Companies are failing to take family issues into consideration when selecting candidates for expatriate assignments, according to the Industrial Society.The society found that only 49 per cent of the 291 companies surveyed took dependants into account when selecting candidates for expatriate assignments, and only 10 per cent interviewed spouses or partners for their views. The companies surveyed included Shell, HSBC, IBM and Ford. Alex Swarbick, HR consultant at the Industrial Society, said, “This figure is surprisingly low given that an unhappy partner is often one of the main reasons for the failure of a placement.“With increasing numbers of dual-income families, it is harder to persuade someone to give up their interest to help their partner’s career.”Mike Fleming, international HR manager at Nalco/Exxa Energy Chemicals, said, “Make sure the employee and spouse have a visit beforehand and are given the opportunity to discuss issues with fellow expatriates.”Other HR professionals questioned in the survey urged companies to continue to provide career development and training to expatriated employees. While many of those surveyed favoured flexible payment packages for expatriates, the report warned not to overpay them. Fleming agreed, “Don’t move away from consistent policy application to tempt an employee to the job. Precedents are set and expatriates talk.”Separate research by William M Mercer confirmed the Industrial Society’s findings, claiming that 65 per cent of all companies have no formal expatriate selection process.The 104 participating companies were European multinationals with headquarters in 15 European countries. When assessing candidates, companies listed technical expertise, leadership qualities and organisational skills as the most important factors when selecting candidates.www.indsoc.co.uk By Richard Staines Families rarely considered when posting staff overseasOn 9 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
The answer lay in a visit to the Best Factory Awards inBirmingham where the very best of productivity improvement was highlighted. APIthen began a programme of improvement that encouraged management to devolveownership of the working areas, machines and operating processes to shop flooremployees, giving them greater control over their working activity. The key to the scheme’s success is the ongoing communicationto ensure that standards are being maintained. Management’s job has become morestraightforward as it is only asking employees to do work in a way that theythemselves have agreed to do. Conversely, because employees set their ownstandards, they understand why they get in trouble if those standards are notmet. The programme was introduced on a pilot basis, and wasimmediately well received by employees, who were being asked to make their owndecisions and set their own working targets for the first time. This was also abig change for managers who had to learn to let go of some of theirresponsibilities and decision-making and alter management techniquesaccordingly. At first there were the inevitable teething troubles as everyonewas trying to adapt to a new way of working. 5S is not an overnight cure forbad company culture – it takes a lot of time and energy. – Managers should focus on supporting and stimulatingemployees to work to improve the way in which they do their jobs. ContactsProductivity Europe (5S specialists) – Tel. 01234 851543Bill Eaton, Eaton Management Services – Tel. 0116-247 1887Best Factory Awards Contact Productivity Europe as above.TheLancaster Group – Tel: 0115-960 4664 Comments are closed. – Employees must be ready for change. Team building sessionsthat highlight where any problems might be can help to prepare employees forworking towards the right solution. Personnel Today’s monthly series reveals how managers dealwith business problems and enhance performance. In this issue, managers of APICoated Products explain how increasing responsibility on the shop floorimproved the working culture and improved performance by up to 50 per cent The 5S programme adopted by API encourages employees to settheir own standards of work – and stick to them. 5S stands for Sort, Set limitsand locations, Shine and sweep, Standards (which was crucial to API) andSustain. The programme, which is just as effective in an office as in a factory,requires every employee to firstly organise the working environment and thenset standards for every bit of the job they do. It doesn’t matter what thestandard is, just as long as it is identified and kept up. Taking ownership ofthe job that needs to be done means there is more motivation to do that jobwell, and invariably standards are raised. API implemented the 5S programme three years ago andproductivity is up an average of 10 per cent year- on-year. Employees aredictating their own standards of work, from the organisation of the shop floorto the operation of equipment. There is an ongoing process of setting astandard, adhering to it, checking it and acting to restandardise if it fallsbehind. It took about a year to get the whole system buttoned down, but now thefactory is maintaining the process and the culture issues are continuallyimproving. Top Tips: How to reorganise the job culture – It is crucial to get top managers committed to the scheme.Although the costs are minimal, they won’t reap the rewards immediately, sotheir patience and continued support is vital. Eight years ago API was a traditional top-down manufacturingcompany. Management was in fire-fighting mode, dealing with problems as theyarose, with no real control over the manufacturing processes that made up thebusiness. The culture on the shop floor at that time added to the problem.Meanwhile, in the factory employees didn’t have any ownership or control overwhat they were trying to do and it was purely the management’s job to try tokeep standards up and output at a maximum. Previous Article Next Article API is continually looking for ways to increase productivityby improving the working environment and culture for its workers. 5S hasprovided the company with a way to increase profits and give employees greatercontrol. Although it takes time to implement, the improvements are outstanding– and are built to last. Best practice: working cultureOn 5 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today API Coated Products is recognised as one of Europe’s leadingspeciality coaters of paper and film. It supplies materials for graphical,medical, automotive, packaging, food manufacture and retail markets. It employs120 people with a turnover of over £17m. In the light of demanding customerexpectations and global competition, API has developed a programme to make itsmanufacturing process world class. Positive outcomes for the business The training lasted three days, so it was quite an intenseperiod away from the factory. When back at work, the training had an immediateand significant impact on company culture. Employees came out of the coursesready to put into place all the skills they had learned. But it wasn’t enoughto have a sustained or long-term effect on productivity. Because the actualworking environment hadn’t changed, the problems came back. What was needed wasa way of changing company culture, and sustaining that change.How we implemented the change What you are effectively doing with 5S is highlighting thevariables within any job, and setting standards so that instead of the qualityfluctuating, it is always the same, and of a high standard. It means realcommitment for companies introducing the scheme, but at API it was really worththe effort. A factory or office worker might have dozens of variable tasks tofulfil in a day, each of which must be identified with a written standardexplaining how that task is to be properly undertaken in a repeatable manner. What needed addressing and why? Before API implemented the programme, operator variationcould drag performance down significantly. So it’s not just about makingemployees more satisfied with their work – it has had very significant economicbenefits too. Motivational issues within the factory were clearlyhampering productivity. At a teambuilding course (run by Eaton ManagementServices), employees were asked to identify the things they were unhappy ordissatisfied with. Across the board, the response was the same. Employees werefrustrated by the lack of involvement and communication bet-ween them andmanagement. Almost universally, the feeling was that they didn’t know what wasgoing on and lacked control over the tasks they were given. Related posts:No related photos.
Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. GuruOn 21 Aug 2001 in Personnel Today This week’s guruOffensive language without even tryingGuru does a lot of good work for charity and was upset to discover that anHR chum in the voluntary sector had inadvertently offended members of thepublic with an advert in the national media. Her large charity used the phrase “nitty gritty”. Several peoplecontacted her telling her it was a racist remark – apparently referring to therape of black women on slave ships. She immediately started to research the meaning of the phrase. But when theInternet and the library failed to provide an answer, she turned to Guru. Unfortunately, Guru doesn’t know either. Can anyone prove the origins of thephrase, and are there any other seemingly innocent phrases we should be avoiding?Warm welcome for office visitors Guru’s worst experience with a receptionist was in the House of Commons – Irush to add that this is a story about incompetence rather than office partyantics. The aforementioned receptionist managed to spread so much disinformation toGuru and the politician he wished to meet, that both ended up waiting aroundthe corner from each other for the best part of an hour. This is not an uncommon occurrence, however. According to research, UKbusinesses are failing to show a proper level of courtesy to their clients andvisitors. One in five visitors are left sweltering in reception areas without airconditioning and more than half are offered drinks only after they have beenshown to their meeting room. A fifth of visitors find themselves in reception areas without access to abathroom. As executives who attend only two meetings a week are calculated to spendabout 2.2 working days a year loitering in receptions, perhaps they can expectbetter treatment. Cool job, shame about the salary If disciples are tired of wasting their lives in sweltering reception areas,they might consider working in a rather different environment. Guru was surprised to learn from a friend at the British Antarctic Surveythat it has received hundreds of applications for a steelworker post in theAntarctic. The lucky applicant will have to endure 12-hour shifts for seven-day weeksin temperatures as low as -55C. The salary for this tantalising four-month jobwill be about £17,000. Guru would definitely not get out of bed for that one.A chance to move with the fashionGuru has found the answer to all his temperature regulation problems. Anintelligent shirt has been developed which rolls up its own sleeves when thewearer gets too hot under the collar. For those allergic to ironing – which includes Guru – the shirt could beheaven-sent. A quick blast of a hairdryer is all that is needed to return itcrease-free to its original form. The drawback is that you will have to be on City wages to buy one. It costsItalian fashion house Corpo Nove £2,500 to make one. The fabric is woven from fibres of an alloy called nitinol, interspersedwith nylon, and changes shape as the temperature goes up or down. Previous Article Next Article
Thenew economy and the era of knowledge workers have produced a new breed ofsenior directors with dynamic job titles and roles. But is this the natural evolutionof HR or a threat to HR as we know it? Jane Lewis looks at six examples of thenew HRIf you laughed when you first heard job titles such as “talentchampion” or “transformation director” then the smile might endup on the other side of your face. Many of these new titles are grounded inmodernity signalling a new-wave approach to management, a recognition thatstructures are flatter and previously distinct boundaries between departmentsare breaking down. Even the more far-fetched terms conceal a serious intent. Byfocusing both the holder of the position and the wider company on the brasstacks of what a position really entails, a real cultural shift is possible. Some of the new roles are simply evolutionary, emerging as extraresponsibilities were gradually added to an existing role. Others mark theculmination of a long and varied career, in which all past skills were broughttogether under one umbrella. In some instances, it is impossible not to discerna modern form of empire building. The emergence of the new roles is no laughing matter for the traditionalHRpractitioner, not least because often the roles deliberately bypass theHRfunction. So are these HRroles and can HRpeople do them? And how can theyequip themselves for the roles and gain the credibility with the board to getthem? Two distinct traits seem to unite many of these new-breed practitioners.First, they seem to share a strong belief in the power that people can exertover the success, or otherwise, of any organisation – several of thoseinterviewed had experienced a kind of epiphany on this score in a past project.Second, they all look to the future. Many of these new roles were born of adissatisfaction, irritation or frustration with the way the existing HR modelwas being run in their company. So how much of a threat do these new roles pose for HR as a profession? Youneed only look at the way Microsoft’s financial director Steve Parker stormedthe fortified castle of the company’s HR department, decimated it andrefashioned it his own way, to get the point. The message that many of thesecombined “people roles” throw up – often taken up by professionalsfrom other disciplines – is that there’s no resting on your laurels these days.With people seen as the most important asset in the service economy, there’s noshortage of candidates from other disciplines queuing up for a slice of theaction. In the final analysis the message is clear – reform or prepare to beannexed. 1. The Transformation DirectorAt the height of the new economyfrenzy two years ago, the ability to change was seen as the single mostimportant characteristic that any company could possess, often even surpassingthe ability to run profitable product lines. Such was the perceived threat of thenew business models championed by the dotcoms, that any traditional company,however powerful, could not be seen to be standing still. It sometimes seemed,to the cynical at least, as though change for change’s sake was the order ofthe day. “There is now an irresistible fashion for perpetual corporatemodernisation, however disastrous its consequences,” wrote the columnistAlexander Chancellor at the time.This was the era that saw the birth of the transformationdirector. The new role was a tangible sign that a company had recognised thenew paradigm of horizontally structured, customer-centric, project-ledorganisations – and intended to do something about it. In recognition of thepivotal role played by the Internet in this shift, the post was frequentlytaken up by progressive IT directors. But when the e-revolution hit HR, a newbreed of eHR/transformation experts began to emerge.At first the remit of most eHR managers was relatively narrowin scope. The brief was to make maximum use of the new tools available toupskill the capability of the HR function. The unofficial brief was often toreduce costs – a feat that eHR accomplished in spades, producing dramatic savings and headcountreductions among many of its early practitioners.The arrival of eHR outsourcers such as e-peopleserve and Exultoffered the possibility of even bigger savings, converting a fixed costembedded in the business into a variable cost. Companies that outsourced foundthey could increase or decrease the volume of activity according to businesscircumstances.Deployed wisely, it soon became clear that eHR was also apowerful transformational agent for the HR function itself. By effectivelyfreeing HR professionals from the drudgery of business administration, itopened the door to new roles at the heart of the business that had previouslybeen denied them.But the full scope of what eHR could achieve on the widerbusiness only became apparent when it was linked with mainstream businesstransformation. Indeed the success or otherwise of the new technologies hingedon a revolution in business. You couldn’t expect to make radical changes withe-enabling tools, without altering the systems and processes that underpinnedthem. It was this recognition that propelled many eHR practitioners to theforefront of their company’s drive to redefine and upskill the organisation asa whole. If you want to get involved in strategy with a capital “S”,this is the role for you.eHR/transformation roles call for a raft of skills that may beunfamiliar to many HR professionals. Clearly a knowledge of what technology canachieve is critical to the role, but even more important is a thoroughunderstanding of corporate structures and processes: how they work, how theyinteract with each other and how they can be best optimised to drive thebusiness’ strategic aims. Moreover, if the outsourcing model is pursued, youwill need to acquire new skills in defining and managing third-partyrelationships. Finally, you will needreal drive and commitment. Business transformation is a tough process and youwill need a skin to match.Case study: Martin ReddingtonDirector of eHR transformation at Cable & Wireless In the crisis-ridden telecoms sector, Martin Reddington is thekind of manager you want on your side. Clearly an individual imbued withunusual drive and determination, Reddington believes the ability to moveforward is a discipline in its own right. During his comparatively brief tenureas director of eHR/transformation at Cable & Wireless he has certainly madehis impact felt. Appointed director of eHR transformation last year by C&W’sgroup head of HR, Martin Hayton, Reddington’s immediate objective was toachieve cost savings in the HR function. But his remit also included the widerbrief of creating the kind of internal structure that would help propel C&Wfrom its status as a traditional telco to that of a multinational data andInternet services provider. An important part of Reddington’s job was to shoreup international practice – to spread uniform processes across C&W’soffices in Japan, the US and Europe. “When we began we were 80 per cent local and 20 per centglobal. The situation now is the inverse of that.”The sharp wind of change has also been felt within the HRfunction itself, where both staff levels and the budget have been slashed by 40per cent since Reddington arrived. “The original intention was to go for a20 per cent budget reduction,” he says. “We’ve been able to take amore aggressive attitude to head count reduction.” Survivors in the department have also felt his impact.”We’ve been putting them through a series of capabilities workshops,change management, project management and consulting. Most are now businesspartners or specialists.” The change has created a much more positiveatmosphere in the department, he says. “Freed from the murky swamp ofadministration, they can now practice HR as a higher level skill and can reallyinfluence the performance of the management units they have responsibility for.”Underpinning this transformation is a fully integrated HRservice delivery model based on SAP software, with bespoke C&W toolslayered on top. As far as Reddington is concerned, “the jury’s stillout” on the question of outsourcing. But having studied the outsourcingmarket for almost a year, C&W is now at the “detailedsolutioning” phase of negotiations with one supplier.With a career that spans nuclear engineering, marketing, brandspecialism and project management, Reddington is the first to admit, “I’mcertainly not an HR man”, though having designed a whole range of newprocesses for the function he says,”I now understand a lot more about HR”. He sees himself primarily as a transformation specialistleading programmes from “the point of view of what the business isattempting to do”. Having begun as an engineer with National Power, hemoved into telecoms with Nynex, which was later combined into C&W.Reddington played an important role in launching the combined company’s new brand,before moving to head up global communications in C&W’s millenniumprogramme.Following his appointment to the new role, a timely three-dayconference on eHR helped Reddington get his bearings. “It became veryevident that eHR is not a journey dominated by technology. It should be seen astransformational, but not driven by technology.” He believes that thefailure to recognise this important distinction has led to many programmesstalling in other companies.”We produced a business case which took ages, but has beenworth its weight in gold. It covered a whole raft of intangible benefits ofwhat could be achieved if the business was e-enabled using systems.” Butit also concentrated on the hard-stuff: costs saved, costs avoided and revenuegeneration.”I don’t think I am very popular in certainquarters,” he says. “But because I cannot be labelled an HR person,I’m seen to be impartial – I came with a very fresh open mind.”Nonetheless, an important mainstay has been the “unswerving resolve”of C&W’s general HR management to see the programme completed. “Ifthat hadn’t been demonstrated – if there’d been even a whiff of weakness orsquidgy-ness – this discipline of moving forward would have been severelyimpaired.”Is this a transitional role? Reddington firmly disagrees.”The journey never stops – there are always refinements to be made.”And he now hopes to take the eHR processes and systems that have been developedat C&W to market. “I would like to convert what we’ve done and offerit to other customers.” All things considered, the eHR transformationprogramme “is one of the most interesting things I’ve done in mycareer.”This combined role personifies the belief that the way you treatpeople as individuals not only defines the ethos of an organisation, but alsosends an important message to its target markets. Indeed, in some companies,particularly those at the sharp end of the service sector, it is noexaggeration to say that these values are the main marketing message,inextricably caught up in the wider brand and service offering.2. The head of organisational changeThis combined role personifies the belief that the way you treat people asindividuals not only defines the ethos of an organisation, but also sends animportant message to its target markets. Indeed, in some companies, particularly those at the sharp end of theservice sector, it is no exaggeration to say that these values are the mainmarketing message, inextricably caught up in the wider brand and serviceofferingThe title director of people has been frequently ridiculed in some circlesas no more than a trendy new name for existing functions. What’s wrong with HRdirector? they ask. Well, quite a lot. Exponents of the new role are the firstto point out that people and organisational development is in fact an entirelydifferent discipline from traditional HR with its emphasis on procedures,processes and competencies. Indeed, in many companies it exists in parallelwith the HR function.In others, however, the term has come into use as a reactionagainst established HR practice – a desire to break free of the perceivedlimitations of the past with its endless red tape and bureaucracy, andconcentrate on the talents and mindsets of individuals. The essence of the newthinking is that each employee is much more than a cog in the corporatemachine. For better or for worse, it is the individuals who shape companies.The best organisations, according to Gallup’s senior European vice-president,Graeme Buckingham, are underpinned by “a very passionate beliefsystem” springing from the collective articulation of individual goals. Inthe companies he studied, the main priority of the best managers was to find”fulfilment for the individual”. Writ large, this meant “astrong belief in the importance of HR to the future of the organisation”.Traditionalists also miss the point when they consign”development” to the old-style training category. Organisationaldevelopment is much more than training (though constant reskilling forms alarge part of its remit). Its most important function, however, lies intranslating an often unarticulated and sketchy set of values into the kind ofpolicies that can drive business growth. As such, it can be compared to aconjuring – to magic a substance out of thin air.What kind of skills do you need for the job? Certainly, theability to “think out of the box” is likely to be critical to anyprocess of translating intangible values into practical policies. And you willalso need an in-depth knowledge of the business, its aims and purposes. Aboveall, you need to be able to understand the often complex relationship betweenindividuals and the structures they operate in. Many practitioners believe thatnothing less than a full degree in organisational psychology will cut themustard these days.Case study: Chris Goscomb Head of people and organisational development at easyJetDespite its recent travails, easyJet remains the epitome of acompany whose success is interwoven with its corporate ethos. In the earlydays, its value system seemed to mirror the personal characteristics of itsfounder Stelios Haji-Ioannou: laid back in style, yet rigorous about detail.And above all imbued with a certain kind of passion.But as Chris Goscomb explains, the formulation of easyJet’snow-famous employee brand was no casual evolution, but a deliberate strategicplan. As with many other aspects of its operation, the company took much of itsinspiration from the pioneering no-frills US carrier, South West Airlines,which had long had a strong “people policy” in place. But when Goscomb joined the company four years ago as a servicestandards manager (he says his current role just “grew” over theyears), many of the key elements of the easyJet’s ethos were as yet undefined.Certainly, the company knew which direction it wanted to take – “that itwould have a flat structure and involve people” – but these were largelyunstated aims. The main challenge he faced was “to make it happen, to makeit real”.Goscomb, whose background includes stints as an operationsmanager with Eurotunnel and London Underground and more latterly as amanagement consultant specialising in leadership and crisis, learnt the valueof people early. “My initial post-university training was focused onlogistics. But I learnt that if you want to make a difference, you had toinvolve people implicitly.” The basic tenet of the easyJet ethos he has evolved is”that everyone makes a difference”. He considers this particularlycritical in the current environment of turmoil in the airline industry, where astrong employer brand and ethos can have a substantial impact on sales.Goscomb, who also handles internal communications andmanagement development, works in parallel with easyJet’s acting head of HR,Deborah Woodward, who presides over a department handling policies, practices,procedures and deployment. “We do work incredibly closely together. But welook at the world from a different perspective,” he says. “If youreally want to wind him up, try calling his remit ‘soft’. Much of what we do is subliminal, but I personally view it asthe harder stuff,” he counters. “It’s the bits and pieces that sitbelow what people see. It’s the bedrock”. And while the HR department is certainlyinvolved in many “tough” areas, “it tends to be looking here andbackward – we’re looking here and forwards”.There are some tensions and conflicts to overcome. Goscombadmits there can be a conflict between applying good business practice and maintaininga strong people ethos. “It’s easy to do one or the other. The tricky partis combining them.” He has established what he calls a Paradox Model tocounter the problem.Is organisational and people development a luxury likely to beswept away if the hard times hit? Absolutely not, says Goscomb. “It’s sokey to what we are doing, it would be like cutting the heart out of thecompany.”3. The HR and IT consultantDespite obvious appearances to the contrary, IT and HR have a lot in common.Both are departments whose perceived value to most businesses has leapt frombeing, at best marginal 30 years ago, to a current status in which they areviewed as pivotal to future success. Both have had to struggle to achieve thisrecognition. And both have come under constant criticism for being slow atcoming forward. If you think HR gets a bad press for not understanding thebusiness properly, you should see some of the criticism that’s been meted outto IT over the years.In many companies the first joint effort between IT and HR wasthe payroll system. But as personnel applications became more pervasive andambitious in scope it became clear that the relationship wasn’t working –largely as a result of ignorance on either side. While most HR practitionershad little idea about how advances in technology could help improve their lot,even fewer IT specialists possessed the kind of business knowledge necessary toregister the transforming impact that a well-designed system could have on HR.All too often the resulting systems, while possibly excellent in terms of theirtechnical prowess, bore very little relevance to the kind of tools that HRpeople actually needed. Out of this frustration the IT/HR hybrid was born.The main role of the IT/HR hybrid, therefore, is to act as akind of bridge between pure business and pure IT. Not only do they understandthe business needs of the HR function, but their technical knowledge enablesthem to interface with what one expert calls the “deeper” technicalstaff.This fusion of roles was certainly accelerated by changes intechnology. The move to distributed systems in the early 1990s helped create anew breed of HR super-user, quite capable of specifying and occasionallysupervising, the creation of systems tailored to meet specific needs. In recentyears the level of IT literacy within HR has come on in leaps and bounds. AsRay Leighton at IBM points out, “The 16-year-old computer whizzkid hasmatured into a 25-year-old who works in HR.”More recently, a further change in approach has driven the needfor people who can straddle both disciplines. During the glory days of ERP(enterprise resource planning) software, there was a fundamental assumptionthat the processes specified by software giants such as Peoplesoft, SAP et al,were best of breed. If a company’s existing processes didn’t fit thosespecified by the software vendors, it was up to that company to re-engineer itsbusiness to make the match. But thisone-size-fits-all theory has been repeatedly called into question. Apart fromraising obvious questions about competitive advantage, it is now establishedwisdom that really effective systems are made by matching software to processes– not the other way round.Thus the need for individuals who understand both the mechanicsof the business and the possibilities conferred by IT has never been higher andIT/HR hybrids are in big demand.Casestudy: Ray Leighton Executive consultant at IBM’s eHR consulting practice”If you’re going to combine HRand IT, it helps to work for the world’s largest IT company,” says RayLeighton. “There’s always someone expert around who can help you.”Leighton’s background is pure HR. He began his career as apersonnel graduate at Scottish & Newcastle Breweries before joining IBM’smanufacturing plant at Greenock, where assignments included training,communications and salary bench-marking work. Following a move down south toIBM’s Portsmouth head office, he became a job evaluation expert, before movingon to the company’s labs near Winchester to cut his teeth on more generalist HR– managing both HR administration and operations.Leighton is the kind of chap who likes to keep on the move, soit wasn’t long before he made his first foray into systems strategy. In 1990 hejoined a team to develop an internal pan-European HR system and this soon ledonto another technical project defining a new HR product with another leadingUK software supplier. Although the resulting product never came to market, theexperience proved invaluable to Leighton personally. He spent a lot of time definingrequirements, modelling data and mapping processes. “It gave me anin-depth understanding of what not just one, but a lot of other companieswanted, out of an HR system.”It was time for a complete change. Leighton was chosen to runIBM’s career transition programme, part of a mid-90s downsizing exercise thatsaw Big Blue’s UK head count drop from 20,000 to 9,250. The broad breadth ofknowledge he had already amassed from his varied background with the companystood him in good stead. He was breathtakingly efficient, reducing the timebetween someone choosing to accept voluntary retirement and talking to anoutplacement consultant from three weeks to three days. Meanwhile, internalsurveys showed a dramatic increase in customer satisfaction with the process.For Leighton, this was a salutary exercise, it showed him the very real impactthat good systems based on solid processes could have on the welfare of individuals.But the success of this project also highlighted Leighton’sgrowing dissatisfaction with IBM’s HR function, which he increasingly viewed astoo administrative in outlook, too inefficient in service delivery, andover-concerned with hierarchies. Frustrated with this state of affairs, he quitHR and retrained as a salesman, taking up a position in general sales. Soonafter, however, a position that would enable him to make maximum use of bothhis HR and newly acquired IT skills came along. When IBM announced it woulddevelop and sell a specific HR suite of applications, Leighton was clearly theman for the project. He joined a team of five that spearheaded the company’spush into HR and payroll applications.After a long journey, Leighton appears to have found his realmetier as a supercharged IT/HR hybrid. He operates as a consultant advising organisationson how they can transform their HR function to the new e-business model for HRservices. His remit covers everything from strategy, through businessmodelling, to advice on outsourcing and self-service.He sees the trend towards a greater marriage between HR and ITas inevitable and predicts the rise of many more IT/HR specialists. A growingnumber of HR professionals, he claims, have already become more than aware”that IT is a tool that they can use to leverage their position within theorganisation”. Those who either fail to see, or refuse to take thisopportunity could well find themselves consigned to oblivion, he warns.4. The human capital directorAccording to one management thinker,the very expression human capital encapsulates just how far the HR professionhas evolved over the past 40 years. During the 1960s and 70s, the mainchallenge facing many HR departments lay in bringing together the warring sidesof management and the workforce. Later, at the height of the Thatcher era, the key preoccupationwas rationalisation and downsizing. Within a few years the focus had moved onto quality – TQM – and an obsession with process-driven activities. Humancapital, he argues, reflects the latest metamorphosis of the profession as a hard-nosedbusiness partner, responsible for nurturing, managing and extracting maximumfinancial reward from a key corporate asset – intellectual capital.The notion of the workforce as a capital asset is often thoughtto derive from new economy thinking, which frequently sought to elevate manyother so-called intangibles on to the balance sheet – a company’s ability toform customer relationships for example. This impression is quickly confirmedif you conduct an online search. According to Brett Walsh, head of humancapital at Andersen UK, in 1998 there were no less than two million Internetsites mentioning human capital – a figure that has undoubtedly grownconsiderably in the intervening three years.But as Walsh points out, the term was first used much earlier.Indeed its originator, the US economist Theodore Schultz, the so-called”father of human capital”, won the Nobel Prize for Economics for hispioneering work on the subject as far back as 1979.Nonetheless, it took the bombshell of the neweconomy to put human capital firmly on the corporate map. You could tell howseriously the concept was being taken when even an outfit like Stern Stewart,formulators of the EVA value assessment tool (as hard-nosed a financialmeasurement tool as any) began attempting to factor human capital into itscalculations.The problem with the notion in its purest sense, however, isthat despite extensive attempts no credible means of measuring the financialvalue of people has yet emerged. Indeed, there is a growing school of thoughtthat maintains the quest will remain forever fruitless on the simple groundsthat however much we may hope to the contrary, it will always be impossible toevaluate “soft” assets in the same precise terms as their”hard” equivalents.It might be argued that this quest to put a financial value onhuman capital misses the point anyway. The real value of the term lies in therevolution of perceptions it has wrought. The human capital movement proved tobe the last nail in the coffin of the previously widely held belief that peoplewere a draining cost on companies. The fact that so many organisations nowclaim, with varying degrees of credibility, that their “people are theirmain asset” shows just how far-reaching the movement has become.Casestudy: Brett Walsh Partner and head of Andersen Human Capital UKBrett Walsh believes the term human capital is highly symbolicof the journey HR has taken from its role “as a policeman to personnel, toa strategy function that talks the same language as the financialdirector”. He believes there has been a major shift in how the marketsview human capital. “The whole concept has taken on a much sharper focus.More organisations are quoting a market value that’s higher than their bookvalue on the basis of people value, knowledge and networks – they are realisingthat the people asset leads to profitability.”On this basis, Walsh maintains, the main remit of any directorof human capital is to invest as much as possible in the resource. For him, thereally compelling truism is that “people are the only asset in anorganisation that increases in value the more you invest in it”. Moreover, several macro-economic factors now combine to makethe argument even more pressing. In the teeth of an economic downturn, the”war for talent” between companies is likely to become even more hardfought. And the long-term picture of a declining birth rate and ageingpopulation should focus the minds of companies even more strongly. As Walshsees it, the main priority of HR function in the current climate should besimple: to do as much as possible to attract people to the organisation, andthen work hard to retain them. He believes the greatest HR challenge at presentis global talent management.Walsh’s own journey into people management took a circuitousroute. He began his career as a chartered civil engineer. After studying for anMBA and a part-accountancy qualification, he became a manufacturing consultant.His people epiphany took place while he was working on a project in Italy. Hewas brought in to help a US organisation that had lost confidence in itsability to turn round a failing southern Italian factory. Walsh’s discovery was that the real problem lay “with thepeople not the process”. “There were enormous differences between theshopfloor and management in Italian culture,” he says, which were impedingproductivity. This realisation was the starting point of reform. “I wentin and turned it around in six months.”After stints at both Hay Consulting and Accenture, he joinedAndersen, where he now heads up the Human Capital practice. Walsh’s role isboth inward-looking and outward-facing. Although the practice frequently offersits expertise to internal groups (human capital is a line function atAndersens), the main focus of effort at present is in building up the externalpractice. In a nutshell, Andersen HumanCapital aims to provide all the services any HR director may need from adviceon strategy and outsourcing through to compensation, pensions and internationaltax advice.According to Walsh, this dual remit gives the practice realedge. It allows it to draw on new ideas and best practice from a wide varietyof sources. “Both sides inform the work of the other,” he says. Asfor his own future plans, Walsh is determined to stay with human capital.There’s no reason to move, he maintains. “This is a real growth area.”5. The head of knowledgemanagementIf you were asked to name the twomost powerful new forces in business over the past decade which would you choose?Odds are that knowledge management and communication would rank highly on anylist. And many would argue that, as essentially people-centric activities, bothfall squarely under the banner of HR.But surveys show that in practice very few HR directors havemanaged to land direct control of either of these vital new forces. The problemis clear, both knowledge and communication are considered so central to thestrategic heartbeat of the 21st century organisation that everyone wants apiece of the action. In fact, the twin areas of knowledge and communicationcould be described as the corporate equivalent of the war zone – an area ofterritory fiercely contested by candidates from a variety of disciplines,including finance, marketing and IT.Some claim that HR’s failure to seize the initiative in theseareas is just another example of the profession’s lack of gumption when itcomes to seizing the main chance. If you take control of internalcommunication, for example, “The opportunity was there for HR, but itdidn’t leap through it”, says Owen Hargie, professor of communication atthe University of Ulster. “There’s not a tendency to be proactive in HR,to identify the potential niches they might influence.”According to a survey of 235 internal communications expertsconducted by Collinson Grant, just eight per cent of those operating at asenior level in this area hailed from an HR background, the majority had beguntheir careers in either marketing or PR. Yet the report’s author Tony Green claims thesefindings go against the grain. “The implication from the research we didwas that HR was the preferred route for managing [internal] communications –and my experience supports that.It’s a similar story when it comes to knowledge. Studies show thatthose companies which have acknowledged the crucial contribution of theirknowledge-base to the bottom line – by creating a new category of ‘knowledgeofficers’ for example – rarely go recruiting in the HR department. Heads ofknowledge are far still far more likely to spring from the engine room, from ITand finance, or from hybrid general management specialists than they are fromthose with an expertise in people.There are signs that this is beginning to change.Responsibility for internal communication, in particular, is beginning to gaina wider recognition as an specialism – particularly within companies whose HRdepartments have actively championed new means of communication such asintranets. Moreover, many HR professionals will argue that, contrary to whatthe studies say, they are closely involved in both areas on a day-to-day basis.If this is the case, it’s time to articulate it. More HR people should follow the example of Dr Anil Kumar (seebelow) and insist on the inclusion of these attributes in their titles if theyoccupy an important chunk of their working lives. As he says, “My originaltitle was just people and knowledge. But I wanted communication to be explicit.It’s symbolic of what we do.”Case study: Dr Anil Kumar Head of people, knowledge and communications at the Chemical IndustriesAssociationWhen Dr Anil Kumar saw his current job advertised at theChemical Industry Association, he knew it was made for him – combining elementsof his highly diverse past career in a unique integrated way.The Chemical Industries Association represents the UK’s leadingchemicals and pharmaceuticals companies including GlaxoSmithkline, BP, Shell,Exxon, as well as some small- to medium-sized companies. “Our overridingmission is to help members sustain profitability, and improve recognition oftheir contribution to society,” says Kumar.His own directorate has a gargantuan brief. In all, Kumar isresponsible for setting standards on education, training, science andtechnology, as well as employment and and communications, to a total of 250,000people in the industry. More immediately he is responsible for 30 people in hisown directorate.The communication aspect of Kumar’s role is outward as well asinternal. “We are the interface between the industry and the CivilService”, he says. And that means that strong lobbying skills arerequired. But Kumar is also responsible for maintaining a dialogue with tradeunions and a raft of NGOs (non-government organisations). Indeed, he has spentthe past 18 months devising a communications strategy that encompasses allthese groups. “It’s a virtuous circle,” he says. “Reputationbuilds trust and that in turn builds business.”The developmental aspects of the job are equally far-reaching,encompassing innovations in people management as well as technology andtraining development opportunities. “People across the industry are notjust multi-skilling, but continually upskilling,” he says.Much the same could be said about the progress of Kumar’s owncareer. After several years acquiring a raft of scientific degree and doctoratequalifications, he joined Glaxo as a scientist and chemist. Within a year,however, his people skills were recognised and he was poached by the HRdepartment to take responsibility for graduate recruitment. From there he roseto join Glaxo’s senior management team with a brief covering training andskills implementation, before switching his attention to science policy. Atsome point in this hectic career, he also managed to fit in an MBA.Between 1998 and 2000 Kumar got his first taste of publicpolicy when he was seconded to the DfEE under Baroness Blackstone, as head ofhigher education policy and research. On returning to Glaxo he rounded out hisportfolio with a stint in corporate communications, as manager of scientificpolicy and public awareness.Despite this intensive career path, he concedes that his roleat the CIA “is a lot bigger and more demanding than I could haveguessed”. But that suits him, he works better under pressure. Nonethelesshe has learnt the importance of delegation. “I’d have a nervous breakdownif I didn’t.” He says he enjoys the “people side” of the jobbest, although he also “relishes” employment policy.These very different roles don’t conflict, so much as balanceeach other out. And a key benefit of being responsible for so many areas isthat you get a very good overview, he says, adding, “But when I’moperating I don’t think in terms of putting different hats on – it’s allamalgamated into my head.” When it comes to juggling so many differentroles, he argues, MBA training was invaluable. “It keeps things simple. Itforces you to start thinking. I’m very good at questioning assumptions that aretaken for granted. I like asking ‘why?’” 6. The HR and finance briefAny corporate historian will tell you that the relationship between financeand HR has never been particularly easy. Indeed, in many organisations a strongsense of mutual antagonism is taken for granted. As far as many financialdirectors are concerned, HR, with its policies, procedures and bureaucracies,frequently acts as a brake to imaginative deal-making and restructuringopportunities. From the point of view of HR, meanwhile, finance, with itsperennial obsession with bottom line values and cost-cutting, often appearsshort-termist in outlook and gripped by the narrowest set of aims.In recent years, however, it has become noticeable that many ofthe rifts that previously divided these two highly disparate functions arebeginning to be breached. To a large extent, this can be attributed toreforming voices within the HR profession itself. Proponents of reform have long argued for a betterunderstanding of the wider strategic business aims of organisations and haveattempted to remodel the function as a viable business unit capable of addingreal value in its own right.But there is also strong evidence of a softening of attitudeswithin the finance department. Pivotal to this has been the rise of the human capitalmovement. From the moment that share prices began to be influenced by such”soft” values as knowledge, relationships and the ability to attractand retain talent, you can bet that most financial directors began to sit up.The onslaught of harsher economic times, however, is likely totest this frail truce to its limits. How will HR with all its new values about employee stakeholdersand the importance of long-term human capital management, react to possiblepressure from the finance department for a renewed outbreak of slash and burn?To some extent you can already see trouble ahead in the growingadoption in the UK of US people management practices like forced grading, aka”rank and yank”. From the point of view of most financial directors,any scheme that gets rid of the chaff while encouraging excellence in highachievers is surely worth its weight in gold. But seasoned HR practitioners may well point to some of thetroubling long term, decidedly “grey” implications of such a policy.What effect, for example, would such a blunt instrument have on issues likecorporate loyalty, staff morale and perceptions of corporate fairness?The solution may lie in the emergence of a new kind of manager,capable of taking on the concerns of both groups and reaching a viablecompromise between the two. Step forward the hybrid HR/finance manager.Case study: Steve Harvey Director, people profits and loyalty, at MicrosoftThe competitive spirit that defines Microsoft has been inevidence ever since a teenage Bill Gates tried to sue the company’s co-founderPaul Allen while they were both at high school. For evidence that it is a liveand kicking in the UK, you need look no further than the company’s director ofpeople, profits and loyalty, Steve Harvey – a man who left school with oneO’level.Harvey joined Microsoft as a financial manager in 1990, havingpulled himself up by his bootstraps, attending first college and then puttingin a 10-year stint at the Central Electricity Generating Board to compensatefor his disastrous education. Five years ago, he was made finance director –and immediately found himself in conflict with the company’s UK HR department.”I was a typical finance guy I used to get very frustrated with HR”.He loathed the invisible policies, the bureaucracy, the fact they never seemedto know their numbers, and, worst of all in a company like Microsoft,”they didn’t understand the technology”.The HR department, he adds, was stuck in its ways andunresponsive to outside stimuli. “It had created little kingdoms foritself and turned the UK into an island. There was great work going on in theUS, yet the UK was isolated. It was crazy.”Harvey’s solution for dealing with this intractable departmentwas simple – he would simply annex it. “I went to David Svenden (UKmanaging director) and said, ‘I can do this’ and he agreed. There followed a major purge. Harvey scrapped the department,which then consisted of 12 people, and fired about half of them, incorporatingthe rest within his own newly devised empire of people, profits and loyalty. Harvey also took over responsibility for internalcommunications, but decided against including it in the title on the grounds itwould “make it a bit long for every day use”.He then set about transforming the people function. The wholething was “really haphazard” with processes all over the place.”We found 15 different offer letters,” for example. “But whatreally did my head in was that the department had been spending all its timeworking on poor performers.” As far as Harvey was concerned this was completely the wrongapproach. “You need to concentrate on the winners,” he said.Much of the inspiration for his subsequent transformation ofMicrosoft’s HR function came from a book published by Gallup entitled FirstBreak All the Rules. Harvey found italigned with his own ideas so neatly that he called in Gallup to help formulatethe new policy, which he calls “A strength revolution”. He translatesthis as creating the kind of environment which “lets people do what theydo best every day”. The new order is based on another Microsoft HR totem – theabsolute pursuit of excellence. Harvey endorses the company CEO Steve Ballmer’s remark that”sometimes the best hire for Microsoft is no hire”.True to Harvey’s financial roots, performance management isplays an important role in Microsoft’s new-look people management programme.While steering clear of an outright rank and yank programme, the company gradesits employees on an annual basis through a programme called Strength Finder.The top percentage group – “the stars” – are offered extra coachingand mentoring, the bottom 10 per cent are left to their own devices.”Non-performers tend to move on anyway.”Harvey denies the practice is divisive. “It’s not aboutemployee satisfaction, it’s about showing where we are going and what can beachieved – and that’s what makes people want to stay.” The link betweenprofits and loyalty, he believes, is clear-cut.How does he combine these two very different roles? “It’sa bit like talking to your left brain and your right brain at the sametime,” he says, conceding that sometimes there can be conflict between thepeople argument and issues like short-term revenues and profitability.”But on the whole you can see the balance between the two.”Nonetheless, Harvey, who combines his many talents with anexceptional sense of self-belief, is adamant that his “complete passionfor the people side” is a rarity among most of the financial profession.He would never give the job “to 90 per cent of the accountants Iknow”. Previous Article Next Article Yes, but is it HR?On 23 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.
Previous Article Next Article NHS coaching network aims to retain staffOn 30 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today The NHS Learning Bank will provide access to bothtraditional and online learning through a network of training centres. A helpline has been set up for all staff to get advice onthe opportunities available to them through the Learndirect national databaseof 70,000 courses. It offers reductions of up to 80 per cent on courses. Related posts:No related photos. Three thousand personal learning credits of £150 each willalso be provided to help unqualified staff access work-related learning andgain SVQs. The NHS has launched a massive e-learning scheme for allstaff in Scotland, to improve skills and turnover rates. Health minister Susan Deacon, who launched the e-learningscheme last week, said, “We know that we must continue to take steps toimprove recruitment and retention both now and for the future. There are currently 20 of these centres based in and aroundhospitals and they are linked to the national network of Learndirect Scotland. The aim is to expand the scheme so that there is one inevery NHS board area, which it is hoped will enable all 137,000 staff to gainaccess. Comments are closed. “Opportunities in training and education are a key partof that. Many members of staff want to do more for the NHS and for their owndevelopment. “A better qualified NHS is a more motivated NHS and onewhich can provide better patient care. An NHS that works together and learnstogether is also more likely to stay together,” Deacon added.
Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. What price education?On 30 Jan 2002 in Personnel Today Gainingan MBA can be a real career accelerator and gain you a place on the board butas Nic Paton discovered, it is also essential to ensure you grasp fundamentalstrategic and business objectivesHeatherSalter, HR director at entertainment company Clear Channel Entertainment,graduated in September as an MBA from the Open University Business School. Aformer secretary, she has worked her way up through Grand Metropolitan (aswas), Scottish & Newcastle and Apollo Leisure to a point where, if itwasn’t for the fact Clear Channel is owned by a US parent, she would now be onthe board.Forher, securing an MBA on top of her OU degree and IPD qualification was notsimply an option, it was a necessity. The course, three years of distancelearning modules, tutorials once a month and a residential element, was a toughjuggling act.Butif she wanted to have credibility with the people who mattered – the board – togo onwards and upwards, she felt she needed the qualification.”Inow have a language that lets me communicate with them. The MBA has alsochanged my whole way of thinking. I am much more likely to look at what thebusiness needs are and tailor the solution to them rather than thinkingsomething is just good to do,” she says.Yet,in the three years of studying, she did not meet a single other HRprofessional. While it is impossible to know with any certainty what percentageof high-level HR professionals hold MBAs, Salter’s experience does not seemunusual. Fewer than 2 per cent of those who studied at Henley ManagementCollege in recent years have HR or personnel backgrounds and just three of the300 people who graduated through the latest London Business School MBAprogramme came from an HR background. The Association of MBAs (AMBA) estimatesthat, out of a total membership of around 11,000 people, fewer than 40 of itsmembers work in HR.”Itis true, very few people in HR either have an MBA or intend to do one,”agrees Linda Holbeche, director of research at the Roffey Park Institute.”They tend to get their qualification through the CIPD or an MSc inorganisational development or whatever. But they are reinforcing the usualproblem of HR being apparently disconnected from the business.” TheHR profession is increasingly being urged to talk the language of business. HRprofessionals in turn often bemoan the fact they are perceived by chiefexecutives, financial directors and chief operating offices as non-core – auseful, if slightly, well, woolly adjunct to the real business of making money.Management often sees HR in much the same way it views public relations – gladit’s there, particularly in a crisis, but for God’s sake don’t let them get tooclose to the big stuff. ForMike Jones, director general of AMBA, the fact this view still prevails in manyboardrooms around the country, is “a real shame”. But HR can be itsown worst enemy, preferring to focus on “technical” qualificationssuch as the CIPD and ignoring the need for general business skills, he argues.”Itis essential that the HR director or manager has a very strong understanding ofthe constituent parts of the organisation. In many large companies, having an MBA is a prerequisite for getting onthe board. It is the only management qualification that gives a broadperspective on the various functions and functionalities of the business,”he says.JuliaTyler, director of the MBA programme at London Business School, agrees.”What the MBA will do is move you out of the HR ghetto and give youknowledge of the general business functions,” she says.Yetin one sense the MBA has become a victim of its own success. The range andbreadth of courses now offered by a plethora of organisations and institutions,some good and others distinctly less so, has devalued the qualification’scurrency. It is important, therefore, to pick a well-respected course. Out of124 schools in the UK offering MBAs, AMBA only accredits 34. And these 34account for two-thirds of all MBA students. “TheMBA has lost its exclusivity, but against that it has become the mainstreammanagement qualification,” admits Jones.Thequalification is increasingly becoming a must-have for the younger,up-and-coming executive, adds Professor Leo Murray, director of the CranfieldSchool of Management. To become a board-level director without an MBA or otherhigh-level business qualification is the exception rather than the norm. HRprofessionals who want to get on should consider studying for an MBA earlierrather than later – perhaps even at HRM level.”Ifyou are about to get on the board of a FTSE company the probability is that youare 35 to 40 years of age and are pretty high up your chosen ladder. You willprobably already have done a general management programme or an MBA. Typically,people who do an MBA are the high-fliers in the 25-to-35 age bracket,”says Murray.Analternative option is the executive MBA, or eMBA. This is the samequalification studied part-time on a modular basis and often throughe-learning. Many colleges have linked up with other institutions around theworld to offer eMBAs that are truly global, designed to attract high-fliersworking for multinationals. Ultimately, though, it is the qualification and theschool it is from, not how you got it, that matters, argues AMBA’s Jones.”An MBA is an MBA is an MBA.” So,it’s easy, then; an MBA is a passport to the board. Not necessarily.Cranfield’s Murray and LBS’ Tyler agree an MBA can be an enormous careeraccelerator, but getting to the board is a different matter altogether.”Youcannot just say that HR directors are not on the board because they do not haveMBAs – that is deeply far fetched. It is about knowledge, skills andpersuasiveness,” says Murray. “An MBA is extremely useful. It givesyou a vocabulary, an agenda that lets you relate to the business. But thefurther up you go the less it is about qualifications and the more it is aboutyour experience, determination and drive.”Neithercan the qualification teach an executive what life is really like on the board,whether from an HR background or not, argues John Weston, head of the centrefor director development at the Institute of Directors. An MBA will give you asound under-pinning of effective management, but the IoD also runs a diploma incompany direction that aims to offer clear, distinct guidance on how to leadand be a director. About 300 people a year go through the course. “Most MBAs miss the unique difference ofbeing on the board. Managing and directing are not the same thing. There is thecollective responsibility, different legal duties and responsibilities. It isabout operating beyond your function and specialism,” says Weston.HRpeople need to start to emphasise HR’s strategic nature, he adds.”Managing directors and financial directors tend not to understand thatconcept very well. HR professionalsreally have to blow their own trumpet more. They have to say, ‘This companywill not work unless you have an effective HR strategy in place’. They could beleaking their best people like a sieve and not know it.”Forthe HR professional looking to progress up the greasy pole, it appears thequestion of acquiring an MBA is increasingly becoming one of when rather thanif. Of course, some HR high-fliers will continue to make it to the board withoutMBAs. But, if HR professionals want to win the battle to become an integralpart of their organisation’s strategic and business objectives, then the MBAmust become a key weapon in their arsenal.WhereMBAs come in the pecking orderDoctorates:PhDscan be a useful tool for focusing on business issues or problems, but they aremore usually for the serious academic. Nevertheless, they can add gravitas toan already solid CV*SpecialisedMasters Degree: Graduatesshould be able to show an advanced level of academic and conceptual thinking and understand their functioninside out. But while they should give a sense of the broader business picture,they may also be tightly focused on a specific function or discipline** * *MBA:Givesa credible grounding in general management and administration skills. Graduateswill be expected to be able to “think outside the box” when it comesto their function, be real business players and, probably, on a fast-track tothe board** * * *ManagementDiploma: Showsyou’re thinking widely about your field and how best to work within yourorganisation ** *CIPD:Avital qualification for any self-respecting HR professional, but worth gettingbehind you as fast as possible and then moving on **Key:** * * * stand for excellent, through to * which has less relevanceMBAskills need continuous updatingOnceachieved, an MBA will need updating. Indeed, a central tenet of any good MBAprogramme is an expectation for life-long and continuous professional development.FormerMBA students are generally encouraged to remain in touch with their collegesthroughout the rest of their professional working life.Fourmonths ago, AMBA launched MBAcademy as a specific initiative to tap into thisneed for life-long learning among MBA graduates. The academy offers members aseries of five-day refresher courses designed to update their management skillswith the latest thinking, open them up to new ideas and simply allow them timeto rethink some of their management beliefs.Amongother initiatives, Roffey Park launched its Strategic HR Network in September. Thisforum comprises some 30 HR professionals who can share views, contacts, bestpractice and hold discussions at least twice a year. The members will also begiven software to allow them to keep in touch through their computers outsidethe meetings.Thisarticle first appeared in the February 2002 edition of Global HRmagazine. To subscribe click here Comments are closed.
Previous Article Next Article GuruOn 5 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. This week’s guruWell, at least they’ll get their reward in heavenGuru has always admired the clergy; not only for their religious commitmentbut their benefits package – free house and food and a dress code that allowsflowing gowns in public. This has not left them out of touch with the common man, however, and thedifficulties of keeping body and soul together. Fifty dedicated men of God are planning to live on the minimum wage tohighlight the problem of low pay. The event, organised by Church Action forPoverty, will see the clergymen live on £45 per week for six weeks – with onebishop planning to live on a diet of beans on toast throughout Lent to helpsave money. Guru applauds the initiative and is hoping for a bit of divine interventionto turn water into wine when it comes to his rewards package. Insuring a good time is had by all The South Korean government is to insure its citizens against work-relateddrinking. The move is reported to recognise the increase in stress caused by corporaterestructuring, job cuts and economic uncertainty. Liver conditions caused by boozing with the boss will be covered by thenation’s industrial accident insurance from March. Job-induced stress, asthma and skin diseases will also be covered. Guru, who has been angling for free health insurance for some time to coverthe health risk posed by his out-of-hours ‘networking’, is hoping the UKgovernment will follow suit. Does anyone else want a pop at HR? Just like ‘two jabs’ Prescott, Guru has decided to take action over all theegg-throwing that HR has had to endure over the past couple of weeks. No sooner has a Roffey Park report claimed all line managers think HR iscrap, than some up-start professor of psychology launches a stinging attack onthe profession.University College, London’s, Adrian Furnham thinks HR should stop moaningabout its lack of recognition and equip itself with skills that will fosterrespect. Guru was initially pacified by Furnham’s comments in the Sunday Times thatHR professionals rely on Personnel Today for information, but then got fired upagain when he said their reading was shallow and based on populism. Does he not know that Guru is the greatest living management thinker in theworld (and there’s nothing wrong with being popular)? Fitness regime goes down the TubeGuru’s Christmas paunch shows nosigns of abating. This might be because his New Year’s resolution to visit thegym four times a week is just not happening. It’s a time-management, work-lifebalance, lack-of-will-power, laziness thing. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Fitness expertsfrom Austria want London commuters to start their exercise regime on the Tube.The work-out, which uses the movement of the train instead ofweights, has already been tried successfully on Vienna’s train network and itsdesigner Gert Halbgebauer believes it is an ideal way to tone up. Guru is all for the idea in principle, but has some concernsover whether the Austrian fitness fanatic has ever been on a London Tube inrush hour. When Guru tried out a few of the moves last week he got involved intwo fights and was nearly arrested for indecent assault. Comments are closed.
Training key to slowing sales staff turnover rateOn 5 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today One in five sales staff leave their jobs each year and the turnover rate isincreasing, according to research by Pursuit NHA International. It reveals average turnover rates for sales personnel are nearly 20 per centand this is on the increase in 40 per cent of the 100 companies surveyed. The direct cost of filling vacancies averages more than £80,000 per companyper year, the study finds. Ben Ballard, a consultant for Pursuit, said: “It takes a minimum ofthree months to fill a junior vacancy and proportionately more time for seniorpositions, the result is that sales teams are constantly operating belowauthorised manpower levels. This adds to lost sales and increases pressure onthe rest of the team.” He advised companies to put a greater emphasis on areas such as training. The report says companies are reacting to the problem, with 64 per cent offirms planning to increase their training and development budgets over the nextfinancial year. Managers have a key responsibility in retaining key sales staff the reportconcludes and it advocates the use of staff surveys to monitor employeesatisfaction. Julia Hampshire, managing director at Sodastream, said one of the mainreasons her company does not have a turnover problem in its sales department isbecause it gives sales staff a say in its marketing strategy. “We learned early on that this is important if you want to keep jobsatisfaction. We pulled sales and marketing together so they now regardthemselves as one team. “We also provide people with the opportunity to progress and promotefrom within,” she said. www.pursuitint.comBy Ben Willmott Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed.
Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. New temp directiveOn 30 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today IntroductionThe UK has about 1.7 million temporary workers, yet the market remains one of the most unregulated in the EU. In an attempt, it says, to improve working conditions and develop the attractiveness of the sector, the European Commission adopted a draft directive on 20 March proposing a minimum level of protection for temps.The basic principlesEssentially, the draft says employers will be obliged to provide equivalent rates of pay and benefits to ‘comparable’ permanent workers once temps have been employed for six weeks. The draft directive also stipulates that temps must be informed about job vacancies with the employer, and be allowed access to what it calls “social services” (for example canteens and childcare facilities).Any clauses in employment contracts varying or obstructing these rights will be null and void.The industry responseThe plan has been criticised by the CBI and the CIPD, who say it does not provide a sensible balance between protection for agency workers and flexibility for employers. They say employers will stop using temps because of the added legal responsibilities.The measures could therefore undermine the market rather than promote it. Agencies would be less likely to offer a quick solution to staffing problems, and employers would be more likely to demand more of their permanent staff. Employers claim they will suffer a huge rise in costs and enormous practical difficulties in, say, giving pension rights and other benefits to temps.Interestingly, the draft has been produced while there is no agreement between workers’ representatives and employers operating at a European level over the concept of a ‘comparable employee’. Attempts to arrive at a workable definition have failed in the past, but rather than work on this aspect, the draft directive has been published in the hope that agreement will be reached in the future.The reaction from temporary recruitment agencies has been mixed. Some say the proposals will force smaller agencies out of business; others see it as a golden opportunity to negotiate contracts for services with employers and employ the temps themselves.While this seems reasonable, the increased costs associated with equal treatment would still have to be passed on to employers. Other agencies claim they will lobby the Government for changes, because they envisage having to bear huge administrative costs to revise terms of employment for every placement. They also argue that the six-week qualifying period is too short and will tempt employers to dispense with temps before the end of the six weeks to save costs.The draft is now before the European Parliament and each member state for approval. It could become law this year.
Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. The Employers Forum on Age has demanded that the Government informsemployers whether it is planning to abolish mandatory retirement as part of agediscrimination legislation to be introduced in 2006. The Department of Trade and Industry hinted that age discriminationlegislation, to be included in an EU directive on employment that becomes lawin 2006, will lead to the abolishment of the retirement age. But the EFA wants the Government to clarify its position well before thesecond stage of the consultation on the legislation, in January next year. Sam Mercer, campaign director at the EFoA, outlined the organisation’sposition at its annual conference in London last week. She said the confusion over the future of mandatory retirement needs to beclarified so employers are able to constructively contribute to theconsultation period by having six months to work out the costs andimplications. “To make the second stage of the consultation meaningful, employersneed to know what is happening with the mandatory retirement age,” shesaid. Calls for clarification on mandatory retirementOn 25 Jun 2002 in Personnel Today