I often get asked about an HR or employment situation that someone is going through, where they want guidance and advice. However, before I am able to offer a solution or advice, I need to understand what has occurred. My default in these situations is to ask the person to talk me through the scenario from the very start, all the way to where we are now;

  • I listen very carefully while maintaining eye contact and make mental notes to help piece together the situation to better understand what has happened.
  • By actively listening, I can focus on using my knowledge and expertise to think through some options before I can give them the best possible advice or solution.
  • This sounds simple but it actually isn’t. You have to be a very good listener and find clues to go back and ask questions about later.

While I am actively listening;

  • My mind is picturing the situation and the interactions that have happened. I am also thinking about the process that should be followed.
  • Usually, if it is an unpleasant outcome, there are high emotions involved and people let them overtake their ability to make clear decisions. This gives me the opportunity to step in and give rational advice but also gives me an insight into the motivation of the situation.

Once I have heard the details that have been relayed and I have a good understanding of what has happened;

  • I ask questions about important events in the timeline to confirm the solid facts which then allows me to complete the full picture of events but also to start building my response.
  • I talk the person through how the correct process should have happened at each step, giving the person insight into the factors that may have influenced the outcome.
  • What I am not doing is immediately taking their side by agreeing that they have been hard done by if they feel aggrieved – solving the problem is the focus.
  • Then, I talk them through a variety of next steps, highlighting the outcomes of each potential decision. We also discuss the options and the risks and come to a favourable outcome.
  • This step – giving people direction, is where most people’s rationale thinking comes into place. If they’ve been highly charged with emotion through our discussion, they usually at this stage will have a clearer idea of what they do next.
  • If they are still emotionally charged and I usually step in and explain all the risks that they can’t see and talk them through what could happen. From here we usually confirm what course of action to take and the best way forward.
  • Remember, it doesn’t need to all happen at once. Sometimes, we stop there and pick things up again the next day, depending on the situation.

Most employment situations can easily be avoided if the correct process is followed with integrity and with the right intent. Our employment legislation; especially when it comes to employment relations, is all about process and how you run it.  If you’re not too sure, always seek advice, whether you think you may be in the right or not.  If you don’t follow process it makes a big difference to the outcome and I’ve have seen it hurt people and business both emotionally, spiritually and financially.  So, if you are not sure about an employment process, ask someone who is an expert and knows what they are doing.


Will Allan
Founder + Director