I’ve discovered a new way to manage performance being practiced in a lot of retail, and restaurants these days, and is working well with the current Y Generation that is unaware of the manipulation being played on them. It has its roots in a tactic called “Forced Resignation” and yet is so sly it is passing under HR radar all over the place.
We all know that most “first jobs” are part-time jobs. The retail industry and the fast-food industry employ a lot of first time workers and many are providing a great working environments, and yet more and more a darker technique for performance management is being used instead of traditional methods.
Let’s begin with a framework that describes one of these traditional methods. We call it a conversation with the employee about their performance. Maybe it is dress-code, customer service, sales results, or attendance standards. Managers will sit down and discuss the requirements, their observations and get the employee’s feedback. A performance plan and agreement is in place and we all go back to work. Simple and straight forward, good performance management.
Enter the poor version used by many managers today. The process begins by over hiring of part-time staff. Each is promised something like “up to 20 hours a week” and for several weeks they all get close to the 20 hours. Over time if the hiring has been productive, there is a natural slacking of those hours because too many people are sharing the available hours. But how does a manager explain cutting a dozen or so to 3 hours a week all of a sudden, and permanently?
One manager told me just last week that it is the easiest way to cull out the bad performers. In fact, scheduling no hours is faster, but often raises a flag to corporate if it goes on for more than a few weeks, so the better technique is to just give the employee a reason to seek employment else ware. Although I should have been shocked, I have witnessed this technique many other times. This guy was just brash enough to share it with me.
Management justifies having 10 employees working 4 hours a week, over 2 employees each having 20 hours as a way to manage staff needs. When business gets crazy they can yank on all of these chains and in come the employees. With unemployment numbers still high (and 3 hours a week counts as an employed person) the feeling is that there are plenty more people to hire if everyone quits.
This poor approach does not work with the Baby-Boomer or X Generations. Why? Because these folks know the rules, and push back when abused. Management knows better than to expose themselves to lawsuits and a public relations nightmare.
Not only is this an HR issue, it is a Senior Management issue. Any operation that allows these tactics to go unaltered deserves to be exposed. And someday there just might be someone brave enough to publish a list of companies our children should avoid working for, and we should avoid patronizing.
What are your thoughts?