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Unconscious Bias

Handling Difficult Conversations

Anyone in a role managing staff within their organisation will need to be handling difficult conversations from time to time. Whether it’s talking to someone in your department about their work not quite being up to standard, managing team dynamics or dealing with a difficult personal matter that someone wants to talk to you about, conversations which may make you feel uncomfortable can’t be entirely avoided. In fact, they are a key part of strong line management and leadership. So, how can you deal with them in a more effective way?

The first step is to ensure that you are the right person to have the conversation with the member of staff. Should it be dealt with by a line manager, referred to HR or perhaps to a more senior manager? Assuming you are the right person, don’t avoid having that difficult conversation or put it off, tempting as that might be.

These are often very important discussions to have and delaying them, or, avoiding them altogether, can cause real problems. Not addressing an issue when it arises, can give the employee the impression that it’s not that important. It can also lead to low staff morale if the issue relates to a team problem. In an appraisal context, appraisers are often keen to focus on the positives and avoid having any conversation about areas which could be improved. This can mean that poor performance can go unaddressed for years, with appraisal records showing only glowing reports. At the point at which the performance needs to be tackled, this can cause real problems for employers.

Difficult conversations can be uncomfortable because they take us out of our comfort zone. They may not go as we plan or people may become upset or confrontational.

Good preparation is key.

Check the facts relating to the issue you want to discuss, and check any relevant policies or procedures. Make sure you have the necessary support from HR or your line manager if you need it. Take control of the discussion, and set the agenda. Communicate the issues and give examples and evidence to support what you are saying. Make sure the member of staff has the opportunity to respond and try to give effective and objective feedback. Try to keep calm, even if the staff member becomes emotional. Be professional; while it can be appealing to approach these discussions as a friendly colleague, and of course you do need to be understanding in your approach, it is best to approach in a professional manner.

Take notes and highlight any actions that will need to be completed after the meeting.

It is important to recognise that emotions are likely to be involved; both the employee’s and yours. It may be difficult to predict how the staff member will react. They may be angry, or they may become upset. Similarly, recognise that your emotions may be involved in this, but stay as calm as possible.

It is critical to try to end the discussion with a plan for the way forward. This will set boundaries around the issue in hand. Discuss the options with the member of staff, make a decision and agree on follow ups or reviews and where appropriate, a date and time for a further meeting.
Narrow Quay HR can help you and your line managers to deal with difficult conversations by offering training sessions on this and other essential HR topics for line managers.

For more details, please get in touch.

improving employee engagement

How to improve employee engagement should be a real focus in the work of leaders, managers, team heads and of course HR professionalsHow to improve employee engagement should be a real focus in the work of leaders, managers, team heads and of course HR professionals.

Employees are the heart blood of every organisation. Without them there is no organisation. Some businesses allocate countless resources to their branding, marketing, production, innovation and business development, and place their people lower down the list of priorities.

People are what makes the organisation tick and so figuring out how to improve their engagement should be high on the list from board meetings to day to day operations.

We would love to share our experience with you to see how we might work together to improve the engagement of your staff. Please get in touch.

In the meantime you might be interested in visiting Engage for Success.

Budget 2017 Key Points for Employers

The Autumn Budget 2017 has highlighted a number of key points that Employers need to consider for their organisations and people.

Wages

The Government has confirmed that it has accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) for increases to the national living wage (NLW) and the national minimum wage (NMW). Accordingly, from April 2018 the Government will increase the NLW, which applies to workers aged 25 and over, by 4.4% from £7.50 to £7.83. The LPC has estimated that this will benefit over 2 million workers. At the same time, the NMW rates will be increased as follows:

  • from £7.05 to £7.38 for 21 to 24 year olds;
  • from £5.60 to £5.90 for 18 to 20 year olds;
  • from £4.05 to £4.20 for 16 and 17 year olds; and
  • from £3.50 to £3.70 for apprentices.

Taxation

In accordance with its commitment to raise the personal allowance (PA) to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold (HRT) to £50,000 by 2020, the Government has announced that in the 2018/19 tax year the PA and HRT will be increased to £11,850 and £46,350 respectively. The Government has also announced that, with effect from April 2018, there will be no benefit in kind charges on electricity that employers provide to charge employees’ electric vehicles. The report further details a number of changes the Government will make to the taxation of employee expenses following a call for evidence that was published in March 2017.

Employment Status

The Government has stated that it will publish a discussion paper as part of its response to the Taylor review of employment practices, which will explore the case and options for longer-term reform to make employment status tests for both employment rights and tax clearer. It has acknowledged that this is an important and complex issue, and it will therefore work with stakeholders to ensure that any potential changes are considered carefully.

Source: UK Government

The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his 2017 Autumn Budget speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday 22 November. On the same day, the full Budget report was published by the Government.

Please contact us for help with understanding and implementing any of the key points above.

staff appraisals

Staff appraisals and their link to pay can be one of a manager’s most challenging and contentious moments in their role.

Narrow Quay HR has a bespoke training designed as a package of services to help schools, businesses and health practices create, and delivery a robust and effective appraisal process.

The bespoke four hour appraisal training workshop includes:

The importance of appraisals and the legal context in which they are held
How to conduct an effective appraisal – they skills needed, how to set objectives and how to assess performance
Practical guidance and real life examples
How to tackle performance concerns and interplay with the capability procedure

The workshop is designed to provide practical training to those carrying out appraisals in schools, businesses and health practice and covers the skills that are needed as well as the wider context of the appraisal system.

We also focus on providing strategic advice and can provide a suite of tailored appraisal documentation.

So how does the Effective Staff Appraisal workshop happen? Initially we will meet with you to discuss your current appraisal process, concerns over the current process and your key aims. We will then provide written recommendations of the practical steps you need to implement or improve within your appraisal system.

This will be accompanied by a comprehensive suite of appraisal documents including: guidance for appraisers and appraisees; an appraisal policy; appraisal forms; and a letter to staff, introducing them to your new system.

We have worked with many different organisations, reviewing their pay policies and can work with you to ensure that your policy is legally compliant and operates to support your strategic aims, including linking pay with performance where appropriate.

We are on hand every step of the way to support you with implementation of the new policy and to help address any implications for staff.

Please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias is a hot topic right now. The progress towards creating a more diverse workforce at all levels is an objective that most employers are focusing on today.

Raising awareness and investing in staff development in this area through the use of interactive workshops and training is key.

Unconscious bias is a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It happens automatically and is triggered by our brains making quick judgements and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.

Unconscious bias can occur in many situations and in relation to many prejudices, which could include, but are not restricted to: Physical characteristics or appearances; Social context; Stereotyping and favouritism

Research has shown that unconscious bias is a habit that can be changed.

We run workshops that can help to highlight the role unconscious bias can play and provide practical strategies to mitigate its effects. This will help leaders and managers to make fair and transparent decisions and minimise discrimination.

Our unconscious bias workshops are a key strategic tool in promoting equality and diversity within your workplace and eradicating unlawful discrimination.

The workshop covers: Key concepts from the Equality Act 2010 including the protected characteristics and the types of discrimination; Examples of the Equality Act in practice; Exploring unconscious bias and how it can impact in the workplace; Practical advice on how to mitigate the effects of unconscious bias.

Please get in touch for more information and to book a workshop for you and your team.

Bristol HR Club hosts a seminar for HR Professionals, Finance Directors, HR Managers, Heads of HR, Business Managers, as well as Practice Managers, GP Business Manager and Assistant Practice Managers.

Removal of Tribunal Fees – How Might it Affect Your Business or Practice?

In a Supreme Court ruling that has thrown Tribunals into chaos, Employment Tribunal fees have been declared unlawful and abolished overnight.

As an employer, you may be wondering where this decision might leave your organisation. In a system where once again, there is no monetary barrier to Employment Tribunal litigation, will the floodgates open?

In this session we will be considering the practical impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. We will also be taking you through the litigation process from start to finish, sharing some of our top tips for avoiding litigation and protecting your position along the way.

Who Should Attend?

  • HR Professionals
  • Finance Directors
  • HR Managers
  • Heads of HR
  • Business Managers
  • Practice Managers
  • GP Business Manager
  • Assistant Practice Managers

This event is now fully booked. To add your name to the waiting list, please call 0117 314 5332. 

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