A classic, reminiscent of the dimly lit social gathering points rife with cigar smoke and music of the old country. Pour over ice and stir gently.
Early in my managerial career, I said something out of frustration I will always regret. A much older employee drove for our company for almost his entire fifty year career. Near the end of his career he asked to move from a Wednesday to Sunday schedule. At the time we had a rotating pager over the weekend which seemingly always fell to two or three drivers who already maxed out their hours during the week. As well, we had one “specialty” driver who also ran seven days straight. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to relieve the burden of the other drivers and, for the first couple weeks, it worked.
After the first couple weeks, however, I noticed that the other drivers resumed carrying the beeper and our specialty driver no longer had weekends off. I asked our Wednesday through Sunday driver what happened and he said he couldn’t do most of the deliveries. I asked him what he was doing during his on-duty hours, to which he replied he was sweeping the warehouse. I told him as our on-duty driver over weekends, it was his responsibility to be our primary driver, to which he said he was not as young as he used to be. I then suggested he go back to a Monday-Friday schedule, to which he adamantly refused. Finally, out of frustration, I said what no future HR manager should EVER say: “Maybe you should retire.”
He has since forgiven me for the comment and rejected the idea that my comment led to his eventual retirement, but even years later, the perception is that I forced a beloved member of our family business out of the company. I missed an opportunity to accommodate him, to develop a cooperative relationship instead of the adversarial one that remained during my short tenure in operations, and allowed emotions to overcome reason, not to mention I violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. No, I had no idea about the law, but ignorance is never an excuse. Take the time to study out the problem, engage the employee as an ally, and look for mutually beneficial solutions.