12 May

‘Soft’ approach helps business

first_imgLeadership,teambuilding and time management training can improve productivity despitetheir “soft” images, according to research by learning solutions providerFranklinCovey Europe. Three-quartersof managers who provide this training say more than half of employees changetheir behaviour as a result, and 64 per cent say these changes directly benefitthe company. Morethan eight out of 10 managers feel behavioural training improves productivityas much as other courses, if not more. And57 per cent of managers offer staff behavioural training.Theresearch is based on a survey of 200 HR directors and managers in UK companieswith a turnover of more than £10m. “Thisdata seems to show that behavioural training can bring major benefits to anorganisation, but that many are still missing out on these benefits,” said MattSmith, head of training at FranklinCovey.www.franklincoveyeurope.com Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. ‘Soft’ approach helps businessOn 27 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

12 May

Tool order

first_img Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Do HR professionals let their own personal development slide, and is theirtendency to rely on HR ‘tools’ rather than developing business understandingholding them back in their careers? Personnel Today teamed up with AshridgeManagement College and senior HR people to debate the issue. By Phil BoucherWhy would a senior HR person overhaul her approach to HR? “It was theoverwhelming sense of being a fraud – which is a sense that I think many HRpeople tend to feel,” is one answer. The comment was made by Julie Holden,founder of the Spring Consultancy and previously director of internalconsulting at Ernst & Young. She was taking part in a roundtable debate,organised by Ashridge Management College and Personnel Today, on how to developsenior HR people. So what was it about the HR profession that made Holden feel like a fraud,and what new approach or philosophy has she since adopted? “There I was, running programmes that at the time were fairly vital andcentred around managing change, and I guess I was thinking, ‘There must be moreto being an organisational development consultant’. It can’t just be aboutfeeding solutions that are rapidly gobbled up so that the minute you hitsomeone with an idea they want another one.” Holden’s view that HR people can find themselves throwing ready-made solutionsat business problems, was one of the central themes to emerge from the debate. The discussion centred on whether HR managers, as the people responsible forthe development of staff throughout an organisation, sometimes fail to takecare of their own development. All the participants were members of the Advanced Development for Developersprogramme at Ashridge Management College, and the programme director MartynBrown talked about the need to free HR from the pitfalls of relying onready-made HR “tools” with an almost evangelical fervour. The consensus was that many HR professionals have not experienced a form ofpersonal development that will equip them to respond to the challenges oforganisational change. Ready-made solutions So what philosophy and approaches should HR people adopt so they can rise tothe challenge? The first action should be to stop relying on the familiar toolsin the HR kitbag, containing such instruments as 360-degree appraisal,psychometrics or benchmarking, as ready-made solutions to problems. “Unfortunately, HR in many organisations has been into situations whereit has to do things, because of its lack of influence, that it doesn’t reallywant to do, by using over-mechanistic and instrumental approaches to change,which it knows won’t work, but it is afraid of the CEO who’s trying to roll outthis stuff,” argued Brown. Holden supported this, and added that HR people felt under pressure toprovide solutions to organisational problems before they have time tounderstand the nature of the problem. “You can be fooled into a situation where you approach something from asolution point of view rather than looking at the problem,” she said. “A lot of HR people say, ‘Look, I’ve got this tool, I’ve got to make itfit’, as opposed to saying, ‘I don’t know what the problem or solutionis’.” Brown described this as “an addiction to tools”. The key point here is that an over-reliance on HR tools is an impediment todeveloping an understanding of business. Not only that, but ready-made toolsand instruments do not allow HR to respond to the rapid pace of change in 21stcentury organisations. But how can HR people equip themselves to move from the solutions-drivenapproach to one based on understanding the needs of the organisation in depth? The message from the panel is to simply study the business. Work out whereyou need to improve. Forget about hurling tools at a problem and realiseexactly what is going wrong and how you can solve it. This approach is far morereflective than the traditional HR route. But you also need to get permission from the board and colleagues to investin your own development. Steve Williams, HR director at Powergen, said the key is to push thebusiness case to the board. “Our organisation puts emphasis on peopletaking responsibility for their own development,” he said. “But there has to be a business rationale for it. I recognised therewere pieces of the wider HR portfolio that I had to dip into in a bit moredepth. The key issue was that it matched the business and my personal needs.Had it not then, rightly, support may not have been there.” But the panel also argued that CEOs are as guilty as HR for rolling outtools rather than getting at the heart of the problem. The issue is how HR caninfluence the board to support a different approach. “Personally, I think it’s the finance director that you have to get inwith,” said John Pedley, people development manager at Halfords. “Ifyou can get that guy to motor, you’ve got real influence on the board.” One of the issues that arose was whether HR needed to be on the board inorder to influence it. Williams argued that HR board representation is a red herring. “Whatdoes the board actually do?” he asks. “To me, the real issue is aboutthe influence you can have in relation to the executive management teams insidean organisation. “HR has to gain influence at the level of executive decision-making tohave influence and that can occur inside an organisation at two or threedifferent levels.” What exactly are the approaches that HR should adapt in place of the toolkitof mechanistic HR solutions? The approach favoured by the panel is intensive,open, group discussions about real workplace issues combined with actionlearning. The participants agreed that managers should be wary of a preoccupation withplanning, and not assume that experience and qualifications in HR are groundsfor believing you have the answers to business problems. Pedley suggested teams should take some time to relax, reflect and behonest. “In a situation like this, and in working life generally, there isa desire for certainty all the time,” he said. “Much of the time, this leaves you lying flat on your face. A lot ofthe time, we don’t know what’s going to happen. If we let ourselves believethat we know what we’re doing, we’re kidding ourselves.” Williams made the point that a balance had to be struck between taking timeout to reflect and responding to the urgent demands of business.”Certainly, in our business you can’t spend too long really understandingwhere you are today as you’ll ignore a lot of the stuff going on aroundyou,” he said. Light years behind The panel members were critical of the current approach to training peoplefor HR. “CIPD qualifications are light years behind,” said Holden.”People on my team who have done CIPD qualifications keep asking, ‘Howdoes this help me?’ “I think the CIPD will have a future if it continues to adapt, evolveand change along with the rest of the world. If it doesn’t and tries to keepthings as they are, then it won’t.” Williams said the narrow functional mentality is particularly true ofyounger HR specialists, which is worrying for the future of the profession. “It is frustrating in our organisation,” he said. “Many ofthe people at junior levels are the ones who are more steeped in the functionalposition rather than the business position. I think that it’s partly due tothem getting qualifications and the way they are taught, which is very muchfrom a functional point of view. “It is to some extent about a kitbag, but you have to wonder if that’sstill relevant.” The risk in abandoning the HR kitbag, however, is that HR could lose itsidentity as a separate functional specialism, and this begs questions about thesurvival of HR in the future. Was the panel worried about this? “I think HR gets too hung up on labels. Particularly, the label of HRitself,” suggested Holden. “At the end of the day, you are operating as a business partner, and ifyou can sit down and offer suggestions on how people can look at thingsdifferently, and have a conversation about the business without talkingpoppycock, it doesn’t really matter what you call yourself.” Brown pointed out that the emphasis on recruitment and the “talentwars” in business was already leading many companies to abandon the HRlabel. “You notice that directors are popping up on some of these boards withinteresting combinations in their job descriptions such as ‘reward, measurementand recognition’ and ‘chief talent officer’. “When you stop laughing, you can see there is actually something behindit all. Director of intellectual capital will become a far more common jobtitle at senior line management level,” predicted Brown. Often it is IT companies that are leading these trends. This promptedWilliams and Powergen’s executive management team to go on a fact-finding tourof Silicon Valley last year. “One of the things I learnt is that the function as it exists today –certainly in my role where you have a number of specific elements – may notremain. You wonder whether it will fit into the future,” said Williams. “I’d be amazed to find any organisations out there (Silicon Valley)that are structured in the relatively bureaucratic way that most of ourorganisations are today.” The result, he says, is that “you question the way you develop HRpeople, because what is a HR person?” It might even mean HR is axed altogether, Brown warned. “There are manyhighly successful, competitive organisations that don’t come within a mile ofHR in the professional sense,” he said. To sum up, unless the development of HR people is tied into the real changesin organisations, their skills and qualifications will become irrelevant,whatever they call themselves. For more information on the Advanced Development for Developers programmeat Ashridge Management College phone 01442 843491. Martyn Brown Programme director on the Advanced Development for Developers programme atAshridge Management CollegeSteve WilliamsHR director, PowergenNoel O’Reilly Panel chairman, Editor, Personnel TodayJulie Holden Consultant, previously director of internal consulting at Ernst & YoungJohn PedleyPeople development manager, Halfords Tool orderOn 24 Jul 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

12 May

In brief

first_imgThis month’s news in brief Skills olympics flop UK contestants failed to clinch a single medal at the 2001 World SkillsCompetition in Seoul, North Korea, last month. It is the first time in the historyof the event that the UK has recorded a zero medal tally. But 17 out of the 29young competitors reached the international standard to gain diplomas, makingit the UK’s best-ever all-round team effort. Glittering prizes… Readers who took part in recent Training Magazine surveys are reaping theirrewards. The name of Napp Pharmaceutical production operations training managerMichael Mair was pulled out the hat after the closing date for TrainingMagazine’s Career Survey with Conference Centres of Excellence. He has opted to take his prize of dinner for two by an award-winning chef atThe Moller Centre for Continuing Education at Churchill College, Cambridge. And celebrating their technological wizardry are three lucky participants inthe Corporate E-learning survey conducted by Training Magazine with XebecMcGraw-Hill. Palm tops are on their way to Sian Lucas of Ahlstom FibreComposites; Geraldine Thomson of Rolls Royce and Ally McCallum of UnitedNorwest Co-op. …for training winners Management and development adviser Jenny Taylor has won a holiday in Torontoand a trip to Niagara Falls in a competition run by personneltoday.com andtotaljobs and featured in last month’s edition of Training Magazine. Taylor, who works for financial services company Skandia was offered analternative to the planned prize of a trip to New York and has opted for aholiday in Toronto instead. Directors overboard There has been a call for more training for board members after a recentsurvey reveals that neither senior business leaders nor board members feel thatthey are adding value to the business. And frighteningly, 60 per cent of boardmembers believe that the company’s employees don’t think that they add valueeither. In briefOn 1 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

12 May

BBC staff force short-term contract review

first_imgBBC staff force short-term contract reviewOn 28 May 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article The BBC is to review its use of short-term employment contracts afterpressure from staff. The review will look at the practices and procedures of employing staff onshort-term contracts and examine whether they are being fairly treated. Around 20 per cent of the BBC’s staff are currently on short-term contracts.HR director Stephen Dando, who will lead the review, said it was clear the useof these contracts made some staff feel uncertain about their future. “Concerns have been communicated across the BBC, both over how wehandle short-term contracts and the number of short-term contracts,” Dandosaid. “It has been a troubling issue for quite a lot of people.” He added although short-term contracts are a feature of the broadcastingindustry, it is important staff feel appreciated. “If people feeluncertain, we want to change this and make them feel valued,” he said. The review is part of the BBC’s plans to change its employment culturethrough its One BBC: Making It Happen programme. Dando stressed that the issue is complex and a quick-fix solution is notavailable, but is optimistic the review will lead to positive changes.”There are a number of different drivers that we need to understand beforechanging,” he said. l BBC staff have been asked to stop shouting at work. The organisation is tobring in ‘polite police’ to encourage bad-tempered staff to be civil. Those whobreak the rules may be sent on anger management courses. last_img read more

12 May

HR needs to address its underperformance

first_imgHR needs to address its underperformanceOn 22 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article This week, Personnel Today unashamedly takes a hard look at theunderperformance of UK managers and HR. If there were such a thing as an end-of- year assessment of HR, it wouldscore a depressing five out of 10. The kindest auditors would use remarks suchas ‘HR is not yet realising its full potential’, ‘lacks drive’ and ‘fails toimpress’. The DTI has nothing positive to say about UK managers either. It is soconcerned about poor management and processes that an American has been draftedin to rescue the situation and £17m invested in raising management standards.As the custodians of people development within UK plc, HR must be heldpartially accountable for this sorry state of affairs. We identify the key areas where HR fails to make a difference. The factsspeak volumes: UK workers are still some of the most insecure in the world;productivity per hour is lagging behind the US, France and Germany; there is analarming climate of distrust between employers and employees; and 30 yearsafter equal pay legislation, women still earn less than men. It would be easy to blame it all on legislation, but countless otherprofessions have to overcome legal obstacles and that has not stifledinnovation and a proactive approach towards improving output. HR need not be the only whipping boy for these problems. The CIPD is guiltyof inertia, having done little despite its own research linking increasedproductivity with management practices. By the CIPD’s own admission, only onein five companies use effective methods such as job design, ongoing learningand autonomous team working. Everyone agrees that UK industry pays lip serviceto training and developing its managers. The DTI initiative brings a new urgency and hope to the problem. Employersneed solutions and HR, working with business leaders, has the skills to make ithappen. There can be few passengers in today’s leaner organisations, which is why HRmust be the driving force behind the productivity debate. Personnel Today genuinely believes the profession is capable of so muchmore. Let’s see that vision realised. Jane King is editorial director of Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

12 May

Lack of diversity threatening IT

first_imgLack of diversity threatening ITOn 28 Jan 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. The ability of the UK to compete economically will be threatened ifcompanies fail to increase the proportion of women employees within theworkforce, a report released today finds. The study by the Women in IT Champions Group, finds that the lack of womenat senior positions is particularly marked. Based on initial research of the champions group member companies, thereport, Achieving workforce diversity in the e-business on demand era, alsoshows that retaining women is a critical issue within IT and IT-relatedcareers. Although 36 per cent of new hires in the first quarter of 2002 were women,in the same period, they accounted for 46 per cent per cent of all leavers. Women are leaving not only to have children, but doing so later in theircareers meaning that few are fulfilling their potential progression up thecareer ladder, resulting in an under-representation of women at senior levels. The report calls for further research by government and academic bodies intothe issue of workforce retention and the promotion of a flexible, balancedbusiness culture. Rebecca George, chairwoman of Women in IT Champions Group, which publishedthe study at the third annual Women in IT conference in London, said:”Successful workforce diversity initiatives are a key focus for manycompanies. But such initiatives must be matched by everyday practices thatsupport a flexible work environment that is attractive to working women.” www.intellectuk.org Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

12 May

How to buy a CEO

first_img Comments are closed. Regime change is always tricky, but replacing one chief executive withanother doesn’t have to be a traumatic, life-threatening experience. Paul SimpsoninvestigatesThe pitfalls of handing over power are almost as great for companies as theyare for dictators. Yet, half the US chief executives questioned last October bythe Centre For Creative Leadership, said their HR departments were making no contributionto developing new leaders. At best, it is a damning indictment of the relationship between chiefexecutives and HR. At worst, it is a damning indication that many HRdepartments aren’t doing their job. But the pain of transition can be eased if– guided by HR – the company heeds a few simple tips. 1 Don’t buy unless you have to Rakesh Khurana, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at HarvardBusiness School, says: “When a chief executive steps down at the naturalend of their tenure, the appointment of an outsider can lead to reducedfinancial performance.” But if you lose a CEO because your company isn’tperforming, you’re probably better off hiring an outsider. Cary Cooper, professor of organised psychology at the University of ManchesterInstitute of Technology, has a shorter soundbite for the same rule: “If itain’t broke, why try to fix it?” New chief executives – especially those recruited externally – changecompanies in ways that are both obvious (they’ll appoint their own managers)and subtle (they inevitably come to symbolise the company’s new values andpersonality). Strong external candidates often appear threatening, and change is rarelycomfortable – especially for those who feel they are being changed. And if youhire a CEO to transform the company, don’t complain if they occasionally makedecisions without asking you. In the US, it is estimated that 45 per cent of companies have no mechanismfor grooming the next boss. The figures are probably not much different in theUK. “Even big companies find it hard to hang onto more than one or twochief executive contenders for long for very obvious reasons,” says HRconsultant Paul Kearns. “When Jack Welch got the top job at GeneralElectric, two of the other contenders left shortly after he had won therace.” It is easy to underestimate internal candidates – working with managersmagnifies their flaws – and the converse is true, as you may not discover anexternal candidate’s flaws until it is too late. Before your directors make up their minds, you could mention Jim Collins’bestseller, Good To Great, in which he found that exceptional firms werefar more likely to recruit their bosses internally. Every company should occasionally look to the market for talent, if only towiden the managerial gene pool. But if you’re always asking a headhunter tofill the top slot, the fault may not lie with your new CEO, but with thecompany. 2 Don’t hire celebrity chief execs In the US, the proportion of externally recruited CEOs soared from 8 percent in the 1970s to 19 per cent in the 1990s. Yet studies suggest they don’tperform any better than bosses appointed from within – they’re just moreexpensive. The ‘larger than life’ chief executive is now out of fashion. They wereoften chosen for the wrong reasons: their CV was good enough to give the boardan alibi in the event of failure, their appointment would impress the investorsor – worst of all – they were deemed to be ‘charismatic’. The current trend is leaders with some humility, who walk into a new companyadmitting their level of ignorance. It is too early to write off the high-profile chief exec altogether. As LouGerstner proved when he took over the top slot at IBM in 1993, sometimes it isjust the kind of appointment a company needs to initiate change. And unlikesome of his peers, he couldn’t be accused of spending more time on a bookproposal than a business plan – he didn’t publish his bestseller, Who SaysElephants Can’t Dance?, until he had retired. 3 Take the right kind of risk Six years ago, Bruno Nespoli, the second-generation owner of a loss-makingItalian supermarket group Unes, did something that sounded very unwise indeed.He hired Pier Mario Vello as his new CEO – a former pharmaceutical companyexecutive, whose main claim to fame was writing several bestselling businessbooks. But Vello transformed Unes, hosting seminars to introduce a new set ofcorporate values that focused on creativity, optimism, loving the job (as wellas the customers) and tolerating frustration. Within five years, Unes hadbecome one of Italy’s most profitable food chains, and was sold to an Italianretailing magnate. Not every company wants to (or should) hire the new Tom Peters. Butsometimes, they should have the guts to be different. “What you see a lot of time in business – just like in footballmanagement – is companies recycling failure,” says Cooper. “Justbecause someone used to manage Manchester United or ICI, doesn’t mean theycould run your company. And if they’ve failed, you need to know why.” In other words, think twice if you are about to hire a candidate such asBrian Staples – the 56-year-old chief executive who has left two troubledcompanies (private finance initiative company Amey, and United Utilities) inthe past five years. 4 And then reduce the risk Secrecy inhibits the efficient operation of the market for CEOs. Someelement of cloak and dagger is probably inevitable (such appointments can,after all, affect share prices), but Cooper says it can also harm the new CEO’sprospects. “Even more important than the relationship between a chief exec and achairman is the relationship between a new CEO and your senior managers.Anything you can do to build that relationship is going to help your new bossand your company. So why not try work sampling? Or at least find a way for thenew chief executive to meet the team. That is more important than meeting thedirectors.” HR consultant Paul Kearns agrees: “You have to get the chemistry right– the relationship with key stakeholders should be tested before ifpossible.” And look out for other risk factors – one of the most obvious being theshift from private to public sector. Kearns says this shift can be particularlytricky. “Adam Crozier’s move from the Football Association to the Royal Mailseems a big gamble. He has no experience of running large public sectororganisations with a bad industrial relations history.” While Crozier learned a few lessons about the public sector’s unique wayswhile running the country’s most visible sporting body, other captains ofindustry might be more complacent. Cooper says: “Every private sector manager believes they could run thepublic sector more efficiently, yet that confidence isn’t always supported bythe facts.” The sorry tale of Lord MacLaurin is a case in point. For all his gravitasand good ideas, the man who revived Tesco and ensured a smooth succession, hassignally failed to revive cricket as the chairman of the English and WalesCricket Board. 5 Write a job description It sounds silly – everybody knows what a chief executive does, don’t they?Yes and no, says Cooper. “Look at the other positions on a board. The roles played by amarketing or a finance director are fairly well defined by a list of technicalfunctions. It sounds self-evident that the role of a chief executive is to leada company, but you need to define what kind of leadership you want.” If your job description says you are looking for a ‘proven leader’ who is‘decisive and action-orientated’, do yourself a favour: don’t even show it to apotential candidate, just chuck it in the bin. 6 Have a little faith Nobody knows quite why the RAC’s new chairman designate, Alan Bowkett, quitlast November after just four months in the job. But the fact that Sir TrevorChinn – the man who Bowkett was supposed to replace – stayed on for anotheryear while Bowkett was bedded in, could not have eased the succession. The simplest thing you can do to help a new chief executive, is to gentlyensure the old boss leaves the building – for good. In football, it is known as‘Sir Matt Busby syndrome’. Busby famously managed Manchester United when they became the first Englishclub to win the European Cup in 1968. But he then undermined much of the goodhe had done for the club by hanging around like the ghost of Banquo in MacBeth,while his successors struggled to cope with his legacy. It is one of football’smost famous and cautionary tales, and a common theme of corporate life. Don’tlet it happen to your company. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. How to buy a CEOOn 4 Mar 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

12 May

What’s good enough for the online customers…

first_imgThe philosophy behind Egg’s shift to a totally digital solution for its HRsystems was a simple one: why shouldn’t HR be run like the business is run –totally online? “We deliver our customers’ statements online so why not deliver ouremployees’ payslips electronically too?” says Caroline Black, head of HRsystems at the digital financial services company, which provides banking,insurance, investments, mortgages and a shopping portal through its website.”We wanted an HR strategy that matched the business strategy.” When Egg launched in October 1998, it had 100 employees, which quickly grewto 2,000, based in London, Dudley and Derby. By 2000, Egg knew that a traditionalHR infrastructure could not service the needs of a young, digital company witha fluid workforce and global ambitions. “It was a case of recruit, recruit, recruit in the early days,”says Black, whose own background is a mixture of compensation and benefits andIT. “Our HR systems were provided by a third party but we knew the wayforward lay in a pure internet solution that enabled us to deploy to everyonevia the web.” While most e-HR systems are now web-based, Black says Egg’s research showedthat not all were what they claimed to be. “There was a degree of smokeand mirrors with some systems and this is why you need IT involved right fromthe start. HR can’t be expected to have this sort of expertise. You need toknow you have the right systems infrastructure to meet increasingdemands.” A project team was set up and given six months to revolutionise the way HRoperated at Egg. An invitation to tender was sent out and PeopleSoft was appointedto undertake ‘project enabling’. “PeopleSoft 8 Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions comprehensivelymatched our set of requirements and has strength in all applications across theHR spectrum,” explains Black. PeopleSoft 8 was implemented to bring a portal concept to Egg that wouldenable employees and managers to go to the same place for all their HRinformation and to carry out all people transactions. Branded ‘Buzz’, it alsoholds all Egg policies and procedures and the staff handbook. A self-service HR facility went online a month later because HR wanted toroad test it thoroughly itself first. To date, the portal has handled 80,000transactions since its introduction. “We’re a 24/7, 365-day company – sois Buzz,” says Black. Implementation was completed in the six-month period but some customisation hadto take place. This was mainly due to a slight ‘disconnection’ between HR andthe original scoping exercise, recalls Black, who explained they had expectedthe self-service facility on the system to commit information to the databaseas soon as an employee inputs it. “Instead it would send a message to HRwith the information. This wasn’t what we wanted so we commissioned acustomisation programme to change it.” Egg undertook an examination to predict reactions to the system and foundthere were unlikely to be any tangible objections because the system made lifeeasier for HR and the workforce – it reduced administration and streamlinedprocesses, freeing up more time for focused face-to-face time with employees. “We knew we might get an emotional reaction from some people,” shesays. But, objections didn’t last long and Egg had a simple and clearcutdefence of the system already in place. The future for Egg’s e-HR system lies in maximising the benefits of datawarehousing, whereby data collected from the PeopleSoft system can be used fora multitude of purposes. “The system lets us measure people information in all sorts of ways,but we want to integrate and measure financial and revenue-related info next,and really see how things affect the bottom line,” says Black. www.peoplesoft.comwww.egg.com Related posts:No related photos. What’s good enough for the online customers…On 8 Apr 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

12 May

Training rights the wrongs of 175 years of racism

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Training rights the wrongs of 175 years of racismOn 17 Jun 2003 in Personnel Today Terry Devoil has been handed responsibility for the Met’slargest-ever training programme. He talks to Nic Paton about the challenges hefaces to ensure every member of staff undertakes the Community and RaceRelations training programmeDetective Chief Inspector Terry Devoil was a sergeant when in 1983, he wascalled to a flat in north London to investigate complaints by neighbours ofblocked drains. “We went inside, lifted up a pan and there was a head insidecooking,” he explains cheerily. The flat belonged to serial killer DennisNilsen and Devoil is proud that he was the one to arrest him. Devoil, 47, has been with the Metropolitan Police for 30 years, 19 as auniformed officer on the beat, then with CID, including working as a Mettrainer from 1992. This pedigree of experience has stood him in good stead forwhat is perhaps his most challenging role to date – overseeing the Met’slargest training programme in its 175-year history. Devoil is head of the force’s diversity training school, located at itspolice training college in Hendon, north London, running the £20m Community andRace Relations (CRR) training programme. It is an ambitious project to bringrace awareness training to all of the Met’s police and civilian employees. The project is a central element of the Met’s response to the Macphersoninquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence 10 years ago. Out of the inquirycame a report that memorably and controversially branded the force”institutionally racist”. Recommendation 49 of that report said thatall police officers, CID and civilian staff “should be trained in racismawareness and valuing cultural diversity”. “The first thing to say is that the Metropolitan Police was and isstill institutionally racist,” admits Devoil. “But that’s not adirect criticism of this organisation. It is the result of decisions, policiesand practices made by white, middle-aged, heterosexual men since Sir RobertPeel started the Metropolitan Police.” Prior to leading the CRR, Devoil was working as a crime manager in theborough of Waltham Forest, specialising in dealing with domestic violence. Withthe highest Asian population in the UK outside Bradford, he and his fellowofficers had to be keenly attuned to the sensitivities of culture and racerelations. Intriguingly, he says the Met was piloting a programme similar to the CRRbefore Macpherson. “What Macpherson did was accelerate it. Whether wewould have trained the whole of the Metropolitan Police, I would think not. Itwas the Macpherson report and subsequent government action and priorities thatmade this a Metropolitan Police priority,” he explains. The programme has been a huge undertaking, with 37,500 people having takenpart since early 1999, at a rate of 1,100- 1,500 a month. The first phase wascompleted at the end of last year. Around 36 police trainers and 60 “police associate” trainers wererecruited as a first step. The associates were trainers from the outsidecommunity, including teachers, doctors, prison governors, consultants, peoplewho had worked in local authorities and professional trainers and were a firstfor the Met. After an intensive three-week ‘train the trainer’ course, 10 teams were setup across London to run the mandatory two-day courses. Each team, with one teamleader and five trainers, was responsible for training a borough, with placessuch as New Scotland Yard. Hendon counted itself as an extra. Each team leader was responsible for training two sites simultaneously.Class sizes varied from 12 to 27, but were normally around 16, with the coursebeing conducted away from the station. “You had civil support staff beingtrained alongside police officers from the counter terrorism branch, detectivesbeing trained with firearms specialists and canteen staff,” Devoilexplains. The courses were designed to focus on areas such as attitudes, stereotypes,changing values, looking at why communications break down and why people reactto power and dominance in different ways. They were normally opened by a seniorofficer to drive home the importance the Met attached to them. The wholeprogramme has been strongly backed from commissioner-level down. One of the most controversial but effective elements of the training – and arecommendation within the Macpherson report – was to bring in ordinary peopleoff the street to speak to the participants. “Four to six people came in,they were paid, got a free meal and could say what they liked to policeofficers. They thought it was a sting,” laughs Devoil. “The police officers were not in uniform, not on police premises andwere not allowed to say anything. We depowered them. For about 20 minutes youheard a lot of things about the way they looked, the way they were stopped andsearched – that kept coming out. After 20 minutes, the officers were allowed torespond. “I went through it three or four times. I remember there was this oneblack lad, about 17 years old, very eloquent. He had his cap on back-to-front,his puffa jacket and his trainers, and there’s me suited and booted, and hesaid, ‘OK, Mr Diversity, I come and knock at your door and I ask can I join theMetropolitan Police?’. “I replied I’d love him to. He said: ‘I want to come to you and beinterviewed dressed like this’. ‘Well you can’t,’ I replied. ‘Why can’t I? Iwant to be a police officer but I don’t want to wear your uniform.’ ‘Well youhave to.’ ‘So if I turn up in an interview would you accept me?’ And I had tosay ‘no’. So [the process] gets you to challenge your value systems,” saysDevoil. After the Macpherson report, many officers resented the fact they felt theywere being branded as racist. “That was actually not what Macpherson said,but the media were quite mischievous. And when you saw the scenes coming out ofthe Macpherson inquiry and subsequently when those five arrested [for themurder of Lawrence] got off, there was a lot of criticism of the police, andquite justly so,” concedes Devoil. “We did not do a very goodinvestigation.” One of the hardest parts of the training, was to get beyond the assumptionthat officers were being sent on the course solely to be barracked. Similarly,there would be times when the trainers would be met with aggression anddefensiveness. “We did have the die-hards, the ‘well, I’ve been doing it like this allmy career, and I’m never going to change because I’m not doing anythingwrong’,” admits Devoil. So, has it worked? As yet it is hard to say. The Institute for EmploymentStudies is currently carrying out an external evaluation, due to be publishedin August. Between 100 and 200 participants in Greenwich, Harrow, Lambeth andBarnet are being interviewed, but plans to sample the communities to see ifattitudes and perceptions there have altered have been scrapped because ofcost. The Met is doing its own evaluation, getting feedback from each borough,which should be assessed by the beginning of next year. Anecdotal evidence,says Devoil, suggests around 70 per cent of participants found the programmehad made a difference, while between 87 per cent and 91 per cent were satisfiedwith its outcome. From the first phase, the programme is now moving on to tackle issues ofworkplace culture, gender and flexibility. As yet this is at the pilot phase. It will also take time to replace lost trainers. The CRR programme has lostabout 20 per cent of its trainers since it started, with burn-out from dealingwith such a stressful area a significant factor. Whatever the outcomes of the two current evaluations, Devoil, for one,believes it may take 30 years to know for sure whether the programme and anysubsequent incarnations have been a success. “I’ll tell you now that we have changed our culture in the last threeyears,” he stresses. “When I look back when I’m old and grey, theMetropolitan Police will be a more representative organisation. I think it willbe a much better place to work in,” he concludes. To order the Personnel Today/DLA survey on workforce diversity andequality – www.personneltoday.com/resources Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

12 May

Career focus

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. A region by region look at working in HR in the UK. This month we look atthe North WestInward investment on the rise as area adaptsThe latest research paints a healthy picture for the North West. Employmentis steadily growing, and unemployment has been shrinking fairly consistentlysince 2001. In July 2003, the seasonally-adjusted employment rate was up by 1.7 per centto 73.6 per cent, with unemployment down by 0.6 per cent to 4.9 per cent. The gross domestic product for the area was £75.8bn in 1998, but this figurehas declined per head against the national average and is now below most of theother regions. Business start-ups are steadily increasing, and the DTI has published andfunded a business strategy for the North West – Opportunity for all in a worldof change – backed by a £913m Government investment to improve local transportand meet the needs of business. The economy is swinging slightly towards high or medium technology andservice roles, although manufacturing is still a major player. Although many jobs have been lost in this sector, it is still a hugeemployer, and the Manufacturing Institute recently presented a businessstrategy to the Government. Bryan Gray, chairman of the Northwest Development Agency, says:”Manufacturing is a key economic driver in the area, employing 430,000people and accounting for 25 per cent of GDP, which is significantly more thanthe national average of 20 per cent.” Chris Gorton, North West Chair of the Recruitment and EmploymentConfederation (REC), has 20 years experience in the region, and says the areahas never had a more diverse mix of firms. “There is a strong economy around the M62 and M65 corridors, but manufacturingand chemicals have seen some major lay-offs,” he says. “The foodindustry and service sector are particularly buoyant and are the real growthareas for employment.” Lynn Clarke, chair of the Manchester branch of the Chartered Institute ofPersonnel and Development (CIPD) , says the region is experiencing a hugeupturn in investment. “Manchester especially is really buoyant at the moment. There are lotsof new buildings and companies, which means more opportunities. Theregeneration that’s taking place is having a knock-on effect onemployment,” she says. Clarke, whose CIPD branch is one of the largest in the country, believesthat all the changes in the region present great opportunities for HR. “It’s a good place for HR people to build a career, and I think theyare being attracted from other areas because of all the investment,” shesays. “It’s got one of the best mixes of people and industry outside ofLondon.” Because of all the restructuring around manufacturing and engineeringcompanies, there are also many other roles for HR. “There are lots of opportunities for transformation and organisationalchange specialists as local firms try and adapt to economic changes,”Clarke says. Living in the regionEducation:For school-age education, the region is around the averagelevel for the UK. The pupil to teacher ratios are 22.3 at primary schools and16.3 at secondary schools, compared with national averages of 22.0 and 16.4respectively. The average class size is 26.1 in primary schools and 21.8 insecondary ones, which is broadly in line with the rest of the country (26.3 and21.9). GCSE pass rates are slightly lower than average for both boys and girls,while 12.9 per cent of the working population have a degree-level education.Transport:The region is served by two main airports – ManchesterInternational and Liverpool John Lennon – and has major train stations in mostareas. Manchester and Blackpool also operate local tram services. The WestCoast Main Line and the M6 form the main north-south routes in the region alongwith the M62 and the Trans-Pennine rail lines travel east to west. Despite allthis, there is still a high level of congestion, particularly on the roads.Culture/lifestyle:TV personality Lloyd Grossman, who acts as RegionalCommissioner for English Heritage in the North West, describes the region asenchanting. He moved to the area 25 years ago, and is quick to cite Liverpool,Manchester, Chester, Lancaster and Preston as some of the best cities in thecountry. The area boasts plenty of history (particularly Roman) andcountryside, mixed with vibrant cities and a working coastline.Housing:House prices grew by 24.4 per cent in the second quarter ofthis year, bringing the average price to £109,027. Despite the current boom, itis still much cheaper than buying a home in the South. According to theNationwide, buyers in the North West can expect to pay an average of £171,620for a detached property, £110,637 for a semi, £77,236 for a terrace or £76,007for a flat.HR contacts and local informationHR directors club www.hrdirectorsclub.comSocpo North West regional chair [email protected] Development Agency www.nwda.co.ukCIPD Manchester branch http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/manchester/CIPD Merseyside branch http://branchwebs.cipd.co.uk/merseyside/Company profileThe Bollington GroupStaff: 100Based: CheshireThe insurance broker and financial services firm has been basedin East Cheshire since the business was formed. The head office lies at theedge of the peak district in a deliberately rural location.HR director Phillip Jones says the location is perfect forstaff and offers a great working environment. “The main advantage is the beautiful environment and thehillside air. We’ve got the best of both worlds, because we’re essentially inthe countryside, but also very close to Manchester,” he says.The area also offers access to a huge pool of potential talentbecause of its proximity to several major cities.”It gives us access to potential staff from major citiessuch as Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield,” he adds.”We also have a main train line, we’re near Manchesterairport and we have some excellent local transport.”I used to live and work in London, but looking back now,I think ‘what a nightmare’. The smog and all the traffic certainly don’t help.From an HR perspective, I think people perform better in the sort ofenvironment that we have.”Move here for…The futureManchester is recognised as a vibrant city, and Liverpool isthe new European city of cultureFunBlackpool, with its annual illuminations, is tipped to becomethe Las Vegas of the UKMusicHome of Merseybeat and the Manchester scene, the area is richin musical heritage and is the birth place of the BeatlesBut beware of…The weatherThe North West and Manchester in particular is renowned for itswet weatherSportsA no-go area for sports-haters with a spread of top footballteams, Aintree race track and the spiritual home of rugby leagueManufacturingThere are still opportunities, but the industry is experiencinga downturn. Career focusOn 21 Oct 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more