Following on from Conscious HR part 1 of a few days ago, where I explained that Conscious HR is not a one size fits all and is open to individual interpretation, here are some more examples and ideas which hopefully give a feeling of what I am trying to convey. As before, please consider this as thought provoking rather than didactic. Please feel free to challenge me and reprovoke my thoughts!
- Happy colleagues are more likely to stay. Measure the wellbeing of your colleagues with regular anonymous polls – maintain a wellbeing index that gives an immediate snapshot of what your colleagues are feeling – if it starts to slip, act quickly!
- Incorporate regular two-way progress checks with each colleague – keep it informal but honest, exploring concerns on an open basis. Whatever you do, don’t go down the archaic annual appraisal route – that is simply too painful and too slow for all concerned.
- Learning and Development is a cornerstone of CB – agree group and individual goals and methods which reflect the needs of the organisation and its members. Be realistic and ensure there are checks and counterbalances.
- Be proactive – don’t simply apply the letter of the law. I remember an incident at my workplace some 20 years ago – Paul lost his cool and stormed off site – the classic response in those days was to consider that as gross misconduct and terminate the contract of employment without notice. Instead, I took his manager around to Paul’s house – Paul was eating fish and chips and had cooled down! I offered him the option of returning to work and apologising to his colleagues which he took and ended up staying within the business for another 15 years. We all learned lessons from that which helped us in the longer term.
- Think of the termination of a contract of employment as a redeployment, regardless of the reason behind it – the colleague in question will be seeking to work elsewhere if not retiring and I feel it is the responsibility of the organisation to help that person successfully redeploy.
- Sometimes, certain people do not flourish in certain organisations – this can be for any number of reasons. Try to work together to understand why something isn’t working and then fix it. If the fix is not possible then agree a way forward.
For example, someone may simply have a dream of wanting to work in an entirely different field to the organisation’s area of activity – if the individual has contributed well in the past, why not help them to achieve that goal by talking initiatives such as gradually releasing and even funding them to retrain in other sphere?
- There will be occasions when a colleague and an organisation are at odds with each other and a recourse to employment law is mooted. Try to avoid this if at all possible but if unable to do so, remain fair, human and always prepared to pick up the telephone to talk – don’t hide behind convoluted documents.
I am often asked to help in what would be termed ‘tricky’ situations – technically, I am acting on behalf of the organisation but I make it clear from the outset that I will only do what is fair for both parties. During that process I regularly interface with lawyers – regrettably, very few of them on either side of the fence really understand that it is possible in essence to act for both parties in a dispute. (My personal view is that most lawyers are conditioned to be constricted by the law and to apply it robotically and expensively without regard to the human situation in hand – hands up for Conscious Law anyone?!).
I will always encourage an organisation to be more generous than the law dictates – surely it is far better to support the colleague financially than to pay a lawyer a similar or greater amount for applying the law with pressure to avoid such a non-statutory payment?
The irony is in that in order to communicate honestly and to be generous, one has to make initial moves that some employment advisors can try to present in a hostile light – my advice is not to allow fear of the law prevent one from trying to do the right thing.
The key is that at the end of redeployment process, both the organisation and the colleague have parted with a degree of amicability and good feeling, even if both have had to compromise.
These are just ideas and tips on elements of Conscious HR – some of many ways to make the workplace and the people in it happy, healthy and profitable.
In a recent meeting of people keen on the principles of CB, I did sense that commencing and travelling the journey can be challenging from a simply practical perspective.
Do you think there would be interest in some ‘toolkits’ which assist this process? I am visualising some checklists and flow diagrams which provoke thought and simplify action.
This is something that a group of us are thinking about creating over the coming months for use in our consultancy lives – would be good to know if there is any interest!