Follow precedence when demoting an employee

Machine Repairman Grade II Ed Crowley was hired in June by Maintenance Supervisor Jack Andrews.

03/01/1998


Machine Repairman Grade II Ed Crowley was hired in June by Maintenance Supervisor Jack Andrews. Although his performance was marginal at best, he survived his 30-day probationary period only because the department was in a state of disruption, and Andrews was too busy or confused to monitor his work.

Crowley's performance continued to be marginal or worse. About 4 mo after his date of hire, Andrews resigned and was replaced by a new supervisor, Bill Shapper. Shapper was a good man, but it took him 2 mo or more to learn his job and become familiar with its requirements. At this point, he began to reorganize the maintenance department.

It was thus more than 6 mo before Shapper got around to reviewing Crowley's job sheets and performance.

He confided to his assistant, "This guy never should have been kept beyond his probationary period."

"I know, but that wasn't my decision to make."

"What to do with him now is the decision to make."

Shapper summoned Crowley to his desk and reviewed his performance record with him. Crowley had no comment to make.

"Ed, I'm sorry I have to do this, but I'm moving you a step down to Mechanic Grade II," Shapper said.

Crowley scowled. He knew this move entailed a lower wage rate and lower level work.

Crowley protested, "That's in violation of the labor agreement. The Manual states that prior to terminating or demoting an employee, remedial measures must be applied to improve his performance. I was never put into a training program or anything."

Shapper discussed Crowley's response with his assistant, who felt the employee might have a point. "The Manual does call for a Corrective Action Plan."

"The policy makes sense," Shapper said. "But it would be hopeless in Crowley's case. No way could his performance be improved. It would be a waste of money and time."

He put through the demotion notice. Crowley promptly responded by grieving.

Question : How do you rate Shapper's chance of making the demotion stick?

Plant engineer's decision: When Plant Engineer Carl Barcley was apprised of the details, he advised Shapper to rescind the demotion and enroll Crowley in a training program, with his future job classification dependent on the outcome.

"When procedures are preestablished for dealing with substandard performance, whether an employee is judged hopeless or not, you have no choice but to follow them."





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