The Harmonisation Policy for the HPWRT -provided by Mediation Support Ltd and not yet jointly reviewed, as agreed!

This "Grievance Policy" (as was, and re-named "harmonisation Policy" at an August 2011 HPWRT Board Meeting I attended was provided on request of ray Chapman, HPWRT Chair. (I thought that the 5 hours plus involving Mediation Support Ltd staff and associates  had been commissioned for £150 from the Board of Trustees or their representative)..... IRONIC?

The Chair of the HPWRT kindly asks all Board members to read the following draft grievance procedure and within 3 weeks to each return written replies to these three questions:

1) Have you learned anything from it about the ways in which grievance can be handled?
2) Have you found any parts of it useful and relevant to what you have experienced?
3) Which parts would you particularly like to have in place?

Note: These questionnaire replies will be reviewed by Ray Chapman, together with the organisation which has drafted this draft policy -Mediaiton Support Ltd

For Clarity is is important that the Board knows the following about the work of Mediation Support Ltd:
Mediation Support Ltd have a guideline price of £30/hour for work delivered. They have also offered to provide for volunteers (other than trustees) a free hour on a course or an event for every hour's volunteering work that is done for the Trust. This is intended to be the start of a timebanking initiative in Hastings & St Leonards that enables more people to benefit from each other's skills without paying money, and that values an hour of each person's time equally.
The policy below supports Board Members in the development of skills in handling difficulties between each other. This means not calling in an external agency until the capacity of the organisation to process it's disputes has been exhausted by the unwillingness of a party to accept internal support.

(Draft 1.0) Principle-Based Grievance Procedure
The purpose of this grievance procedure is to support those with grievances to understand the differences they have with others, to reach an agreement about a way that works for them and that works for the Pier Trust as a whole. The Pier Trust upholds certain values in relation to its charitable objectives and it's responsibilities to its beneficiaries, and therefore it is a responsibility for those who work within the organisation (voluntarily or paid) to get on with each other and to also work effectively as individuals. If there are concerns about how another is working the responsibility lies with the aggrieved person to take what steps they can to improve the situation, and to call for support when the steps they are taking are not producing effective outcomes. The priority is to create a 'power-with' environment, rather than to ask senior management to take a 'power-over' response to difficulty. If someone's intentions within the organisation are, for example, to remove funds for personal benefit, then this will require the 'power-over' type of response and phrases like 'gross misconduct' will enter in. Similarly, if someone is subject to a lower level grievance and doesn't process it with the person or accept any of the offered help to process the matters that are undermining the efficiency of the organisation, this will be treated as obstructing the work of the Trust. Two Trustees who each raise their level of grievance against the other to that where 'gross misconduct' is being suggested, may be asked to reach an agreement or both be asked to leave the Board, for failing to work constructively earlier. Mediation is a means to support everyone's concerns being heard & addressed, and a level of awareness of the ways mediation works is required of all trustees. We aim to train trustees so that there is less reason to call in external agencies to support our resolving our differences. This grievance procedure is part of that guidance, and additional detail will be provided on the outline below.

Stage 1: Matter of Concern and No facts Yet Agreed
Grievance Responsibility No 1
Identify to yourself that something is disturbing you and taking up your attention.
Your choice is to:1) Complain to someone else about it; 2) to go to the person concerned; 3) to process the concern on your own.
To decide which to choose, you may be judging how important the goal you have is and how important the relationship you have is. If you decide the relationship isn't important, yet the issue still greatly concerns you, then the HR management need to be informed. If the issue remains important to you, the Trust favours that go the person concerned with an intention of building understanding about how each of you see this matter. What you are trying to establish at this stage is just one action of the other person that triggers a concern of importance to you. Communication should aim primarily at agreeing what happened that is of concern eg on such an such a date, you said these words to so and so and this is an important matter of concern to me; do you acknowledge saying these words? If the words were written in an email then it becomes easier to arrive at a “fact”. In response to one person identifying an action or “fact” that is a concern of importance to them, the other person often identifies something that is an important matter of concern to them. It is important to allow both facts to emerge before communicating more about what the impact of the action of the other person has been for you.

Stage 2 – Agreed the necessary one or two facts
Grievance Responsibility No 2a
Having clearly communicated just one or two facts that trigger concern for one of you/both of you, do your best to engage empathetically with the other person to identify what the underlying concerns are and what requests you can make of each other to improve the situation in a way that works for both of you. Here your responsibility is to remain in communication only as long as the conversation is going well.

Grievance Responsibility No 2b
If the two of you have not been able to agree as to a fact or two facts that are of concern and importance to at least one of you, you will need to call on someone within the Trust who is able to work with sufficient skill and neutrality to establish this fact or two. The Trust will offer names of who you can go to. If either party is dissatisfied with the progress in identifying just one or two facts, then an external mediation service can be contacted to assist.

Stage 3 – Working from Agreed Facts
Grievance Responsibility No 3
If the fact (for each of you) has been established and the communication about it is not going well in your judgement, then get support with how you continue the conversation. In the first instance this may be from within the Trust; if either of you lack confidence in the internal resources offered, then the external mediation service can be contacted to assist in this role too. Continue with the pattern of ENGAGE-WITHDRAW (when not going well) -GET SUPPORT, until you have reached an agreement or exhausted hope of an agreement.

Stage 4 - Post Agreement
Grievance Responsibility No 4
Inform the Board of the facts, and the agreement you have made in direct communication about the concerns. At this stage it is possible that other concerns might arise from the Board; either way, there is collective learning about the difficult task of working collectively and individually in ways which are within everyone else's zone of tolerance.

Stage 5 -Review & On-Going Learning
Grievance Responsibility No 5
Review any agreements made, not with the aim of punishing a breach of an agreement, but with the aim of learning how well the agreement did or didn't work for the people who had made it. From here, next time it becomes easier to make an agreement that is stronger.

The alternative to co-operative trust-building behaviour by Board members is the escalation of the conflict. So, if mediation is refused or “fails”, the Board may progress to an investigating of the complaints, and arbitration or legal processes to resolve the matter.