The five-minute management idea: the simple rules underpinning employment law

02 February 2018 -


Guest blogger Simon Jones

Many managers are still, even today, selected on the basis of their technical ability. This ignores the key difference about being a manager – that you deliver your work through other people, rather than being solely responsible for it.

Although new managers have a plethora of advice available on technical skills, there is very little available about how to build up a relationship with the people you are managing. That, coupled with myths about ­– and mistaken understanding of – employment law, leads to a culture of uncertainty and a fear of ‘doing something I’m not allowed to do’.

Google “key to a successful relationship” and you’ll get many thousands of hits. But almost all of them will highlight one key thing: trust. A new manager needs to be able to trust the members of his or her team and equally they must be able to trust their manager.

Much of employment law – though it is obviously more detailed and complex – also works on the same principle. Mutual trust is the cornerstone of all UK employment contracts. The contract in itself is the belief that an employer and employee will each fulfil their side of the agreement throughout the length of their association.

So how do you build up this trust? It takes time, but there are a number of key rules:

The trust-building tips that underpin employment law

  • Remember you are dealing with people, who have views and feelings, and a life outside work.
  • Recognise that everyone is different, and that one management style or approach is not always the most effective.
  • Set clear expectations and standards of both work and behaviour – and make sure you live up to them yourself.
  • Treat people fairly and consistently.
  • Understand how people work in teams and support them to develop these relationships.
  • Keep your promises.

Learning to manage people effectively is not something that just comes ‘naturally’ – it’s a skill that managers needs to learn and part of that is understanding how to build up effective relationships and the legal ground rules behind them. But at the same time, people shouldn’t get too worried about it – apply the behaviours above and you won’t go far wrong!

Simon Jones is an experienced HR professional who for the last 18 years has run his own HR consultancy business. He's a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) and, having worked as a tutor on both CIPD and the HR elements of the CMI professional qualifications, is aware of how difficult many new managers find people management.His book, Happy Working Relationships is published by Wordscapes and is nominated for CMI’s Management Book of the Year 2017/18 in the ‘New Manager’ category. For more information, see

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