Can Your Employee Relations Actions Handle the Truth?

Employee relations actions are a fact of life in human resources.

When preparing an action is it important that fact-finding investigations are properly conducted, evidence is fully developed, charges are properly written and employee due-process rights are protected. 

Hidden agendas and emotion do not translate to reasonable cause and with awareness, you can use your employee relations expertise to change behavior - and not merely make a point.

What are you made of?

It used to be a point of pride for me as a young HR professional to say that my employee relations actions had never been appealed outside of the organization. Did I chalk it up to my obviously awesome skills or beyond reproach reputation? Who knows what actually went through my young mind then but I can tell you now that whatever it was, it was misplaced.

Unchallenged means untested and you don't know what you are made of until you are tested. How you respond when tested says more about you as a professional than the outcome of any one case. Think about this before you jump to conclusion, put emotion before fact or pounce on a witness.

What are your actions made of?

Readying an action for appeal (because appeals are another fact of life in human resources) involves reviewing the evidence "through the eyes of another" and preparing your witnesses to testify. After testimony is given, it never fails that a witness will wonder aloud, "Did I ruin your case?"

In response I ask, "Did you tell the truth?" Telling the truth is the only thing you need to worry about. If my action does not hold up under the truth, then I didn't have an action in the first place. If you did not tell the truth, my action is the least of your worries.

Can you handle the truth?

What do you think employee relations pros? Can you handle the truth?

Employee Relations, Communication and Precision

Researching federal employee relations case law can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. And communicating findings effectively can sometimes be even more challenging for human resource professionals.

When I am developing an action that is new or has a twist we had not encountered before, you can find me combing cases.

Yet, I drew a complete blank when I was recently asked about decisions I encountered that changed my recommendations.

A complete blank. What's that all about? Could it be that I am not as diligent as I could be? That I don't know the case law? Say it isn't so.

It isn't so.

What is so is that I realized I may not be on the lookout for changes in the "routine" landscape as often as I should be and my speaking around case law is not always all that it could be.

Knowing the decisions of third parties like the federal Merit Systems Protection Board and understanding the rationale for those decisions is absolutely necessary for expert advice and informed decision making.

Did you know that:

  • For the first time, the Merit Systems Protection Board ruled that the prohibition against imposing discipline more than once for the same misconduct may be waived in the context of a last chance agreement.
  • Although we (I) may use the term freely, the prohibition against "double jeopardy" applies only to criminal charges and not administrative disciplinary cases.
  • Disciplining an employee more than once for the same misconduct is different than imposing more than one penalty as in compound or unified penalties.

Ok, you know it. Do you really? Ok, you do. But let me ask you this, how did you speak it? The complexities, the contradictions, the conditions . . . oh my.

The one word that comes to mind for me right now when I consider employee relations, human resources professionals and our day to day communication is precision.

I know I could use a little more precision in my HR speak, how about you?

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