Before the worst happens

ACEVO director of leadership and governance, Jenny Berry, writes about the steps to take to ensure your disciplinary and grievance procedure is up to scratch.

Nobody wants relationships to break down within an organisation. Sometimes, however, such a situation cannot be avoided. It’s crucial that, when this does happen, the procedures put in place to handle a grievance are fit for purpose.

As the CEO, your role is unique within your organisation. This means that simply applying a boiler-plate policy to your position often ends up being far from satisfactory.

This is something we’ve heard a lot recently from ACEVO members who have accessed our CEO in crisis helpline. A worrying number of CEOs are finding that the disciplinary and grievance procedures used across their organisations don’t work when applied to the CEO.

In some cases, this is as simple an issue as the procedure referring to the CEO as the final arbiter. It goes without saying that this is of little use if it is the CEO raising a grievance!

While every organisation has its own way of doing things – including how they refer to certain documents and benefits – it is important that you make sure your processes work for you, as well as your staff.

Fix the roof while the sun is shining

It’s also important to address issues around disciplinary and grievance procedures before any issue comes up. Once you or your board need to use it, it’s too late to make any changes.

To help you with this, we’ve produced a template for a CEO disciplinary and grievance procedure, which can be adapted to the needs of your organisation. This has been put together with the help of some of our members from a range of different organisations along with ACEVO’s legal partners.

Download the template here

If you read through this, you’ll see most of it is familiar to you. However, it also recognises the differences which need to be considered with the CEO role, and the involvement of the board.

It also covers who represents you: procedures often rely on this being a colleague, which may not be suitable. If you need help with this, ACEVO can represent you (for a fee), or arrange peer support.

Of course, a policy alone isn’t enough. It’s vital that your board members fully understand their role in this process – and that they need to adhere to your policy, rather than their personal views. As with implementing a new procedure, getting it done early will avoid complications further down the line.

If things get difficult

If all this still isn’t enough, or it’s already beyond the point of procedures, then ACEVO is able to help. All our full members have access to the CEO in crisis helpline. Fingers crossed you’ll never need to use this, but we hope you feel more secure knowing that we’re there for you.


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