Stepping aside

Senior managers don’t get the sack they resign. Senior managers don’t get suspended they go on” gardening leave” or they did, now it appears they step aside. The ordinary folk may get suspended, without prejudice, whilst an investigation takes place to decide whether to dismiss on the grounds of gross misconduct but senior managers are asked to leave the office temporarily.

This is because whereas staff will face a disciplinary hearing if the investigation finds there is a case to answer senior managers will simply be told the board has lost confidence in them. The expectation is that the senior manager will then “fall on their sword” and to make this less painful they will be offered a lump sum equivalent, more or less, to a year’s salary.

This all sounds very old fashioned.

Now thanks to the BBC we have a much more appropriate expression. Stepping aside implies the individual decided that it was better for the organisation if they stayed away from the office for a few days whilst the board decided/negotiations were conducted to agree an exit package.

This may seem like one rule for us and another for them but the board losing confidence in a senior manager is not the same as someone fiddling their expenses, accessing porn on their work laptop or sexually harassing a colleague. No, the board loses confidence in a senior manager if they feel the individual has misled them into thinking the organisation is in a better position than it subsequently turns out to be, assurances were given that things will be put right and they haven’t or they don’t trust the individual which could be they think the individual is too close to the opposition or to ready to express their concerns publicly.  

I like stepping aside I think we should have more of it.

Blair McPherson Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House


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