I got a call from a crying employee one Friday afternoon. She said her manager was changing her schedule beginning Monday and she wouldn’t have time to arrange childcare for her kids. She said her manager told her that if she couldn’t work this new schedule, she should just quit immediately.
I assumed she was exaggerating to get me to feel sorry for her. Surely, the manager wouldn’t be that callous?
Nope. He totally would.
The manager had indeed changed her schedule without advance notice. And he had indeed told her to quit if she couldn’t work the new hours.
When I asked why he did not give her more notice on the schedule change, he said “The Handbook doesn’t say I have to do that.”
He was right. It didn’t … But it didn’t say he had to be a jerk, either.
It isn’t easy being a manager. Managers are taken for granted, mistreated, disrespected and marginalized – even in the best of workplaces. And the employees who report to managers will push every button and limit there is.
But there doesn’t have to be a rule or policy against something for a manager to know it is not the best course of action and seek another alternative. There doesn’t have to be a rule that says be fair, reasonable and empathetic in making decisions as a manager.
Or at least there shouldn’t have to be.
Fortunately, companies have HR departments to bring back the balance when either the manager or the employees get too far away from the benchmark. And that is exactly what I did in this instance. Once I established there was a legitimate business reason for the schedule change, I gave the employee a couple weeks to get her personal affairs in order so she could begin working the new hours. Then I worked with the manager to get help from other managers to get coverage in the interim. And I documented the incident on both the manager’s and the employee’s records, in case there were further problems relating to this matter or in case a similar issue arose in the future.
Fortunately, there weren’t any more problems. And both the employee and the manager seemed grateful for my help.
Buzz Rooney is a practicing HR Professional with over 10 years experience in the production, manufacturing and retail industries. She currently works for a large retail franchise handling employee relations, compensation & benefits, COBRA, leave of absence and compliance.
Buzz has Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Organizational Communication and Leadership as well as a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management. She is also a part-time HR consultant offering basic management coaching/training, process improvement, compliance assistance and human resources generalist services.
When not working or writing or researching, Buzz is a single mom with 2 children living in North Carolina. She enjoys mindlessly watching television, spending time with friends and family, reading, eating and sleeping.
Read more of her writings, connect and contact her through her website: The Buzz on HR
HRTact: I had the opportunity to meet Buzz at the Louisiana SHRM conference. Her experience and passion for HR makes her a great asset in anyone’s “networking” tool box. Be sure to follow her website as well as on twitter. Thanks for the guest post, Buzz!
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