Aug 24

The fine art of workplace consultation – 8 lessons to be learnt from BREXIT


I recently returned from the UK, as the tiny fissures in the cloth of British society were blown into yawning chasms by BREXIT. This led me to consider the fine art of consultation and the learning’s for workplaces in relation to surveys, community consultations and customer feedback arising from this unhappy episode.


8 key take-aways for your next workplace consultation


1. Consider the possible outcomes


Before you decide to put a survey out for your stakeholders to make comment, make sure you have considered the ramifications of all possible outcomes.


2. Avoid sham consultation


Invite people to participate in a consultation process only where their input will influence how you proceed. Don’t just go through the motions of consultation if there is a pre-determined outcome.


3. Provide quality supporting information


If you ask people to make a complex decision, make sure you provide them with quality, complete and timely factual information to assist their decision making (for example meeting pre-read). In the UK, there was much advocacy and posturing but precious little objective information being disseminated.


4. Be prepared for the unexpected


If you seek feedback from stakeholders, be prepared for the unexpected response. It is a good idea to scenario plan how you will respond to all possible outcomes, so you are prepared to take the process forward quickly and not be caught on the back foot.


5. Don’t denigrate the feedback provided


If you engage people in a process, don’t denigrate the feedback you are given. They are not (necessarily!) wrong because they don’t think like you. If they ‘got it wrong’, then there must have been a ‘right’ answer, in which case, why did you ask them for their opinion in the first place?


6. Consider differing agendas


Plan for how you will accommodate groups who have a completely different agenda and may try and subvert your process for other purposes.


7. Consider how you will interpret the results upfront


If people spend time contributing to a process, they expect to be told how their feedback will be used. This includes the benchmarks for how you will interpret the data. (In the case of the UK, the debate about whether a decision would be based on 50%+1, 60% or some other number should have been explored before the vote).


8. Plan to manage those unhappy with the outcome


Think about how you will manage people or groups whose preferred outcome does not occur and/or who dispute the validity of the outcome.


Bear these thoughts in mind next time you embark on a consultation process with your key stakeholders!


About Kairen Harris


Kairen HarrisKairen Harris brings an impressive set of HR skills and experience to Worklogic,  obtained from an extensive, international HR career.  For over 25 years, Kairen has worked in diverse business sectors across Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia. Prior to joining Worklogic, Kairen was HR General Manager for Shell in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands, responsible for delivering the workplace policies, processes and culture that would best promote values of gender equity, inclusion and respect for people.

Kairen understands the daily challenges of managing staff performance, dealing with conflict appropriately and ensuring workplace diversity. From her strategic HR roles to date, Kairen has significant insight, skill and experience regarding corporate governance and policy development, workplace reviews, staff training, in-house communication and management coaching. For a free, confidential discussion on managing conflict or building positive culture at your workplace, please contact Kairen via email  or give her a call on (03) 9981 6500.

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