31/03/2015

By Allison Peasgood, Director, OMS


The BBC dropped Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear despite immense public relations fallout and huge commercial risk, a decision based not just on the well-publicised punch but on a record of loose cannon behaviour.

Given the consequences for the corporation, was it the right decision? From my viewpoint, assuming the circumstances have been reported accurately, the answer is yes.

I have worked as HR Director in FTSE 100 companies and today I am a director of training and consultancy specialist OMS where I continue to advise organisations on HR issues, including talent management, and I am convinced that where there are rules, they must be for everyone.

Modern corporations invest heavily in recruiting, developing and retaining the best people because that is what creates competitive advantage, but when high performers become a liability, there comes a time when you have to cut your losses.

Sometimes, stellar talent comes with strings attached, and it is tempting for organisations to overlook inappropriate behaviour from the people that contribute the most to the bottom line. That is a temptation that should be resisted.

Leaders must realise that no one person is bigger than the organisation, no matter how much revenue that person generates. If you have one set of rules for the majority of your employees and then bend those rules for high performers, the result is likely to be internal strife, which can lead to all kinds of nasty consequences such as falling productivity, loss of management authority and legal claims about discrimination and unfair dismissal.

It is vital to have clear procedures that are spelled out in an employment contract in the event of breaches of contract through unacceptable behaviour or any other means. Those who say that rules are made to be broken should remember that in this case, the contract protects both the organisation and the employee. Once those rules are set out, they must always be followed.

Inconsistent application of the rules or a lack of clarity about what the rules actually are allows rebels and hedonists to set a bad example to the next generation and potentially tarnish the image of the company with customers, the media and ultimately in the courtroom.

The most important thing is to hold everyone in the organisation to the same standards and make no exceptions. Only with workplace equality, can everyone feel genuinely valued.