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I have just received a letter asking me to attend a meeting/disciplinary hearing. I have been with the company for 18 years now.

 

Our sales targets were actually increased by 50% over last years target and after the first 6 months of this year I am hopelessly miles away from achieving my target. A third of a very small field force has been invited to a meeting with my line manager, on an individual basis, where there will also be a reprsentative from HR Department, to discuss this underperformance.

 

Please bear in mind that only one of the field force is actually on target after the first 6 month. The rest are between 50% and 20% of target, during one of the toughest 6 months I can ever remember in this business.

 

During the first half of the year, half the field force were invited to take part in giving seminars to prosective clients. Some of us weren't, and we were largely left to our own devives to drum up business with little or no support at all. My line manager's only 'support', or advice, during the 6 months,consisted of making a list of people to call, using a filtering questionnaire. That was it.

 

So, there you have it. Is this going to be stage 1 disciplinary? I've been told that I can take a colleague into the meeting with me. (I was a union member a few years ago but allowed my subs to lapse, I'm sorry to say. Apparently, Unite will not represent me unless I have been a union member for 6 months prior to requiring help?).

 

Can I be dismissed purely on the grounds of failing to achieve sales target which is unrealistic? I've been asked to bring a comprehensive 'action plan' to the meeting, too. Am I making a rod for my own back?

 

Would it help if I told you that over a month ago, my area sales manager told me over the telephone, and I quote, "make no mistake, there will be no fat redundancy cheques, people are going to be managed out from now on, mark my words".

 

During the last 6 months there has been a 'consultant brought into the company whose work, as you can no doubt guess, was to judge the viability of the company, as suggest ways of improving it.....I leave you to judge the relevance of that.

 

I am worried sick about this, as you can tell. Should I hire a lawyer now? Should I try to find a colleague who has the courage to accompany me to the meeting (everyone seems to be looking over their shoulders at the moment).

 

These are not good times.

 

Any advice? :(

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Sorry to hear of your worry and I am sure your not a hopelesscase (as per your CAG name chosen).

 

The company I worked for brought in comparator rankings to mark you against your performance & they would nit pick at everything possible to try & downgrade you in order to cost save at every opportunity or wear you down so you would leave so I can really empathise with your situation. I also knew of other colleagues being micro managed and every measure possible in there actions were being scrutinised too it was awful.

 

As you probably already know there are set procedures of verbal, written notices before dismissals can be achieved (not that I am fully knowledgeable in this area) The ACAS website might have information you can look at, or maybe seek legal advice if you have cover on a car insurance or home insurance policy which wont cost you either.

 

However do take every amunition possible with you though to your meeting leaving no stones unturned (and a colleague who perhaps can take notes if you wish to too). I am sure along with other colleagues also in the same boat you can ride this wave and remain positive through it too.

 

If you can remain positive with the sign of the times we are in that will remain in your favour too....Good luck.


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Thanks for your reply.

 

Is it lawful, do you know, to set unachieveable targets? ie. set a target that the employer KNOWS is unrealistic?

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I would imagine they can set any target they like - however to take disciplinary action upon those targets if they can be proved to be unrealistic may be where the company falls down.

 

I had a similar incident this time last year when I was a manager for a company. I had previously been told by my head office and superior managers to "manage people out" of the company on performance targets in sales.

 

I didn't do that and refused to take part in that sort of behaviour and then lo and behold I get called to a disciplinary for my staff failing to meet targets and therefore my area not meeting targets.

 

In the end i quit and took them to a tribunal for constructive dismissal and discrimination (relating to my pregnancy). The company involved settled out of court in the end.

Just wanted to say i know how you feel it's awful but thats companies for you.

 

Can you qualify for legal aid?

 

In the meantime I would also record the meeting if possible and ALWAYS take in a witness to act as your note taker.

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well, I could use the legal advice that comes with the general insurance policy I have - which funnily enough is provided by my employer (a financial services company (oh, the irony!).

 

Do HR/management take a dim view of those who decide to take 'colleagues' into meetings with them?

 

Thanks for the replies so far!

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Hi,

 

Can I ask have you seen or can you get a copy of your Company Disciplinary procedure.

 

Stage 1 Disciplinary to me would suggest just that only first stage!! which to me means you will have to fail at further hearings to be dimissed........... and you will have right of appeal etc.

 

I would concentrate on trying to ascertain why the targets cannot be met to mitigate your case. If you can prove the targets are unfair then your case becomes stronger.

 

Targets are only targets after all......Unless these targets were written into Terms and Conditions of employment which I doubt.

 

Beau


Please note: I am not a lawyer and as such any advice I give is purely from a laymans point of view;-)

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Here's a snippet from the disciplinary rules

 

Performance

The company operates a performance management process which includes regular reviews of your performance against agreed objectives and against the role’s core capabilities. Where an employee’s performance in their role is consistently below what is expected this may result in disciplinary action.

Regarding the targets...well, who knows, most of us think they just picked a number and doubled it for this year. Most financial servies companies have, surprisingly (maybe not surprisingly?) reduced targets given the current climate, whereas my company thought it should increase targets by 50%, as management considered last year's target was too low anyway!

Personally, I believe that decisions are being taken, and that those who wield the real power consider the current 'division' totally unsustainable and want rid, basically. I can only think that my area manager has missed the fact that if we go, so does he!

Edited by hopelesscase

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So if performance is at the heart of their problem with your department, heres my take n it based on what you have posted :

 

1) If the targets were introduced without the workforce agreement/consultation then there is a possible material break in contract.

 

I would say a 20% increase would have been a fairer way with a possible further hike in following 2 years to gain the 50% increase.

 

2) You do not state if there have been any other meetings regarding performance before this current one ? If this the first discussion then agian in my view any disciplinary action could be argued as unfair citing the fact that you were not previously warned about your performance.

 

3) If the company take direct action now, was a letter warning you of possible action following this meeting given to you.

 

4) You will have the right of appeal following this meeting and this should be offered to you in writing stating when any appeal should be submitted.

 

5) You have the right to have a witness present at a Disciplinary hearing this should be a co worker or at the express permission of the Company you can bring a Legal Representative or a friend. These witnesses should be allowed to addresss the hearing and take notes on your behalf.

 

Hope this info is a help

 

Beau


Please note: I am not a lawyer and as such any advice I give is purely from a laymans point of view;-)

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Well, if I tell you that only 1 person is 'on target' in the entire sales force, the chap in 3rd place - (apologies for making it sound like a race) is barely 45% of target and then everyone else (including me) is between 10% and 30% of target at the half-year! It's bloody hard out there at the moment!

 

But can I point to the fact that no one, other than one person, is on target, and that the target must therefore be unrealistic? Or, as others have told me, can they state that it is 'all about me' and that everyone else is irrelevant? I should've told you that there are two others being given the same treatment - we're the 'bottom 3', so to speak (I'm the least 'bottom' if you see what I mean!

 

I should add that there are only 9 in the field force!

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Hello

Targets should be challenging but still realistic, reasonable and fair. Working in sales myself I find year by year this is certainly never the case. Employers don't want to pay out the commission to people, simple as. I've never yet come across an employer ever admitting they had set targets too high though. Instead previously successful sales people are suddenly labelled as rubbish ones and end up leaving or driven out or both. A few heads down usually means a resulting target reduction for that sales manager or if that doesn't happen the sales manager can blame poor results on the fact that they're a few sales people down. Either way the blame is firmly placed on the sales person and it is the sales person who is always the scapegoat.

 

Anyway..

 

Unrealistic the new targets may well be however had the targets not changed at all you'd still be under fifty per cent against the old targets. When you say the new targets are unrealistic be prepared for them pointing that fact out to you in response to that. I'd be trying to do a little bit of research on the state of the industry your in. For example - having to hand stats stating sales in your sector are 50% down on average this year wouldn't go amiss.

 

Sales people hitting targets can pretty much do what they like - any other or all other set objectives fly out of the window. Sales people not hitting targets are a different matter. Be prepared for them to bring up any set objectives and core criteria which aren't target related ie lets say you have an objective to attend five client meetings a week ...and currently you are only doing four, or you are to make 50 calls a week but your phone records show you only do half that.

 

That's where they get you and get you out - yes we know they're basing any decisions purely on sales performance but officially they base it or (try to make it look like they do) on not meeting the minimum expected criteria across the board and not just on targets alone.

 

I would ask them what minimum performance against target they consider to be acceptable.

 

Let them answer that first. Probably they will say 100% only is. You can then ask them - if that's the case does that mean that all bar one sales person are also being given disciplinaries.. and if not why not?

 

If five others are less than 50% but over 30% yet not being given disciplinaries does that mean that if you raise your performance to just over 30% you will have reached the same "obviously acceptable" level as those five? If they say no, you can then voice your concern as to why you are being singled out and would be disciplined for the same level of performance as five others who are not!

 

Lastly they will ask you if there are any underlying reasons that may have an effect on your performance ie health/personal problems etc. They will also or should also ask what support, training needs or resources etc you need - even if you have none and have to make some up make sure you do reply with a few needs.

 

If they ask you what help you need and you tell them... and they don't do anything about it... then it makes the next stage in any disciplinary a little harder for them. OK you still haven't improved a month later - but they haven't provided the help and support you said you needed either :)

 

PS - At the end of the meeting ask them for a copy of their own notes. They will probably say they'll type them up first then send you a copy - insist that they photocopy the notes there and then and give you a copy. If they refuse then ask them to note down in their notes the fact that you asked them and the fact that they refused your request.

 

Try very hard to get someone to accompany you into that meeting too. It doesn't matter who - all you really want them there for is as a note taker. Its difficult to do these sorts of meetings and take your own notes plus you want a witness there with you too.

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Hi

 

Thanks for that.

 

Industry figures for new business (investment and pensions etc) down about 60% on last year (ABI's own figures).

 

I see what you're saying, and I will take note of it all. I'm preparing a 'response', in writing, that I intend to give to the manager and the HR person - I have no doubt that myself and my 2 colleagues will end up on stage 1 - I'm sure they wouldn't bother to hold the meeting otherwise, do you! I'm also sure that the thought of also being managed out will, so managment hope, act as a kick up the backside to those who have awful figures instead of absolute c**p figures!

 

Ah, well, I'll let you know how I get on after next week!

 

I simply can't wait. Trouble is, all the stress is getting to me and I'm starting to lose my temper at home, shouting at everyone, and feel the need to go off and hide in dark corners to calm down!

 

I have read on other sites that I should, in as non-confrontational a way as possible, submit a grievance, maybe for victimisation as I am being 'singled out', or whatever, as well as start the process of notifying an industrial tribunal, as if I don't, then if I am dismissed, any industrial tribunal will reduce possible compensation (if I won the case, that is) as I hadn't taken every opportuntiy open to me while the process was ongoing.

 

Have I understood that correctly?

 

I think it was on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

 

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/life/employment/resolving_disputes_at_work/resolving_disputes_at_work___disciplinary_and_dismissal_action.htm

Edited by hopelesscase

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pippadeee gave you some great advice & glad you have now have some research to hand as it will be useful to use this as part of your amunition in your meeting.

 

From that meeting and no doubt outcome letter after that they send to you (as with your notes taken too by your trusted colleague (or are you allowed a friend?) then this will determine if you then feel the need to raise your step 1 process of the grievance procedure.

 

Attached a document I once had for a rainy day (tho never needed in the end as my grievance raised got resolved), you may find it useful to have a look at too (hopefully it wont get that far though fingers crossed).

Claimants Companion.pdf


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I note they quote "performance against agreed objectives" - agreed by who?

 

The key thing here seems to be that you need to prove that they are unrealistic targets and comparitive results matter a great deal here. If hardly anyone is reaching them, either the market conditions won't allow it or most people need to be disciplined. I think the crucial thing to note is how you are doing against the original targets and how you compare with others against them.

 

You need to show that you are on a par with most of your colleagues and if you are, they are victimising you. The whole world knows that Financial Services are suffering poor sales right now, so how do they think you should be able to go against the tide?

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I note they quote "performance against agreed objectives" - agreed by who?

 

The key thing here seems to be that you need to prove that they are unrealistic targets and comparitive results matter a great deal here. If hardly anyone is reaching them, either the market conditions won't allow it or most people need to be disciplined. I think the crucial thing to note is how you are doing against the original targets and how you compare with others against them.

 

You need to show that you are on a par with most of your colleagues and if you are, they are victimising you. The whole world knows that Financial Services are suffering poor sales right now, so how do they think you should be able to go against the tide?

 

Thanks for that!

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How did your meeting go (was it this week?) Hope it went ok for you :)

 

Badly....learnt today, received first written warning with improvement plan, a hopeless target for the next 3 months after which there will be a further meeting.

 

Trouble is...and get this, cos it will happen to others - they target you for a certain number of appointments per week....then they say that you are not capable when you fail to convert the appointments into sales.......so, catch 22.....if you're preceived as incapable of getting the appointments, then you're useless, but dare to actually get the appointments and then not convert them......damed if you do, damned if you don't.

 

If you want my honest opinion....I'm out! :sad: The target is unattainable, there's absolutely NO support, its just a case of ringing as many as you can to try to........well, I do feel like giving up now, to be honest.

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Sorry to hear your news & after all the years you have worked for the company too its unbelievable how they are treating you. Did the other 2 colleagues end up the same as you too?

 

Did all your evidence/ammunition/research/FACTS taken into the mtg with you in relation to todays climate in the financial sector fall on deaf ears then?


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Sorry to hear your news & after all the years you have worked for the company too its unbelievable how they are treating you. Did the other 2 colleagues end up the same as you too?

 

Did all your evidence/ammunition/research/FACTS taken into the mtg with you in relation to todays climate in the financial sector fall on deaf ears then?

 

They ignored everything I said. Yes, all 3 of us are in the same position - which, by the way, equates to a third of the salesforce.

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Mind you, I do intend to go to appeal....and then use every means at my disposal to defend myself, and yes, I will take them to an employment tribunal - as will the other 2 employees...so I'll keep you informed!

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Well make sure if you do that you collect all the evidence that you can lay your hands on that what they are doing is unreasonable and unfair - put your concerns in writing as a grievance, and if they dismiss, this then becomes the evidence against them. If the targets/workload is unachieveable then it will show how unfair a company they have been.

 

Might be an idea to keep a diary of events and direct quotes too against them too (you never know!) If you are thinking eventually of a tribunal you need to have raised the grievance procedure to show a pattern of you having raised your concerns and trying to resolve things as amicably as possible beforehand.

 

Fingers crossed though things do get better for you.... enjoy your weekend


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I need further advice!

 

I'm going to appeal against the first written warning. If I withhold certain information during that appeal about 'things', ie. management incompetence, persoanl thngs that were said to me about things (sorry to be so vague but you don't know who is reading this do you?? then if I ever ended up at an employment tribunal, would it be regarded as irrelevant if I hadn't raised it when I was still at the company?

 

I guess what I'm saying is should I keep my powder dry until the last minute or go to appeal with both barrels aimed squarely at particular people who I think have been trying to manage me out? :???:

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Well make sure if you do that you collect all the evidence that you can lay your hands on that what they are doing is unreasonable and unfair - put your concerns in writing as a grievance, and if they dismiss, this then becomes the evidence against them. If the targets/workload is unachieveable then it will show how unfair a company they have been.

 

Might be an idea to keep a diary of events and direct quotes too against them too (you never know!) If you are thinking eventually of a tribunal you need to have raised the grievance procedure to show a pattern of you having raised your concerns and trying to resolve things as amicably as possible beforehand.

 

Fingers crossed though things do get better for you.... enjoy your weekend

 

please see question above!

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hi hopelesscase

 

Sorry I have not responded earlier I have had a busy Aug & only been able to pop in on here now & then but back into the swing of things now.

 

When I was in a position of raising a grievance I documented it as it had just then occurred with what had happened at those particular times & with whom so in answer to your question "with both barrels" at that immediate time! That then shows if it does go further you raised the issues as & when they arose & also gave them 28days to address/respond to them etc.


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