I have experienced, first hand, employer decisions in regards to further employment with stroke victim employees… more specifically managers. What a moral dilemma it was for both sides. Employer… What if your manager had one? How would you handle their continued employment?
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Stroke Victim – Deception from Employer
I entered a national retail sales career path as a young enthusiastic “manager trainee”. I worked long hours, won all national contests, and even challenged the CEO as to why I wasn’t, 6 months later, an assistant manager yet! I hadn’t understood politics like “don’t go over the regional managers head to get promoted” but that’s another future article. What’s the old saying… watch what you wish for and I would add… watch your back.
The regional manager pulled me in and discussed the conversation I had had with the CEO. He then told me I would get my wish if I would transfer to another site. The site was Walla Walla Washington. So… I left my young family and went to Walla Walla. What he had not told me is that the manager of this retail store site was out on disability. He had suffered a debilitating stroke and while he looked/acted normal… he would have seizures.
Arriving at my new career opportunity I was introduced to the team including the manager. It was obvious why the company was hoping he would “come back”. Great positive attitude, even under these trying times, dedicated to the “cause”, and his history of performance had been excellent. Unfortunately after the stroke he could no longer perform at that same level and the store was hemorrhaging money.
“For me, disability is a way of getting some extremity, some kind of very difficult situation, that throws an interesting light on people.” -Mark Haddon
So… I did what I always do… I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. To make a long story short… the store became the model store flying in managers from all over the nation to show what theirs should look like. It also had become very profitable. A great thing.
What I hadn’t realized is that the regional manager and my manager (stroke victim) were close friends. I had become the way for my manager to keep his job while recuperating. I did not receive any credit for the changes. I left. The manager didn’t fully recoup and later was let go. Did the company make a good decision? I’ll let you decide.
Stroke Victim – No Heart Employer
One of the most colorful general sales managers I had ever worked for had a massive stroke. While it didn’t kill him it left him paralyzed with no way to walk and talk. He later told me he had prepared to die but never to become disabled like this.
I took over his responsibilities and things went smoothly. Maybe too smooth as the owners decided after 6 months to let him go. I felt terrible. You see this guy had worked so hard to get back to work that he was actually making a great comeback. He walked weird and his speech was slurred but a remarkable comeback to be sure. Then… he got fired. Wow…
“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you’re needed by someone.” -Martina Navratilova
The owners pulled me aside one day and wanted to know what I thought about their decision. I told them that I thought it was cold hearted. With that said… “I have moved on”. They then told me that they, before his stroke, had wanted to fire him. Upon learning about the stroke they were hoping he would get better, where he could actually get another job, and then let him go. My opinion changed instantly and I felt bad for what I had said earlier. End result… the general manager did indeed get better and was able to land a regional manager position that was better for home life and health.
I will also tell you that the ex-general manager had no warm thoughts for his ex-employers feeling that they left him out to dry. Is that how you want to be thought of as an employer? Could you live with your decision regardless?
Every country has their laws of what should and what shouldn’t happen with a disabled employee. I will leave that to the attorneys. What I am more interested in is the moral and ethical resolutions to this, not so unusual, circumstance. With baby boomers aging, national health issues exploding, disability employment questions will occurr more and more often. Are you, as an employer, prepared to handle this responsibility?© 2006-2017 SalesBlog! | Photos courtesy of 123RF