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Worried about DH & 'Final Warning'

(29 Posts)
theluckiest Tue 12-Dec-17 18:47:03

This might be long, so bear with me. I really need some advice for my lovely DH who is having a really shitty time at the moment and I'm worried...

He works in retail and is manager of his branch/concession. To cut a very long story short, he has been there for 5 years (8 months as manager). His old area manager thought he was fantastic, he has a brilliant team who all get on with and respect him and the 'big boss' who originally hired him has recently told him he's more than happy with him & the department too.

BUT a new area manager (AM) has been put into place who seems to have made it her mission to make his life and that of his team as difficult as possible. She has told him that he needs to be harder on them, and shout at them more as they are (her words) 'useless'. I personally think she wants him and his team of 9 gone.

A few months ago, he was given a letter of concern as the branch received a terrible mystery shop of 0% - however, the shopper had gone to completely the wrong part of the store (this was proved on CCTV by the floor manager who was appalled by DH's treatment) but his company took no notice of this and letter of concern was given to DH regardless.

They've since had a few OK mystery shops but the last one was less than the required 75% so DH has now been hauled in for a formal meeting. Despite the fact that they are grossly understaffed and the mystery shop was on Black Friday, none of this was taken into account. The member of staff was trying to serve 6 people at the same time (and actually had some very positive comments on the shop) but the final score just wasn't good enough. He had a hideous meeting with AM and someone from HR yesterday & has now been issued with a final written warning.

This all seems grossly unfair to me. The area manager has not taken into account any of the circumstances or the positives: DH's dept is making a profit, is up on other similar retailers, etc.

I think she's gearing up to fire him to make an example of him. She appears to have taken an instant dislike to him and his team. None of the mystery shops were for him personally BTW - but they were his members of staff. When results came in, he addressed the 'issues' and followed procedure to the letter so I'm not sure what misconduct he is supposed to have done. I guess the attitude is that the 'buck stops with him' but he's had little to no support and what he has achieved is bloody miraculous in the circumstances (below).

During the meeting, he pointed out that over the past 2 months, he has also been covering 2 other branches because they have no staff (or the manager has walked & not been replaced), has been working crazy amounts of (unpaid) overtime and hasn't had any support from above. She shrugged and didn't appear to give a shit. None of these points were addressed.

What can he do? Can he really be sacked on this basis? I've advised him to keep a record of every communication and, frankly, look for another job as life's too short.

(As an aside, this is all going on while DH is having a shit personal time too - his dad had massive stroke a month ago and is still in hospital. Not once has the AM asked him if he's ok (FIL really is not).

Any advice? What can he do? I'm particularly worried that if he is fired, will he get a reference? How does this work legally?

He's at work now, having gone straight from the hospital. It's supposed to be his day off but y'know, Christmas and they are short-staffed yet again. I would dearly love to tell him to tell AM to shove it but know he wouldn't do that to his staff. Please help...

JoJoSM2 Tue 12-Dec-17 18:54:51

I think he should complain to HR as soon as poss. The AM sounds like psycho.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 12-Dec-17 19:01:01

Check the company's policy on appealing warnings and grievances and take it higher.

SandSnakeofDorne Tue 12-Dec-17 19:06:57

He needs to be looking for other jobs. Even if he were to win an unfair dismissal claim it’s a long drawn out process. Is he attempting to justify the mystery shops in the same way as you have here? Because defensiveness and making excuses will only be likely to irritate a manager.

redexpat Tue 12-Dec-17 19:11:35

I'd just be looking for another job. The AM has got it in for him no question. Does he have any fight in him? Does he have faith in the company proceedures? Because unless he is sure that the company will see his pov he is screwed. She has followed procedures, so really its a question of has she reached the wrong decision. Which is much harder to prove, although he does have some evidence. The black friday might also have been part of a setup - does the AM have control over when the mystery shoppers come?

Unihorn Tue 12-Dec-17 19:16:22

He should appeal the warning first of all, he should have been given the info of who to contact in the letter issuing the warning. He should get together all paperwork defending his performance and hopefully it will be overturned.

Timmytoo Tue 12-Dec-17 19:16:27

If the area manager has something against him, then if I were him, I’d leave because she will work him out. My ex DP was the best sales person globally. Every month he’d go massively over his targets, he received certificates, bonuses and even the big boss who lived in Australia commended him.

Then they received a new Area Manager who didn’t like him. He continued to perform and we actually thought there’s no way he’d lose his job - he did! Any tiny error he made like really silly things she would pull him up on and she found ways to give a final warning and sacked him along with his colleague, both of them were there for 4 years. We later found out that she told the big boss he resigned!! She was sacked herself a year or so later as obviously the club went downhill as Sales dived!!

theluckiest Tue 12-Dec-17 19:25:57

Thankyou for your comments all. JoJo, I think she clearly shows no understanding or empathy whatsoever. I agree!

Allthebest, I will advise him to check the grievances policy, thank you. Good advice and I've already advised him to look for something else. Inn fact, he filled in an application last night and has started putting out the feelers...

TBH he hasn't tried to justify or defend the mystery shops - he's taken it on the chin and accepted that that's 'just what the company policy is'. He's since followed it to the letter when dealing with his staff consequently. It's really me who's agog at how unfair and shit it is. How can a company not accept that their mystery shopper just got it completely (and provably) wrong?! It seems like madness. And that someone could lose their job over this as a consequence??

Mind you, I work in sounds very like the old trying to get shot of someone older or more expensive via capability to me...

HundredMilesAnHour Tue 12-Dec-17 19:49:11

Your husband needs to raise a formal written grievance asap. This is absolutely key. And get some legal advice if possible.

Have a read of this as it's interesting reading about grievances raised during disciplinary processes and may be relevant to your DH's situation. If nothing else, this may buy you some time to look for another role or give him some ammunition to pursue a settlement agreement.

allaboutthatsass Tue 12-Dec-17 20:13:16

Surely if a mystery shopper goes to the wrong part of a store, the staff should still help them and direct them to the right area? 0% is really bad for simply going to the wrong part of a store and to have under 75% in subsequent mystery shops, where it would have been a different customer I'm sure, isn't good either. So yes, it sounds like AM has good reason to dismiss your DH as he's had several chances to improve with all those mystery shops. Nevertheless, he needs to find another job

theluckiest Tue 12-Dec-17 21:51:54

I agree Allaboutthatass, the other staff should really have helped them. But DH's area is a concession in a much bigger shopping centre. The customer went to totally the wrong bit which has nothing to do with DH's area. The centre manager has evidence of this and backs up DH. Their mistake, but the shit hits DH's fan...I'm not sure how he's meant to realistically deal with that one!!

Thing is, he has taken on board all of his AM's 'comments and improvements' and actively dealt with them as per his company's policies, including having to reprimand one of his staff members so he's no shrinking violet. It doesn't appear to have made the blindest bit of difference to his superior though who appears to be gunning for him whatever he does. I don't think he can win whatever.

He's also read this thread and completely agrees and thanks you for your advice/comments. He's just sad and pissed off tonight. He's also just submitted his CV to another company so fingers crossed...

Bluntness100 Tue 12-Dec-17 21:59:45

It seems odd they would be put to get him, when they are so short staffed and he is covering other branches. It also seems odd when he has so much support up the ladder this new a.m. is getting away with this treatment.

Looking for alternate employment does seem thr way forward and I think as a way of protecting himself, raising a grievance is a good idea.

But he has to be absolutely sure the am is not right about the shops performance before he goes that route.

allaboutthatsass Tue 12-Dec-17 22:07:41

ah I understand better now

tell him to try to get out of retail if he can

LunasSpectreSpecs Wed 13-Dec-17 08:21:19

I used to do a lot of mystery shopping. Often companies will ask you to go at very busy times such as a retailer on Black Friday or a restaurant on a Saturday at 7pm to see how the staff are coping. We are also told to be factual and steer away from opinion - you're asked to state how long you waited in minutes or what a staff member said if you asked for an item in a different size/colour. Also usually you're told to make your enquiry in a specific department, wait 5 minutes if there's nobody there, then try somewhere else. As mystery shoppers we're well aware that what we say/report can seriously impact on the staff and their pay and bonus.

Agree looking for a new job is the best way forward.

annandale Wed 13-Dec-17 08:26:00

Get copies of all policies and contracts and talk to an employment lawyer. He must have contacts at other companies - go all out to find another job. Join a union.

annandale Wed 13-Dec-17 08:27:10

Oh and I can really recommend the Stroke Association. In some hospitals they have liaison staff on site.

sparklepops123 Wed 13-Dec-17 08:36:26

Call ACAS - they give you independent employment law and can advise you of his legal rights

theluckiest Sat 16-Dec-17 13:30:16

Thankyou for all your helpful advice.

Well, there have been some developments...DH has had his written final warning letter. He has been given a target for his next mystery shop which is totally unachievable..essentially, he's out unless his staff are near-perfect.

He's been offered no support or solutions to address any of the issues of under staffing from previous shops.

But the most outrageous thing is that the floor manager of the centre has told him today that the hideous area manager spoke to her recently. AM said that when DH goes, she'll be taking over his dept. shock So it's a foregone conclusion (which is what we suspected)

He is now raging. He is checking all of this info and will be contacting HR to raise a formal grievance.

He has also started applying for other jobs but now has some fire in his belly. He's going whatever happens but is going to at least not be a pushover.

I'm just shockshock that this can happen!!

sparklepops123 Sat 16-Dec-17 13:46:03

If they've already told somebody else they will get the job then they are obviously not intending to let him prove himself which is unconstructive dismissal , def call acas

daisychain01 Sun 17-Dec-17 07:10:17

If he thinks it has been handled unfairly and not according to their disciplinary procedures ie if the mystery shop reports are not part of the official process and if they should have given him more support with challenges (insufficient staff sounds like one concern you've mentioned), he can start the grievance, giving a chronological account of the events and what he feels isn't fair.

Please encourage him to separate fact from conjecture and heresay. He has no evidence about someone being offered his job. It will weaken his case immensely if his "fire in his belly" is used to accuse the AM of that, without concrete evidence.

While his Grievance is in place, he needs to carry on as normal, and see whether they do sack him as they are threatening to, whether they follow the process (for example a disciplinary process should state in principle that management need to offer him support during the final warning stage to make improvements and address shortcomings, and timescales to prove himself.

He should document what steps he takes to improve, so if it went to Tribunal, he can show he took his contractual obligations seriously.

He will have months less 1 day from dismissal, to take them to Tribunal - by lodging his ET1 citing unfair dismissal this might be a jolt they need to try and come to some settlement agreement (there is never a guarantee but just saying what might happen) even if it's a clean reference and modest sum just to get him out. Get proper legal advice before this stage as he'd need support with the process, and they can advise whether he does have a strong enough case to stand a chance at ET

Good thing is he doesn't have any ET fees as they were abolished in Feb2017.

Hope this helps.

catwoozle Sun 17-Dec-17 07:27:16

Ring a union up and get some advice straight away (USDAW?) even if he isn't a member. He could join now and they'll represent him.

daisychain01 Sun 17-Dec-17 21:09:26

Apologies it should say

He will have three months less 1 day from dismissal, to take them to Tribunal

theluckiest Thu 28-Dec-17 19:34:16

Well, have an update!!

Thankyou for all your advice. It was all passed on to DH and he thanks you too.
Essentially, his Area Manager still seems to find fault in everything he and his staff do and uses a sledgehammer to crack a nut. She goes in all guns blazing to relatively pert things. One of his staff had a disciplinary and is putting in a formal complaint about the way it was handled.

DH has taken another approach and has been applying for other jobs. As his dad has been so ill, he's become very clear about his priorities and decided to just jump ship.

Today he was offered a new job!!! He is delighted. It's for a company he knows well, same money (although travel will cost more but I think the benefit to his mental health is so worth it) He just cannot wait to be out. He is handing his notice in tomorrow and very much looking forward to telling the 'big boss' exactly why he is leaving. In a professional way of course - he's calm, collected and totally over the moon....

Thank you all again.

theluckiest Thu 28-Dec-17 19:34:59

Relatively petty things that should be. Not pert things...grin

sparklepops123 Thu 28-Dec-17 19:42:45

Congrats to him!

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