Bringing a bad news to a consultant

You want to manage projects? Ending contracts with nice people is part of the job!

UntitledYou can read whatever books you want, you can follow whatever HR course you can, ending a contract with a nice person is not easy (same goes for firing people, breaking a bad news, etc.).

The theory says that it’s best to have a third person in the room, that the news should be broken in the morning preferably, to find humane ways to tell the truth upfront, meeting in a neutral location, keeping it clear, describe what comes next etc.

Practically, there are mainly three points I would emphasize …

Objectivity is key. For this first point I hesitated between objectivity and preparedness. But both go hand in hand. First keep aside he is a good guy, your relationship will inevitably suffer. Align what was the objectives and what was achieved. Describe quantitatively how objectives were achieved. Leave room for discussion on how you measure achievements and how the other person would perceive his achievements – but in the end you are supposed to know your business and the reasons why you stop this contract. Just be sure to put objectivity behind your decision. Strive to keep the atmosphere businesslike and free of emotion. But also listen to the other party.

“What should you do in my shoes?” or let him come with alternative solutions. Both approaches will put some lights on “reasons” that might not be directly on the table but played a (maybe minor) role nonetheless. Shedding light on these aspects might make people realize they personally are not to blame (if it’s the case) but other factors exist. On top, they’re more likely to adhere to what the solution is.

Have a plan for the future. After hearing bad news, people might find it hard to believe that the you care about them. But you should be prepared to give employees tips on how to avoid the problem in the future (if it’s appropriate). It’s easier for consultants as by definition they should not stay in the same job for long periods of time – but knowing your cv is kept in the database for specific jobs can be interesting in the long term. Also knowing what to improve for the next job assignment can be useful. Don’t overdo this however – giving advices for the future when you just brought bad news might look like being obnoxious (rightfully).

What are your thought on firing someone?

Photo credits: Untitled by Danny Guy, on Flickr (licence CC-by-nc-nd)


Sixth set of results in!

Like a few weeks ago, we received some results on Friday noon. This time, it was for Human Resources Management. For this course, we had to give two papers:

  1. a group paper dealing with “applying the course on a HR topic of your interest into the reality of your organizations”. In a group of three, we chose to tackle the different cultures in international companies.
  2. an individual exam-case about Datadot, a SME with some HR issues.

As usual, here is the graphical representation of the results distribution:

Distribution of grades in HRM in Apollo MBA Leuven 2012 Basically you take the same distribution as last time (although it’s completely unrelated, I know) and your remove the A+, the B- and one F (unfortunately, there are still one F). Congratulations to everyone! :-)


That’s what we heard twice in Prof. Koen Dewettinck classes about HRM :)

Since a few days, many things happened. First at work some people realized they need to deliver something before the end of the year (i.e. this month). And when you work for several projects in parallel, that’s a rush! And MBA classes keep their pace and we are already at the end of December 2011. There is only one class left, the last one of Management Accounting and Control. And of course, there is also the Christmas party!

Back to HRM, the last class was about the Rolling Toys case and some role playing was involved. It was quite funny to see and play the union part in the Vlerick premises. Let’s keep the following picture very preciously as it might be the only time we would wear an ACV bag :)

ACV in Vlerick!

Enjoy your week-end!

Don’t shoot the red monkey

Last Friday, I think we had our most controversial class. Prof Dr Dirk Buyens (Human Resource Management) warned us in advance. We were not deceived: Jef Staes is really different than previous lecturers. Given the affiliations and public profiles of some future guest lecturers, I doubt we will have anyone so different anymore.

In my opinion, in order to bring new ideas, you have to somehow be radical in your ideas. Or maybe it’s just the enthusiasm in the way to express those controversial ideas. Anyway Jef Staes began with the idea that if you don’t use twitter (he is @jefstaes) and every “social media” tools or if you don’t know how to publish a video clip of yourself on the internet, you are losing time in an MBA class. Take it literally and two students left the room because they couldn’t agree (and I think they were right to do so). Take it as a metaphor and you might agree that if you can’t use all the resources available to get the information, you have a handicap compared to other managers, compared to other teams.

I will not summarize 3.5 hours of course here but, in a nutshell, Jef Staes presented more a vision about how innovation should be handled in a company, the part of information availability / social media being something to build upon.

I brake for red monkeysPersonally, being part of an innovation process in my company, I already saw most of the behaviors Jef mentioned. It was nice to understand that these negative behaviors were not specific to my company but things that are usually “there” when people innovate. Jef Staes added that next (“3D”) managers will need a vision, lots of passion and be able to use all the information available, via all possible channels.

Note: for those who wonder what is a red monkey, Jef Staes published several videos on YouTube. Here are some of them …

Photo credit: I brake for red monkeys by myself ;) on Flickr (CC-by-sa)

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