Employee Separation – When I had to Fire my Friend

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Can HR be Friends with Employees!

– It’s a Challenge Time –

Let me just take you through the memory lanes of my life and introduce you to3A a friend of mine, Mr. Gaurav Sharma. We were neighbors for two years in Delhi. Mr. Gaurav is a Marketing professional & I am into HR. He did his MBA from a premier Management Institute and is an expert in his domain. Give him an assignment & you can rest you heart in peace. Words like ambitious, go-getter, dynamic will be the right adjectives to describe him. He always used to say – “I am like water and I can make my way through anything”. I fondly remember those times in the evening (after office hours) wherein we used to stroll down the beach road discussing the matters of mutual interest. We loved the thought of working together. However, destiny had its say and soon I was off to Mauritius. But we stayed in touch.

Years later….

Years later, I came back to India to join an IT Company as the Head – HR. My 4CEO takes care of the Marketing function & was in search for a talented ‘Marketing Manager’. Of course, as you guessed it, Mr. Gaurav flashed in my mind as he also has the relevant experience of 7 – years in the line of activity. Within a month’s time everything happened in a quick succession – from referring to interview to appointment to that of on boarding. He compromised on the salary package (in spite of being a married man now) as he looked high on the opportunity of working together in the same company.

The “Friendship” Time

Like for every other new recruit, it was Gaurav’s day out with the company duly scheduled through an induction. Later in the evening we met for dinner. We had a long conversation to fill the gap that existed since the last time we met. The next day on he was into his shoes, but ensured that our everyday interactions continued that also enable me to help him assimilate with company culture. He shared his happiness on the role offered, the feeling of enjoying the assignments given to him as a key member of the CEO’s marketing team.

Time for the Twister

As many in the industry say that the honeymoon period for any new assignment ends in 3 – months. So was the case with him as the CEO shared his view on elevating a women employee (with less experience….around 4 years) as the ‘Team Manager’ with a proposal that Mr. Gaurav has to report into her. As I see the CEO as the best of the ‘People Manager’ of his team and as a person who respects talent over experience, respected his view. In spite of these changes, Mr. Gaurav never expressed his unhappiness in any form on the decision of the CEO. However, the fate had a different story to script with the creator being the CEO.

After three more months, CEO informed me that he would like to see Mr. Gaurav leaving the organization immediately as he did not like the individual’s qualities of poor communication & lethargy towards taking initiatives. This came as a shocker to me as whatever is said cannot be true about Gaurav. Quickly revering from the jolt, as a professional HR, had to suggest the CEO to place Mr. Gaurav on Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for at least a month’s time to improve failing which will go ahead with his order.’

5The Night that had to end

I knew for certain that the reasons given by CEO are not genuine & there is something else to it. Within no time, the grapevine reached me about the intellectual / challenging questions that Gaurav placed to the newly made team manager (the woman referred in the earlier paragraph) with whom the CEO is in relationship. And this background is enough for me to understand that Gaurav risked his job for life.

While I was in the midst of such gloom, Gaurav came to my cabin to say the routine ‘good bye for the day’. I couldn’t see straight into his eyes & replied half-heartedly. It was a sleepless night for me. With the kind of association I share with Gaurav, it was not easy for my heart to communicate the CEO’s decision. I couldn’t even imagine his reaction to such a decision. But the night had to end & it ended in its style of leaving my eyes wide open through the dawn.

The D – Day

The next day was a Friday, not the 13th. But all the way to the office, I cursed it. The irony is that I have to tell this to him 2 – days ahead of the coming Monday which happens to be his birthday and also a day before his wife is expected to deliver the child. I was carrying a heavy head and it reflected on the face as I noticed couple of employees inquiring if am not feeling good. In the evening, I called Gaurav to my cabin and had to do that which I never thought of.

6There was penetration in his words which pierced my heart. I couldn’t respond to his question. He left my cabin. As he left, tears broke boundaries of my eyes rolled down my cheeks. Next day it was Saturday. He called me several times but I didn’t answer his call. He sent messages that he wants to meet me before leaving for Delhi. I neither replied to his messages nor met him as I was completely soaked in guilt that didn’t give me the courage to face him. One year later, I too moved out of that company. Even today we interact with each other whenever we cross our way, but the warmth misses. In the entire process, I learned my lesson of taking the risk of losing a good friend to a bad colleague.

Hence friends, all that I would like to share is –

  • Don’t recommend your friends to the company when you yourself are new there.
  • Learn about the Manager before recommending your friend for an open job position.

However, the following questions continue to haunt the professional & friend in me:

 

Composed By: Sanjeev Himachali7

One thought on “Employee Separation – When I had to Fire my Friend

  1. indeed it is a matter of conflict where in you have to defend an employee with whom you have any kind of association, but i believe letting him go just on the ground of reasons cited in the article and that too without checking his performance . An unexpected raise of an employee on the basis of talent which further turn out to be based on a relationship is unethical, here HR required a discussion with CEO. Denying PIP is also unethical as employee holds the right to know the areas of flaws. In my opinion HR could not stand to his professional expectation as he has the right to ask for the supporting and written evidences that are motivating CEO to take such decision, second thing HR also should have confirmed his performance reports, third thing it is expected that any employee will get a setback watching his subordinate taking exponential growth with same performance this is a clear case of making organization culture toxic which will have implications on others too. So the conclusion is, never hesitate to recommend your friend for any job opportunity in your organization, but if you have to fire him . Do make a single check on valid reasons and his past performance. Following some one blindly may cost your job also.

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