Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Management Has the Right to Manage

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“A co-worker of mine applied for an internal promotion and did not get it. He threatened to quit and because he’ really good at his work, the manager decided to give him the promotion after all. Now everyone feels he didn’t get the job fairly and the whole place is fully of negative gossip.”

Entrenched in every union agreement is a clause that grants management the right to manage its workforce. Although it may not appear in writing, the same principle applies to non-unionized organizations. Effective decision-making, direction, coaching and support for employees by managers, creates a stable workforce. Not surprisingly, employees who work in these workplaces usually express high levels of satisfaction with their managers and employer.

Managers must conduct interviews and make hiring decisions which comply with regulations regarding employment law, human rights and privacy. Managers also have the right to decide NOT to hire someone for a position. Assuming the decision is not discriminatory, the manager’s decision is final and not subject to challenge or scrutiny.

Most organizations have a grievance policy that allows an employee to file a written complaint if he or she disagrees with a decision. Upon receiving a grievance, senior management should review or investigate the situation and either confirm or reverse the initial decision. In unionized environments, union representatives support the employee during the grievance process and objective third party mediators or arbitrators also may become involved.

In the above example, rather than using a more appropriate route of filing a grievance, the employee threatened to quit. The manager also should have suggested that the employee take a few days to think things over, to let a calmer head prevail. If he asks for some time off to consider his options, this time should be granted. . If the employee still wants to resign, he should be allowed to do so.

It is even more unwise for a manager reverse a sound decisions when an employee threatens to resign. Employees who play this type of “power card” are testing the manager’s authority and resolve. A manager who allows an employee to hold her hostage, weakens her reputation and may cause employees to challenge other decisions in the future. So remember, managers have the right and responsibility to manager.

Paula J. MacLean is the best-selling author of five books on improving human resource practices in the workplace. For more information, visit her website at

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