In this section we have provided some examples of our work.
A London based charity asked for our help as a third party to carry out an investigation. The case was about a professional employee with performance issues that were complicated by health issues including apparent addiction.
The investigation examined the available information and then met with a number of witnesses to understand the situation(s).
It was found that the employee’s attendance was unreliable at times. This was causing the organisation problems, creating difficulties for other teams and putting a junior support under additional pressure.
A meeting with the individual was described by them as useful. The individual had issues about their pay and grading and welcomed the opportunity to talk this and about their problems with an uninvolved third party. Their issues were in their view unresolved.
A detailed report was provided that provided references to case law, clarified the situation and the range of concerns and issues including approaches to help deal with the individual’s addiction. Subsequently, the individual left the organisation.
DEVELOPING SENSIBLE HR POLICIES – A CASE STUDY
A new small charity based on Oxford asked for a set of HR policies that were sufficiently simple and straightforward to use so that their existing 2-3 line managers could use them to apply to any HR situation in which they found themselves without needing an HR manager in the organisation to advise and guide them.
As a consequence, we developed key policies and step-by-step procedures covering the key employee relations themes of:
- open and transparent recruitment and selection
- handling grievances for mutually beneficial outcomes
- managing poor performance designed to help ‘turn round’ poor performers
- managing absences with the aim of getting people back to work
- dealing with disciplinary issues.
As well as being legally sound, these policies reflected good practice with their focus on managing the situation to everyone’s mutual advantage. All policies were specifically non-contractual to give the organisation freedom to change and develop these should they wish to. So far, over a year into their use ‘live’, no adjustments or revisions have been needed.
SUPPORTING EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF POOR PERFORMERS
A department of a well-known University in the Thames Valley asked for help and advice on managing an existing middle manager whose performance had dipped alarmingly on two key projects that was endangering the future success of the organisation.
On investigation, it became apparent that the manager did not have any objectives set relating to the key projects, had not had any form of appraisal or performance review in the previous three years and no real training on the issues he was meant to be working on. Further investigation revealed that this was the norm for most people in the department.
Working with the management of the department an annual performance and personal development policy and procedure was created along with a system of monthly reviews to enable effective management of all individuals. Initially trialled in one unit in the department that included the erring manager the scheme was so successful that it was applied throughout the department within the year.
And the erring manager? She quickly realised that her performance was an issue once objectives were set, explained and recorded, as well as being followed up in the monthly 1:1 process that was also introduced. As a consequence, once she had a clear focus and set of goals or targets her performance as well as the roll-out of the projects substantially improved, meeting the eventual user requirements and timescales.
HELPING A DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATION
A London-based national charity needed an independent investigation of a grievance brought by own employee against another. All of the relevant managers had been involved in events that led up to the grievance.
Working with the head of HR we set up a series of interviews with key witnesses, prepared key lines of questioning focussing on the details of the grievance and the responses of those named in the grievance, all in line with good practice as recommended in the relevant ACAS guides.
Each witness statement was recorded, written up and presented to the witness to confirm. Following the interviewing of all witnesses, we analysed the responses to gain the best possible understanding of what had actually happened. We then produced a formal investigation report for the head of HR with recommendations for action that resulted in the application of a disciplinary penalty to one employee.
Although appealed against, the work put in by us enabled the charity to effectively manage out a particularly difficult and troublesome individual with the minimum of difficulty in the circumstances.