And sometimes, there's a need to be brave and recognise that your personal opinion isn't what matters.
Today I led a disciplinary investigation meeting after five hours sleep and a very emotional evening (curse planning development meetings and why I care about them.) The facts of this case, as they had been presented to us by a manager who left the Company last week, had us all feeling the employee had fallen out of love with the job. She was unreliable, he said. She didn't use her initiative. She was always off sick.
Sitting down with the lady in question, her side was very different. Not only did we get more information on her medical condition, we realised she's been communicating more than we'd been told while she's been off. She hasn't been managed, often left alone with no 'to do' list or direction. She defended her manager.
We had one truth, and now we had hers.
To dismiss her would have been grossly unfair and would have put the business in a very difficult position; she is clearly possessed of intelligence, and this needs to be put to work for the business. She comes in on Monday with a fresh outlook and a new personal development plan. This will ensure she is actively managed, coached and trained, and understands the improvements expected of her. She knows she has a say in the matter too, with regular catchup meetings and a request that she flags any issues as they occur before a 'big review' in three months' time.
I am about to put the finishing touches to the plan with her line manager. He's happy that he doesn't have to recruit and train someone from scratch, and while he's cautiously optimistic about real change, he IS optimistic, and determined to prove his own skills in helping turn this situation around.
So my initial worry at 7am that tiredness and a sleep-deprived bad mood would sway my judgment didn't come to pass after all. The need to be calm, impartial, and open minded made itself clear- and I am proud to have responded to the call.
I wish the lady well, and look forward to seeing her achieve and grow in the coming months.