Diary of an HR consultant – Day 2

Another early start as I have to drive out to a client in western Sydney where I spend a few days a month on-site. It can be a long drive depending on traffic so I leave around 7am.

Fast trip this morning so I’m in my office by 8.30am. Today I have an exit interview, a retrenchment and have to interview 3 candidates for an operations manager role. The full gambit of HR in a single day! This is a family run business where there is no love lost between the 2 brothers who run the show – one is very hands-on, the other prefers a more discrete presence but is nevertheless very quick to contribute his opinion. Despite the volatility of their relationship they run a pretty good ship with over 25 years together bearing testament to their business acumen.

I’m the only HR person they’ve ever really had. Before me one of the wives “did the HR”. I think that means they focused on personnel administration rather than anything strategic. So, I’m quite a novelty around the place for what is primarily a blue-collar work-site. Despite this, there is usually a procession of people who want to see me whenever I’m around – mainly managers and supervisors but also the occasional employee who might have a personal issue to discuss.

The retrenchment goes pretty smoothly – we’ve been consulting with the affected employee for a few weeks before today so there are no real surprises. They bring their wife in as their support person – a really good move so the spouse gets involved early in the whole process. We offer an ex-gratia payment of 8 weeks in exchange for a Deed of Release. I take awhile to explain exactly what this means – the last thing I want is for the employee to feel pressured into signing something they don’t understand. They say they’ll take it away and think about it – they have a week to decide if they want the extra money.

The exit interview is uneventful. The main reason for this employee’s resignation is no surprise – they just couldn’t get on with their manager, something we see time and time again yet somehow are unable to fix. How many more exit interviews will it take for businesses to realise that this is the number one reason why people leave yet management development is arguably the least funded and most ignored HR activity of them all.

I interview my 3 candidates for the ops manager role and select 2 to go to final interview. This will be with the 2 brothers and they’ve asked me to make up the 3rd panel member. Now to break it to the one who missed out…

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