So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Bullied by my boss in 2008, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I started this blog. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him." I was unaware back then that it would catalogue one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying in the UK. I've found another job, but am subject to a gagging order. I'm still blogging, of course. Just don't tell the lawyers!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Judge & Jury

I’d like to extent a huge thank you to everyone who left comments on the HR debate. The feedback has given me serious food for thought.

It seems I’m not alone in considering HR to be a role of conflict of interest.

Every one of the comments left here (or on Katherine Connolly’s HR blog) agreed with this point. However, a many readers took it a stage further, allowing HR the mitigation that they were often not sufficiently trained to deal with such complexities.

On researching the point, it seems they’re right. An ACAS study revealed that from an ‘Opportunity Now’ survey of 800 line managers, 59% of female managers and 74% of male managers felt ill-equipped to deal with bullying. Aren’t these the same line managers who are supposedly giving HR the resources to deal with it instead?

When it’s one staff member accusing another of abuse – the only in-house option is for HR to play Judge & jury. How many people would rise to that challenge? Even Trade Unions baulk when faced with representing both the accused and the accuser in cases of bullying.

Helen Frewin makes the pertinent point that the role of HR has transitioned, whilst the training has remained the same. And allnottinghambasearebelongtous’ comment that HR staff are often from an admin background further supports Helen’s observation. I’m sure there was a time when recruiting for HR from an administrative background was appropriate. This is certainly no longer the case.

Trying to see it more from a HR perspective, the pressure HR receives from management can also be intense. Management routinely views employees with problems as one or all of the following:-

1. They’re creating an unwelcome distraction to business.
2. They are a potential legal/financial liability.
3. They want to turn the workplace into a Courtroom drama.

Until the situation is resolved, management will be constantly chasing HR for progress updates.

Sadly, the situation in most cases (as the example from Fiona WordsBird shows) is that the accuser is terminated. Remove them – and you’ve removed the immediate problem. HR can relax, management can relax and the bully can relax. It’s difficult for HR to try a different approach when jobs are on the line. I’m sure many feel it’s not the place to experiment with outcomes.

But this, it seems, is the point. Things have changed. HR has to play Judge and jury whether they like it or not – to ensure a fair outcome. And they need to be trained accordingly. They can’t be allowed to continue to overrule the target for a quiet life.

Anything has to be better than the situation at present, where HR’s refusal or inability to play the Judge has them holding every victim of bullying in contempt.

Best wishes


1 comment:

svbenoit said...

Hello there: I wanted to let you know that I am a consultant and HR professional who believes strongly that there is no place for abuse and intimidation in the workplace. Though a timid or less committed HR person might see a conflict, I do not. The problem employee is the bully. The target is the victim. The bully must change their behavior or risk termination. Period.

I wrote a book about this aimed at helping managers break the silence about what they see and providing tools to move forward with a performance counseling to toxic employees who bully others.

I am glad you write about this and enjoy exchanging tweets with you.
@HRSociology (Suzanne Benoit)

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