Thanks to the popular song from the very popular movie, Frozen, there’s a new popular catchphrase being thrown around: ‘Let it Go’. In the grocery store line last night, I flipped through a few women’s lifestyle magazines to find article after article telling us to “let it go” and how to go about doing so. These articles were speaking to busy working women and even busier working moms about how to say ‘no’ to extra activities that we often do not have time for and how to let go of our perfectionist attitudes, in order to save our sanity and health. Now, while some of the tips and tricks I read about sounded helpful and some even made it on to my New Year’s resolution list, I cannot say that this ‘let it go’ advice is suitable for all situations. There are times when the easy-going ‘let it go’ attitude cannot be applied.
In my professional realm of Human Resources, I am often asked for advice and support with issues of employee misconduct or performance issues. And my first piece of advice is always, “don’t let it go”. Do not let a situation, no matter how minor it may seem, go unattended because inevitably this situation will rear its ugly head at a later date and it may not be as minor next time. All situations of improper conduct, poor performance and general unacceptable attitudes should be dealt with at the time of occurrence so that proper corrective actions can be immediately taken.
An employee may show up to work late one day, and because it is not brought to their attention, it may be assumed that lateness is tolerated. A pattern of lateness may develop, leading to other performance issues, such as missed deadlines and a rather simple issue snowballs into a larger one. I am not saying that one instance of tardiness is necessarily grounds for discipline, but it should be acknowledged by a manager or supervisor as a way of letting the employee know that their job and what they do each day is important to the company and being in attendance does affect business operations. At the first instance, a simple “is everything okay today?” acknowledgment lets the employee know that their lateness was noticed. If further instances occur, each one should be dealt with at that time and with further action or correct discipline, when necessary. If tardiness is condoned by the company, what message does this send to all other employees that do their best to be at work on time each day? This seemingly innocent little issue can become a larger issue of disgruntled employees and declining performance levels.
In the case of a harassment or discrimination complaint, there is never a more important time to remember: don’t let it go. Investigations and actions should be handled swiftly when someone has brought forth allegations of such serious nature. It is best to take all allegations seriously, and then act promptly in investigating and disciplining employees whose conduct was found unacceptable. Timely action and investigations can keep your organization out of legal action.
Working in HR, you will find that the situations that are brought to our attention are usually the situations that no one wants to tackle. These situations can range from annoying to downright ugly, and ignoring the problem will most likely come back to haunt us later. Don’t let it go. Take action now to mitigate your organizations risks and enforce company policies so that little problems do not become large headaches. But that invite to the neighbours’ dinner party that you do not have time for, nor really care to attend? Let it go.
Carolyn Olson / Human Resources Administrator / PEO Canada