How to do an Impartial Hearing at HR.
1. Don’t use an OPs or area manager, especially if the grievance is against an OPs manager from the neighbouring area of the hearing manager. That wouldn’t be impartial, wouldn’t it?
2. Let 2 HR advisors do the hearing, not a manager from the operations side, as they will be in the dilemma later on when working again with the manager the grievance was against. That dilemma would force the hearing manager to not be impartial, wouldn’t it?
3. Always investigate properly and interview all witnesses named.
4. Hear the issues brought by the one who raises the grievance first before you speak to the person the grievance is against, otherwise you compromise impartiality, wouldn’t you? If you speak to the person the grievance is against first you disqualified yourself as being impartial.
5. Don’t prejudge by offering YOUR interpretation without having investigated after having heard the complaint. If you offer your interpretation of a misconduct, you show very clear that you are not impartial and are not taking the complaints raised serious. You judge the outcome already without having fully heard the complaint and without having full investigated and asked the other side and possible witnesses.
6. Decline doing a hearing when you have personal conflict. For example, let’s say you have a brother who died a while ago under unknown circumstances, and let’s really be imaginative and say your brother was dead in his flat for days before he was discovered. Yes, crazy story, I know, but let’s just go with a crazy story like this. And let’s say HR approaches you and tells you that there is an angry employee who does not stay quiet after being bullied, because… Well, let’s say that employee also happens to have a brother who was dead in his flat for days before he was found. I know, it’s one of those Hollywood stories, watched too many movies messing with the imagination.
But let’s just stick with a crazy story like this. So, your brother is dead, almost same time and circumstances then the employee’s brother. And the plan is that the angry employee who was bullied during that terrible time of grief, where unfortunately HR was involved (but keep that to yourself), and that’s where you and your brother come in. You do the disciplinary against the angry employee because she wouldn’t stop emailing. We are not concerned about her being ill or how we can really help her, we want to move towards dismissing her. The disciplinary would be the first step and we think that only you can reach her, as you have a similar loss.
And of course you can get into contact with that employee, but unofficially as you are not allowed to be in contact and we of course don’t know anything. If something goes wrong, we will dismiss the employee fast, you just lose your face for a while, but you will protected. And to add to our crazy imagination we would even dismiss the employee, let’s say if her father would be in intensive care, just out of a coma.
And let’s add something more, imagine you also happen to be a Hypnotherapist and let’s say even NLP practitioner, you could use these manipulation tools and maybe even get some information for your therapy studies and our own Training Material.
So, since we have no tools, no resources, no courage and plainly we don’t care, but we want to stick to our slogan that we do “the right thing naturally”, we thought that you were kind of sent from heaven to be the perfect hearing manager. …
So, this would be just an example of course, but it would be an opportunity for you to decline being the hearing manager as you would have personal conflict, stuck between a rock and a hard place, pleasing HR or with integrity helping the angry employee in the open. Would be tough, wouldn’t it?
7. If you are not impartial and HR goes along with dishonest hearings, and someone in the future raises a grievance against you, you will always have to compromise and play games to have the hearing in your favour. That means, you will always have to “kiss the butt” of HR. If you don’t, you know that any grievance raised against you will be at the mercy of HR. So, you are in a bigger dilemma, if you follow the truth and make difficult decisions based on facts and not on lies, you won’t cater to HR and they will “pay back” when the time comes. But you will have a clean conscience in the long term, and people will trust you when they need to.
It’s a simple principle many people don’t pay attention to, that when someone who is vulnerable, in need of help, and someone misuses their position (strength, power, wealth…) to not help the vulnerable, when the vulnerable get strength back they will tell their story. And when the person who abused their position is in need of help, they may find themself alone without help as people always remember who helped them in time of need.
Doing the Late Night Girl thing naturally.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
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