A day in the life of a human resources officer! Here is a HR staffer being challenged with one manager arriving after 10.00 am each day. The recalcitrant manager makes no attempt to make up for lost time. In addition, the lateness seems to be caused by some personal problems as they were often seen shedding tears with the business owner. Employee morale is bottoming as a result. The HR officer wanted to approach the owner of the business to get this issue sorted? What should she do?

Here is my preferred strategy. First off, ensure that the required attendance is clearly stated in writing and communicated to the late-coming manager. Also ensure that there exists a documented process for escalating poor performance and behavior issues. Very briefly, the process usually begins with an informal warning to the employee, then progresses to a formal warning with agreed performance or behavior goals and ends with formal termination of the employee. Most times, the employee gets back on track before the final step.

Early on in the disciplinary process, find out the underlying reasons for the employee’s persistent late arrival. Their behavior may be due to personal problems they are facing in their life. If so, then during the disciplinary interview their manager will need to explore options for possibly accommodating the employee in the interim whilst they deal with their problems.

In addition, the employee’s manager will need to advise them on how to use the company’s internal or external counselling services. Notice the central role that the employee’s manager has in this process. The role of HR is not to “fix” poor employee performance or behavior. It is to set up the systems and resources needed for managers to do their job.

The HR officer’s situation also seems to be complicated with two further factors:

1. A laissez faire organizational culture in which poor performance and behavior is tolerated.
2. The favoritism shown by the owner towards an employee.

If this is the case, then her organization will need to deal with these wider systemic issues if the owner wants performance and employee behaviors to improve in the longer term.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you deal with the challenge? What advice would you give?