Employee Discipline– Who is Responsible?

 In Business Advice, Business Operations

Who is Responsible for Supervising The Staff?

We recently had breakfast with an organizational leader who has been asked to serve as an interim CEO when the previous CEO was discharged due to failure to closely supervise subordinate team members.  Although the details of the matter are not important, the CEO had a senior subordinate who he gave wide latitude to regarding employee development, mentoring and discipline.  In this instance, one of the staff members was found to be abusing young children who were involved in the organization’s programs.  This is a classic example of EVERYBODY- NOBODY-SOMEBODY-ANYBODY.  Everybody could have done something that somebody was responsible for but nobody took responsibility that anybody could have done.

Simply- the CEO blamed the senior subordinate for the actions of the staff member.  The senior subordinate blamed the CEO as the staff member was “your problem, you are the boss, not me!”  As you can readily see, this is a circular argument that makes no sense whatsoever, but that was allowed to fester until the matter became so untenable that the board of directors fired both the CEO and the senior subordinate, along with some lower level staffers.

The question becomes– Who is responsible?

Who is Responsible?

The real question is “Who is Responsible?”  Any organization, no matter what size has to have clearly documented rules and regulations on employee conduct.  When an employee is not performing up to company standards, then discipline must be implemented so as to correct/rectify the behavior of the employee.  In this case, responsible individuals got into a “finger pointing” game, nothing was done until the board of directors had to act.

Written Duties Must Be Developed and Followed!

In this case, written duties and responsibilities must be clearly identified and documented in respective job descriptions.  Someone has to have responsibility– this is something that cannot be delegated.  When a rules violation is identified, corrective action must be immediately taken so as to correct and rectify the errant situation.  That was not done here.  Now, what happens?  The interim CEO took immediate action to review the job descriptions, duties and responsibilities of each employee to ensure that everyone knew what was required of their duties and roles.

All individuals were reminded, clearly and robustly that leadership is a tough gig– sometimes, actions must be taken that are unpleasant, but necessary.  Part of the problem in this organization was nobody wanted to be “the bad guy.”  Of course, in leadership, someone has to be responsible all the time.

What Happens Next?

The interim CEO has a tough job ahead.  However, he understands what has to be done and is doing it.  Will it work?  We clearly expect that it will!  Do Not be afraid to take corrective action when necessary.  That is part of your job in organizational leadership.

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