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  • Steve Scarre

Utilise the Principles of HERT to Grow your Business

Are you, your partner, staff, or clients hurting? Hurt has many definitions: physical pain, anguish, reduction in effectiveness, and deterioration, to mention a few. Have you considered whether it’s your actions or inactions that are causing hurt and affecting personal, work, or business relationships? It could be that you’re not practising the principles of H.E.R.T. (honesty, empathy, respect, trust). As a Civil and Commercial Mediator, I’ve conducted many mediations where at least two or more of the H.E.R.T. principles were lacking. Let’s take a closer look at how these principles can transform wellbeing and performance in your organisation.


I should point out, that while this article focusses on improving business performance, HERT can be applied equally successfully to personal relationships.


In the latest edition of FM (Financial Management magazine), there are a couple of articles on the importance of Honesty, Empathy, and Trust. In one, the author goes so far as to say, “You can’t put a price on that.” I agree but would argue that Respect should also be included.


Relationships within an organisation can quickly sour and any deterioration should be quickly addressed before it escalates into major conflict affecting business performance, staff morale, and company reputation. It’s unwise to assume issues will eventually resolve themselves; as a mediator, I know that very often they don’t. Intervention at an early stage will save valuable management time. While dealing with specific issues is vital, so is developing a culture of Honesty, Empathy, Respect, and Trust.


Empathy was certainly lacking in the management of a small company where an exemplary employee was refused permission to pick up her child from school at 3.30pm once a week, while her mother recovered from an illness. The regular extra hours this employee worked, including on weekends, promptly ceased, and a mediator was required to help build bridges. Employing cognitive empathy could have avoided this hurt to the employee and the business. Some research suggests that empathy is decreasing in younger employees, which is why it’s more important than ever to nurture this ability in the workplace.


A father’s wish on his deathbed was that his four sons should keep the 40-acre plot of land intact that he left them to enable future generations to enjoy its beauty. At mediation, it became quite clear that at least one of the brothers intended to sell his 10 acres to a developer and didn’t care about respecting his father’s last wish.


Over the past 15 months, trust has been tested during the pandemic with many people working from home. How has that worked for you as an employer or manager of a business? Did you find your trust waning?


Employing the principles of H.E.R.T. at work can help keep productivity high and conflicts low, thus allowing you to concentrate on growing your business. However, when conflict does occur, it’s important that this is dealt with quickly to avoid unnecessary costs, including management time. A workplace mediation I conducted a couple of years ago involved a dispute between the sales manager and manufacturing manager of a privately owned, medium-sized company. Nobody could remember how the conflict started, only that the two of them hadn’t spoken to each other for over three years. The company’s results had deteriorated drastically over that period and as a last ditch effort, I was called in to conduct a mediation. It took several hours of discussing the principles of H.E.R.T., but at the end of the day, a resolution was agreed. The business owner thanked me several days later and said the following: “I don’t know how you did it, and I don’t need to know, but it’s amazing the difference. They sat and had a coffee together this morning.”


Mediation and employing the principles of H.E.R.T. do work. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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