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Strike action back, HR not up to scratch

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HC Online | 29 Jul 2011, 12:00 AM Agree 0
A lack of industrial relations knowledge has compounded the number of industrial disputes currently underway, a HR expert from Macquarie University has said.
  • Brett | 02 Aug 2011, 01:14 PM Agree 0
    I think HR is a general term with so many different areas of knowledge required.
    I think the best way forward is to speacilise, yes still have the general type people and managers but then break into speacilised groups such as OHS, Workers Comp and IR/ER.
  • Louise | 02 Aug 2011, 02:06 PM Agree 0
    This article says more about political preferences than anything to do with HR capability. HR didn't cause global warming either - just for the record.
  • Wendy | 02 Aug 2011, 04:05 PM Agree 0
    I think i must have missed something or maybe i am just old school. I have always found if the situation is treated in a fair and firm way a resolution presents or you may find a need to move into the 'unpracticed area of performance management'. I am finding more and more managers are either not equiped to deal with this in their early careers moves or too old to change their ways.

    Back to basic is what and how we get through no matter what changes are put in place. Respect for all and the process can support lowing the costs and anxiety.
  • Charlie Brown | 02 Aug 2011, 05:34 PM Agree 0
    It was interesting to watch HR taking on in-house IR as experts in the field were moved on. The result was IR was usually undertaken at arms-length and outsourced to legal firms when it became messy. For the most part the experiment has been an expensive failure. The workforce and shareholders deserve better than having this important area of expertise mishandled by well meaning but practical amateurs.
  • Mark Shaw | 04 Aug 2011, 10:03 AM Agree 0
    After 30 years in HR (including the wide range of roles Brett refers to), my view is HR should be about 'Solving People Problems'. If you accept this, then there is indeed a range of skills required to be able to solve the right problem at the right time. Certainly having IR knowledge and skills in your professional kit bag is essential. And, as a generalised statement, in my view sadly lacking in the profession.
  • Judy Hitchcock | 17 Aug 2011, 12:18 PM Agree 0
    I agree with Mark and Wendy here. In my opinion there has been a huge focus in courses about making HR a "strategic partner" which is absolutely right, but not at the expense of the fundamental basics! Many of the younger people coming through keep talking about getting into HR to be strategic. I don't believe you can add real value to an organisation in HR unless you understand what goes on at an operational level and your day to day IR falls into that category. Louise, with all due respect to your opinion, I find it short-sighted and naive. Even Dave Ulrich supports the view that there is a balance.
  • Kate Connellan | 21 Aug 2011, 06:33 PM Agree 0
    I am a rare breed of young HR people who have specialised in Employee Relations in heavily unionised environments in heavy industry, thanks to a terrific mentor early in my career. I share the frustrations expressed here! I have worked as a contractor for the last few years and notice that many HR people (both seasoned and new) are so keen to earn their stripes or be in the think of the action, that they often jump in and provide advice which is simply wrong or lacking. I have had to learn the skills to influence them to consult the specialist contractor (me) they employed to fill the gap in the business!
  • Geoff | 24 Aug 2011, 10:02 AM Agree 0
    I totally agree with the need to raise the level of knowledge on IR/ER to ensure HR practitioners have the necessary skills in their kit bag, however with respect to Dr Gollan, in my experience that knowledge and skill tends to come from exposure and working in organisations rather than through uni courses. I studied IR in the 1990's and quite frankly most of the course content I was exposed to is pretty much ancient history. My real learning took place through on the job exposure, being coached and mentored and plain hard work. I don't suggest having some knowledge of IR principles and history isn't helpful, but I see a lot of HR graduates who have "studied" IR who don't have a clue. Also, lets not forget the role of non-HR managers here. These skills are needed not just in HR, but by front line managers as well.
  • Shelley | 30 Aug 2011, 04:05 PM Agree 0
    I agree wholeheartedly with Geoff. I also studied IR in 2002 and it did little to help with what I was about to step into. I have worked in a heavily unionised area for 9 years since and it has been hardwork and good negotiation skills learning, mentoring and experience that has been my greatest education. Plus it has not helped that many non HR managers in general lack the skills required to communicate and negotiate on an operational level. Solving people problems needs to start somewhere and not wait until it becomes an IR issue. Hence all due respect to Louise' comment as well.
  • David Myers | 01 Sep 2011, 08:55 AM Agree 0
    Does HR have the necessary skills probaly not but lets look at the statistics on strike action. the latest data ABS 2/06/2011 shows total number of strikes year ended march 2011 to be 212 compared to 235 for the same period to march 2010 and total days lost to be 117.5K compared to 149.9 so I wonder where the evidence for an increasing issue is generated?
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