Career coach: making more of a role

Until recently, I was HR manager in a utility infrastructure-providing business in Cardiff. In January, my director split duties in my department, and my assistant became HR manager (recruitment and development), and I became HR manager (employee relations). I had been pushing for a long time to ensure my fellow employee got recognition and a pay rise, but this seems to have been to my detriment. As we are currently going through a rapid increase in staff, all eyes are on recruitment. Employee relations (which have always struggled) seem very much on the back burner. Can you give me some ideas on how to heighten my role with topics that will grab the executive? I am currently responsible for disciplinary and grievance, sickness absence, staff benefits, the staff consultative process, occupational health, and training managers in HR matters.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • In what way is this move to your detriment? Is there any way you can mitigate against it? In what way might it be a benefit?
  • What exactly do you mean by “grab the executive”? What is the effect you want to create? And to whom? Just the executive, or are there others?
  • What are your executive’s key objectives and concerns? How can you make them look good?
  • How would you describe your relationship with the executive? Is there scope to improve this? In my experience, weak relationships where things are left unsaid ultimately lead to upset and disappointment – or worse.

In terms of ‘grabbing’ the executive, I notice that your definition of ’employee relations’ is rather limited and reactive. Embracing communication through written and team briefings, events, use of the website and employee engagement may give you the opportunity to make your mark.

In times of change, employees are often neglected and ‘management’ often assumes that goodwill or fear will keep them on board. With a generation entering the workforce that has a different attitude to authority and their own independence, a quietist approach is insufficient. Take the opportunity to communicate effectively and re-engage with the employee body.

Finally, to offer more personal counsel, do not sit on your disappointment, as it will either bubble up later or cause you to disengage from your work. Use the energy it gives you to take responsibility and change the situation.

If you have a question for our panel of experts about developing your career, send it to

Myles Downey
Founder and managing director, The School of Coaching

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