Beecroft’s no-fault dismissals would let poor managers off the hook


June 1st, 2012

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Gary Miles calls for better management of underperforming employees in a blog first published on People Management online

The government’s plans to boost productivity and growth by cutting the red tape faced by businesses are to be applauded. But the Beecroft Report’s proposals on ‘no-fault dismissals’ are akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater, particularly in light of William Hague’s views that Britons need to work harder to boost productivity and economic growth.

Our Management Agenda research in January highlighted that 46 per cent of managers in organisations think underperformance is not tackled well in their organisation – the highest proportion since we started asking this question 12 years ago. However, underperformance doesn’t necessarily equate to mass dismissal – often good quality coaching and emotionally intelligent leadership can develop someone into a really good performer.

Recent CIPD findings revealed that many managers fail to realise “how bad they are at managing people,” with eight out of 10 managers reporting their staff are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with them as a leader, but just 58 percent of employees agreeing with them.

These two surveys combined paint a worrying picture of underperformance across organisations, not just of individuals but particularly of managers.

Giving more freedom to dismiss employees lets these poor managers off the hook. It certainly won’t boost productivity in a workforce bruised by cost cutting measures, redundancies and austerity measures.

It would be more relevant, given the large numbers of young people who are not able to find work in this country, to look more at flexible ways of working and how to deal with an ageing workforce. Effective leadership skills are key to driving organisations forward. Organisations need managers who can create high performing teams, where everyone contributes and nobody is there just for the ride.  Tackling underperformers at an earlier stage will nip it in the bud, and sends a clear message to others that it won’t be tolerated. 

Think back to Bob Cratchit working in untenable conditions at the whim of Scrooge, terrified of losing his job and facing the workhouse. Beecroft’s ‘no-fault dismissals’ proposal could create a culture of fear – it will not stimulate growth.

As a nation we need to work together to turn stagnation into positive growth, and a workplace of engagement, high productivity and profits. That means valuing our people more, not treating them as disposable assets