I'm watching "Better Off Ted" --> a show about a company focusing primarily on the research and development department of a large organization. It's the second season, second episode and the show is about potential lay offs in the department. They are talking about the termination process and the line starts with "When HR decides to terminate someone..." My husband looks over at me and giggles. "See even TV says it's your decision to terminate people. No wonder people are scared of you." (He thinks he's funny.)
I'm reading my favorite online magazine, Inc. Magazine. The heading reads "2010: The Year in Bizarre HR" and of course I click on the link. It's 9 different stories about terminations or warnings to employees for "bizarre" reasons. And while it says "Bizarre HR" all I could really think was, "Bizarre Management". As far as I know, even if HR "approves" the action, the decision lies with senior management (at least it should).
Here's the article (it's quick and in a slide show format with the option for reading more for each story):
At the end of the day - there are usually three parts of a story - their side, your side and the part that isn't exaggerated. My point however - management needs be the ones seen responsible for termination decisions. A human resources department shouldn't be code for the "Place Blame Department" or the "Department of Bad Decisions". If managers really want their employees to follow protocol they have determined is important to the organization, it is their responsibility to make sure it is understood and interpreted the way they want it to. Buy-in is critical (this includes their OWN buy-in). And then of course, compassion is needed when managing to the policies. Policies should be flexible enough to be broken for the right reason.
If your intent is to implement a policy so you have the right to terminate someone - you're so not doing the managing - you're letting it be done for you.