The job was advertised as an internal promotion to Higher Executive Officers and Administrative Officers in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Candidates were selected by interview, and informed of the results by letter.
Describe a typical day?
I work with employers, employees, trade unions and representative bodies to facilitate voluntary dispute resolution. In practice, this role requires conducting a review of industrial relations practices within the workplace involving interviews with key personnel and staff representatives and customised staff questionnaires.
Using the results of this review as an evidence base, I meet with the company and make recommendations on improving work practices. A typical day might involve chairing meetings between the various stakeholders to resolve issues in dispute and implement new structures to enhance working relations.
The cases can involve emotive issues such as Pay Claims, Grievance and Disciplinary issues and difficult working relationships, so my role requires assertiveness, adaptability, sensitivity and strong communication skills to produce negotiated outcomes acceptable to the contesting parties. Specifically, the role of chairing Joint Working Parties required:
setting the terms of reference
managing the agenda
structuring the discussion
providing a structure for problem-solving and evaluation of options.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The main responsibilities of the job are to facilitate agreement in the workplace and promote best practice and ultimately industrial harmony. The activities involve meeting with employers, union officials and workers, assessing their interests and positions and working with the parties to find an acceptable agreement.
There is a corresponding office based workload such as recording records of meetings, diary management, managing the logistics of travel and diaries and monitoring progress and providing feedback to the management of the Advisory Service.
What are the main challenges?
Many of the situations in which we become involved deal with disputes between factions which have become entrenched. The human factor can be difficult to manage as people can be emotional and may not always be reasonable. The main challenge is to identify the key problems and to manage the process.
There is a great sense of job satisfaction when a dispute is successfully resolved especially in acrimonious disputes.
What's not so cool?
The amount of travel can be testing as it is difficult to organise family life, sports and voluntary commitments around a busy schedule.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
For my leaving certificate I did English, Irish, Maths, French, Physics, History and Applied Maths.
Initially I decided to study Electrical and Electronic Engineering in University but changed to a Politics and Modern History Degree, I think having a broad range of subjects in the Leaving Cert programme enables you to have a more varied choice of career paths and makes change down the road easier.