Blog Number 50 – Diolch!


This is blog post number 50 and what better way of celebrating that fact than talking about my blogging and social media experience?

In March 2016, whilst heading home from London on the train, I decided I had things to say and experiences to share about the world of HR. I read an article which focused on being an introvert in the world of HR which resonated with me so I wanted to talk about it too.

Little did I know that what started with a desire to air a view, would become quite life-changing, certainly in relation to my work-life, career, and aspirations.

When I posted my first blog post, I shared it across Social Media, namely Twitter. My Twitter account at the time was pretty empty and basic. I used Twitter mainly in the Summer and in January to keep track of any rumours of football players who might be joining my beloved Swansea City Football Club. To say it was under utilised is an understatement.

Twitter wasn’t a place for “work”. Of course it wasn’t. 

How wrong I was.

A very kind gentleman, Mr Michael Carty (@MJCarty) also from the HR space, had picked up my post and discussed it with me. He shared with me his blog posts and he retweeted mine around. Before I knew it I was connected with maybe a dozen or so HR professionals from around the world. I discovered there was a HR community, on Twitter, all sharing interesting articles and in some cases, blogging themselves. 

I caught the bug and wanted to blog more. The different topics led me to discover other HR pro’s who connected with new articles in ways some of my previous posts might not have done, in essence realising that a different topic, connected me with a different HR pro. My network was growing. I discovered others whose work fascinated me. 

I remember reading the amount of thoughtful detail and clarification that was included in a post made by David Goddin (@ChangeContinuum) that really challenged my thinking. There were so many others too, way too many to mention without forgetting and offending someone. But in short, this was (is) a real genuine community, with a great spirit that i’d stumbled across.

What I realised by this point was that Social Media was playing a huge part in my own development too. 

I realised that despite starting on this ‘journey’ of blogging to share my thoughts outwardly, I realised that I could combine that whilst learning; whilst having great dialogue and being exposed to new ideas. 

This was both a send and return process, a two way street of sharing, educating, learning, challenging. I was developing personally and felt like I was influencing others and hopefully, the profession.

I discovered Evidence-Based Management which really struck a chord, and I started #HRHour to get the HR community discussing HR topics together, having been inspired by #LDInsight from the @LnDConnect group. 

I realised how powerful this process was and how blogging, combined with Social Media had changed my style and outlook as a HR professional. I started thinking about my career and even changed jobs. 

Of course Social Media is for “work”, any place where intelligent, competent and enthusiastic individuals congregate to selflessly share ideas was going to benefit my knowledge and increase my skill base. 

So my 50th blog is a post to say thank you. Thank you for reading my work, for engaging in great dialogue with me, for supporting #HRHour, for helping me outside of Twitter, for giving me this awesome #PLN that has allowed me to be a more effective HR professional.

Lastly, when I first started, the online HR community encouraged and supported me, allowed me to transition from ‘onlooker’ to ‘active participant’ and showed the way for how Social Media and blogging can help others. So in return, it is my aim to always do the same. 

I have been lucky enough to be invited to talk at various events on this subject and of the power of Social Media for personal learning and i’ll continue to do that wherever I can to spread the word. I’ll continue to welcome those new to the concept and bring them along as other good folk did with me, encouraging and connecting people, whilst improving and enhancing my knowledge at the same time. 

And simply by being kind. If you are connected to good people, you’ll see lots of kindness, which is always welcome especially in these troubled times across the world.

After 50 posts – what the hell do I write about next!

Thank you / diolch!

Mark

5 Tips On Dealing With A Disciplinary Issue


Disciplinary issues are part and parcel of the world of work. People do stuff wrong. Managers sometimes think people do things wrong, when they haven’t. People don’t follow procedures, make a gross mistake, take their workplace for granted, or just become embroiled in an issue they didn’t intend to that later has consequences.

This is the real world of work.

I’ve been a generalist HR professional now for around 15 years and have lost track of the number of cases i’ve been involved in, from low-level misconduct matters to complex dismissal issues that have ended up at employment tribunal, i’ve been exposed to the lot. 

So here are my five tips on how to professionally deal with a disciplinary process.

1. Be clear on who is doing what.I always map disciplinary cases out considering the worst case scenario, even for the most insignificant low-level matter that might not even proceed beyond an investigation. By that I mean I plan out who could be the investigator, who could chair the disciplinary, who could hear the appeal and so forth and then I validate that with whomever necessary in line with policy. By coordinating this in advance, you have the ability to avoid scheduling issues and delays, you can avoid the age-old dilemma of ensuring someone suitably senior in the organisation can hear an appeal and so forth. 

The next part of that process involves ensuring that each person knows what their role in the process is (or could be), and how to carry out the duties assigned to that role. For example, ensuring that an investigator is trained on how to carry out an investigation, or ensuring a disciplinary chair knows the plan they should follow for chairing that meeting. Simple stuff, not rocket-science, but where this is neglected, problems arise. It’s an important process, people should really know what they are doing. Many people make mistakes the first time they are involved in a disciplinary case, simply because they did not really know what they were doing, or it was taken for granted that they could carry out the task without guidance – which is not fair on them, and not fair on the employee concerned.

2. Stick to the policy

In my experience employment tribunal chairs are more forgiving of companies that don’t have a disciplinary policy and procedure, than those who have a procedure and choose not to follow it.

A disciplinary policy and procedure can be long-winded and detailed or basic and concise, but either way, I strongly advise that whatever you say you are going to do (by that I mean whatever your policy says you should do) you make sure you do it. Failure to do so, opens a line of questioning at tribunal which can untangle the whole case and is simply unfair on the employee concerned and will paint the organisation in a poor light, unless the process was not followed for a valid reason.

3. Keep adequate documentation

If a disciplinary matter ultimately reaches an employment tribunal, more often than not, better quality documentation should allow for a more informed tribunal decision. When policies are missing, or notes have gone astray, or witness statements are illegible or disciplinary outcome letters don’t correspond with the allegations outlined on disciplinary invite letters etc, this will depict two impressions of your organisation – firstly, shoddy paperwork will likely mean a shoddy process, and secondly, is a shoddy process indicative of a poor employer. I’m not saying that these are fair assumptions to make, but they are assumptions that could be made and are always avoidable.

During disciplinary matters I advise participants to live by the golden rule, that every document could one day be scrutinised by a legal professional, so take care, keep documentation accurate and relevant, and ensure the standard of the documentation gives a good indication of the professionalism of the company.

4. Keep the process professional, reasonable and fair

A disciplinary process is a professional, business process. Granted, it needs more emotional intelligence than most but if the process is dealt with professionally then it has less opportunity to stray into personal biases. Be reasonable in applying the policy, in dealing with timeframes and managing ‘face’ at work and be fair in how the employee subjected to the process is feeling. This is not personal, regardless of the allegations against them, which might ultimately end up to be incorrect and unfounded, the employee absolutely deserves and has a right to fairness. Think about how you would like to be treated if you were in this position. 

5. Maintain the barrier

HR folk have come under fire in recent times for becoming too involved in disciplinary cases. A recent example is in this case here where the HR professional gave advice that appeared to signigicantly influence the decision maker and that was perceived as therefore altering the decision of the case. 

HR should professionally offer advice and support, offer a ‘guardianship’ over how the policy is being applied and what employment legal issues may need to be considered, but unless specifically assigned in a managerial role to partake in the process in any capacity other than to support, then we should ensure that barrier is maintained at all times.

I hope this is helpful to you.

Small Changes, Big Value

There comes a point when enlightenment can become confusion. When seeking out new ideas, thoughts and viewpoints can make one become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that is now readily available.

I’ve written before about my personal ambition to become more continuously aware of emerging HR and to seek out alternative views and during that process it’s not always been easy.

Sure, there is always new content. The HR community, especially on Twitter write lots of new and interesting blogs and share lots of articles, and whilst it’s not possible (neither do I desire) to read everything, its easy to glance over a few new pieces per day, leaving the more detailed stuff for when time permits.I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for this, as i’m not. Its a priveliged position to be in and I’m glad that I now have these connections and am exposed to this content, but my point is that, personally, it can all become quite confusing too.

For every point of view, there is an alternative. For every person who supports appraisals/competency-based interviews/MBTI there will be someone who will give a counter-view. This is healthy but it can make you wonder what you should and shouldn’t believe, what is both good advice and what is not.

I’ve recently reflected on my own continuous professional development to remind myself of why I changed things up two years ago, on why I started reading more, networking more and why I started engaging with the HR community on the level that I now do, and it made me realise that my aim, simply, was to improve. To know more stuff, to be better at what I do, to aid my career, to be exposed to new ideas to increase my knowledge and to be able to do more valuable work.

What i’ve realised is that much of what i’ve read is about the big changes. It’s about the radical improvements, the revolutionary ‘disruption’ and the impact on future changes. This is all important stuff, but, to be better at what I do, to achieve what I set out to achieve, i’ve also realised that it’s not only important for HR pro’s to focus on the big stuff, but its equally as important to look at doing the day-to-day work better too.

Taking the time to review every word that we draft on a job advert, avoiding cliches and investing in accuracy over spin is a small change that can have a big impact.

Spending time to genuinely think of the problem that i’m trying to resolve, before jumping to a solution, can take a relatively short time and will avoid a false economy. Being more evidence-based can help us make a small change that can have a big impact.

Making slight changes to how we greet candidates for an interview, design the icebreaker of a training course, draft letters, support an employee suffering with ill-health are all examples of how we can make small changes and yet be substantially more effective in our roles.

Sometimes it’s not just about the big stuff, the everyday tasks are just as important too.