More recently, I think of one of the seniors who had been through a painful grievance procedure in which she had been accused of being a ‘nigger hater’ ( the complainant’s phrase oddly). The case against her had not been proved and so the matter was left unhappily in the air. The SPO was of course distressed and angry about this and was no doubt still going over what she might have done differently to get a different outcome. One aspect of the grievance hearing was however that she had felt utterly isolated through it. Her supervisor was adjudicating and so felt that he had to retain a degree of detachment and neutrality. It occurred to me that this isolation was not really necessary if we had more of a pattern of hearing those cases as ACPOs for each other, leaving the supervisor freer to remain in a supportive role. It was as we discussed this thought together that the SPO seemed to feel helped, and she was then able to leave the experience behind and get on with the main tasks of our meeting.
This of course was a rather unusual aspect of a problem which is such a normal part of working life that much of the time we all simply leave each other to cope as best we can. Again as an SPO, I often used to sit in the general office at the end of the day and have half an hour’s chat with team members. As I look back now, this seems to have been an important way of putting the day to rest for me as well as for the team members. It was a way of letting go what could not be sorted out that day and reassuring each other that things could be left.