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It is a conundrum for sure and I agree with your conclusion. I also can think of 3 reasons why this has become much more challenging for managers today. 1) There aren't a lot of true manager roles anymore. Many managers have evolved to manager-doers, having to pull their load of the deliverables versus focusing on the effectiveness of their business. 2) It's not their checkbook. Oftentimes managers aren't given the information (or the accountability) to be the CEO of their business. And 3) The pruning process has been largely taken out of their hands.

These are not intended as excuses for managers but rather reasons for organizations to give managers back the autonomy and accountability, as well as the data, they need to make good decisions that have positive outcomes for the business and their employees.

If Reliable Bob is a protected class member, 20 years' worth of the overpayment you refer to will be dwarfed by the cost you and the rest of your management team will incur in depositions, EEOC hearings, and reputational damage if you can even remotely be portrayed as having pushed him/her out the door.

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