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Restoring the Peace – Dealing With the Aftermath of the Disciplinary or Grievance Process

It is a regrettable fact of organisational life that, at one time or another, the actions of an employee will lead to the use of your discipline or grievance processes.  But managing these as effective procedures is only half the challenge.  What frequently follows, in the wake of these cases is the breakdown of relationships, confidence and trust; sometimes spreading well beyond those directly involved and seriously damaging your organisation’s bottom line.

So how do you rebuild relationships that have been badly damaged and where confidence has been broken?  And crucially, from a business perceptive, how do you restore the former productivity of members of staff?  We believe that using a Restorative Approach (RA) answers these questions, by seeking to resolve the complex employee issues involved.

In most workplace disciplinary or grievance cases, the victim of another person’s actions rarely gets to contribute to the disciplinary or grievance process, apart from giving their evidence to a third party investigating the issues raised.  There is little prospect for either employee to explain how their lives have been affected by the incident, no right to discuss the hurt and stress suffered with the other employee involved and frequently no opportunity to make reparation.  Apart from any sanction handed to the perpetrator, there is also the question of their longer term behaviour and their tainted profile within the workforce.

RA applies a proven dispute resolution concept from the community justice area, a process designed to reduce the damage caused by unresolved disputes and to begin the work of rebuilding trust and confidence.

What the Process Involves

After the conclusion of the disciplinary or grievance issue, RA focuses on beginning a conversation between the parties involved, giving each party a chance explore what has happened and explain the impact it has had on their lives and their ability to continue doing their job.  For both parties, it is a chance to be heard – to explain how they have been personally affected by the actions of the other, to respond  and to take steps to repair the damage.

RA starts when both employees voluntarily agree to take part in the process. An independent facilitator meets the employees involved, to explore their perspective on the incident.  This may be the first time each employee has been listened to impartially, confidentially or without being judged.

The employees are then encouraged to come together in a facilitated joint meeting. The facilitator ensures the meeting offers a safe and controlled environment in which to express emotion, speak frankly and confront difficult issues, with restoring trust and building an effective working relationship being the focus of the discussion.  The employees decide on what issues will be discussed and how their ongoing relationship will be maintained, which might include a change of behaviour or attitudes in their future working relationship.  The facilitator may also encourage the parties to consider the wider work group and the impact the case has had on colleagues within the organisation.

At arc we believe it is a mistake to consider the disciplinary or grievance process in isolation as it may not conclude when one employee has been handed a sanction, or their employment terminated.    For both line managers and HR professionals, coping with the after effects of disciplinary and grievance cases can be both time consuming, demanding and expensive.  Although little used in employment disputes, RA offers the opportunity for human resource professionals to begin resolving post dispute issues in a new way, offering a unique opportunity for positive and final closure of an incident, cultivating deep seated cultural change.

For the vast majority of organisations, people are, and will continue to be, their most valuable asset.  Following disciplinary or grievance cases, leaving employee relationships in a state of disrepair simply cannot be in the employers’ or employees’ best interests.

How to Avoid Your Valuable Employees Being Poached By Competitors

In the last blog ‘Damage Limitation – Reducing The Loss When Your Employees Are Poached By Competitors’ my colleague Dave Warren quoted a recent CIPD People Management article ‘Who’s After Your Staff?’ [September 2014] which suggested poaching is an increasingly worrying trend in some sectors. No organisation wants to lose its key employees that it has spent time and money training, especially to its competitors. At a time when training and development budgets have been slashed it is vital that organisations are mindful of the link between recognition and coaching as a way to improve staff performance and retention.

Managers need to find the time to talk to their direct reports. Dave Olsen, CEO at Walton Consultancy, found 90% of employees say recognition makes them better motivated. Tom Peters, the world famous management Guru, has said the four most important words for a manager are “What do you think?” That it is the person actually doing the job who knows how to do it best. Employees have opinions and you, the organisation, want to hear them. Involve employees, listen to what they have to say, give them a voice in decision making.

Also, research suggests employees want to be stretched and helped to find their own answers and solutions. The importance of a manager’s role in coaching their direct reports to facilitate achievement of their goals and objectives, builds the skills and expertise to produce the results the organisation needs. Fraser Marlow, Head of Research at Blessing White found 87% of direct reports agree or strongly agree that “in general, I like to be coached.” Coaching is seen by two thirds of staff as greatly improving job performance and job satisfaction. Fraser Marlow found only 52% of employees said they were coached. We can infer from this that managers are not doing as much coaching as they should to develop and support staff.

For an organisations leaders and managers ensuring a coaching and recognition culture is a low cost, no cost option of motivating and retaining employees. People, relationships, involvement and recognition matter especially in today’s tough competitive business world. The message is clear for organisations who want to keep key staff and retain their competitive edge.

Author: Karen Patrick

Damage Limitation – Reducing The Loss When Your Employees Are Poached By Competitors

The recent CIPD People Management article ‘Who’s After Your Staff?‘(September 2014) suggests that poaching is an increasingly worrying trend in some sectors. As training and development budgets have been slashed, the poaching of staff has become an increasingly attractive proposition. With the departure of any high value employee there’s a lot to think about:
• Loss of intellectual property.
• The employee takes their valuable network of contacts with them.
• Loss of their expert contribution to the organisation.
• Potential for post departure legal action.
• Damage to your company’s reputation if the split is acrimonious (e.g. social media).
If a high value employee is poached and you can’t stop them leaving, how do you protect your organisation from potential loss and expensive legal fees, particularly where contractual Restrictive Covenants are lacking or obsolete?
Generally only considered in order to maintain the employment relationship, mediation can also be used at its end, to find agreement on the conditions under which an employee leaves the organisation. Mediation is especially effective if the split is acrimonious or where the employee has commercially sensitive or valuable information that your organisation wants to protect. In the article, Kevin Green – chair of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, states that when poaching occurs ‘Ninety percent of cases you solve amicably, because you want people to leave on good terms so you don’t end up in a legal situation, or get a reputation as a troublesome employer.’ For the remaining ten per cent, especially where the risk of loss is substantial, we think there’s a strong case for mediation. And, given the chance to voice their concerns and dissatisfaction, the employee might even reconsider their decision to leave.

Restoring relationships, a neighbourhood mediation example…

Background
A housing officer had an ongoing problem with two tenants resulting in a regular weekly complaint phone call into the office from one or other tenant. The situation had deteriorated to such an extent that the neighbours did not speak, got to each other through their kids and were deliberately inconsiderate and difficult toward each other.
The housing officer had wrote letters, spoke individually to the tenants and even had them into the office to speak to them about their issues. As a last resort the housing officer referred the case for mediation.
Outcome
The neighbours whilst not exactly friends are now on speaking terms. Since the mediation the housing officer had has no complaints from either tenant.
The mediators were able to get the neighbours to talk to one another when they would not do so before, through mediation the neighbours were able to find a way to get along.
To quote the housing officer “I don’t know how they did it. I will certainly use mediation again.”
arc, alternative resolutions to conflict, are here to help. We:
• Lay the foundations for repairing the damage caused by disputes
• We help to rebuild relationships
• We minimise unproductive time spent on disputes and associated costs
• We bring people together using mediation and conciliation
• We offer one to one support
• We deliver training
The earlier a dispute is referred the greater the chance of an effective and lasting solution.

Legal Aid For Neighbourhood Dispute Cases?

The Low Commission, reporting on the 9.1.14, recommended that legal aid should be made available for housing disrepair and right to quiet enjoyment cases (http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/).  Given the current government’s directive to reduce the legal aid fees by 30%, and considering the current public sector deficit (£185 billion), this seems very unlikely.  So if people don’t have the money to resort to a traditional legal solution, what are the alternatives?  Read more