(Solution) Assignment – 7CO03 Personal Effectiveness, Ethics and Business Acumen

Assignment – 7CO03 Personal Effectiveness, Ethics and Business Acumen

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Introduction. 4

Question 1: Critically assess different ethical standpoints on people practice and the maintenance of high standards of ethical behaviour. 4

Question 3: Self-evaluate personal and professional integrity in relation to ethical practice, professional courage and influence and valuing people. 6

Question 5: Reflect on levels of self-awareness, self-management and continuous self-improvement, leading to improved organisational success and career progression. 8

Question 8: Demonstrate curiosity and passion for deep learning. 10

Question 9: Plan continuing professional development (CPD) that involves both planned learning and reflection. 12

Question 15: Assess the benefits of networking to enhance own career and contribution to organisational effectiveness. 13

Conclusion. 15

References 15


Text Box: This report looks at a combination of theory and evidenced self-assessment for six questions covering the general topic of personal effectiveness, ethics and business acumen.

I am employed by xxxxxxx as an Employee Relations (ER) Manager, leading a team of 5 (with a 6th joining in September 2021) Employee Relations Advisors (ERAs). The examples I will use relate to this employment.

Question 1: Critically assess different ethical standpoints on people practice and the maintenance of high standards of ethical behaviour.

Text Box:  In a well-written and instructive guide, the CIPD (2019) define ethics as “’doing the right thing’ because it is the right thing to do” (page 2). Their Profession Map (CIPD, 2018), a fundamental reference for all HR professionals, lists ethical practice as a core behaviour, explaining that “considering different ethical perspectives” can lead to handling potentially negative situations in the best possible manner.

In a later article, they (CIPD, 2021) describe ethical practice as “the application of ethical values in organisational behaviour” and list some of the benefits of ethical behaviours as being improved morale, enhanced reputation and good financial performance. This article is insightful, if a little too strategic in nature, but with excellent links to further reading.

In the following paragraphs, I have used four of the sections from the Ethics at work: an employer’s guide (CIPD 2019) to critically assess different ethical standpoints and the maintenance of my own ethical behaviour.

Ethical climate

I introduced a rule for my team whereby any appeals following dismissal must be supported by a different ERA from the one who supported the dismissal (see evidence item 11.08). This is akin to a quality assurance process and allows risk to be managed and process errors to be identified and rectified, leading to fairer, more ethical ER processes. It prevents any relationships between managers and ERAs affecting process outcomes and lends itself to the ‘Principled’ climate described by the CIPD (2019). It shows I am leading my team to maintain a high standard of ethical behaviour. If I were to notice that this was an area of development for any of my team, I would signpost them to the relevant CIPD Professional Standards and associated online materials.

I also introduced a requirement for a ‘lessons learned’ session to be held for any case where a dismissal was overturned at appeal (see 11.38). This further solidifies high ethical standards by ensuring that areas of concern or mistakes are learned from and not repeated and is aligned to Miller’s (2014) stance that “encouraging the ethical behavior of others … supports ethical behavior that prevents ethical mistakes from occurring in the first place”.

Develop and consistently embed codes

I introduced a pro forma to allow ERAs to easily support managers to review suspensions (see 11.55) and issue fortnightly reminders to my team (see 11.56) to prompt them to carry out these reviews. Suspensions are particularly challenging to manage ethically, as highlighted by Webber (2019), and developing and embedding a consistent code to follow is essential to ensuring a high ethical standard.

Text Box:  Following a case wherein witness statements were not released to an employee who had raised a grievance for fear of damage to ongoing working relationships, I devised and rolled out a risk assessment pro-forma to be used for such situations (see 11.35). Not releasing such statements goes against the aim of transparency in ER processes and therefore poses an ethical dilemma which must be tackled sensitively and with consideration and consistency.

CIPD (2019) states that a code of ethics “sets out the values and/or principles of an organization” (page 6), thus setting the expected standards. Although not codes of ethics as such, introducing these two documents has provided a standard ethical code for dealing with these two scenarios.

Fairness and organisational politics

As stated above, ethics are important when considering suspensions and during my first six months, I led my team to reduce the number of suspended employees from 26 to 5 and reduce the average duration from 6 months to 1.86 months (see 11.01). This demonstrates a focus on treating employees fairly and ethically.

Hillard (2020) writes that showing compassion and investing in redeployment can make a big difference to the experience of employees as well as perception of the company brand and whilst we must bear in mind that she writes as Operations Director for a recruitment consultancy and therefore has an understandable vested interest, her article is well-founded and relevant. I have demonstrated this compassion and investment in redeployment by working with our Talent Acquisition Manager to expand and refine the support we offer to employees who are redeployed (see 11.57). This required maneuvering the sensitive and complex politics of designing a process to be managed by another team, balanced with the ethical need to introduce it.

Whistleblowing / speaking up

 CIPD (2019) states that “the role of people professionals is vital in building trust so that the workforce feels enabled to raise issues” (page 17). I have demonstrated this by advising a case manager (a Head of Department) to stand down after she indicated that she had potentially pre-judged a case outcome (see 11.02).

Question 3: Self-evaluate personal and professional integrity in relation to ethical practice, professional courage and influence and valuing people.

Text Box:  The CIPD Code of Professional Conduct (CIPD, 2020) states that members shall “exhibit and role model professional and personal integrity and honesty at all times” and an example of when I have done this can be seen above, where I advised a senior manager acting as chair in a disciplinary case to withdraw following her sending an email which implied she had predetermined the outcome (see 11.). This showed professional courage and influencing as it required pointing out a potential mis-step by a senior manager in order to ensure an ethical process. It also showed that I valued the employee who was the subject of the disciplinary case as I wanted to ensure not only that she received a fair process, but that she knew steps were being taken to ensure that fairness.

Text Box:  In 2020, while working for Virgin Atlantic Airways, I supported a collective consultation process which made 650 people redundant, including myself. I provided training to employee representatives within 15 minutes of being advised that my role was at risk and that there were no suitable alternatives. I then continued to support the process while going though my own consultation and seeking alternative employment. This shows an extremely high level of ethical practice, integrity and professional courage. It also shows the value I put on the employees and the representatives I was training and supporting.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines influence as “the power to have an effect on people or things” and I demonstrated my influencing skills when I identified a member of my team who would add real value if she moved to support a different business area and then convinced her to agree to the move, despite initial protests (see 11.60).

I provided key ER input into a proposal to introduce ill-health severance (IHS) which resulted in senior management scrapping this (see 11.50). I did this by analysing the situations of the individuals they were proposing paying IHS to as an introduction to the scheme and highlighting that IHS was not a fruitful way to progress for the majority of them. My influencing was successful in this situation as I knew the person receiving the email would be interested in real life information and examples, rather than high level theory. Customising my approach, also meant my integrity was preserved, as was my relationship with this senior manager.

I produced a successful business case which supported a request for the Department for Transport to approve an ERA vacancy within my team, using persuasive arguments on subjects I knew were important to them (see 11.42a, 11.42b, 11.61 and 11.62). This example, along with the previous one, show my ability to adapt my influencing style.

Text Box:  

I identified influencing as an area where, although I was reasonably competent, I could benefit from additional learning and experience. As such, I have been reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age” by Dale Carnegie and Associates. I will continue to do this as it has provided me with some excellent inspiration so far. Moving forward, I will also look for opportunities to pro-actively use my influencing skills and carefully consider different methods and which worked in that particular scenario.

Valuing People is a core behaviour within the CIPD Profession Map (CIPD, 2018), where the relevant standards include “demonstrate compassion, humanity and fairness in your approach”.

Jackson (2002) goes further, stating that in some cultures, “regarding people in organizations as merely a means to an end may be an affront to human dignity” and whilst this is aimed at non-Western cultures and is somewhat dated now, some employers I have worked for in the past employ some processes which would benefit from a review with this point in mind. I have used my experience within those organisations to ensure that I always seek to place high value on the dignity of my fellow employees.

After noticing an opportunity for the business to provide better welfare support to those out of the business and receiving welfare support calls, I wrote a guidance document to support the managers providing this support. This ensures that the colleagues who are absent are treated with compassion and humanity by being properly supported (see 11.03 and 11.63).

Question 5: Reflect on levels of self-awareness, self-management and continuous self-improvement, leading to improved organisational success and career progression.

Text Box:  The CIPD (undated) state that reflective practice is fundamental to developing as a professional and Newbery (2017) explains that we must use self-awareness to identify ways to improve, rather than to lament what we have done poorly. The CIPD guide is an informative, instructive tutorial on self-reflection, whilst the Newbery article gives some excellent suggestions for taking this one step further.

My self-awareness is demonstrated by my ability to recognise my strengths and weaknesses and my self-management is highlighted by my dedication to developing those weaknesses whilst continuing to improve my strengths (see 11.30, 11.31 and 11.46). My decision to undertake this level 7 CIPD qualification on a self-funded basis (i.e. my employer is not contributing to my studies financially or by allowing time off) s…………

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