Navigating Internal Conflict – The Power of Skilled Mediation for In-House HR Teams

Are you part of an in-house HR team frustrated by the challenges of resolving internal conflicts? If so, you’re not alone.

Internal conflict resolution can hit a snag for various reasons but fear not! Here are some common hurdles and ways to overcome them:

1. Lack of Participation: Sometimes, parties may be reluctant to fully engage in a process to resolve the conflict, hindering progress. Try and encourage open communication and suggest mediation, emphasising the benefits. Remember that participating in mediation is entirely voluntary and no one should be forced into it. I’m always happy to have an informal chat with anyone who is unsure if they want to participate.

2. Imbalance of Power: In certain cases, there may be an imbalance of power between parties, affecting the dynamics when trying to resolve internally. A skilled mediator can mitigate this by creating a safe and unbiased space for all involved however it might make people reluctant to start so reassuring people that it is a safe space will really help.

3. Inadequate Preparation: Insufficient preparation by both parties can impede the effectiveness of any informal internal process. Encouraging parties to come prepared with their concerns and desired outcomes is essential. As a mediator I make sure I am clear on what the issues are, how it has impacted them, what their needs and goals are so I can help facilitate a positive outcome.

4. Lingering Resentment: If conflicts have been ongoing, deep-rooted resentment may persist despite best efforts (another reason why mediation should be a first resort and not a last resort). Regular follow-ups and continued support may be necessary to address any lingering issues. It is sometimes helpful to encourage the parties to share their agreement with a trusted manager, for example in HR, so that they can offer inhouse, onsite support ongoing to ensure their agreement is kept to.

5. Miscommunication: Misunderstandings usually occur during an escalating conflict. Active listening and clear communication can help prevent misinterpretations and facilitate meaningful dialogue. I always find it helpful to summarise at regular intervals to check that we are all clear on what is being discussed.

6. Lack of Closure: Some internal grievance processes may not result in a clear resolution, leaving parties feeling unsatisfied. During mediation, we explore alternative approaches or best-case alternatives to an agreement where these might be appropriate, as well as discussing what the worst-case scenario will be if they don’t reach an agreement.

Recognising these challenges underscores the importance of a seasoned, neutral mediator. Internal processes hold value, but an external mediator can deftly navigate these complexities.

Remember, you don’t have to navigate these choppy waters alone. Let me be your resolution partner. Reach out and I can help!

Navigating Employee Appeals:  The Crucial Role of an External HR Consultant

What do you do when an employee appeals a decision during a disciplinary process?

Picture this: after a meticulous disciplinary procedure, you’ve made a tough decision to dismiss an employee for gross misconduct. Just when you thought the process was behind you, an appeal lands on your desk.

Appeals are a vital part of the fair process, as stipulated by the ACAS code of practice on disciplinary procedures. However, handling these appeals presents unique challenges, especially for small businesses or those navigating limited internal resources.

Enter the solution: an external HR consultant to oversee the appeal process. Here’s why this can be your smartest move:

  1. Neutral and Objective Perspective: External consultants bring impartiality, ensuring a fair hearing that’s free from internal biases. Their objectivity ensures decisions are based solely on the case’s merits.
  2. Expertise in Employment Law: While internal managers may lack legal expertise, HR consultants offer in-depth knowledge of employment law, ensuring compliance and minimizing legal risks.
  3. Fresh Insights and Experience: Consultants offer diverse HR experience, providing innovative approaches and spotting potential pitfalls that might be overlooked internally.
  4. Reduced Conflict of Interest: Bringing in external consultants alleviates conflicts of interest arising from internal involvement in the dismissal process, ensuring transparency and objectivity.
  5. Confidentiality and Efficiency: Maintaining confidentiality, consultants streamline the process, avoiding delays often caused by internal scheduling conflicts. Their efficiency expedites resolution.
  6. Enhanced Credibility: External oversight enhances the appeal’s credibility, fostering trust among employees and demonstrating a commitment to fair processes.

When an appeal arises, seeking external expertise ensures fairness, compliance, and efficiency. As an experienced HR consultant, I specialize in overseeing appeals. Get in touch today for an informal chat about how I can help you.

What to Do When Faced with Unfair Dismissal Accusations During the Redundancy Process

What to Do When Faced with Unfair Dismissal Accusations During the Redundancy Process

What to Do When Faced with Unfair Dismissal Accusations During the Redundancy Process

Dealing with an employee’s claim of unfair dismissal amidst a redundancy process is a scenario I’ve encountered in my in-house HR manager days as well as in my HR consultancy practice. It’s a question that arises frequently with my clients. Despite meticulous preparation, thorough business cases, and adherence to fair processes, employees might assert, “This isn’t right, it’s an unfair dismissal.”

In my experience, in about 8 out of 10 cases, what they truly mean is, “This just feels unfair.” They’re grappling with the emotional weight of the situation, feeling disillusioned about a decision that seemingly contradicts their hard work and the positive rapport they shared with their employer. Rarely does it signify a belief in genuine unfair dismissal.

So, if faced with this accusation, consider the following five tips:

Clarify the Current Stage: Remind the employee that until a final decision is reached, no dismissal has occurred. This can help them engage more effectively in the consultation process.

Don’t panic: Remember, to successfully defend against a claim of unfair dismissal, employers need to demonstrate a fair reason (like redundancy, which is one of the five fair reasons for dismissal) and that they followed a fair process.  If you know you are doing that, you’re fine.

Educate About the Process: Start by explaining the purpose of each meeting, the overall process, and what both parties can expect. Providing an internal FAQ document or referring to ACAS guidance can be immensely beneficial for their understanding.

Seek Outside Perspective: If you’re uncertain about any aspect, seeking advice, especially from an external source, can be invaluable. It’s an extra layer of assurance that you’re proceeding correctly. I offer a complimentary 30-minute consultation for new clients so you’re always welcome to book in call with me to chat things through.

Embrace the Appeal Process: If the employee raises the accusation post-dismissal, remember, the right to appeal is pivotal. It provides an opportunity for a thorough review and a chance to rectify any missteps. Engaging a neutral third party, like an independent HR consultant, for the appeal is highly advisable.

If you’re feeling uncertain or need support with your redundancy process, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact me at [email protected] or schedule a call at your convenience.