Are employees family?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021 00:00 |
Are employees family?

Covid-19 pandemic made businesses re-evaluate how they operate, the processes they have in place and the number of employees they have.

Many companies retrenched employees in a bid to stay afloat.

What all these measures did was start a conversation around how dispensable some employees are and how integral to business others are. 

In the book No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, Reed Hastings, Netflix co-founder and CEO, and Erin Meyer share important insights into running a business enterprise and handling employees.

Hastings likens Netflix to a sports team where any non-performing employee gets subbed with a better one with the aim of making the team more proficient. 

This goes against everything that people believe and practice, with many viewing their workplaces and colleagues as a family.

He believes that the metaphor where CEOs refer to their employees as family stems from the fact that most businesses throughout history were run by families.

Even when things got bad or they misbehaved, they were all stuck together, as they were a family. 

While in most companies one has to misbehave to lose their job, Hastings believes that just like a coach can let go of a great player in favour of a better one, companies should be able to do the same. But wouldn’t that affect performance? 

“In Kenya there are four reasons for job termination, dismissal because of gross misconduct, termination due to nonperformance, retrenchment due to restructuring or when a company folds due to lack of revenues.

It is important to note that despite the bile directed at management and human resources, companies have bills to pay and stakeholders and shareholders to answer to as well.

What a prudent employee should do is recognise that no one will be an employee in any organisation forever and therefore, start planning accordingly,” human resource practitioner and administrator Winnie Miseda shares.

She advises employees to be on their best behaviour, so that they are not put on disciplinary monitoring, as in the event of a restructuring exercise, they would be the first to go.

To protect yourself against possible axing, it is therefore best to do your best, upskill to better your performance and even outdo your job description.

Clear boundaries

It is also important for employees to be prepared for any outcome. Miseda says that at some point in time, an employee has to exit the company.

Preparedness, through upskilling, saving for retirement and performing at your best in case you need recommendations ensures that one does not get shocked or mired in bitterness.

Miseda says human resource should psychologically prepare prospective people who would be dismissed and give them the support they need to process the news.

She notes that a job dismissal should be communicated in a sensitive manner.

As to the question of whether employees should be a family or a team, she answers that it can be either, so long as the people involved have clear boundaries and are clear on their duties and roles.

Having an employee whom you treat as family calls for serious character auditing and knowledge of one another.

The close relationship should not interfere with the delivery of duties assigned.

“As a boss, it is important to have clear goals assigned to each employee, an accountability chart, regular departmental meetings and regular appraisals.

This ensures that people know how they are performing and no dismissal comes as a surprise.

There should be a system in place where even close friends and family can be appraised.

If they are nonperforming, they should be let go with no hard feelings. It is business after all,” Miseda further elaborates.

Clear boundaries at work

Ken Munyua, a  psychologist concurs on the importance of boundaries in the workplace.

It is important to know your job description and ensure that the performance of your duties is not affected by the friendships you form in the workplace.

A boss with clear boundaries knows what needs to be done and will do it even if it is laying off a friend who is on Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

Similarly, an employee who has clear boundaries can be friends with the boss while ensuring that there is a healthy distance so that respect and performance is not compromised. 

He notes it is common for job loss to come with a host of negative emotions that if not well navigated can lead to bitterness towards one’s boss, human resources and management, but it is also important to own up to the part you played in getting the dismissal. 

“Getting dismissed from work for any reason comes with a host of negative feelings and can even come with a loss of identity.

It is important to not direct those feelings either inwards or outwards. Work through the missteps you might have made and learn from them in case the dismissal was from misconduct, ensuring you do not get mired in the negative cycle of self-blame and self-hatred.

Talk to a professional if you have to. Desist from blaming others and try to see it from the business side. Have a plan of action and start rebuilding,” Munyua says in ending.

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