We’re Doomed…Doomed I tell you!

I had a long breakfast with a friend and Company Director this morning. Over the bacon and eggs we talked about some senior and unexpected departures from one of his competitors. He was identifying the opportunities these senior departures presented for his own company.

In short he categorised these as:

  • Available talent might be available and useful to his own comany (possibly on a consultancy basis)
  • The competitor’s clients might speculate that they might need to shop around for alternative suppliers (Just in case!)
  • Loss in staff morale and as a result loss of productivity
  • Gap in leadership until new leader can be appointed and begin to succeed
  • Possible further departures which could increase problems
  • Cost to competitor of rehiring and lead-in time for newe job holder

Too often, when senior management departs staff look to the future wondering if the business is doomed. (Even if the leader had been unpopular) and wonder if they should consider finding another job before it’s too late. My friend and I speculated that the benefits for my friend’s company could last between six and nine months and be worth many clients and an increase in sales income.

Bernard Matthews as an example
One only has to look at Bernard Matthews, the turkey company, to see how the loss of top people can benefit competitors. Last week the Chairman, Davis McCall, stepped down. Then the Chief Executive, Noel Bartram left and follows Rob Mears the Managing Director’s ealier departure.
The company employs 2200 people with a further 1000 staff in Germany and Hungary. In recent years Trading conditions have been poor for the company with bird flu and increase in costs. In addition staff morale has been hit and sales have slumped. Profits on a turnover of £341m amounted to just £2m.
With the departure of senior people it could be expected that morale and productivity will further be affected unless the latest appointment of David Joll (former CE) can secure a rumoured investment of between £20 and £30million. In which case he could end up as a hero.

A Strategy

My friend and I worked on plans until lunchtime on ways to manage possible, though unlikely, senior departures in his own company.

Stephen Harvard Davis

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Discrimination from social media

I observed an interesting discussion between an HR Director and his team yesterday on the ethics and legal consequences of looking at social media pages of candidates as a part of employee selection. The discussion arose from the article in the Young Island Blog I had pointed out earlier.

Facebook was a particular area of discussion simply because many people are more relaxed over the content they post on their Facebook pages. Specifically, some employers are requesting applicants to provide access to their social media accounts as a condition of employment.

Prove they weren’t discriminated against
His comment to the team was, “I’m waiting for the first gay, Muslim or another religion where the candidate hears about an employer accessing their Facebook activity, then not getting the job and making the
employer prove in court that they were not discriminating against their sexual
orientation or religious beliefs when they failed to get the job”.

Examination question
Although this topic has been discussed ast great length on-line and in the media I’m not sure that there’s been a satisfactory conclusion. Doubtless it’s a question in some HR or Law examinations. Certainly the more I’ve thought about it the more complex the answer seems to be.

Any thoughts?

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Do qualifications mean employability?

Have you noticed there’s a lot of discussion from employers on how eduction is failing to provide people with the skills and knowledge needed. IT companies complain that graduates can’t understand background programmes, Senior executives despair that new hires don’t know how to communicate, employers shake their heads at qualifications that don’t provide the skills for work that employers are seeking.

Mission Critical opportunities being lost
Yesterday I was contacted by a CEO who told me that a “new hire” he had employed last year “wasn’t working out”. It seemed that the qualification and some experience hadn’t given the new hire the skills the job required and mission critical opportunities were being lost. 

What to do?
Larger companies are sponsoring education programmes to ensure they are
able to hire the skills they need but smaller businesses can’t afford to
do that. So what to do?
When recruiting it’s worth investigating the content and syllabus of qualifications if they are critical to the job skills. Then test them. If computer skills are required test them as part of the interview process. If communication or management skills are required for the job then these too can be tested at the interview stage.

Where skills are being recruited it’s a matter of “Employer be aware”

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Unproductive workers rights

What a storm the report proposing change the rules regarding unfair dismissal has had. This is despite the fact that any changes, in the current climate, are unlikely.

Unproductive workers should lose rights
As reported by the BBC The report, commissioned by the prime minister, argues that unproductive workers should lose their right to claim unfair dismissal”. The Daily Telegraph
quotes the report as saying that under the current rules workers are
allowed to “coast along” with some proving impossible to sack.

Sarah Veale head of the equality and employment rights department at the TUC said that there were less than a million unfair dismissal claims last
year which was “absolutely nothing” out of a large workforce. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “The clue is in
the name. Employers already have plenty of powers to make fair
dismissals”. I find myself agreeing with Mr Barber! The only problem is that almost 40% of applicants withdraw their cases, but employers still have to pay legal fees in preparing a defence.

Informal discussions
I believe that employers should have the right to informally discuss with their staff issues surrounding employment, such as retirement plans, production and productivity without the fear of having to face an industrial tribunal. To do so would allows the employer to plan staffing needs, recruitment and other issues that make a business profitable.

In fact, if done properly, can’t an employer have these discussions already?

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Why is finding a job a problem?

It’s tragic that at the start of the summer, nearly one million 16 to 24-year-olds in England were out of a job, not in education, nor in training. Known as Neets, this group seems to be growing and growing and doesn’t include school leavers this year, according to the latest official figures and reported by the BBC.

The BBC highlights Jordan Millward a 24 year old from Stoke-on-Trent who has two degrees, a 2:1 in politics, and a 2:2 in law, as well as a post-graduate law diploma.
He says “I’ve had no replies to more than 100 applications to different law firms looking for both jobs and work experience I’ve made over the last year, and only two interviews from the 90 plus applications I’ve made over the last two months”.

Little advice from Universities
Why is finding a job so difficult for this group? In discussions with students at my local University it seems that there is very little practical advice is given on how to find a job. I’m told that there is the “odd talk” about developing a CV (Resume) but very little else! Doesn’t this place too many in the area of “working it out for themselves”.

More practical help could and should be given! For instance, why is it that most students know how to use social media to find friends and entertainment at the weekend but they find it difficult to use when looking for a job? Why is it that so few place their details, qualifications and interests on the business pages of LinkedIn, Facebook or other SM sites?

Meet the employer
Perhaps organisations such as the IOD (Institute of Directors), Chambers of Commerce, FSB (Federation of Small business) could help more by regularly offering FREE places at their events for graduates or students to meet people in business and thus potential employers.

A small contribution of my own is given below:

Questions you should ask the interviewer

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Is There An Employment Revolution?

This is an answer I made to a question on Linkedin today about the failure of leaders to sack under- performing people. I thought it worthwhile also posting my answer onto my blog so that more of my network could read it.

I believer that business is going through a revolution.

In past credit squeezes firms and Governments would shed talent to reduce costs (the UK Government is about to do this again by reducing civil service personnel by up to 25%). The result was that essential knowledge and skills were lost and recovery took longer as a result.
So, this time round, firms have attempted to retain their talent, even those less productive, as leaders hope for a quick upturn. The problem is that the upturn is slow in the west.

Further problems are that with coming food inflation and possible grain shortages, extended insecurity as the credit crunch continues and Government policy that increases tax whilst reduces spending businesses are now being forced to start to look to their staff costs. This means that some of the “good” people will be shed as well as the “bad” and that the trend is to hire part-time employees.

I suspect that the result is that the “business revolution” will generate a significant percentage of the working population having a number of part-time jobs as opposed to a single full time position. (including professional firms such as lawyers, accountants and financiers)

There is security in this position for employees who may be “shed or fired” in that income is not reliant on one employer and totally and immediately lost on redundancy whilst the employer has a capability of expanding and contracting a workforce more easily.

So, in my opinion, it’s not “under-performers being hired or fired” it’s that we may be witnessing a change in the way employment may work in the future.


Would you employ an Olympic Gold Medalist?

If so:

a) What type of work would you expect them to do?

b) Would you expect to pay (over and above general salary) a large salary?

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