Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Exceptions and exception handling from the HR perspective 1: starting a new series

Posted in HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on February 14, 2014

Human Resources as a department and a business service deals in standardized processes and systems, and ideally for managing all employees and their personnel issues, and at all levels and positions on the table of organization. That, at least is the idealized representation of how an HR department would work. And this standardization both simplifies their operations and helps their business meet critically important due diligence and risk management needs. If every employee is treated the same way and managed for their personnel issues in the same way and through the same processes and with essentially the same basic forms completed and stored in the same way, then it becomes that much more difficult for anyone at that business to claim workplace discrimination there (see Confronting Workplace Discrimination – Part 1: a multi-facetted challenge and its Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 continuations.)

That is the basic, if in practice the sometimes cartoon-like representation and goal. In practice, Human Resources staff, managers, policies and practices have to be able to accommodate exceptions. And I begin this series, in effect at its end point by stating up-front the most important take-home lessons that I could offer here.

• When you, as a business executive making overall policy and strategy decisions, or you as a hands-on Human Resources manager, have to deal with and resolve workplace exceptions, you should do so with a goal of identifying them and knowing how they are standard and how they are more unique and in ways that would help you to better address their needs in a consistent and proactive way as they might recur.
• And that means developing and implementing effective due diligence processes in advance of needing them for recognizing and addressing exceptions and for developing and implementing standardized processes for openly and fairly meeting their needs.

My goal for this series is to address a series of potential exception situations, starting with ones that should at least in principle be easiest to develop standardized policy and practice for. And I will end up with some more wild-card examples that are perhaps less amenable to resolving through simple standardized alternative processes and procedures. And I will begin this with a discussion of consultants and consulting assignments and how they fit into a business with its personnel policies and practices, and its overall operational systems of function and responsibility.

Of necessity, this series is also about standardized systems and processes too, as effective exception handling is always a process of identifying the specific ways that a developing situation has to be handled and resolved as an explicit exception to you set standard processes. And normal, routine and standard should always be thoroughly understood as your benchmark standard in place. So I write this series as being explicitly connected to other, standard process-oriented series already in place in my HR and Personnel directory. See, for example, my series on:

• Hiring 101 (postings 93 and following in that directory),
• Onboarding New Employees (postings 119 and following),
• Developing a Rational Compensation Package Policy (postings 63 and following) and
• Employee Training and Development (postings 107 and following) where several series are usually being worked upon at the same time so same-series entries are not always smoothly consecutively numbered.

And you can also find this posting and series, as well as other related material at HR and Personnel.

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