Management Training Needed Before You Can Dismiss an “Unsuitable” Manager?
To enable the directors to focus on running the company, a manager has been brought in. However, there have been a number of complaints about their poor management style. Can you dismiss them because of this?
To answer this question, we need to turn to the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) recent ruling in the case of JJ Food Service Ltd v Kefil 2012. Mr Kefil (K) had worked for JJ’s, which is a major food distributor, for more than 14 years. During that time, he had been promoted twice, initially to warehouse manager and then to stock control manager.
In July 2010, K was given an informal warning about his management style. Less than a year later, in April 2011, 13 members of staff presented a letter to the company, which, amongst other things, raised concerns about K’s “over authoritarian managerial style”.
As a result K was made the subject of disciplinary proceedings and eventually dismissed on the grounds that he had:-
- Abused his position as stock control manager to threaten employees job security: and
- Created a hostile and intimidating working environment for other staff
That’s Unfair Dismissal
K claimed unfair dismissal and the case ended up in the EAT. It upheld the tribunal’s ruling that his was unfair because it was “outside the range of reasonable responses”. In so doing the EAT criticised the fact that JJ’s had provided him with no training to help him improve his management style.
Finding 1 A manager can be dismissed because of a poor, or unsuitable, management style, but not before they’ve been given sufficient warning about their conduct; given the opportunity to improve and provided with suitable training
Finding 2 Most managers will rethink their managerial style after an informal chat. However to protect the company’s position always confirm these discussions in writing and spell out the consequences should there be no real improvement
Finding 3 Don’t ignore formal training. The tribunal has every sympathy where this doesn’t work, but comes down like a ton of bricks on companies that don’t offer any help or formal training for managers. This case is important given only 18% of employers expect candidates to have received management training prior to being appointed to a management position!
These are the findings of a recently published report by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). They set out to understand the state of the UK’s management pipeline and where it could be improved. An independent report was commissioned with 750 UK organisations across the public and private sectors to identify the challenges they face in recruiting and developing skilled leaders and managers.
Recruiting the Wrong Skills
Often first line managers are recruited on the basis of their technical skill and knowledge, but whilst these skills are deemed a necessity to fulfill their job role they become less important when promoted to management roles, when strategic and financial skills become crucial. Employers who recruit in this way are likely to end up with teams led by “expert novices” – technical experts with low awareness and poor leadership and management skills
In fact first line managers receive very little training. Just to repeat only 18% of employers expect candidates to have received management training prior to being appointed to a management position. First line managers are expected to learn on the job creating a sink or swim scenario.
Poor Talent Planning
Only 57% of employers have a plan in place to ensure they have a pool of leaders and managers that are suitably skilled to fill future vacancies.
Kevin Gould , Director at Call of the Wild said :-
“In the light of new case law this situation can’t continue as business owners are leaving themselves open to claims of unfair dismissal! The ‘expert novice’ is a common theme we encounter with our clients. A proportion of our work stems from clients promoting individuals, given they are extremely competent at their job, to management roles. However what our clients find is that the skill set that got those individuals noticed and promoted is no longer the same skill set required in their management role.”