March’s book of the month; DIY Mediation by Marc Reid

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Workplace conflict is a huge cause of work related stress in the UK and whilst mediation may not be a hot topic right now, it is a tool that HR professionals may be required to use more regularly than we think!

Marc’s insightful read will help you develop skills to mediate in the workplace and resolve conflict effectively. This book is a practical approach to addressing those workplace fall-outs by nipping issues in the bud.

The book is well structured and easy to use, so if you are a novice or more experienced, this book has something for everyone.

Are employees really at the heart of the business?

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This weeks’ HR Hour on Twitter was certainly an interesting one!

The first question this week was “we often hear ‘people are our most important asset’ and similar statements. But is that essence really true in todays workplace?”. As you can imagine, this caused quite a discussion.

People should be the most important asset but it often gets forgotten, it is usually centred around the objectives/results with little regard on how they are achieved. A lot of people agreed with this, but the general consensus was that we generally need to be better with people related stuff.

@CIProjectsUK said “Organisations that live & breathe this ethos are the ones striving in today’s world – it’s all about people! You can launch whatever marketing campaign, implement whatever “efficient” process or introduce a shiny system – but without happy & valued people you have nothing”.

It is easy to state that employees are a company’s greatest asset but we have all witnessed, and continue to witness companies that claim to have their people at the heart of their business, but in reality do not actually treat their employees well. To actually practice what you preach, is easier said than done.

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How to keep motivated when distance learning #ICSRealStories

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I’m into month two of my distance learning CIPD journey with ICS learn and when I speak about my progress to colleagues and friends, they often say that they wouldn’t have to discipline to undertake a distance learning course; it is a lot of additional responsibility but if you are aiming to reach those career goals, then further study is essential.

Whilst distance learning is convenient and adaptable to our lifestyles, it teaches you a lot, except how to stay motivated! This is completely an individual quality that needs to be developed in order to stay focused and achieve the qualification.

I have adopted a positive approach to my CIPD studies level 7 studies by ensuring that I have everything I need to hand, I find that there is nothing worse of getting into the throws of your assignments and having to stop as your have forgotten something! I thought it may be useful to share my top tips for keeping focused while distance learning.

Have everything you need to hand

Make sure you have all of your equipment to hand, I have my iPad for my virtual bookshelf and use my laptop to keep track of how far I need to read, this stops me from getting ahead of myself and allows me to capture all the information I need.

Take regular breaks

Taking a 5 minute break each hour helps your eyes rest and to give your body a well earned stretch, this helps keep the mind fresh and doesn’t make you feel overwhelmed with information. I often use this time to reflect upon what I have learnt and how it translates into my working life.

Map your progress

I have a large wall calendar above my desk which helps me to keep on top of things and so I can see how far I have come in my studies. This helps me to keep the end goal in sight and understand how flexible I can be on weeks where I have commitments.

Get a different perspective

I utilise my network a lot when it comes to my studies, so I attend HR Hour every week on Twitter which gives so many different points of view which helps me to understand arguments for and against certain processes. It also helps if you need further information on a particular subject; reading certain HR blogs and asking questions on the CIPD forum on LinkedIn is also a great place to get inspiration and support for the learning journey.

Reward yourself

When an assignment is graded, take time to reward yourself for a job well done, it’s not easy being motivated but a little treat can go a long way to encourage the next step on the learning journey.

Take time out

Just because I’m studying doesn’t mean there isn’t any time for fun! I make time to see friends and family, it helps clear the mind and helps to relieve any stress. I recently spent the day with friends by having a walk around Burghley House and it was great to be in the fresh air with and having a good catch up.

 

Whatever stage you are at with your learning journey, keep focused, stay organised and always keep the end goal in sight, you will get there and it’ll be worth it!

February’s recommended read: Legacy by James Kerr

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After an incredible start to this years’ Six Nations this weekend, I thought that this month’s read was incredibly apt, given that it is all about what the New Zealand All Blacks team can teach us about leadership and sustaining success.

This unique and inspiring book was recommended to me at the CIPD MAP conference last year by Matthew Crawford who spoke at the conference about the future of work from an educational (and children’s!) perspective.

This book will suit everyone, for those looking for a “how to” approach, techniques for professional standards, and practical lessons for effective leadership. It also encourages the development of leadership qualities such as accountability and ownership.

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Appraisals, the dinosaur framework of performance reviews

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For too long HR and Management have relied on the good old framework known as the annual appraisal; a tool that was designed for good by our HR ancestors but is being  likened to household chores, unfulfilling, stressful and not fit for purpose.

I got rid of them completely in a previous role, I found them too rigid, impersonal and artificial. I simply used check in meetings with my team to create an open and ongoing dialogue. There’s absolutely no point waiting all year for my team to tell me that they needed support, the moment has gone by then and demotivation sets in quickly!

This week’s HR Hour widely debated if there is a place in the current world of work; most participants said absolutely not.

In some cases it seems that it is a framework which is highly misunderstood and is used as a tick box exercise, form is completed, sent back to HR and nothing of value is done with it. I maintain that a tool like this can only be beneficial if it is clearly defined and that managers have a thorough understanding on how it should be used, without this, you might as well forget it. It can also be used as an opportunity not to have regular communication with employees, using it as something to hide behind “save it for your appraisal” is a phrase we’ve all overheard in our HR careers.

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