Pessimism as firms fear trade union strike threat

first_imgA resurgence in union strength could lead to an increased risk of strikeaction, according to a survey by law firm DLA. There has been a 100 per cent rise in the balloting of staff on industrialaction, claims the Ninth Annual DLA Survey on Industrial Relations. The latestfigures show that the number of days lost due to industrial disputes has risensharply from 242,000 in 1999 to 499,000 in 2000. David Bradley, DLA’s group head of HR, said, “We feel more pessimisticabout the state of industrial relations in the UK than we have for a number ofyears.” As the annual TUC Congress takes place this week in Brighton, the surveyclaims that union membership has also risen for the first time in a decade,with a 1.5 per cent increase to 7.3 million. Bradley said, “While we don’t envisage a return to the environment ofthe 1970s or ’80s, it is clear that the unions have recovered some of theinfluence lost during the Thatcher years. It is clear that the union movementdoes not regard the current environment as being in equilibrium.” There is a shift towards using the threat of strikes much earlier innegotiations, warns the survey. Nine out of 10 unions are predicting anincrease in unrest. Bradley said, “The message is that employers do not regard theirmanagers as well enough equipped to deal with a partnership style of industrialrelations. “Because of dwindling union numbers in the past, even reasonably seniorHR professionals are now coming into contact with unions for the firsttime.” The survey is based on 252 union and employer responses. www.dla.comBy Ross Wigham Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Pessimism as firms fear trade union strike threatOn 11 Sep 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

HR must stay focused on human side of business

first_imgHR must stay focused on human side of businessOn 2 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. doing during his full-time ministry, “except swearing less”. In recent years, Ulrich’s work has focused on the measurement of HR results.In making his surprise announcement at the close of his two-hour talk, Ulrichalso challenged the audience to move further forward in asserting theprofession’s role in workplace innovation, taking advantage of “greattheory and great research” available, aligning its actions with externalstakeholders and improve succession planning within HR itself. HR must continue to build on its progress in bridging the gap betweenacademia and practice, he continued, its improved networking, recognising that”competition and compassion are not opposite sides of the issue”, andbuilding capabilities “that go beyond any one leader”. Ulrich also credited the HR profession with exerting a caring and ethicalinfluence. “In the long run,” he said, “such warmth…producesresults.” Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Exit strategies

first_img Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Exit strategiesOn 9 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today How should HR react when confronted by a case such as that thrown up by themysterious ‘resignation’ of Department of Transport media adviser MartinSixsmith? Philip Boucher finds there are no easy answersDid he jump or was he pushed? A question that often surrounds a politicalfall from grace. But in the case of the Martin Sixsmith/Stephen Byers affair itis now more relevant to ask whether Sixsmith ‘fell’ at all? Thanks to a notice by the Department of Transport, Local Government and theRegions (DTLR) on 8 May, it has become clear that Sixsmith, who supposedlyresigned as director of communications at the Department of Transport over theJo Moore e-mail affair, did no such thing. This runs contrary to a statement made by Byers to the House of Commons inFebruary, entitled Resignation of Martin Sixsmith, where Byers repeatedlyclaimed Sixsmith agreed to leave his job. Regardless of the political consequences this has had (Mr Byers resignedfrom the post of Transport Secretary on 28 May), this is a clear case of bademployment practice. Sixsmith, who had almost two years left on a £100,000 ayear contract, has been awarded a £180,000 settlement by the Government. He isthought to have threatened to reveal details of the affair at an employmenttribunal and the sum appears to represent double the amount he had hoped for. Constructive dismissal Naturally, this would have put the Government in a sticky situation. Notleast because Sixsmith may have had grounds for constructive dismissal. Hecould also have argued that his case came under the Public Interest DisclosureAct, designed to protect whistleblowers. What is clear, is that in HR terms, the DTLR failed to follow best practice.It didn’t get Sixsmith to state his intentions in a letter to the department.Legally, he would have had to make an unequivocal, clear and certain statementthat he was no longer willing to work with his employer. As he had been at homeon full pay since 15 February, this was not the case. The date of the apparent resignation was also never clarified. Indeed, astatement made on 7 May by the DTLR stated: “The department accepts thatMartin Sixsmith has remained in its employment since his contract began on 19November 2001. He did not resign on 15 February 2002. It regrets that, whileacting in good faith, it announced he had resigned on what turned out to be anincorrect understanding of earlier discussions that day.” Such a climbdown is far from exceptional in political circles, but inemployee relations terms it represents a major breakdown in communications.Sarah Linton, counsel and head of UK employment practice at law firm BryanCave, explains: “To be legally binding, a resignation has to state theexact date that it takes effect. You are also supposed to give notice – this islikely to be at least the statutory minimum notice of one week. You have tomake your intention to leave employment absolutely clear.” The difficulty is that situations like the Sixsmith affair are unavoidablyacrimonious and often hurl HR into a crossfire of warring factions, regardlessof how carefully it treads. In 99 per cent of resignation cases this scenariowill not arise, but when it does HR has to be extremely careful to say theright thing at all times. “You need to act very carefully,” saysLinton. “If an employer in any way leans on an employee to resign, thecompany is open to a claim of constructive or unfair dismissal.” Off-the-cuff remark It is a trap Byers may well have fallen into, exacerbating an alreadycomplex situation. Case law shows many instances where employees have resignedunder dubious circumstances and frequently it is in response to a linemanager’s outburst. While there is little that can be done to control amanager’s tongue in a heated situation, HR is usually left to try and repairthe damage. In the case of Futty v D&D Brekkes Ltd, 1974, IRLR 130, a resignationtook place as a result of an off-the-cuff remark by a foreman who told a manthat if he didn’t like his job he could leave. The employee took this as aninvitation to hand in his resignation and promptly did so. The management at D&D Brekkes was left in an indefensible positionbecause of the actions of a line manager and subsequently had to try and repairthe damage. Inevitably, this job fell in the lap of HR. Palmanor Ltd v Cedron, EAT 1978 IRLR 303, provides another example. MrCedron was employed as a barman at a nightclub. During the course of his dutieshe had a row with his employers and a manager swore at him. Cedron pulled themanager up over his language and was told that if he did not like the wordsbeing used he could go. He took this as an invitation to leave. An industrial tribunal took the view that Cedron was entitled to treathimself as constructively dismissed, within the meaning of paragraph 5 (2) ofSchedule 1 to the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974, and that thedismissal was unfair. Senior solicitor at Manches, Jane Brown, says:”Employers have got to be aware that often a line manager will saysomething in the heat of the moment that an employee can construe asdismissal.” For HR, the difficulty lies in finding a way out of such messes. But thereare a number of measures that can be taken to limit the effects. “Thefirst step is to identify what you have on your hands and the best way toclarify that is simply to get in touch with the employee to discuss whathappened,” says Sarah Lamont, partner at Bevan Ashford. “To claim constructive dismissal an employee has to resign in clearresponse to a breach. If it is not mentioned in the resignation letter orstated at the time of resignation, the EAT will ask why.” This is not to say you can stop unfair dismissal claims through a cunningmanipulation of the law. But, it does provide a breathing space to tidy thesituation up and maybe even ask the individual to return. Lead adviser onpublic policy at the CIPD, Diane Sinclair, says: “In circumstances wheresomeone leaves suddenly, it would be wise for HR to conduct an exit interviewif possible. If there is a dispute, HR has to work with both parties to resolvethe issue.” An exit interview also allows HR to find out the facts as the employee seesthem. This may prove invaluable if legal action follows. Sinclair says:”In circumstances where the situation had gone too far for HR to step inand bring about a quick and sensible solution, the HR department needs to startinvestigating the matter as soon as possible – if there is a claim ofconstructive dismissal, the organisation will have the information it needs todefend itself.” The key is to act quickly. However, if a resignation is formally acceptedthe situation becomes much more definite, and subsequently, any claims ofconstructive dismissal become more difficult to avert. While a ‘reasonable’period is permitted for a retraction, there is no set time. If it is not donepromptly, there may be disruption to the employee’s continuity of employment. Internal grievance structure Another course of action is to pre-empt potential difficulties by trainingmanagers in the basic principles of employment law. Even though many of theissues surrounding employment law and integrity appeal to basic common sense,this can help managers to avoid comments that later create difficulty. From a grievance point of view, HR also has to understand the employee’swork situation as thoroughly as possible. Head of HR at Axa Sunlife Insurance,Andrea Cartwright, says: “In situations like this, there is nearly alwayssome kind of history or something else in the background.” Analysing this helps HR to arrive at a sensible conclusion about what hashappened from a personal point of view. It may also take into accountorganisational issues that may have exacerbated the situation. As HR has toanswer for the organisation as soon as a manager says something out of place,it needs to find out if the internal grievance structure is in any way toblame. Speaking of the Sixsmith case, Cartwright says: “The flaws in thesystem and the obvious lack of communication would have to be identified andmade clear to others in the team and the organisation. In cases like this wherethe issue has to be dealt with in a very public manner, there is also a certainamount of external public relations to consider.” The important thing is that the lessons learned are communicated to othermanagers around the company so the same mistakes aren’t made again. Situationslike this can very quickly tumble into dispute. The exception is in cases wherea senior employee is under-performing or has been negligent. Here, it is oftenthe case that both sides choose resignation as a face-saving exercise where thenormal rules are usually ignored in favour of preserving a reputation. And itis likely that Byers hoped Sixsmith would fall on his sword in this manner. “In situations like this, a disciplinary process reflects badly on bothparties,” says Caroline Knoblet, partner at Hammond Suddards Edge.”One way of dealing with it is reaching an agreement where the individualgoes voluntarily, as resignation sounds far better than being sacked.” In return, the high-ranking employee receives a financial incentive coupledwith a blot-free CV. This enables both sides to part company without tarnishingtheir business image and settles the whole affair without recourse to thecourts. The alternative, as Mr Byers has realised, is a far more damaging routeentirely. How to act in the case of a sudden, acrimonious resignation– Act quickly. Find out as much aspossible from both sides. Visit the employee at home if necessary. HR couldcarry out an exit interview– In a dispute, HR must work with both parties to investigatewhat happened and reach a quick and sensible solution. See if either party willretract what they have said. Case law allows a ‘reasonable’ period for this tohappen– If an employer leans on an employee to resign in any way, thecompany is open to claims of constructive or unfair dismissal– Further, an employment tribunal can rule that if a manager inthe heat of the moment invites an employee to leave, that dismissal can laterbe construed as a constructive dismissal and the claimant awarded damages– If the employee wants to continue with the resignation theyneed to give a written statement of their intent that is unequivocal and muststate the exact date that takes effect – To claim constructive dismissal an employee has to resign inclear response to a breach. If this is not mentioned in the resignation letteror stated at the time of resignation the EAT will ask why– The HR department must assertain the facts where an employeeclaims constructive dismissal so the organisation will be able to defenditself. It must analyse if there is some kind of history to the dispute andwhether any earlier complaint has been handled properly via the company’sinternal grievance procedures– See if either party will retract what they have said. Caselaw allows a ‘reasonable’ period for this to happen, although there is no settime– Ensure that the lessons learnt are communicated to managersso the company does not have to defend a similar caselast_img read more

First among equals

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. First among equalsOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Amodern take on that oldest of concepts -learning from colleagues – is beingworked on by major organisations. Lucie Carrington reportsRorthe past 15 years or more the training community has poured scorn on what wasfor centuries regarded as the best way of getting new recruits up to speed –sitting next to Nelly. But over the past few years, the idea of learning frommore experienced, but not necessarily more senior colleagues, has gained newcredibility. It has even acquired its own new-age label – peer learning.Aficionadosof peer learning – admittedly there aren’t many yet- insist it is more thansitting next to Nelly. The problem with sitting next to Nelly was no one couldguarantee how good Nelly was, how long you had to sit next to her or what youhad learned from her.However,Liz McGivern, learning and development director with consultancy Chiumento,insists that current ideas around peer learning are more an evolution of theNelly fixation, not a rejection. “If you look at the scientific community,you will find that they have always relied on their peers to validate theirresearch. Look too at much of the structured training initiatives that arearound such as mentoring or shadowing – they all rely on observation.”Thegreat thing about peer learning as a term seems to be its flexibility – rightdown to the point of who we deem to be our peers. The only common ground amongcommentators seems to be a belief that businesses thrive when we are preparedto learn from each other and not clutch our valuable skills and knowledgeselfishly to our chests.RuthSpellman, chief executive of Investors in People UK, thinks of peer learning asdifferent forms of networking including mentoring, coaching and more formalnetworks. “There is nothing new about peer learning and you cannot tie itinto any sort of pseudo science. It’s about flexing your learning opportunitiesand using the personal route if you can,” she says. Networking”Iam a great believer in business networking. It has been around for a long timebut we have not always valued its benefits. Organisations should encourage it.What’s more, a lot of middle managers expect this sort of learning now and theyget worried about how they are going to keep up-to-date if it is notthere,” she adds.Spellmansays some organisations do some sort of peer learning almost routinely. LloydsTSB operates learning programmes internally where people identify who they wantto learn from. “It’s almost as important as what they learn,” she says.Increasingly,peer learning is being seen as a way of getting senior executives to take theirown development seriously – although many firms would be loath to badge it inthat way. For example, this month, Carlsberg Tetley launches what are effectivelypeer learning groups for its top 35 executives [see Case Study left]. AshridgeManagement College runs something similar as a public programme fororganisations to use to develop their senior people. Groups meet every six toeight weeks, usually over a year, and spend half a day together. “The ideais that each participant brings forward a current problem,” says GeneHoran, director of the Ashridge Leadership Centre. “It could beoperational or managerial and the team thrashes it out. Ashridge uses its accessto research to dip in too and it seems to be quite an effective process.”Witha view to taking this model a step further, Horan and his colleagues are in theprocess of doing some research into how new chief executives learn. “Weare interviewing 50 or 60 and the suggestion is that most want a combination ofacademic input with some ‘I’ve been there too’ stuff,” Horan says.”This probably means a mix of high-level mentoring, and a peer group ornetwork of other chief executives.”Anotherview is that current notions of peer learning have grown out of 360 degreefeedback – a learning tool that is much newer than networking or sitting nextto Nelly. It is certainly becoming increasingly popular says Geo Roberts, adirector of people development with coaching specialists the Wilsher Group.When it comes to changing behaviour, 360 degree feedback is a very powerfultool at all levels of an organisation, but it is not without its dangers.”Thereis a risk that some people might want to use it to score points off theircolleagues, so you have to train people in how to give and receive feedback.So, for example, when they give feedback they have to know how to start withsomething positive. And when it comes to receiving criticism, they have to whento take it seriously.”Asa result, 360 feedback is not something firms can impose on staff. “Peoplehave to agree to this sort of exercise. It has to be under their control to thepoint of choosing the areas they get feedback on,” Roberts says. IntegrationSomeorganisations are looking to integrate peer learning into the business culture.This is certainly how Paul Beesley, career and leadership developmentconsultant at the Nationwide, views its approach to training and development. “Itis about learning from experience and that is very much what we seek to do here– learn from experience as we go along,” Beesley says. Thereare some fairly formal structures in place to ensure that happens, such as workshadowing and buddying, although Beesley points out that staff wouldn’tnecessarily describe them as peer learning. Anotherexample would be the regular meetings that project managers in the groupservices division hold explicitly to share their experiences. “Somethingsimilar goes on among our technology people and in our branch network,”Beesley says.”Essentiallypeer learning is about getting value for money and making the most of learningopportunities wherever they occur. Learning goes on all the time.”Itis a noble sentiment but rather belies the structure surrounding training anddevelopment at the Nationwide. And thank goodness for that, suggests LizMcGivern, because the real problem with sitting next to Nelly was the lack ofstructure which has to be there if peer learning is to gain any kudos with business.”Unlessyou make it more formal – and by that I don’t mean formulaic, but formal in asense that people are aware of those opportunities and have a framework andmodel to follow – then it won’t happen,” McGivern says. “Because ifpeople are not aware there are learning opportunities, they will simplyoverlook them.”CasestudyBrewing up good ideasCarlsberg-Tetleyis about to launch a peer learning initiative for its top 35 managers,including the board.”Theidea came out of workshops we held for this group looking at how we can bettermanage performance,” says HR director Julian Duxfield. “We spent alot of time talking about managing other people’s performance but came to theconclusion that we should also focus on our own performance as a senior team.”Themangers will be split into six groups of six managers. Each manager will have a10 to 15 minute slot to present a success or a problem they want to share. “Theidea is that if they are presenting their successes, the rest of the group canshare their learning, and if they are presenting a problem, they can help findsolutions,” Duxfield says. “They will probably want to present theirsuccesses rather than their problems at first. But we don’t know enough aboutthe good things going on elsewhere in the company so that’s not a problem. And,hopefully, if we can manage these groups correctly then after a couple ofsessions they will open up about the problems too.”Wewant our execs to come away with an idea or two, but this is also about helpingthem forge more effective links with each other.”Thereis universal support for the move, Duxfield says. But they won’t be calling itpeer learning. “That’s a bit trendy for us and we want it to sound like aCarlsberg-Tetley idea,” says Duxfield.CasestudyClear view of skillingIfpeer learning is about helping your colleagues with their personal andprofessional development, then it’s a perfect description of the work Autoglasshas set in motion to upskill its fitters. “Sittingnext to Nelly has really negative connotations and it has been a problem atAutoglass in the past,” says Simon Fitzgerald, development and trainingmanager. “We used to send new fitters out with more experienced guys buteverything depended on how good the experienced fitter was.”Butthat all changed last February when the firm opened its National Skill Centrein Birmingham. Here new fitters receive a two-week induction from experiencedAutoglass fitters who have been trained as trainers.Alongsidethis, Autoglass has introduced the job of training supervisor into all 130 ofits branches to provide further training support. “The idea is that theyshould be role models for other fitters but also a person with the technicalexpertise who can pass on good practice and the right practice,”Fitzgerald says.”Itis a two-pronged attack. They get excellent training when they start, withexcellent training and support within their own branch too,” he read more

UK managers fail to deliver on productivity

first_img Previous Article Next Article UK managers are plagued by mediocrity and short-termism, and are to blamefor the country’s low productivity rate. A TUC report claims the poor state of UK management is holding back theGovernment’s drive to boost productivity, and suggests that dealing withdisputes in a more collective way is good for business. The TUC wants the Government to help create a business environment whichencourages firms to adopt policies that improve productivity. TUC general secretary John Monks said: “There is an alternative to theslash-and-burn ‘low road’ to productivity. The ‘high road’ is not easy, but itdoes make good business sense. Unfortunately, too many UK managers take thelazy route, slashing pay, cutting jobs and lengthening hours. “Good employers know there is nothing to fear from minimum standardsand sharing best practice,” he added. The union said the recommendations in the Government’s Company Law Review,particularly the introduction of an obligation on firms to produce an operatingand financial review, need to be implemented. Related posts:No related photos. UK managers fail to deliver on productivityOn 10 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

I need to make a good impression

first_imgI need to make a good impressionOn 17 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today I am trying to begin a career in recruitment and, on many occasions, I aminterviewed and tested over the phone by a consultant. Could you give me a fewtips on what to say to make a good impression? Victoria Wall, managing director, Victoria Wall Associates One of the main attributes required in recruitment is the ability to quicklybuild rapport on the phone with both current and potential clients and candidates,hence the use of telephone interviews at the first stage. Prepare yourself thoroughly so that you are able to sound fluent, articulateand knowledgeable, direct yet friendly. You will be assessed on your listeningskills, tone and professionalism. You should try to use examples from yourprevious work experience that provide evidence of suitability. If you are askeda question you cannot immediately answer, do not be afraid to pause forthinking time, and be prepared to offer your opinions. Remember, as with allinterviews, it is often not what you say but how you say it – so smile as youintroduce yourself, and remember to be courteous and professional throughoutthe call. Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy The key to a telephone interview is to listen to what the interviewer isasking. They are testing your telephone skills, your ability to listen andretain information, and are also gaining a limited insight into yourpersonality. You will notice that many of the interviews are very similar – they arefollowing a script. If the interview is being conducted profession-ally, thenit should have been booked for a time convenient to you. Answer the questions as concisely as possible. Tell the truth, as it is easyto pick up on the telephone when someone is being less than honest. If you areunsure of what the interviewer is asking, seek clarification rather than waffledown the wrong track. Jo Redgwell, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes I am not quite sure whether you are trying to begin a career in recruitmentconsultancy or in-house recruitment. I will presume it is an in-house role youare wanting. Because the candidate market has grown, clients can be very specific whenthey brief consultants about what they are looking for – previous experience isgenerally top of the list. If you do not have previous experience, you need tofocus on your other marketable knowledge, such as your understanding of thetotal recruitment cycle. Maybe you could focus on your knowledge of a specific recruiting area – ifyou worked in a call centre environment and understand the pressure and issues,you can utilise this in a call centre recruitment role, for example. You couldalways look into taking a course in interviewing techniques or psychometrictesting as both would be useful in a junior recruitment role. Finally, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer – good things come to those who wait. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Consignia tackles work disputes

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. PaulRich outlines what Consignia is doing to transform its industrial relations ina bid to turn the company around. Paul Nelson reportsPaul Rich was headhunted earlier this year by the Consignia board to addressthe company’s chronic staff morale problems and improve the workingenvironment. Rich, Consignia’s corporate development director, moved from his post asgroup managing director at the Post Office in May to lead the organisation’sattempts to turn its performance around by addressing its confrontational workculture. Consignia is undergoing a radical business restructure, which includesshedding 30,000 jobs and scrapping the second post to claw back losses of £1.5ma day. It currently costs the organisation 28p to deliver every 27p first classletter. Central to the changes is a drastic improvement in industrial relations.Consignia has been crippled by frequent, regional wildcat strike action – morethan 53,000 working days were lost to strikes in the 2001-02 financial year.This has contributed to low morale, poor productivity and performance. Thecompany recently admitted it loses 500,000 letters a week. An independent review of Consignia headed by Lord Sawyer and published lastyear, blamed overbearing, bullying managers lacking in people management skillsfor many of the company’s problems. Rich admits he was overwhelmed by the extent of the problem and unpreparedfor the task that lay ahead. “The bullying and harassment culture is shocking. It is something youdo not get so much of on the Post Office side,” he said. Rich said the company is going to recruit a company-wide board level HRdirector who will help drive the culture change by ensuring HR is at the heart ofthe firm from the top down. “The chairman quite rightly wants a group HR director to represent therights and issues of our people at the very top. When you are in alabour-intensive industry, it is important to have someone who can representthe key people issues at board level,” said Rich. Consignia already employs a group personnel director, Bob People, whoco-ordinates HR across the organisation’s individual businesses including thePost Office, Royal Mail and Parcel Force. Rich said there is also individual HR representation within the businessunits because there is a need for localised expertise. Consignia has taken a number of other measures to address the issueshighlighted in Lord Sawyers’ report, including introducing a new HR-basedcomplaints procedure and over-hauling training. Other changes include revampingits employee opinion surveys and improving internal communications. The complaints procedure, to be introduced next month, will make HR centralto solving industrial relations issues. The current system has a number of ways for staff to make a complaint, butit is going to be streamlined to one form that will go to both the HRdepartment and line manager. Next year a harassment phone line for staff will be set up so employees canseek advice without having to involve their line manager. Independentinvestigators will also be employed and any complaint not resolved in a settime frame with be dealt with at a higher level. “Bullying and harassment is completely unacceptable. Personnel peoplewill be given a greater role in dealing with harassment as it is something thatthe board and management team take very seriously and will stamp out whereverfound,” said Rich. A training review – to be published at the end of October – will recommend acomplete overhaul, moving training out of the classroom and on to theshopfloor. Bullying and harassment training will also be included in staffinductions. The frequency of the employee opinion survey will also be dramaticallyincreased. Rich admits not enough importance is placed on the existing poll, whichtakes place on an ad hoc basis “once or twice a year”. The survey will now be sent out monthly to around 20,000 staff – a twelfthof the workforce. Under the new system the questions will be updated to findout how people feel about their working environment, line manager, operatingunit and the company. “The problem [with the current employee survey] is our inability tofeed back fast to the local line manager where they should take action, therestructure will allow us to do that,” said Rich. Internal communication is to be formally structured. A weekly 30-minutesession will be introduced, allowing local managers to inform staff aboutcompany issues. Rich stressed that in time he wants employees to be setting the agenda forthese meetings. “We are going to get our people together to listen hard and act on whatthey say.” One way the company will encourage managers to respond to the needs of theirworkforce is by giving site managers extra autonomy. From next year thecompany’s 3,000 site managers will share an annual budget of up to £10m toimprove local working environments. Rich believes giving managers more power to act on their own initiative willimprove their relationship with front line staff. HR will improve industrial relations?– The appointment of the firstcompany-wide board-level HR director– A new HR-based complaints procedure– A radical training overhaul– A revamped employee survey– Weekly staff meeting – £10m a year to improve the work environment Consignia tackles work disputesOn 24 Sep 2002 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Distance no object

first_img Find The Power Of Virtual Teams – Income Throne – 30 Mar 2021 […] A multinational team of Japanese software engineers and European designers launch a mobile phone product simultaneously […] Distance no objectOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Morecompanies are going remote in managing their teams. Margaret Kubicek looks atthe people development challenges they face along the wayTheir empires may be expanding geographically, but today’s managers areincreasingly staying put. As the general cultural shift towards viewing Europeas a single entity continues to cross over into business, and as growingconcerns over the economy force companies to integrate the business in aneffort to cut costs, managers are leading teams that span ever greaterdistances and nationalities. Remote team management may be a sign of the times, but so too are cutbacksin business travel due to the threat of terrorism and lean economic times. Asrecent as a decade ago – when remote teams were emerging as a result ofcompanies taking on an increasingly global focus – the approach was verydifferent. Superman “We call it the superman pants syndrome,” says Kevan Hall,president of Global Integration, a consultancy that trains people to work internationally.”Go in your office, spin round three times, pull superman pants over yourtrousers and start flying around. Because people have been so used to ahands-on style of management, they assume this is the only way to manage staffbased in another country.” Rick Woodward, training and development director for Kimberly-Clark Europe,says frequent travel can inspire a false sense of security. “The beliefwas the more managers were kept on the move, the closer they were to the business.The reality was, although they felt close to the business, they were onlyvisiting places about every two months.” For managers to succeed in this new remote environment, says Woodward, theysimply need to accept they are remote and use all that today’s technologyadvances can offer to build community and manage activity according to changingcircumstances. Virtual teams – led by a remote manager who has responsibility for an aspectof work or a short-term project but no line management responsibility for thoseon the team – are also making more of an appearance in today’s global market. Kimberly-Clark launched a global training programme and published aninternal guide for its remote and virtual managers last year. It is expandingthe programme this year and will include some tailored programmes forindividual teams. “From a systems co-ordinator point of view, we alwaysdid work remotely – we just didn’t do it as effectively as we could,” saysChris Jefferies, Kimberly-Clark’s European business systems manager. “Now,by understanding the challenges and adapting to remote working, we are.” ChallengesMost of us are used to a sense of team community occurring naturally, butthis informal networking so natural in a traditional office environment justdoesn’t happen across great distances, says Woodward. “You’ have to workat community and so you need a system to achieve it.” For the remote or virtual manager, that means having a keen awareness ofhow, and in which circumstances, to use the different modes of communication –from old-fashioned phone calls or teleconferences to real time onlinediscussion forums or e-mails. E-mail, for example, is perfect for agendas and action plans. Says Woodward:”What frustrates me in meetings or video conferences is managersdiscussing action plans or timetables. If time is precious you really want touse it for value-added activities and not clutter it with things that could besorted out via e-mail.” Woodward proposes that face-to-face meetings be reserved for discussingissues that are contextual, strategic or developmental – in short, thoserequiring debate. In circumstances where the only contact is e-mail, responsiveness is key,according to Hall, who says something as simple as having access to a photo ofsomeone can help build trust. Hall identifies building community as the first‘dilemma’ facing remote managers. “When you look at what people rememberof great teams it’s about community rather than ‘what we did’,” he says.”If you lose community in a remote team, you’re dead.” Other dilemmas centre on how to manage activity without being face-to-facewith your team and to what extent team members should look for commonapproaches as opposed to doing simply whatever works locally. According to Dr John Symons, lead tutor in leadership at Henley ManagementCollege, emotional intelligence behaviours such as listening, patience andsensitivity tend to make for more effective virtual and remote managers. Theseteams, by their nature, invite a less dominant, more consensual style ofmanagement, he says. “It’s something to do with the media, with allowingeveryone to have a say and to be reflective.” “We’ve all come out of meetings and said to ourselves, ‘I wish I didn’tsay that’ or ‘I could have been punchier’,” continues Symons. But in thevirtual environment, ‘even though the chairman of the meeting doesn’t catchyour eye, you still get your say.’ More efficient Symons maintains that hierarchies fade online and virtual working encouragesan environment free from race, age and gender discrimination. In many cases, itcan even be more efficient than the traditional office. Says Symons:”Remote communications such as e-mail allow people to be reflective,whereas face-to-face has more of a sense of urgency.” The remote environment may delay the process of decision-making, accordingto Symons, but it ‘teases out richer debate’ along the way. For an example of the potential offered by remote team working, consider therecent launch of Vodafone live! in 15 countries on the same day. The company’slatest consumer offering, Vodafone live! combines colour, sound and pictures toincrease the range of mobile services on offer to customers. The code for the software system which runs Vodafone live! comes from Japan,while other aspects of the product were developed in other countries. “Youwouldn’t get the scale in just one country to develop a product such asVodafone live!,” says Nick Holley, Vodafone’s group director of leadershipdevelopment. “Remote team working allows us to develop ideas across the business andpool expertise rather than make it all come into the centre. It’s about gettingthe benefits of being a global business while still building on localcreativity and local understanding.” He continues: “This is about getting people to develop the sameproducts in different countries. It’s about co-creating things so we getownership of them as ‘ours’ not ‘mine’.” Effective remote and virtual managers are those who delegate whereverpossible and empower their team members. They also inspire a high element oftrust, says Jeremy Webster, a partner at training and skills developmentconsultancy MaST. Webster identifies four elements necessary for managers to build trust:openness about what is expected of your people; reliability so that you don’tmake promises you can’t keep or make unreasonable demands of your people;congruency in your actions so you don’t say one thing and do another; andacceptance of your people and their strengths. As with trust, many of the necessary ingredients to successful remote teammanagement apply to teams in a conventional environment as well. Says Hall:”It’s just that when we’re face-to-face we can get by without givingattention to it.” For Webster, it’s simple. “The remote teams that succeed are the onesthat know what they have to do, what they can do, and deliver according tothose strengths. And achievement is seen as common to all.” Case studyInformation flow feeds growthTwo years ago Kimberly-Clark launched its global Going forGrowth programme – restructuring its sales force to be customer-facing ratherthan regionally orientated following the growth of international retailers. “We now have multi-functional sales teams and along withthat restructuring, it made sense to develop European-wide systems,” saysChris Jefferies, Kimberly-Clark’s European business systems manager.He was one of a number of Kimberly-Clark remote and virtualmanagers to take part in training facilitated by consultancy Global Integrationlast year. Jefferies now leads a team of 22 co-ordinators – formally put inplace at the beginning of the year – across Central, Southern and EasternEurope who support the new centralised sales and support system. Jefferiessays: “The main challenge is to get the system understood and embraced andovercome the mentality which questions why we should adopt a new Europeansystem when the local ones were thought to be working fine.”He has planned a kick-off meeting for early March to bringeveryone together in one place to share experiences, introduce them to the newrole and understand their responsibilities. It will also include a module onremote working facilitated by Global Integration.Establishing a good information flow early on is critical, asis getting the team to sign on to a shared – European – objective, saysJefferies. “Working remotely makes it easier for people to go off ontangents and do what they think is right and what might be best locally, butwon’t necessarily be best from a European and a system point of view. Peopleneed to feel empowered to give input into the European system so they don’t gooff and adapt the system locally.”Case studyGoing virtual for the short termBayer Pharmaceuticals uses remote team working for short-termprojects to develop product education materials and sales excellenceinitiatives. The teams exist for up to 10 months and typically comprise sevenor eight people across a range of Bayer’s departments, such as product expertsor medical specialists, and in different parts of the world.Time and cost savings are a must, but Bayer accepts at leastsome face-to-face meeting is necessary, according to Claire Hutchins, a Bayertraining manager. “These are not classic teams working over the longterm,” says Hutchins. “But people still need to form as a team andsome face-to-face is needed if that is going to be achieved. Lack offace-to-face meetings means certain assumptions can take place about whatpeople are doing and how much they are contributing.”Bayer employees may be working on a number of these kinds ofprojects at any one time, on top of their everyday role. “The challengefor anyone co-ordinating a team is to manage people without having direct linemanagement responsibility for them,” says Hutchins.Ever present is the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me factor’, she says, andit’s best not avoided if the virtual team culture is to be fostered.Involvement has a number of benefits – not least early knowledge of newproducts the company is bringing to the market. “It broadens their mindsto be globally rather than locally focused, and it also forces them to networkmore. It increases their visibility in the organisation as well as enhancingteam working.”Top tips on integrated learningOnce your remote team is in place andoperating effectively, the final challenge is to get the learning and bestpractice that is taking place in different locations integrated across thewhole team for everybody’s benefit. Some practical ways to achieve this are:– Train new team members specifically in how to work remotely.Allocate them an experienced mentor– Get new team members to capture their learning, and then passit on to the next new person. This makes a good induction project for newpeople, but do get experienced people to quality check the material– Allocate specific time for learning during face-to-facemeetings. Whenever possible – even if just once a year – get together in oneplace and devote time to celebration, recognition and learningSource: Kimberly-Clark’s guide toRemote & Virtual TeamsMore informationGlobal Integration is offering a free practical guide to thekey challenges of managing remote and virtual teams to the first 25 readers whoe-mail [email protected] Previous Article Next Articlecenter_img Trackbacks/Pingbacks Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Better safe than sorry

first_img Comments are closed. Recentglobal events have highlighted the potential risks of infectious diseases suchas smallpox and SARS1. However, every day in the UK, many people are put atrisk of infection through their occupation. What role can vaccination play tominimise risk and where does the duty of care lie? By Dr Charlie EasmonRabiesvaccineBatsare known to carry viruses such as rabies or the equally fatal rabies-likeEuropean bat lyssavirus. However, the rabies vaccine protects 100 per centagainst the rabies virus and rabies-like viruses.Withthis basic knowledge, it would seem an obvious duty of care to ensure that allbat handlers, be they professional or casual, were vaccinated against therabies virus and rabies-like viruses.DavidMacRae was a licensed bat-handler who died an unfortunate, but media-intensive,death on 24 November 2002. Despite his line of work and a previous history ofbeing bitten by bats, he had never received rabies immunisation.Noblame should specifically be apportioned in the MacRae case, however, asdifficulties may have arisen because he was not a full-time employee.Thisraises very interesting questions about who should intervene to ensure casualstaff have the same level of protection as full-time workers.Apersonal view would be that the liability would still remain with the personwho gave them the final employment.Yellowfever vaccineTheMacRae case raises similar parallels to other situations where people may havethought the personal risk was low and did not warrant a vaccination. Forexample, a German cameraman acquired yellow fever infection while in Africa anddied.2 He had travelled to areas in which recent human yellow fever infectionhad not been recorded. However, his employer should have advised him to have anup-to-date yellow fever vaccine for his work in Africa.Thefallacy of the risk assessment may have been to forget that monkeys, as well ashumans, carry yellow fever. A lack of reported human infection does not mean ananimal reservoir does not exist and, in fact, no reported human infections maybe because of high levels of immunisation among the local population.Yellowfever is covered by the International Quarantine Regulations, which are takenvery seriously by authorities.3Theyellow fever vaccine must be administered by a specially authorised doctor (seebox, page 17) and lasts up to 10 years. It is the only vaccination thatrequires certification and is a legal requirement for entry into certaincountries.HepatitisvaccinesHealthcareworkers in the UK are protected from a predictable risk by routine vaccinationagainst hepatitis B.4 However, there have been cases where the follow-up ofhepatitis B vaccination has been so inadequate that it has led to infection ofpatients.5 Anotherexample of a problem area in OH terms has been public sector workers outside ofthe NHS, such as refuse collectors and police staff.Bothof these groups can be exposed to needle stick injuries in the course of theirwork. They may visit a drug addict’s home or clear bins where potentialityinfected needles have been thrown away. Given the very high levels of hepatitisB infection among drug addicts, this is a clear risk, in addition to the riskof hepatitis C and HIV.Mostlocal authorities in the UK have come to accept they should vaccinate all theirstaff who are at risk from hepatitis B, but then are unclear as to whether theycan get this vaccine free from GPs.Arecent debate on the internet raised several concerns on this issue.GPand vaccine specialist Dr George Kassianos’ interpretation is that GPs are notactually paid by the Government to give hepatitis B vaccination to anyoneoutside recommendations provided in the The Green Book (healthcareprofessionals, staff and residents of residential accommodation for those withsevere learning disabilities, occupational risk groups, inmates and thosetravelling to areas of high prevalence), and that it should be paid for by theagency, such as a local authority. TravelvaccinesBusinesstravellers represent another group being exposed to diseases they would notnormally encounter in their home country.Thereis a duty of care by the employer to ensure they are properly vaccinated, giventhe right advice and encouraged to use correct protective measures. There arenow some case-law examples where people have been sued for this level ofnegligence in terms of duty of care.6SummaryMakingsure the right advice and, where necessary, the right vaccination is given tothe right people at the right time is the key to efficient travel health andthe health of those working in specific occupations. Currently, the infectiousagents suffer somewhat from a lack of visibility, sparse research and lessexpertise.DrCharlie Easmon, has a special interest in travel medicine and occupationalhealth, and is the medical director of Travel Screening Services based at 1Harley St, LondonReferences1.Chan-Yeung M, Yu WC, Outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in Hong KingSpecial Administrative Region: case report, BMJ, 2003; Executive Addendum to HSG(93)40: protecting healthcare workers and patientsfrom hepatitis B, Leeds, NHSE, 19965.The Incident Control Team and Others, Lessons from two linked clusters of acutehepatitis B in cardiothoracic surgery patients, Communicable Dis Rep CDR Rev1996, 6: R119-1256.Easmon C, Health and safety aspects of business travel, J R Soc Health, 2002Mar;122(1):7-8Table1: Suggested vaccines for those at riskTheDepartment of Health recommends that healthcare professionals be vaccinatedagainst hepatitis B, influenza and have any other vaccine that will preventthem from contracting a vaccine-preventable disease.Theseare the additional occupations that may also be at risk of othervaccine-preventable diseases:HepatitisA–Staff in institutions for those with learning disabilities–Sewage workersHepatitisB–Mortician and embalmers–Police –Ambulance workers–Firefighters–Rescue services–Dentists and dental assistants–Sex workers–Staff in institutions for those with learning disabilitiesInfluenza–Office workers–Healthcare professionalsRabies–Zoo staff–Customs and excise officers–Government vet or technician–Animal quarantine staffForthose whose jobs involve travelling to at-risk destinations, yellow fever, hepatitisA, typhoid and tetanus vaccinations are recommended. Refer to the vaccinerecommendations for each country.Yellowfever vaccination centres in the UKEnglandSueDoran, Department of Health, Room 601a, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London,SE1 6LH020 7972 [email protected], Public Health Branch, Department of Health and Social Services andPublic Safety, Room C4.15, Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3PP02890 [email protected], Public Health Policy Unit Branch 1, Scottish Executive HealthDepartment, 3E (South), St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh, EH1 3DG0131 244 [email protected], Public Health Division, National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park,Cardiff, CF10 3NQ02920 [email protected]–Aventis Pasteur MSD,–VIS (Vaccination Information Service), 01628 773737. A vaccination helpline runby highly-trained vaccine advisers–Department of Health guidance and support services for OH professionals,–Public Health Laboratory Service,–British Travel Health Association, –Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,–International Society of Travel Medicine,–The A-Z of healthy travel,–NHS Chief Medical Officer, Memorandum on rabies, February 2000,–Department of Health, Welsh Office, Scottish Office Department of Health, DHSS(Northern Ireland), Immunisation against Infectious Disease (The Green Book),1996, London, The Stationery Office–Public Health Laboratory (Centre for Communicable Disease Control),–Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad,–Updated Immunisation against Infectious Disease (The Green Book),–George C Kassianos, Immunization: Childhood and Travel Health (4th Edition),2001, Oxford, Blackwell Science Ltd Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Better safe than sorryOn 1 Aug 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Law firm to tighten its equality policies after ruling

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. A law firm found guilty of discriminating against an Asian employee says itis doubling its efforts to ensure staff adhere to equal opportunities policies.London Central employment tribunal held that Allen & Overy, one of theUK’s biggest law firms, victimised intranet project manager Shazia Wahab, whenthe firm’s HR manager, Jo Booth, told her that bringing a discrimination claimagainst the firm would be “professional suicide”. Allen & Overy spokesman, Iain Rodgers, said the firm’s partners hadissued a memo to all staff pledging their “utter commitment” to theirpolicy of respect and inclusion for all employees. “The tribunal turned down 10 other complaints by Wahab, includingclaims of sexual, racial and employment-status discrimination,” he said.”It found the firm was only guilty in ‘one isolated and discreet respect’.Allen & Overy has fallen foul of a slip of the tongue.” Wahab’s solicitor, Lawrence Davies, said the case blew the lid ondiscrimination in the ‘magic circle’ of London firms, and hoped other victimswould now have the courage to come forward. However, Fraser Younson, head of employment law at McDermott, Will andEmery, said there would be no flood of claims, as firms tend to settle beforereaching tribunals in an effort to save their reputations. Law firm to tighten its equality policies after rulingOn 7 Oct 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more