HRM – TOPIC 3.1 – Interpersonal Relationships



  1. Employee rights
  2. Managing Discipline
  3. Frustrations 
  4. Corporate culture 

1. Employee rights

HMR rightsRight is the ability to engage in conduct that is protected by law or social sanction, free from interference by another party.
The rights of both employees and employers should be clearly spelt out in every employment relationship.

Employee rights are based on laws, company employment policies and traditions.

Employer rights based on the authority and expectations of the employee.

HR department role in managing employment rights

  • Developing and enforcing policies that inform employees of their rights and responsibilities.
  • Making managers aware of employees’ rights and managers’ obligations to employees.
  • Acting as an employee advocate, especially in cases where a supervisor misunderstands or disregards discipline policy.

Categories of Employee Rights:

Categories of Employee Rights

  • statutory right. A right protected by specific laws.
  • contractual right. A right based on the law of contracts.

contract. A legally binding promise between two or more competent parties.

employment contract. A contract that spells out explicitly the terms of the employment relationship for both employee and employer.

Employer Rights: 

management rights. Management’s rights to run the business and retain any profits that result. Management rights are limited by the rights of employees.

employment at will. A common-law rule used by employers to assert their right to end an employment relationship with an employee at any time for any cause:

      • Accepted  – USA  
      • Not accepted in other parts of the world, including Japan and the nations of the European Union.

What is the balancing line between the rights of employees and those of management?:

  • (1) random drug testing, 
  • (2) electronic monitoring, 
  • (3) whistle-blowing (Employee disclosure of an employer’s illegal, immoral, or illegitimate practices to persons or organizations that may be able to take corrective action.)
  • (4) moonlighting (Holding a second job outside normal working hours.) 
  • (5) office romance, etc.

psychologica contractPsychological contract. Employees expect to be treated fairly and ethically in return for providing their employer with a fair and reasonable amount of work.

2. Managing Discipline

discipline Employee discipline is a tool that managers rely on to communicate to employees that they need to change behaviour. Usually performed by supervisors or a team responsibility

Two approaches to employee discipline: 

(1) progressive discipline and (2) positive discipline.

progressive discipline. A series of management interventions that give employees opportunities to correct undesirable behaviours before being discharged.

progressive discipline

positive discipline. A discipline procedure that encourages employees to monitor their own behaviours and assumes responsibility for their actions:

  • Learn from mistakes.
  • Motivate to change.
  • Collaborative problem-solving.

Positive discipline replaces the punishment used in progressive discipline with counselling sessions between employee and supervisor.

  • An employer has a right to Discipline Employees
  • The employee has the Right to Appeal Discipline

wrongful discharge. Termination of an employee for reasons that are either illegal or inappropriate.

due process. Equal and fair application of a policy or law during discipline or discharge process.

Administering and Managing discipline:

Managing difficult employees:

  • Poor Attendance
  • Poor Performance
  • Insubordination (Either refusal to obey a direct order from a supervisor or verbal abuse of a supervisor.)
  • workplace bullying (A form of harassment or insulting behaviour focused at a target employee.)
  • Alcohol-Related Misconduct
  • Illegal Drug Use

Preventing the Need for Discipline:

  • spending more time and resources on recruiting and selection
  • Investing in employees’ training and development
  • Jobs, job families, and organizational units can be designed to motivate and challenge employees.
  • designing effective performance appraisal systems.
  • Fair compensation

Mistakes to Avoid When Administering Discipline:

Mistakes to Avoid When Administering Discipline

  • Losing your temper
  • Avoiding disciplinary action entirely
  • Playing therapist
  • Making excuses for an employee
  • Using a non-progressive approach to discipline

3. Frustrations

frustrationFrustration is the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.

The reasons for frustration:

  • Working under pressure
  • Office politics
  • Micromanagement
  • Unequal working conditions (ex., being paid less for doing the same job as somebody else)

Common Reactions to Frustration at Work:

  1. Direct Approach: will do anything within their power to overcome obstacles and reach their goal – developing new skills and putting in extra effort, changing the goal itself.
  2. Blame Game: trying to find somebody – or something – to blame for 
  3. Aggression: may try to hurt – either verbally or otherwise – the person who he or she believes to be the reason for his or her frustration.
  4. Regression: aim to find sympathy or pity from others around them
  5. Apathy: completely disinterested in his or her job – become passive, lose motivation, and their heart will no longer be in it.
  6. Compromise: unwilling to accept failure as an option, and will instead find a compromise that involves achieving at least part of their goal.
  7. Withdrawal: an extreme version of the regressive response – run away from the situation completely – calling in sick, asking for a transfer, or even handing in their notice.

How to deal with frustrations?


  • Focus on breathing. 
  • Take a step back. 
  • Distract yourself with pain or other sensations.
  • Let yourself get angry.


  • Eliminate dumb things. 
  • Don’t issue a company-wide rule that only applies to a few.
  • Set up a closing ritual for team projects.
  • Simplify the review process.

4. Corporate Culture

Organizational culture encompasses values and behaviours that “contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization”:

  • (1) the ways the organization conducts its business, treats its employees, customers, and the wider community, 
  • (2) the extent to which freedom is allowed in decision making, developing new ideas, and personal expression, 
  • (3) how power and information flow through its hierarchy, and 
  • (4) how committed employees are towards collective objectives.

corporate culture

Refers to culture in any type of organization including that of schools, universities, not-for-profit groups, government agencies, or business entities.

Synonyms:  corporate culture and company culture.

Can you change the culture itself? – No. But you can change behaviours.

Corporate culture:

  • affect the organization’s productivity and performance, 
  • provides guidelines on 
    • customer care and service, 
    • product quality and safety, 
    • attendance and punctuality, 
    • concern for the environment.
  • is linked to competitive advantage, particular service companies. 
  • affects customer value.

Example, corporate culture and social responsibility:




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