Tips for better HR practice...

Steve Bridger

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Community Manager

10 Jul, 2018 07:56

Neil Morrison is HR Director for Severn Trent Water and a Board member @CIPD. Neil has written a short but insightful post on his blog entitled 7 tips for better HR practice.

I'm sure Neil won't mind me lifting the first 3 of his tips below. In my view they are brilliantly observed and articulated...

  1. Express a view – don’t fall into the trap of, “it’s my position to advise, you make the choice”. Not only does this annoy managers, it also disempowers you and makes you inessential. Why bother asking you if that’s all you do? Don’t be afraid to express a view and explain why you feel that way, even if others don’t agree no-one will ever disrespect you for having an opinion.
  2. See the person – its easy to get into the view that you need to be commercial, tough and driving the agenda of “the business” and forget about the primary aspect of your role. You can be all of these things and still see the human impact. Never forget to see the person in all choices and decisions, that is your unique lens.
  3. Don’t hide behind policy – similarly to “only advising”, hiding behind policy disempowers you. We know that there are good reasons to have policies, but you need to be able to explain why they’re appropriate and useful, not just quote them. Most decisions will always lie in the margins.

Read the whole post and please feel free to add your own thoughts below.

What would be on your own tips - other than acting professionally most of the time ;)

  • My tip would be to find a network of HR professionals who you trust who you can release some pent up frustrations on. Without breaking confidentiality of course ;)
  • These are great tips... if you're lucky enough to work with well-adjusted professionals who are open to the contribution HR makes to the workplace.

    "...no-one will ever disrespect you for having an opinion."

    Possibly not, but some malicious and unscrupulous individuals (imagine I used a different word to "individuals", there, OK?) will use an opinion against you, whether or not things played out as you expected. I've heard managers say too many times "Well, HR says we've got to do it this way..." to an employee or even a Director when, in fact, I said no such thing.

    "Never forget to see the person in all choices and decisions."

    But don't let the person obscure the bigger picture. I've seen managers and HR professionals talk a good game when it comes to making tough decisions, but the moment they have to look an employee in the eye, their resolve crumbles and they start to compromise. I remember a Director being very angry at me because I had the temerity to give a dimissed employee a lift to the station instead of making him walk. But he was equally fired, whether I showed compassion or not. So by all means treat them like people who deserve respect. But fire them anyway.

    "Most decisions will always lie in the margins"

    Not if you write good policy, they won't. *Occasionally*, decisions will lie in the margins, but if most of your decisions seem to be edge cases, you need to revise your policy.

    "Avoid gossip at all costs, lead with integrity and dignity and never ever use knowledge as power."

    OK, now I'm playing devil's advocate with most of these points, but this one I flat-out disagree with. HR should never, ever be the source of gossip, I agree. But if you can't keep an ear to the ground and your finger on the pulse without pulling a muscle, you'll find yourself flat-footed when the proverbial hits the fan. Knowledge (not assumption, rumour or guesswork) *is* power. If you can be seen as a trustworthy councillor without being pressured to pass on every titbit to senior management, you will be in a position to nip issues in the bud early, gently advise and plan for emergencies before they become emergencies.

    I keep my door closed, but that doesn't mean I can't hear what you're saying on the other side of it!

    "Write for your mum"

    I know what he's saying, here. But the implied sexism/ageism notwithstanding I think this, too, is somewhat wrong. If you want a rule of thumb, I'd say "Write for Facebook": imagine that your every phrase and missive is going to be publicly viewable and available for every Tom, Dick and Harry to comment on, forever. You want maximum shares and minimum tl;dr ("Too Long; Didn't Read").

    "in pretty much any situation there will be information and then THE information"

    This point I mostly agree with, but it does imply that it is somehow possible to get to "the truth". But it isn't. Yes, we should take steps to understand, but we should also accept that we are rarely able to take decisions with perfect knowledge (see above) and there must be an element of judgement applied to our decisions. "THE" information may simply not be within your reach.

    "Assume not only makes an ass out of u and me..."

    Avoid cliches like the plague. ;)

    "You are not HR and they are not THE BUSINESS. End of."

    What? I'm not sure exactly what Neil's trying to say here unless he's just re-stating the point about seeing the person in the situation. But "End of" isn't a constructive way to end any argument.
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    10 Jul, 2018 12:22

    In reply to Meg:

    oh hai *waves*
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Naturally I mean you all here but I save the really foul language for a very small group ;)
  • In reply to Robey:

    I'm enjoying your posts, Robey!

    How do you create good policies?
  • Thanks for this Steve - its really interesting, and also fits with my recent post about the role of HR.

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    16 Jul, 2018 14:55

    In reply to Julie:

    I thought so, too Julie.