I had a client who had a good manager make a bad decision. The manager (he) was starting to become a little close to a particular female employee. The employee handbook strictly forbid relationships between managers and their direct reports to avoid conflicts of all kinds. It’s not a crazy thing for people who work together to develop relationships and even date. The policy of this company forbid it – if a relationship was worth pursuing, one of the two would move departments or even find a job at another company.
This particular relationship was kept under wraps for some time but soon the other employees noticed it. By the time it got to my client, it was a full blown dating relationship.
My client confronted the manager about the relationship and the manager denied it. Several times and rather vehemently. He was lying. What a conundrum. By lying, the manager was harming the morale and culture of his team and going against the wishes of ownership. The third time the manager was confronted he denied it again. My client let him go.
The manager was very upset. The manager was also married.
Imagine how that conversation was going to go at home for the manger. “Hi honey, I got fired today” … “Oh gosh, What happened…?”
My client was extremely upset as well as this was a long tenured, valuable, high-performing employee.
The following week my client reached out and met with the former manager and just listened to how the relationship got to that point, the struggles in the managers marriage, and where the relationship is now. The married couple decided to fight for their marriage. It wasn’t going to be easy but it was worth it. My client also brainstormed with and made several inquiries/referrals into other employment opportunities for the former manager.
When it’s all said and done, this leadership thing is all about people. In this case, the manager had to live with the consequences, but my client didn’t condemn him forever. He helped pick him up.
We are all responsible for our actions and therefore the consequences that come with those actions. And, as leaders, once the consequences are given, what grace, mercy, hope, friendship, or help might your employees (and all our relationships) really need from you?