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Has NHS found cure for staffing malaise?

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. It’sthat time of the year when depressing stories about the crisis in the NHS are astaple of headlines and news broadcasts. Most of the media stories are theconsequence of chronic skills shortages in NHS trusts, such as the trustreported to the Health and Safety Commission last week for failing to implementthe Working Time directive.  The latestreport on the rise in violence against frontline staff is a symptom of anover-stretched and under-resourced service. TheGovernment’s promise of an extra 36,000 staff is welcome but it will be someyears before trained staff can come on line, and NHS cash in the past hastended to get absorbed into propping up the existing service. Meanwhile,the challenge facing HR professionals in the health service is a daunting one.Apart from the recruitment and retention problem, HR has a key role to play inimplementing new performance measures, following a series of health carescandals. However, there are signs that the health service is rising to theoccasion. Many trusts have led the way for employers as a whole in recruitingstaff, mostly nurses, from overseas. Lastyear a plan for an NHS-wide on-line recruitment service was announced. And lastweek Andrew Foster, NHS Confederation policy director for HR, outlinedproposals for a skills escalator where existing staff can be trained in newskills. He even suggested a hospital porter could work his way up to become aconsultant an ambitious agenda given the traditional strict lines ofdemarcation in the medical profession.Andbefore you laugh, it is worth noting that one porter has risen to the role ofchief executive. The NHS does not have a good reputation as a place to work,and HR professionals have a long way to go to put that right. But a willingnessto follow Foster’s lead and be innovative could help solve the problem. Has NHS found cure for staffing malaise?On 30 Jan 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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The best of British

first_img Comments are closed. TheUK is poor at blowing its own trumpet. Patrick McCurry sets the record straightby asking readers to nominate the best home-grown training concepts of all timeWethink of the US as the launch pad of new people development ideas, yet many ofthe staples of the modern approaches to training come from UK shores. Forexample, British comedian John Cleese was probably the first to imagine thatinstructional films could be humorous when he co-founded Video Arts back in1972, and nearly 60 countries watch those films now. And as executive chairmanof KnowledgePool David Wimpress points out, his company claims to be the firstto create an e-learning service over the Internet, in 1995. Self-managedlearning, which gathered a group of individuals together to work on their ownlearning projects, is believed to have come from Roffey Park. So to celebratethe fact that this edition of Training is circulated around the globe, wecanvassed opinion on the best of British training ideas of recent decades.JennyDaisleyChief executive, Springboard ConsultancyIwould argue that a personal development approach to training, while not necessarilyinvented in the UK, is an area in which a number of British training companiesenjoy an international reputation.Aholistic approach to development, which does not just focus on someone’s job,is becoming increasingly popular, and the UK is at the forefront in this trend.PaulKearnsSenior partner, Personnel WorksIwould put forward the Management Charter Initiative (MCI), which was launchedin the 1980s, as one of Britain’s best training ideas. Although the MCI did nottake off in a major way, the thinking behind it was sound.Itgrew out of the whole move in Britain away from an apprentice-based “timeserved” approach to one that asked whether people could actually do the jobsthey were supposed to do.Thattrend of looking for evidence of people’s skills spilled into managementdevelopment and was embodied in the MCI. It represented a departure from abroad-brush approach to training to one that questioned managers’ particularskills.MikeCannellAdviser (training and development), CIPDBritainwas a pioneer of outdoor development, in which individuals are taken from theirnormal surroundings and given tasks to complete in a challenging, environment.The exercises really stretch people and because team members are dressed forthe outdoors, with no suits and ties, it helps reduce barriers betweencolleagues and is good for team building. The concept has spread to the US andhas now been taken up in continental Europe.JulieSykesAssessment centre co-ordinator, Shepherd Corporate ServicesIwould nominate NVQs as one of Britain’s positive contributions to training.While the NVQ system has come in for a fair amount of criticism, if they areimplemented effectively, they provide a flexible and powerful work-basedtraining plan.Theirgreat benefit is that they recognise an individual’s experience and requireevidence of how actual skills and knowledge are applied in the workplace.Herein the construction industry, NVQs have become a growing standard for measuringskills. For example, the Chartered Institute of Building now recognises formembership those who achieve NVQ Level 5 in construction contracts management.MarcAucklandChief knowledge manager, BTAction-centredlearning, as many people know, was invented in the UK and is one of our biggestcontributions to training. I’ve always found it a very effective way oftraining and developing people, as well as team building.AtBT we have used several British training companies specialising in the area,and a number of our overseas joint venture partners have sent their people oncourses in the UK.Theexperiential learning benefits of action-centred learning are very powerful inteambuilding, problem-solving and development.TonyLongmireTechnical and training director, LGH GroupBritainused to provide excellent “hands-on” training that was the envy of the worldbut has sadly been lost, as those with the experience and expertise haveretired. What has replaced it does not cover the more traditional skills thatwere commonplace, particularly within the engineering and constructionindustries.Britainis good at problem-solving and innovative training techniques at local level,but the enthusiasm wanes when obstacles are created by well-intentionedgovernment bodies in charge of training and funding. Previous Article Next Article The best of BritishOn 1 Mar 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Developing a European approach

first_imgThe European Works Council directive requires international firms with morethan 1,000 staff to set up forums where employees request one. Wally Russell,European employee relations director for Nortel Networks, explains thechallenges this fast-changing and diverse organisation faced when setting upits first international forumNortel Networks can safely be described as a large company. It is a Canadianmulti-national, which provides Internet solutions to businesses through opticalwireless, local and private Internet. There are over 95,000 employeesworldwide, with around 23,000 in Europe. Within Europe, Nortel operates in 31 countries with over 25 languages andalso has many joint venture relationships. The climate is one of diversity andcomplexity and the culture is one of continuous change. The Internet revolutionis changing the world of business and the market place in which companiesoperate. With such instant access to the global market and to information,competition is increasing and rapidly changing. As a result, Nortel has been going through a period of continuous change.During 2000 we were making an average of two to three acquisitions per quarter.This means that organisational restructuring has been ongoing for the pastcouple of years, and during 1999 to 2000 some aspects of manufacturing, HR, ISand other activities were outsourced to third party providers. In this businessclimate Nortel Networks believes it needs a flexible, customer-focusedstructure, reduced hierarchy and non-bureaucratic processes. It needs to fostera culture of product innovation, customer orientation, and organisational andemployee adaptability. This culture is one associated with a non-union ornon-representative environment. Employee representation Within Nortel one will find the full spectrum of employee representation. Itcomprises individuals who are extremely independent and would wish to representthemselves, to groups of employees who are represented by unions or workscouncils. When trying to satisfy employee expectations for both individuals andgroups we must deal with both sets of requirements. And the added requirementsfor co-determination, defined by national and European law, leads to anotherlayer of complexity which can prove a difficult fit given Nortel’s”up-to-the-minute” work culture. For example, in Nortel a three-monthperiod is referred to as a Web year. This only goes to re-enforce a culture of short-term decision making, whichcould lead to decisions being made on available information that may not be 100per cent complete at all times. Reward and recognition is focused on contributionrather than pure seniority or experience and there is a continuous need forflexibility and adaptability. Contrast our approach with a representative orlegislative culture where the focus is on having all the facts, and processesare extremely well defined. Because Nortel is organised on a business basis,decisions are made by the Business depending on market requirements, customerorders or R&D funding. This may result in a situation where multiple businesses making differentdecisions exist within one country or even within the same site. Yetlegislation calls for information and consultation to be done on a geographicor site basis. It is my belief that such legislation is framed for a style of businessoperation that no longer exists. European forum In the mid-1990s Nortel would not have been pro-active in the setting up ofa European works council under a voluntary agreement. The prevailing view wasthat the national structures we had in place sufficed for any information andconsultation requirements and that a European level would just be an additionalnon-value layer of bureaucracy. However, during March 1998 a request wasreceived from employee representatives in France and Italy for the setting upof a special negotiation body (SNB) to negotiate a European wide agreementunder the Trans- national Information & Consultation Directive. In thefollowing months employee representatives, including the UK, were elected orselected according to national legislation. A meeting was held in September,which consisted of initial training for representatives and the support of anexternal expert of their choice. This was followed by discussion and negotiation that resulted in anagreement being reached to set up a joint management-employee European forum.The agreement outlined the role and scope of the forum body. The underlying philosophy and principles of the agreement were that it wouldbe business as well as people focused, it would exclude negotiating andcollective bargaining issues, re-enforce existing local level consultationstructures and maintain and underline management’s right to manage. Theobjective of the forum was to create a joint undertaking of the objectives,strategy, market position, operating environment and performance of NortelNetworks. In addition it was agreed that the forum could be used as a body toimprove communications and understanding across the Nortel Europeanorganisations. How the forum works Prior to the first meeting of the forum a two-day joint training programmewas held for employee representatives. Topics during training were agreed inadvance and covered such items as understanding financial performance, meetingeffectiveness, an overview of the Nortel business and a detailed review of thedirective which led to the setting up of the forum. During this time the employee representatives elected three members of theirgroup who would act as coordinators for the group and be the primary interfaceto the management representative. The first forum annual meeting was held inJune 1999, with the second in June 2000. Additional meetings are held with the forum coordinators two to three timesa year to review topics that have been discussed at the forum meetings or tohighlight any issues, concerns or initiatives. The annual meetings and theongoing meetings with employee representative coordinators help the forum toimprove the understanding of all its participants. Since the forum has been set up, employee representatives have highlightedconcerns in such areas as the effectiveness of the implementation of Nortel’sperformance management tool; working hours; stress management; and issuesassociated with restructuring. There are still many challenges to the overall success of the forum and theachievement of its objectives. There is a diversity of culture, language, rolesand level in the organisation of the forum members. These differences needs tobe understood and appreciated by all. Nortel as an organisation is at different stages of development in its differentgeographies, and is firmly business focused, rather than geographicallyfocused. It also has a decision-making process that requires a speedyresolution, sometimes at variance to the decision-making time line associatedwith some information and consultation processes. Some countries, such asIreland, UK and Spain, do not have any works council structure. However, we dohave works councils in France, Germany and the Netherlands. Going forward, the success of the forum will depend on ensuring that thereis ongoing consistency in relationships and an understanding of diverse views.All participants understand that it is a continuous learning curve and that weneed to work in partnership. Critical to the success in that all parties to theagreement continue to act in a sprit of cooperation, good faith and mutualtrust. Main points of the agreement– Agreement reached to hold an annual forum meeting – Undertaking covered: all Nortel employees in the EU & EEA includingagreed joint ventures – New acquisitions automatically covered – Employee representatives nominated or elected according to national lawpractice– Representatives serve a three year term with no more than two consecutiveterms– Special arrangement for countries with less than 30 employees – Information to be provided at the annual meeting on Nortel’s financialperformance, market position, strategic development and HR strategy– Only covers “transnational” issues. These are issues that effectemployee interests and involve company facilities in at least two different EUcountries– Annual meeting will be preceded by a half-day employee representativepre-meeting. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Developing a European approachOn 1 Apr 2001 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Refugees in employment

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. What steps can you take to make the most of the skills of asylum-seekers whohave permission to work here? Patrick Wintour of the Employability Forum givesa guideEmployers are still struggling to fill vacancies in their organisations andcan make much better use of the largely untapped skills and experiences thatrefugees in this country can offer. The Employability Forum was established last year to promote the employmentof refugees and asylum-seekers with permission to work in the UK. The forum issupported by voluntary and refugee organisations and by the Home Office,Department for Work & Pensions and by local authorities. We fully supportthe Personnel Today campaign on refugees and employment. This article sets out some of the practical steps which employers can taketo make much more effective use of the skills of refugees and asylum-seekerswho have permission from the Home Office to work in the UK. The Employability Forum is launching a pilot project later this month aimedat refugees who have professional qualifications and work experience outsidethe UK – nearly a third of refugees have been educated to university level. The project Pathway aims to prepare job-seekers for the world of work andwill enable 50 individuals to secure appropriate employment. Effective linkswith employers will be the key to success – we want to work with a range oforganisations in the business community, local government and the voluntarysector. Here are five practical steps employers can take: 1. Develop links with voluntary agencies working with refugees There is a network of voluntary organisations such as the Refugee Counciland Refugees into Jobs, which provide advice and guidance for those who arelooking for training and employment. These organisations welcome links withemployers and can play a valuable role in making connections in the labourmarket. 2. Review recruitment policies and practice Newcomers to the UK must compete in a labour market which is often quitedifferent from their country of origin. Many candidates have never experienceda formal job interview before and require considerable training andpreparation. Refugees arrive without documentary evidence of previous education andexperience and have to construct a new foundation for their life at work. It isdifficult to get a job without a reference and impossible to secure a referencewhen there is nobody here who knows you well enough to write one. Employers can give support for refugees who need to gain recognition fromprofessional bodies so that refugees who are accountants, engineers orarchitects can use their experience of working elsewhere. More than 30 per cent of refugees have been educated to university level (orequivalent) and the accreditation of their prior learning and experience is animportant step on their new journey. 3. Accept Home Office documents on Permission to Work The Immigration and Nationality Department (IND) of the Home Office isresponsible for assessing asylum-seeker claims and provides the necessarydocuments for permission to work. The IND sets out the decision in a letter to the individual concerned andthose who receive Indefinite Leave to Remain or Exceptional Leave to Remain areboth permitted to work and gain access to other government-sponsored trainingprogrammes (provided they meet the relevant conditions for such schemes as NewDeal, Jobseekers Allowance etc). In the past, asylum-seekers were generally given permission to work after 6months if they had not received a decision. There is a shrinking backlog ofthose who are still waiting for decisions but who are permitted to work. Underthe new system the Home Office is committed to taking faster decisions and sothe position for new asylum seekers has become more complex. Under existing legislation employers are required to check that applicantsare legally permitted to work in the UK. Refugees and asylum-seekers who havebeen given permission to work can produce documentary evidence from the HomeOffice and should be encouraged to do so. Employability’s Pathway project will develop a portfolio for job-seekerswhich will include CVs, references, overseas qualifications validated for usein the UK, National Insurance numbers and certificates which clarify competencyin the English language. 4. Provide support and training in English Working in the UK requires a good command of the English language and thisis one of the key areas which many refugees have to address at the outset. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is taught in FurtherEducation Colleges and through community (adult) education programmes; there isa wide range of courses leading to different qualifications. The Government isencouraging employers to support its strategy to develop basic skills inliteracy and numeracy. Recent research by the former Department for Educationand Employment estimated that there are 3 million people living in the UK whowere born in countries where English is not the national language. Of thesemore than a million are estimated to lack the English language skills requiredto function in society and employment. Overseas doctors who wish to practise in the UK must pass exams which testboth clinical knowledge and language competence. Other professional bodies andemployers should define equally clearly the standards which are required andrecognise that the training needs of second language speakers differ from thoseof the host community. One employer in London who discovered that 80 per centof the staff were second language speakers has provided financial support forEnglish language training outside work. The Pathway project will introduce standard assessment procedures which willclarify the gap between the competence of the job-seeker and the level requiredfor the chosen career. Particular attention will be paid to accent andpronunciation since many refugees who are “fluent” require additionalsupport if they are to compete in a professional environment. 5. Work experience Refugee job-seekers have found that work experience can be an important stepon the road to secure and paid employment. The employer has an opportunity toassess the practical skills and experience of the individual and the lattergains first hand experience of the culture of the UK workplace. The Pathway project will build on the success of existing work experienceprogrammes and develop links with a range of employers who support theEmployability Forum. Patrick Wintour is director of the Employability Forum Further informationEmployability Forum and the Pathway programme, 6 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LETel: 020-7201 9980E-mail: [email protected] Council Training & Employment Service     020-7346 6741www.refugeecouncil.org.ukRefugees into Jobs020-8908 4433Refugee Education & Training Advisory Service 020-7426 5800Home Office (Employers Information)www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Refugees in employmentOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

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celebrities, not squares

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. et’s be honest. Anyone who has ever sat through at full-day’s training course or conference programme has at some point required matchsticks for their drooping eyelids.This is not, of course, the desired effect that speakers or training event organisers wish to have on their delegates, but the soporific powers of listening to speaker after speaker are well documented.Could the remedy lie in a well-scheduled celebrity speaker, someone brought in specifically to liven up proceedings, to provide the all-important “wow” factor?The proliferation of celebrities now offering their services to the business speaking circuit may well be evidence of their ability to do just that. Since their triumph at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the coxless four, including rowing legends Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, have been in great demand by event organisers across the UK.They have topped many a conference bill with their inspirational insight into the kind of determination and commitment necessary to succeed.GUEST SPEAKERSLeadership, team-building, motivation, change management, globalisation – if your training event touches on any one of these subjects then there is now a wealth of A-, B- and C-list celebrities – or guest speakers, as many prefer to be described – you could invite along to wow your audience.Since the early days of guest-speaking, when you had the limited choice of business guru Sir John Harvey-Jones or after-dinner specialist Lance Percival, the circuit is now awash with sporting heroes, e-business entrepreneurs, politicians, newscasters, business leaders and assorted gurus. But what do you get for your money?If it’s true celebrity you’re after then you’ll have to be prepared to dig deep into those pockets.An A- or B-list celebrity speaker is going to set you back between £5,000 and £10,000, and possibly anything up to £25,000.For someone with stellar status, say first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, expect to part with even more than that.However, there is a multitude of less costly, but no less valuable, speakers out there too. To have skipper of the first all-female crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race, Tracy Edwards, Olympic hurdler Sally Gunnell or explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes attend your event will require a cheque of somewhere in the region of £2,500 and £5,000 (see panel on opposite page for a price guide).“The fee generally goes up according to the speaker’s fame and experience,” explains Jan Jenkins, director of public speaking agency Speakers Corner.“At the lower end, you are paying for someone who has a good story to tell but who is not necessarily that famous. When you consider the costs of the venue, the catering and production, then the speaker’s fee is relatively low, and a good speaker, who has taken a full brief, will add so much value.”A popular, but not conventionally famous, inspirational speaker is war hero Flt Lt John Nichol. He came into the public eye after he was shot down and captured during the Gulf War and subsequently paraded him on Iraqi television. Night after night his battered features were headline news.Nichol was a reluctant recruit to the speaking circuit. Having refused several invitations to speak about his Gulf War experiences, “because I couldn’t understand why someone on their way to senior management would be interested in what I had got to say”, he was finally persuaded to tell his story at a corporate event.In the eight years since he started his speaking career, Nichol says he has learnt a lot about what corporate audiences want, and what they don’t.“At first, my talk was about telling people how the RAF does its business and how they could learn from it. But the feedback I got was that this was nothing new. People didn’t want to be told how to be a better insurance broker or manager. They wanted to know my story,” relates Nichol.“Now my presentation is 90 per cent John Nichol’s story and 10 per cent what I learned about myself from my experiences.”KNOWLEDGESuccessful celebrity speakers soon learn to avoid the “teaching-granny-to-suck-eggs” approach. A speaker whose life has revolved around sports is unlikely to have the in-depth knowledge of, say, the telecoms industry necessary to advise a sales team how to weather a market downturn. If that’s the sort of presentation you want then specialist business speakers are available.Sports stars and war heroes have a more ethereal message to communicate. Theirs is usually a story of triumph in the face of adversity, of finding strength in trying times. It is for the audience to translate the lessons or morals of a story from the battlefield or sports arena to the boardroom or sales pitch.“We want a story of someone going from complete certainty to complete uncertainty in a matter of minutes, of going through extraordinary change,” explains Simon Redwood, senior management training and development consultant at BT’s training company, e-peopleserve, who has booked Nichol to address the Future Managers Programme for the past five years.“His story is not just a war story, it is a story of undergoing change that is still relevant today. There are parallels with the world these managers face, parallels for them to pick up in our industry.”This does not, however, mean that a celebrity’s presentation should make no reference to your organisation whatsoever. Far from it.However, do not leave them to their own devices when it comes to research. You too should do your homework on your would-be speaker – meet them before the event, brief them fully on what you require from them in their presentation and also on your company, in particular any issues it is currently facing.Be suspicious of any guest speaker who balks at a pre-engagement meeting to exchange information.Athlete Kriss Akabusi is renowned on the circuit for “going the extra mile” for his clients. According to both clients and agents, his preparation is thorough and his knowledge of his audience is reflected in the way he adapts his basic message.“Knowing details about a company means something to people. It says, ‘This guy has taken the trouble to investigate who we are and has not just taken his presentation off the shelf’,” says Akabusi, who makes a point of meeting the organiser and whoever is writing his cheque.“When they book a speaker they need to know it’s a safe booking. If I make mistakes, they are the ones who’ll get it in the neck.”Akabusi’s reputation as an inspirational, motivational speaker is established to the point that he has made it a full-time career and newcomers to the scene are turning to him for advice, among them fellow athlete Derek Redmond and equestrian Kate Allenby. He tells them to ask themselves three questions before embarking on a speaking career: Am I passionate about my subject? Are the people in the audience important to me? Am I prepared to do this for nothing if needs be? If the answer to any of these questions is no, Akabusi’s advice is “Don’t do it”.“We are approached by hundreds of people who think they have a story to tell, but who are simply trying to jump on the bandwagon,” warns Jeremy Lee.“When booking a guest speaker don’t simply be wowed by their biography. If you insist on working in the dark then you are taking an enormous risk.”A household name may wow an audience, earn you some Brownie points with the boss, who can boast about meeting them to his golf partner, and add glamour to an event.However, avoid becoming starstruck when flicking through the lists of available speakers – perhaps a lesser known speaker, with an amazing story still to tell would be a better use of your, probably limited, budget.Lee cites several semi-known names who have started to gain a reputation on the circuit, among them England rugby union manager Clive Woodward, successful businessman Adrian Webster and yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur.“Her’s is a great story and the best angle is that she came second,” says Lee. “People relate to someone who still has goals to achieve, who’s still hungry for more.” celebrities, not squaresOn 1 Nov 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

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Firms make graduates jump through hoops in talent war

first_imgFirms make graduates jump through hoops in talent warOn 12 Feb 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Employers are under increasing pressure to attract more graduate applicants,but to ensure these candidates match the organisation’s needs and will be up tothe job companies are making the application process more demanding. QuentinReade reportsEmployers are under increasing pressure to recruit the right graduatecandidates in a difficult economic climate. New research shows the rigour ofthe graduate application process is increasing hand-in-hand with the size ofgraduate salaries on offer. Four times more companies (54 per cent) are using online applications since2000 (12 per cent), according to the report Graduate Recruitment Trends. Itshows that more than a quarter of the respondents are also using psychometrictests (27 per cent), up from 17 per cent in 2000, claims the report by graduatecareers publisher Forty per cent are using group exercises in job interviews, and 37 per centask candidates to give presentations to an interview panel. This is up from 25per cent in 2000. Average starting salaries have risen more than £3,000 since 2000 to £18,900,claims the report, which included salary data from 500 companies. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiterscommented: “Graduate recruiters recognise the cost of recruitment and wantto be certain the people they select have the capacity to be successful. Thisis driven by a need to select people with the skills to make a contribution tobusiness success quickly. “Graduate recruitment is an expensive business, between £5,000 and£6,000 is average. If you are going to spend thousands of pounds you want toknow that you have it right.” Gilleard said the increasing number of firms requiring graduates to makepresentations and using psychometric testing also reflects that employers arenot just assessing skills; they are also looking for graduates who will fit inwith the work culture. “Companies want to be certain the people they select not only have theright skills, but also the right attitude and the right approach to work to fitin the organisation,” he said. Graham Thompsett, recruitment manager at Jaguar-Land Rover, explained thathis company has raised the standard on its application process. Graduate applicants are tested using verbal, numeric and the Saville andHoldsworth tests at first interview stage. A smaller group then go through the company’s two-day selection centre wherethey perform group exercises, a one-on-one role-play, written exercises, and acompetency evaluation. For the past year testing has been carried out by line managers instead ofHR so the managers choose the people they are going to have work for them,Thompsett said. He said the company is always trying to improve its systems. Competition forthe best graduates is hotting up and companies need to work to keep thempost-offer. “Good graduates are very aware of what they are worth,”he said, and Land Rover tries hard not to lose them between the February joboffer and the September start. The company sends detailed information packs; including a CD-Rom containingpictures and biographies of future workmates and information aboutaccommodation in the area, to graduates to ease them into their new position. “We try to limit the amount of surprises they will face [when startingtheir new job].” Land Rover now targets marketing at 13 UK universities. Anne Minto, HR director at Smiths Industries, said the company has beenpsychometric testing graduates for the past four years, and also asksapplicants to make a presentation. “It’s one thing to sit and talk in an interview, but it is completelydifferent when people are on their feet.” She said often the final two or three applicants are asked to makepresentations, but some candidates bow out at this stage. “It separatesthe serious from the really serious,” she added. But she believes using psychometric tests and presentations is enough of anassessment and it can be damaging to try to pre-determine what people arecapable of, and the level they can reach, before they start a job. “It’s important to do as much as you can to determine what long-termdevelopment is in them [graduates], but you can go too far,” she said. Widening the netMore companies are using online application forms to widen the net ofpossible graduates, claims Graduate Recruitment Trends by graduate careerspublisher GTI. Land Rover’s Graham Thompsett said the company’s graduaterecruitment has been totally online since September 2001 and has beensuccessful.”We completed our graduate recruitment three monthsearlier with better graduates [recruited],” he said.Applications are not sorted online, but screened by management.”Human contact is still important,” Thompsett said.Smiths Industries HR director Anne Minto said the firm invitesonline applications, but because the system sees hundreds of candidates apply,”it takes careful monitoring”.Smiths Industries is to launch a tighter system, with questionsto determine skills and qualifications. Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Artistic endeavours

first_img Previous Article Next Article Artistic endeavoursOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Everyorganisation wants its employees to brave and creative, but this wish has to bebacked-up by a supportive structure, says Simon KentIt’stwo o’clock on a Friday afternoon and on stage at the Mermaid Theatre, London,about 20 participants from diverse organisations, myself included, are tryingto be creative. Wehad been told to expect a session which involved lots of physical movement and,as a result, we’re not simply thinking out of the box, but moving out of it aswell.Thesession is being run by Steps, a drama-based training company. Living on theEdge of Chaos is a one-day session intended to demonstrate the potential oflearning through drama. Theargument runs that the best place for a company to position itself is on theedge of chaos – a position where it is open to all business possibilities,flexible, adaptable and ready for anything. Through being creative it ispossible to operate in this way – avoiding the straight jacket of inflexiblesystems and processes while resisting the fall into complete anarchy.Step’sapproach so far today has consisted of setting a hypothetical challenge inwhich we are given various items of hardware (buckets, wheels, ropes etc) inorder to solve a communication problem between two floors of a departmentstore. We have also been engaged in devising a dance piece, allegedly forperforming to our co-workers to demonstrate the way forward in a recentlymerged company. In both cases, participants are operating outside their usualworking environments and the emphasis is on how we are working together ratherthan what the outcome of the exercise might be.Thetheory may be sound and, backed by the research and experience of Stepsdirector Robbie Swales, the group have accepted this hypothesis, but  any course like this begs the question: canthe creativity required actually be taught? And, is using  the arts the right way to develop this skill?”Ithink you can draw out the creativity in people,” says Diane Gallacher,senior consultant with business psychology and HR consulting firm InteractiveSkills and course attendee. “The performing arts will work for some peoplemore than others. The workshop made me feel I could do things I hadn’t realisedand I think that feeling can be carried over into the workplace.”Butaway from the course there is some scepticism. “The idea of trainingpeople to be creative is a contradiction in terms,” says Paul Kearns ofPersonnel Works [not an attendee]. “I think these courses give youtechniques by which you can be more creative, but whether you are more creativeas a result is another matter.”MartynSloman of the CIPD believes there has to be a clear context for improvingcreativity. “I think there is value in helping teams work together morecreatively towards a specific target,” he says. “But I have my doubtsthat individual creativity can be taught in the same way.”Swalesadmits the use of artistic or performance skills is easier to introduce toorganisations pre-disposed to the arts, but doesn’t believe this to beessential to the course’s success. LizWillis, founding partner of The Springboard Consultancy, has just delivered thecompany’s first ‘Creativity at Work’ course, a five-day session for individualsdesigned to immerse participants in a new way of thinking and approach to theirwork. “Creativity ties into change and the sheer pace of change means weneed different kinds of skills,” says Willis. “Coping with change isnot enough – organisations need people who see the change as a chance to dothings differently and better.”Crucialto both this course and Step’s session is the focus on the process by whichwork is carried out rather than the end result. During the Steps course,participants were made to consider how this process felt – the uncertainty,nervousness, need for trust and communication. In this way, it was possible torealise those feelings were a necessary part of moving towards the end product.So, if employees are more at home with that period of uncertainty they willfeel more comfortable being creative.But,back at the office it is results that count and it is here that exponents ofcreativity development courses have their work cut out. “As a trainingprovider, we have to be even more critical of ourselves because people just sayit was great fun and they had a great time,” says Swales. Ultimately,whether creativity courses do make for more creative employees does not dependon the participants and course alone, but on the company culture. It’s all verywell encouraging middle management to be more creative, but if seniormanagement aren’t prepared to listen to new ideas or concepts then newlyfired-up employees will soon lose heart. Given this, any creativity exercisemust be reinforced in the work place through effective initiatives designed tocapitalise on new-found creativity. Even a simple matter such as making surethe suggestion box is emptied and read will help employees feel theircreativity is valued.Contacts–Steps – drama learning development: Unit 13.2.2. The Leathermarket, WestonStreet, London SE1 3ER, 020 7403 9000, www.steps drama.com–The Springboard Consultancy: Holwell, East Down, Barnstaple, DevonEX31 4NZ, 01271 850828–Paul Kearns, Personnel Works 0117 914 6984 Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Ditch the targets and invest in leadership training plans

first_img Previous Article Next Article With the UK’s managers under relentless attack for their ineffectualperformance perhaps its time to recognise that best practice and innovation arenot intuitive and that training can make a difference”Management training in Britain is too little, too late, for toofew,” claimed prolific management guru Charles Handy. But the interestingbit is not that he said it, but when he said it – 1987. Has anything reallychanged since then? Sometimes to accept an unpalatable truth we have to hear it from anoutsider. I suspect Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt knows this andthat it is one of the key reasons she hired Professor Michael Porter – one ofthe world’s leading business strategists – to tell the DTI why we lag behind onproductivity. British managers have been under attack in the media as ineffectual andamateurish. We have been told by both Newsnight and Hewitt that the managementstyle of TV’s bumbling David Brent is sadly close to the truth. So, as Porterdelivered his initial findings, the collective sigh of relief was almostpalpable when he appeared to stop short of delivering a harsh verdict onBritish management. Instead, Porter highlighted the need for more unique strategies and ways ofcompeting, and called for greater innovation. However, in deriving his data oninnovation almost entirely from the UK’s contribution to US patentregistrations, he may have missed a trick or two. Business innovation in the UK over the past three to four years has involvedmore than the meagre levels of research and development to which he alluded,and the failure to invest in creating ‘unique value’ for British products andservices, with continuous cost-cutting setting the economy on a path ofdiminishing returns. Innovation is also to be found in the changing styles of business andorganisational leadership that are difficult to reflect in the largelyquantitative data he referenced. Last year’s Council for Excellence inManagement and Leadership report to the DTI clearly identified a lack ofstrategic thinking, communication, leadership, and motivational skills as keyfactors in the under-performance of British managers. Thankfully, many organisations in this country have moved from transactionalto transformational forms of leadership, and from a top-heavy directional styleto more devolved forms of management. This is beginning to counter-balance thekind of static and introspective management Porter described. But it will take time for the results to filter through to the broadereconomy. HR professionals still have much to do – of the four million or somanagers in the UK, only 20 per cent have management qualifications and around20 per cent of small firms and 4 per cent of large organisations provide nomanagement training at all. Our own experience shows that succession planning is a major issue for manyorganisations, especially at board and senior manager level. Withoutinvestment, successors have a long lead-time before peak performance, which canhave an adverse impact on their organisation’s chances of reaching its truepotential. Non-investment here has a lasting and expensive impact. If the Government isreally prepared to ‘back off’ – in Professor Porter’s words – from economictarget-setting in favour of a more proactive and dynamic private sector, thenconsiderably more investment will be required in middle management andleadership development. The acquisition of technical skills and training is all very well, but iffew British managers are prepared or equipped to assume responsibility, anyinvestment in R&D and innovation will make very little difference. We should take Porter’s principles on ‘clustering’ and apply them at theorganisational as well as at the community level. Empowering individuals tolead and innovate, even at lower levels of an organisation, need not be arecipe for organisational chaos. Rather, it would allow best practice to move smoothly up and across anorganisation, as well as down. It would also mean senior management spending fewer hours issuing directivesthat get lost in the works, and provide a boost to productivity where it reallymatters.By Claire Spencer, Head of research, TSO Consulting Ditch the targets and invest in leadership training plansOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

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Briefing

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. A round-up of news from the professional journalsNurses resist admin Nurses could be put in charge of checking patients’ utility bills orpassports to ensure they are entitled to free treatment on the NHS. Themeasure, which has been criticised by the Royal College of Nursing and theRoyal College of Midwives, is recommended by the Government as part of a driveto clamp down on ‘health tourists’. Nursing Standard, 12 August Images hit home Having explicit pictures of the effects of smoking-related diseases printedon cigarette packets could encourage people to quit, a study by the Cancer ResearchUK Centre for Tobacco Control Research has concluded. Nursing Times, 4 August Pain complaints Patients in A&E are often left in pain after arriving in the unit,according to the latest study of patient satisfaction in England. TheCommission for Health Improvement survey, shows 14 per cent in pain had to waitmore than 30 minutes before receiving pain relief. Nursing Standard, 12 August Asthma hope A breathing technique, pioneered in Russia, may reduce symptoms and inhaleruse in patients with asthma. A report in the journal Thorax studied 90randomised asthmatics in the use of the Eucapnic Buteyko technique, whichmimicked the breath restriction employed in the pranayama yoga breathingtechnique. Thorax 58:8;674-679. Nursing Times, 8 August Previous Article Next Article BriefingOn 1 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

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Falling apart at the seams?

first_imgThe question of what to wear and what is considered ‘acceptable’ attire inthe workplace continues to be an important and sometimes confusing quandary forstaff and employers alike. As reported in Personnel Today (20 January) this issue could now becomecrucial for companies right across the UK. Up to 7,000 cases are said to be waiting on the outcome of the landmark caseof Matthew Thompson, a Jobcentre Plus employee who won the right not to wear acollar and tie in the office on the grounds it was discriminatory. The CBI says that it is down to the discretion of individual companieswhether to introduce a dress code. If the tribunal rules in Thompson’s favour, implications for employers arepotentially huge and it will signal an urgent review of what employees arerequired to wear at work. Personnel Today asked several organisations for their views on dress codepolicies at work. Angela Edge, head of people and organisational development, Carat Media – “We have no formal policy, but we expect our people to dress in anappropriate manner to give a good impression to clients. We encourage people tothink about their clients, match what they wear and make them at ease. If theywere going to see a large financial organisation then obviously a shirt and tiewould be appropriate. I think casual dress does improve morale, and makespeople feel more comfortable.” Mark Keeble, senior employment policy and advice consultant, CamdenCouncil – “Dress codes help recognise the diversity of the workforce as awhole. The importance of dress as a means of self-expression is different foreveryone so for some employees it’s not an issue, for others it can be to agreater extent. Flexible dress codes can achieve a balance between individualchoice, corporate identity and maintaining a professional image. People oftenperform better when they feel comfortable and aren’t resentful of restrictiveemployment practices.” Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology, Lancaster UniversityManagement School – “Dress policies should be about flexibility and staff using commonsense. More importantly, this is about how much autonomy management allowsstaff. There should be guidelines rather than explicit codes; people willappreciate that more than being told what to wear to work.” Marcus Jamieson-Pond, head of HR at law firm DLA – “Our clients still have an expectation that people working in theprofessional services sector will look the part, as well as deliver a qualityservice. Business dress equals professionalism, but it can still be comfortable.However, the days of top hats for partners and bowlers for the rest of us arelong gone. We do operate a casual dress policy on Fridays, and while we havenever measured productivity, there does appear to be a more relaxed atmosphereon that day.” Bruce Robertson, regional HR leader, Levi’s  – “The only dress code we have is that if our people wear denim, it hasto be Levi’s. We want our staff to representative of the brand, but alsorespectful of our customers. With our sales team, extremes such as tattoos andpiercings are not encouraged and they have to maintain a level ofprofessionalism. The team often wear next season’s product line when visitingclients.” Liz Fraser, UK HR director, Weber Shandwick PR – “We treat people like grown ups and they know when they need to weara suit and when it is OK to be more casual. Different divisions within thecompany dress according to the needs of the business. Dress codes aren’t anissue in today’s workplace – it is simply wearing the right clothes to suit thebusiness environment and meet expectations.”Common sense tips on dress   – Base the policy on business-related reasons. Explain yourreasons in the policy so employees understand the rationale behind therestrictions. Common business-related reasons include maintaining a publicimage, promoting a productive work environment, or complying with health andsafety standards– Require employees to have an appropriate, well-groomedappearance. Even casual dress policies should specify inappropriate clothing(such as shorts and jeans) and any special requirements for employees who dealwith the public– Communicate the policy. Use employee handbooks or memos toalert employees to the new policy, any revisions, and penalties for non-compliance.Explain the policy to job candidates– Apply the dress code policy uniformly to all employees. Thiscan prevent claims that the policy adversely affects women or minorities.However, you may have to make exceptions if required by law– Make reasonable accommodation when the situation requires anexception. Be prepared to accommodate requests for religious practices anddisabilities, such as head coverings– Apply consistent discipline for dress code violations. Pointout why their attire does not comply with the code and what a person should doto complySource: www.ppspublishers.com Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Falling apart at the seams?On 3 Feb 2004 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

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