Come back tomorrow afternoon and let me know how it went.’

……………… see how Ken’s conversation with Miranda went in the next episode.

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