I had an early call this morning from a troubled executive I’ll call Ron. He recently learned that one of his senior-level managers, “Terry” relieves his frustrations, both physically and verbally, on his family. He only learned about it because Terry’s wife filed for divorce citing ongoing abuse. Terry has no idea that anyone, let alone Ron, knows.
Ron’s horrified, but there’s no valid work-related reason to terminate the guy. He’s not contesting the divorce and no criminal charges are being filed. As a manager, Terry does a great job, treats his people well, is a good motivator, and always has excellent performance reviews.
Ron’s in a major quandary; knowing this colors all his interactions with Terry and it’s almost certain that the information will become common knowledge among their 200 employees over time.
At that point, he feels that people will wonder why Terry is still there, since his personal actions violate both acceptable social behavior and everything in the company’s culture. As they lose respect for him, his ability to motivate will plummet as will productivity.
When his performance deteriorates there’ll be valid reasons to terminate him, but by then the tremendous damage done to employee trust and morale will need to be repaired at considerable cost in both time and money.
Ron’s spoken to several HR people and employment lawyers looking for a way to finesse the situation with no results.
In all honesty, I wasn’t much help, either, but Ron did give me permission to post this in the hope that it will generate constructive suggestions.