Risky Business: Why Calmer Thinking Prevails in Employee Relations
There are a few different profiles when it comes to organizational risk as it pertains to Employee Relations. You have the organizations that slap-happy risky. These are the companies that do whatever they want without regard for consequences. They expect employee claims and suits to come against them, but that doesn’t move them much. Often times, these companies have money – making it even easier for them to settle a dispute and move on somewhat unscathed.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have the risk-averse organizations who would rather die than to be sued by an employee. These companies mean well, but their approach to ER issues are equally as damaging as the slap-happy risky companies. Their penchant for going above and beyond to avoid and/or remedy claims or conflict is admirable – yet not a surefire way for eradicating the possibility of any future ER issues.
Employee claims will happen.
Try as you may, someone in your organization will make a claim on you at some point. The key is to not panic and plan your next step from a place of fear.
I am often perplexed when I see people with zero stomach for having to relay difficult messages or dealing with litigious matters in Employee Relations positions. Why would you do that to someone? Better yet, why would you do that to your organization?
There are places for the meek in every organization. I’m not sure that Employee Relations is the place where I would place really nice, but indecisive people. Conversely, it isn’t the place for bull-headed individuals either. Decisive, critical-thinking, and calm are just some of the necessary attributes that come to mind when I think of the nature of the work in Employee Relations.
Here’s an example:
Recently, I heard from someone who was finishing up an investigation regarding a manager and employee at odds. The final disposition report was written up and submitted to the general counsel at the company. Due to some of the risque findings and the level of the manager, general counsel suggested that the actual findings be kept separate from the final report. He also asked for “tweaking” of some of the wording in the final report.
This tampering with the investigation write-up was not solid advice. One of the two investigators were part of the risk-averse family and panicked. Off he went revising the language of this report from what was intended to something more “frilly” and less harsh.
It was the second investigator that questioned the revisions to the report – only to get concurrence from general counsel that it was both necessary and right to leave the report as-is. Granted the guidance from general counsel was not clear, but if something doesn’t seem right – do we not ask questions or make better suggestions?
Some may argue that it was risky to question the general counsel’s order, but the reality is the employee being affected by her manager’s behavior would file a lawsuit in a heartbeat if somehow all that she claimed is painted in a different light to suit the manager’s stature in the organization. Reacting frantically to what was asked of the investigation team without considering the potential impact to the investigation is a rookie move – not to mention that fudged findings can put you on litigious ground unnecessarily.
Calmer heads in Employee Relations will always prevail.
Managing risk and conducting investigations requires a certain temperament. You need to be able to ask the right questions that will lead you to the answers you seek. We also need to welcome collegial discourse that allows one party to respectfully question a practice that doesn’t seem right without being seen as a troublemaker.
In my experience, the power of managing risk from an employee relations standpoint is in the concerted efforts among all of the team members that touch the process.
If you are in charge of an HR department, please be sure you are putting the right people in ER positions and not just anyone who thinks they can do the job. Please and thank you!
Advisors Will Be Extinct in 5 Years Unless…
I’ve had financial advisors for more than 40 years. Not once in those years have I called my advisor to find out what stock/funds I should buy or sell. But I have called to find out where I should get my first mortgage, when to sell my house, or how much income I could get in retirement.
In short -- and I think I’m pretty typical – I was looking for financial advice, as it relates to my life.
Here’s the disconnect, what most advisors do is simply manage their clients’ assets. They determine what to buy, and what to sell, they think about risk management, about growing their practice by finding new clients and about getting paid.
Historically that has been the business model. But as more women take control over financial assets, they, like me, will be looking for a different experience. And unless the financial community is willing to change ….. advisors, as they are today will be extinct in five years.
Advisors who want to survive will have to do a lot more than just manage money – they will have to provide genuine “advice”. That means doing what’s right for the client, not pushing product and pretending it’s advice.
Women especially, but all investors generally, are becoming more and more cynical. They says, “If I want advice about reducing my debt, that’s what I want and not ‘here’s more debt’ because that’s what my advisor gets paid for! And if saving taxes is what I want then saving taxes should take precedent over selling me a product.”
You may be thinking that spending your time providing advice isn’t lucrative but the reality is that in the long run – it pays off in spades. The advisors who take the time to build real relationships with clients, who provide advice as it relates to their clients’ lives, even when there is no immediate financial benefit to themselves, those who don’t simply push product – are the ones who over time have the most successful practices.
Generally women understand and value service, but they will say, “If I’m paying, I want to know what I’m paying for: Is it for returns? Is it for advice? Is it for administration? I want to know. Then I can make up my mind what’s worth it and what isn’t.”
Investing is becoming a commoditized business and technology is replacing research that no one else can find. Today the average advisor is hard pressed to consistently beat the markets, and with women emerging as the client of the future, unless they start providing real advice, their jobs will likely be extinct in five years.
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