Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Employee Relations

It's that season for me. Lots and lots of little issues pester and fester until they blow up into awfulness. A couple is too many and we have more than a couple right now. I had a colleague ask me how in the world I got into Employee Relations. He was interested and wanted some advice on what to study and do to grow into that kind of position.

There were a number of career choices that put me into this position. I have a background in Social Work and spent a good part of my work simply listening. To work in the field, you have to be able to listen. Listen long and hard, sincerely and deliberately, without judgment. When you know that someone is blowing smoke up your skirt, that can be very challenging.

I also want to have a good idea of the ideal outcome and some of the side roads we might take getting there. The story, the employee's story, the manager's story and colleagues' stories are all important. Having a full picture of the issues is critical; having as much of a 360 as possible will help you and the people involved.

Experience in mediation and dispute resolution are golden. More places are offering training and classes in these areas. I look for these opportunities to share with our staff.

There are amazing resources out in cyberspace with information, tools and case studies. But nothing will take the place of working through problems with colleagues. As difficult as issues can be, we need willing people to help facilitate delicate conversations, strained relationships and difficult situations. It can be very rewarding work.

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