Making mistakes is part of being human. However, when it comes to a business or organization, managerial mistakes can be the most serious. Even the best managers can make what seem to be minor errors that can end up costing the business money if such an error opens it up to litigation. It is therefore important for HR professionals to ensure that managers have all the support that they need to avoid making some of the most common mistakes listed below.
Failing to Document
When running a mid-size or larger company, managers sometimes find it difficult to keep track of the individual performances of their employees. Managers might be concerned about a workers’ performance on the job but fail to address if directly with the worker or fail to document evidence of poor performance. This can be a mistake if a situation arises where a manager feels the need to terminate an employer as without the ability to prove a history of poor performance and that warnings were given, the employee may try to sue the company for wrongful termination. HR professionals need to encourage managers as much as possible to document actions and behaviors of employees as they happen.
Not paying Overtime
While some non-exempt employees are dedicated to their job and might not ask to be paid overtime (even when they are performing work tasks outside office hours), HR and managers need to keep on top of who is performing company business outside of business hours. HR needs to communicate the rules relating to legislation such as the Fair Labor Standards Act and make it clear that if employees are working extra hours outside the office, then they need to be paid overtime whether they ask for it or not. Moreover, employees themselves need to be conscious of the hours they work, reporting any extra hours to HR and management. Doing this means managers can avoid any legal headaches from employees who claim that they were not paid for extra hours worked.
When communicating with employees, managers need to be careful not to make any assumptions about an employee as to what their goals or what work they’re willing to do or not do. This paternalistic (or maternalistic) attitude is especially toxic when dealing with issues such as maternity leave for employees. Assuming that, for example, an expectant employee might not want to do certain tasks because they have a baby on the way is a good way to open the company up to a discrimination lawsuit. This is especially the case if they decide to voice such thoughts in front of employees. It’s important for HR to inform managers of what they can and cannot say to workers as well as what they can and cannot assume about them in order to avoid such trouble.
Miscalculating when attempting to meet Compliance
Managers might think they know about compliance with state and federal laws, but they need to be careful not to fall into the trap of observing one law but not another. For example, when an employee is fired because they made a health claim that was not covered under FMLA, they might still have room to litigate. This is because the manager, while observing FMLA regulations when they fired the employee, found that they were in violation of ADA regulations of which they were not aware. Here, HR needs to be vigilant in communicating to management all of the rules that are in place so that they do not miscalculate and open up the organization to legal troubles. Such an example also raises the important issue that managers need to properly accommodate employees in all circumstances if they are experiencing health issues.
If an employee is performing well in their job, some managers might be tempted to tolerate behavior from them which would otherwise be unacceptable. This is a problem, especially if the employee in question has a tendency of bullying others. Employers need to ensure that comprehensive anti-bullying as well as anti-harassment policies are in place so that they can avoid any legal issues. More often than not, juries tend to favor plaintiffs in cases where allegations of bullying are involved. What managers can do is work with HR to offer anti-bullying training, so that everyone knows what is and is not acceptable behavior.
Managers, even the best ones, can make mistakes. While making mistakes is part of life, those which can deliver a serious legal blow to a company can be avoided if Management and HR are on the same page as to how to approach any given issues. HR should encourage managers to come to them with any questions or problems they might be experiencing, and in doing so there will be less of a chance that they ever find themselves in the middle of a courtroom.