A staff, about 4 yrs old, has been reported (by other old & faithful staff) to have been sitting on the Boss chair in his cabin, when the boss was travelling.
The incident has been going on for few years now - about 6-8 times in 4yrs but only been reported now.
The staff was once a well performing person but last 1yr, has been a Zero performer.
A photograph of the staff sitting & acting like the Boss has also been received.
What do you think should be the action?
Should the person be fired immediately for indiscipline (as she is setting very bad example & culture of disprespect)....or some other course of action?

From India, Mumbai
Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Lead - Ims
Business Excellence, Management Systems
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms
Asst. General Manager - Hr
+8 Others

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Dinesh Divekar

Dear Hrent,

Here you are clubbing two issues. These are (a) One of the staff does not observe office decorum (b) the same staff's performance was poor in the last one year.

For the instance (a) issue her the warning letter immediately. In the warning letter write that occupying chair of senior authority is not misconduct per se, however, it is office norm and she should refrain from repeating it in future. However, repetition of her act would be treated as misconduct and severe disciplinary action will be initiated.

For (b) issue her warning for poor performance. Enumerate the instances of poor performance. But here lies the catch. Did you inform her in writing what were her measures of performance or it was your company's "assumption"? If she has shown poor performance in the last one year then she will show it in future also. If the measure of performance are not designed then design these immediately and give a letter to her. Obtain her signature on the duplicate copy of the letter an preserve it in her documents. But then such oddballs may raise hue and cry for singling her out and issuing the letter for measures of performance. That challenge remains.


Dinesh V Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Raj Kumar Hansdah

I agree with the comments of Mr. Divekar that "occupying chair of senior authority is not misconduct per se...".

As reported by hrent, in 'Indian' companies, especially those which have just graduated from a proprietorship outfit and got registered themselves as companies; there are certain things which are "sacred" and certain activities which are considered "taboos".

Sitting on the boss's chair signifies a perceived intent to usurp the boss's position and powers. Similarly in some proprietary-business-turned-corporates using the same brand as the boss - whether it is cigarettes, pen or anything trivia;, same color/make/model of car etc. are considered "profanities".

Although good establshed companies and MNC's may find such practices amusing or loathsome; these are very much existent and significant, as evident from hrent's post and the 'violators' face dire consequences; "person be fired immediately for indiscipline (as she is setting very bad example & culture of disprespect)".

Despite "India shining", it might take a few generations of good corporate governance and culture to de-link the shock and evil or negative interpretation associated with such acts and also for inculcation of acceptable office decorum.

Warm regards.

From India, Delhi
Dear Mr Kumar, Mr Dinesh,

Thank you for your replies, which I have received with an open mind.

However, I would like to put forward some more thoughts.

Do you really feel that a junior staff going & occupying the owners chair & cabin in his absence - and in presence of other staff is justified as an 'amusing' act.

A one time incident may be considered as childish & loathesome. But a repeat of the same action over the years continues to sound disturbing to me.

There is no feeling of threat/usurping in this case - what simply disturbed me out of proportion is that the employee (who we considered an old employee by now) has made a comic out of the office decorum, discipline & respect for Management.

I feel that her action can really spread a very negative & disrespectful culture through the small organisation that we are.

The 2nd part about her performance - I think it would be worse if she was a performer.

As then the message to other employees would be that if you perform, you can fool around with the office & its decorum...

Looking forward to your views again.

From India, Mumbai
Raj Kumar Hansdah

Dear hrent
Thanks for your reply and further clarification.
I fully understand your sentiments.
Anything 'stretched' too far or repeated several times does pose a problem. Also, there is a difference between an innocent and innocuous incident, and a deliberate act of mockery which destabilizes office decorum.
However, "firing immediately for indiscipline" may seem to be an extremely harsh punishment. Issuing a severe Warning Letter, a Show Cause Notice or imposing the penalty of Censure, are far more appropriate, as a first step.
With reference to her "poor performance", you should definitely take remedial action, as deemed appropriate by your organization.
Warm regards.

From India, Delhi
Dear Hrent,
It really hurts when such an old (senior in the sense) employee resorts to such type of practices. However, keeping in mind his past services, you may in the first instance try to counsel the employee. Even after one or two counselling the employee still resorts to the same way, then you may take appropriate action by way of censure and if still not coming your way, then some harsh treatment may only be the way-out.
Regarding his poor performance at work, you need to keep him informed otherwise the employee may take it easy thereby effecting other employees' performance.
However, considering the above two I feel that the employee has something in his mind, which needs to be properly ascertained by way of counseling otherwise such employee will not stoop to such a level.
I feel counselling is the best method in both the above cases.


Dear hrent
I agree with Raj. But small question. Has this been discussed with the boss? May be possible that boss knows this. Discuss this issue directly with the boss and many doubt clearing answers may turn up. If he agrees then go for issuing warning letter, show cause notice etc as suggested by Raj. But if boss does not agree then you would be to ground zero.
I have gone through the similar case study where the extra maritial affair of female employee and the boss resulted in sacking of an old faithful employee who reported the bossism activity of female employee in absence of boss.
Further you may prepare policy which says locking of Boss cabins in his absence and handing the key only to authorized person (authorized by Boss) and make entry in key register.
This was just an advice.

From India, Mumbai

Hi Hrent, Don’t be serious too much. Just call her and counsel her, which should be done at first time. No problem do right now. She will definitely improve her-self. Warm Regds Arun Gupta
From India, Delhi
I personally feel that you issue her a memo stating that if such an act is observed in future srict action will be taken which may result in loss of job.
From India, Mumbai
I fully agree with @arung73. A memo, letter, email, anything in written would permanently push her into her shell, the detachment. A detached employee is a liability to the organization; hence, it is wise to avoid detachment than to repair. Simple pep talk would do.
@neeraj4all: Just locking boss’s cabin is a good idea, without any entry registers. Current management literature repeatedly advising to leave ‘control’, and give more autonomy to employees for enhancing ‘intrinsic motivation’ -the key factor in employee productivity.
M Rama Krishna
TQM & Business Excellence

From India, Bellary

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