Get rid of performance management… Here’s how

It’s not a very well kept secret that most HR professionals know that appraisal or performance management systems don’t work. But actually it is quite hard to push back when your boss is asking you to implement or manage or fine-tune one and it is still(ish) an accepted, respected even, business practice.

In my last job before I set my company up, the large government agency I worked for had invested in a highly complicated hungry system that required constant feeding and which I absolutely felt was a waste of time and energy for everyone. Public sector is always a tough environment to effect change as the Unions are highly suspicious of moving away from any system or process that doesn’t guarantee year on year pay rises, understandably. So often the temptation is to get into very detailed systems to manage Industrial Relations.

Thing was, as a senior HR leader I had to regularly defend this system when not only did I not believe in it for the organisation, I didn’t believe in it for me or my team. This coupled with the knowledge that if you wanted to see a really poor set of extremely non-SMART objectives you only had to go to the senior team or the HR department.

So fast forward 5 years and here I am running my own company and at last free to publically recommend the removal of appraisal systems to all my HR colleagues. Not only that but it’s starting to become a key area of focus for us as we help companies to move forward and think differently and have a good clear out of outdated ‘HR’ practices.

Here is how to go about it:

  1. To make a compelling recommendation to your Board, you need to know the cost and effectiveness of your current system. Set up a project team or get someone externally to do it for you. Don’t get sucked into the ‘we don’t have the budget’ argument. Every day you promote or prolong a system that you know doesn’t work and costs your company money, you are damaging your personal and professional brand.
  1. So now you have the research and know that not only do most people welcome the end to this process, it is costing an unbelievable amount of money for little obvious gain. If you asked a good set of questions, you will have picked up that employees still want development and progression at certain stages of their career, and at others to be left alone beyond the usual CPD. You may have picked up what your organisation sees as a possible way ahead – this might be nothing or a feedback loop or something that you haven’t worked out yet. Which is the exciting part.
  1. To pull your proposal together you need an alternative or a compelling reason for making the change. You will know what your organisations goals and ambitions are. Pull together a small project team and work with interested influential parties. Clearly you will still want to be able to reward those that work hard and are competent in their field so make sure you address that.
  1. You will find that most senior executives are of the opinion that one needs to legally have such a system. If you then get into consulting employment lawyers about it you will freeze in your tracks and probably agree to retain them to introduce more polices and procedures just in case….but… take a deep breath and ask yourself when was the last time that you actually managed an employee out via the capability route? And actually when was the last time a poorly performing employee had actually been told about it or marked down on their appraisal if indeed they had had one. And we all know that the real high fliers are too busy to appraise or be appraised. Especially in legal firms…
  1. You know that your organisation wants information on employees but that actually it is hard to come by. Even your appraisal process no matter how sophisticated won’t have really shone the torch in places that would excite your senior team. Think about how what you need to monitor and report on corporately. CPD is one area that should be critical for any professional firm to monitor but is often at best a tick box on an appraisal form or left to individuals to monitor. But there might be others. Think as broadly as possible. Don’t limit yourself to traditional areas – think of new ones. You might just identify something to focus on that will give your organisation competitive advantage.
  1. Recognise that doing something fairly radical like removing a long established system is changing the way your company works and interacts with employees (I’m not using the jaded old term engagement here because I don’t like it). The HR team will also want to create some space to look at the service it provides and how it adds value to the business and may consider letting go of other more traditional practices. This is an area worth investing in as it will up skill and inspire not only the HR team but the relationship with the business. Using an independent third party to facilitate and manage this can be key to a successful outcome.

I won’t wish you good luck at this stage as this is not about luck at all. This is about you as an HR professional and/or business leader critically evaluating an established system and making recommendation for change to help the organisation deliver its goals.

If this were the Finance or Marketing team with a similar issue ask yourself not only how they would approach it but how quickly they would make the change happen?

Enjoy.

 

Employing children… Are you legal?

How to employ children (legally)…

children on work experienceAs summer begins we get lots of questions in the office from employers about employing those under 16yr olds. Often they will have done work experience and got a taste for working or an accountant or other professional has picked up that there are under 16’s working and the owner is unaware that special restrictions apply.

Please don’t be put off by the restrictions; working when young, either in a work experience capacity or doing an actual job, is a tremendously important part of life and hugely significant in terms of a strong career prognosis.

At Amelore HQ we have put together a Q&A sheet to answer any questions you may have.

What counts as employment?

Employment is any work for a trade or occupation carried on for profit or in any commercial enterprise. So these restrictions do not apply to work inside the home like babysitting.

Do the rules apply to children working in their parents’ businesses?

Yes. This includes work done in a parents business and work for which the child is not paid. Such work is illegal and may lead to prosecution unless the employer obtains a permit for each child employed.

What are the legal requirements?

No child under the age of 13 may be employed at all.

No child may work before 7am or after 7pm on any day (this includes weekends and holidays)

No child may work for more than 2 hours on a school day (no more than one hour before school)

No child may work more than 12 hours in any week (including weekends) during school time

No child aged 13/14 may work more than 5 hours a day on Saturdays/holidays (max 25 hours per week)

No child aged 15/16 may work more than 8 hours a day on Saturdays/holidays (max 35 hours per week)

No child may work more than 2 hours on any Sunday

Do school-age workers have to have a holiday?

All children who work must take a two week break from all employment at some time during the year.

Is any area of work prohibited for young people?

The following are strictly forbidden:

Delivering milk

In pubs and skittle alleys

In commercial kitchens

In any industrial undertaking nor factory nor using a dangerous machine (and remember most machines can be dangerous without adequate training or supervision).

In the sorting of rubbish

In a slaughterhouse or butchery

In an amusement arcade or fair- ground

No child can be involved in the collection of money unless supervised by an adult.

Do I have to pay them?

Children under 16 aren’t entitled to the minimum wage.

Children under 16 don’t pay national insurance so you only need to include them on your payroll if their total income is over their personal allowance.

If they are 16/17 they are entitled to at least £3.79 per hour. You’d need to record this on your payroll and if they earn more than £112 the usual payroll tasks kick in.

What steps must I take as an employer to safeguard children working for me?

Carry out a risk assessment. This can be simply a blank piece of paper which you record any possible risks and think about how you will ensure an accident is prevented. Your LA may ask to inspect this and it would certainly be required if there was a reportable accident and the HSE did an investigation.

Check that children using bicycles ensure at all times that the cycle is safely maintained and lights are fitted. It is also strongly recommended that helmets should be worn

Issue personal safety alarms to children who are out on their own or in lonely places, for example, delivering newspapers

Make sure that the children you employ are suitably dressed, for protection where appropriate. So correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn if necessary.

Is there anything else to bear in mind?

These regulations do NOT end on the child’s 16th birthday. They apply until a child is of legal school-leaving age— the last Friday in June of the school year in which the child is 16.

What is the registration process?

The employer must contact their local council and complete an application for a work permit, stating the hours and type of work. This form should also be signed by a parent or guardian. The form is then sent to the child’s school for notification. If the work meets the regulations, a work permit will then be issued within two weeks.

Where can I get more information?

Contact your County Council and ask for Child Employment

Education Entitlement & Inclusion services or call Amelore on 01453 548070.

What the Election results mean for employment, pensions and immigration law

 

POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS:

After last Thursday’s unexpected election result with the Conservatives winning a small, but outright, majority Amelore look at their key proposals based on their manifesto and key pledges:

EMPLOYMENT

The main points are:

  • Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts will be banned at a date to be decided
  • Industrial action will require a turnout of at least 50% of union membership and support from a minimum of 40% of those entitled to vote in strike ballots in respect of core public services
  • The provisions which prevent employers from recruiting agency workers to cover employees on strike will be repealed
  • Companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish their gender pay gap information to be introduced by March 2016
  • To accept the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission which means the NMW is on course to increase to over £8 per hour by 2020. They will also support the Living Wage and will encourage businesses who can afford it to pay it
  • Entitlement to three days paid volunteering leave per year will be introduced for those working for large employers or in the public sector
  • A British Bill of Rights will be introduced to replace the Human Rights Act 1995

This also means that for the moment employment tribunal fees will not be abolished and neither will employee shareholder status.

PENSIONS

As ever, pensions remains a political topic. The Conservative Party manifesto is to reduce pensions tax relief for higher earners – those with earnings over £150,000. As well as causing administrative complexities, this is noteworthy because for the first time this will break the link between tax rates and tax reliefs. The manifesto is light on detail so it is difficult to know at this stage exactly what the changes will involve. However, the hope is that a pro-active minister will be appointed to implement these changes.

In addition, the Tory aim to implement more devolution to Scotland means that this is likely to lead to there being changes to taxation in Scotland. This will result in further complexities in the taxation of pensions and further complexities in how they are administered – none of which is welcome.

IMMIGRATION

The main points are:

      • Keeping net migration in the tens of thousands and not in the hundreds of thousands
      • For economic migration they will maintain the cap of 20,700 (for Tier 2 General restricted sponsorship applications)
      • Clamping down on illegal immigration and abuse of minimum wage
      • Employers regularly using the shortage occupation list to sponsor workers in the UK will need to provide long term training plans for training “British” workers
      • Implementing changes to the student visa system
      • Enhancing border security and strengthening enforcement of immigration rules
      • Develop a fund to ease pressure on local areas and public services experiencing unexpected volumes of immigration some of which will go on enforcement
      • Controlling migration from the EU by reforming welfare rules
      • Introducing an English language test and maintenance requirements for non EEA spouses of EEA nationals

Finally, given that much of our UK legislation on employment, pensions and immigration issues originates from the EU the most significant change under the new Tory government could be the proposed in-out EU referendum which is due to take place by the end of 2017.

Watch this space…

Diversity strikes back

Today has been an interesting day in politics and not one that the opinion polls or the press predicted.

However you voted there is one fact that we can all celebrate.

The results once the 650 seats declared show female MPs make up 30 per cent of Parliament, an increase of 23 per cent since 2010.

That is just AMAZING NEWS!houses_of_parliament

So despite the results of the 2015 general election being divisive, the growing number of women in Parliament is one thing the British public will surely agree is an improvement.

The gender mix is getting closer to actually representing the electorate.

Today 191 female MPs have been elected which is the biggest increase since 1997 – the year when Tony Blair was famously photographed with 101 women Labour MPs after he was elected as Prime Minister.

And Mhairi Black for the Scottish National Party is now the youngest elected politician in Britain. A YOUNG WOMAN! How exciting!

So will women making up a third of parliament influence how it governs and the decisions it makes? And the age range starting to lower?

I have observed that bringing women into all male or male dominated environments is always positive.

Both sexes tend to behave better when there is a gender mix and men especially are less angry or aggressive when there are women present.

Women are great at being thoughtful courageous leaders. Yes they work hard, always strive for 110% and are critical of their own performance. But that just adds an exciting dynamic to the mix and creates some healthy competition raising standards.

Women also tend to work smarter and flexibly. They are more discerning about their time and may challenge the long hours and drinking culture we know is prevalent as it is not family friendly or healthy. And what will Westminster do about everyday sexism? Will they allow it or will they deal with it?

What also interests me having worked in the City which can be a bit like a male public school and having often observed that parliament can behave like that, is how increasing women, may challenge some of this outdated behavior.

And what of things like the MP’s expenses issue and how that was handled. Will more women around effect greater change to deal with such matters in a fair and transparent manner. And to challenge outdated and strange practices in a helpful and progressive manner?

I am confident that with female MP’s numbers increasing it will add momentum and I hope MP’s will work together across all parties to improve how we are all governed. That is something that will benefit us all and that we can be positive about.

Good luck to everyone that was re-elected or newly elected today.

It’s 2015 – but my interviewer wanted to know how I’d juggle work and motherhood. An alternative response…

Many of you will know that I used to reply to the Dear Jeremy readers problems a lot as ExBrightonBelle and then started doing it formally for Moneywise magazine after Mark King left the Guardian.

I don’t deny I’d love to return and become ‘Dear Ruth’ (when Jeremy retires) but I don’t think he has any plans to as is his legal right and correctly so.

The thing is I think (despite my personal interest) that many of his responses are very off message for a paper like The Guardian and in fact this one today is just plain sexist.

Have a read – of the problem – Jeremy’s response and mine and tell me what you think.

It’s 2015 – but my interviewer wanted to know how I’d juggle work and motherhood

I recently had an interview at a well-respected commercial organisation. I have ample relevant experience for the position and felt that the interview was going well during the section where I was asked technical questions, gave a presentation and had to answer questions related to my field of work.

I was interviewed by two men (I am female). I was asked by one of them how I would cope with the work bearing in mind I have two children – I had disclosed this in my application form only to explain a short gap in my career.

I was stunned to be asked this in 2015, and while I wanted to challenge them by asking whether they were putting the same question to male candidates I answered along the lines of “Fine, obviously, or I would not have applied for this position as I am not stupid and have worked since my children were small”.

The interview continued and it was made clear that successful candidates would be chosen largely on whether they would “fit in” with the organisation and other staff. I have yet to hear whether or not I have been successful.

Leaving aside the issue of whether I want to work for an organisation that asks such questions in interviews, I am not sure whether and how to raise the issue with the company. If I am unsuccessful I do not want to appear that I am acting out of “sour grapes”, but I feel very angry that I was asked such a question when I suspect male candidates would not have been. I feel that future female candidates should not be put in such a position and this large organisation should know better than to interview in such a way.

How do I, and should I, raise this issue with the organisation in question?

Jeremy (says….)

 

I have every sympathy for your feelings and understand your reaction, but I’m afraid I am not going to agree with the intensity of your response. You may think that this is because I, too, am a man, and you may be right. But I hope you’ll at least give some open-minded thought to my reply.

 

At a cool, factual level, it is indisputably the case that when women are carrying the majority duties of bringing up young children they need to be more inventive than their male partners in programming their various work and home responsibilities.

 

And when a child’s illness or demands from school intervene, it is often the mother rather than the father who chooses (or is chosen) to do the necessary juggling – which may well have a brief impact on her timekeeping. Most are skilled at covering or working late, and take pride in ensuring that the impact on work is minimal. This allocation of responsibilities between parents may be unfair and may well be unnecessary – but it’s certainly not uncommon.

 

The male interviewer who asked you how you would cope bearing in mind that you had two children was certainly guilty of clumsiness and insensitivity – but to his not very empathetic mind, he was simply acknowledging an understood reality and wanting to know how you managed it. In that respect I honestly don’t see that there was anything inherently offensive about his question. I think your immediate reaction was a bit extreme, and I fear this reaction may have disproportionately coloured your view of the entire company.

 

Whether or not you’re offered this job – and let’s hope you are – I suggest you write a measured letter to your main contact there. Explain the reasons for your writing though more temperately than in your letter to me. Simply and helpfully suggest that such a question, however tactfully phrased, could well deter excellent female candidates from wanting to join. Even if you don’t get the job, that won’t sound like sour grapes.

Ruth says:

I’m sorry to hear about this and can well understand your anger. Sexism like this that is sadly experienced everyday in the workplace reinforcing the past when men were in charge and women could at best do small unskilled part-time jobs.

I had my first child when I was 19. I didn’t go to university as a result and instead began working for American Express who even then (1988) had a Non Graduate Development programme as well as one for Graduates. This meant my career progressed rapidly and I relocated to the City doing a number of senior HR roles. I never told my employers in investment banking that I was a mother as I knew they wouldn’t have hired me and even if they had, they would have treated me differently and expected less. So I’ve been a working mother for my entire career.

Jeremy Bullmore will never have experienced sexism like this. Ever. Though he almost certainly will have been part of it. Sexism that means whatever you do, how ever hard you work, you are still just a single mother. Or a woman. It is a very distressing experience and makes women very angry. And some men I am pleased to say (view twitter today). Now I have my own business where it is my husband who works part-time as he is the main carer to our two young children. All our employees have children and work flexibly and I actually prefer it as they give me 110%.

But there are still men in the corporate workplace that think that if women have children they are worth less, can do less, should be paid less but luckily we work in the UK and it is 2015. Such attitudes are against the law. The Equality Act to be precise. The clue being in the title.

You say the organisation you wanted to work for was large and commercial. Well I’d say they weren’t commercial on two counts.

Firstly to remain commercial they need to hire talented driven people. That has to include female as well as male employees. Clearly, they treat women differently from men and the fact they were so happy to share their attitudes with you, during an interview, with no fear of recourse gave you a much needed flavor of the environment you nearly worked in. A bit like an attractive man making a small racist comment on a first date. It’s called ‘unconscious bias’ and that organisation will probably have a big problem with it.

Secondly, it’s a bit of a waste of money to risk having to pay financial compensation to people like you who will have an excellent case, whether they offer you the job or not, for discrimination on the grounds of your sex. There is no way they have asked men the same questions and are therefore treating you less favourably in the interview process. The comments about hiring you if they felt you fitting in sounded very much like the old “does your face fit culture” (well it probably won’t if you are female and have children).

All of that said I do think a letter, carefully worded, unemotional, cool and factual, to the CEO is in order. He (I’m taking a wild guess here) needs to know that he has a problem. He may want to do an independent investigation and possible actions may include all his managers being training on how to conduct a proper interview. It may be they don’t know what is or isn’t acceptable but the HR team should be aware and managing and monitoring the situation. It’s just not competitive to turn off talent in this way and I would hope he would understand that.

Whether you go a step further and make a claim to an Employment Tribunal is up to you. I think any action should be about trying to influence and change behavior. It would be public, so terrible PR for them but you need to find a job. So think it over and take advice. They would probably offer to settle the claim. I certainly would if I was their HR Director.

You sound very articulate and highly employable but not someone to thrive in a stifling male dominated environment. Find an employer that is more progressive and be glad you had this experience to help you avoid working for a company you may have been pretty unhappy in.

Good luck!

New Job? Follow these 7 key points to make it a runaway success!

firstdayCongratulations! You may be reading this because you have recently accepted a new role or started one. Perhaps you are talking to a potential new employer or maybe thinking about that next role.

Whatever stage you are, read our top tips to make your first 100 days a firm foundation for another significant and exciting stage of your career journey.

  1. Work out what you are there to do

Might sound like crazy advice but it’s not. When employers start writing job descriptions or talking to headhunters they start to believe that there is a person out there that can do everything that is written down, much of which will be aspirational or someone else’s job or just plain impossible. Your task in week 1 is to work out what they are actually realistically expecting so you can deliver. Quickly.

  1. Identify the key people to know

This won’t be the obvious, that is for sure. Hopefully your boss is seen as a key mover and shaker but you need to know. You may have been hired to replace your boss and everyone knows it but you. It’s reasonably common. Who are the people that influence corporate thinking? Ask people. Get in their diary. Who is constantly mentioned, who knows everyone and can help you with the stuff not written down but critical? Might be the long-serving PA of the MD or someone on reception or without a glamorous job title. Or even someone external or that has left.

  1. Get to know your team – properly

This is an area that people can really get very right or very wrong. If you are being paid to manage people make it your business to get close to them quickly. Find out what makes them tick, what motivates them, what frustrates them and what they can and can’t do. Dive in deep to understand how they are doing things. If they are good they will appreciate it and if they aren’t on top of things, you need to know. Fast! If your team is happy, it’s good PR for you in the same way that if they aren’t and morale dips, it will almost certainly be terminal for you.

  1. Brand is important. Very important.

Lots of talk at the moment about ‘brands’. You need to quickly get into the DNA of your new company and properly understand it. If there are still founders this is all the more critical as not being 100% on brand will be a barb in their side. But also think about your Personal Brand as it’s how people get to know you – the individual they have hired or are working for. What are you going to wear? (Sometimes people take the opportunity of a new job to have an image makeover. It’s a great time to do it. Men and women!) What hours are you going to work? How contactable are you going to be outside the office? How will you treat people? What practices or customs are you going to introduce? What are your values and how will people see them?

  1. Communication strategy

Seriously you need one. It’s a big area. What is your tone of voice on email? Are you going to bash out sloppy ones with typos or be more considered? How quickly are you going to reply? Or will someone else? Whatever your speed of response you will set expectations. Are you clear about what you will talk about face to face or on the phone and what you email? Who will you copy in? How will you store or file emails. It needs some serious consideration especially if your new role is more senior or more demanding. The volume will increase and having a PA may actually make it harder initially as you need to lead and establish a system from Day 1. Ask yourself whether you are going to become another slave to corporate emails or recognize they are other people’s priorities and keep them in their place?

  1. Be clear on the governance and your responsibilities

This is something that can derail people. Not knowing what they are signing or the ethos or corporate structure behind a document. When you are new you can make it your job to properly understand things and challenge if necessary. Don’t sign something to be helpful if you don’t understand why you are doing it. It could end badly for you.

  1. Consider enlisting some external support

Depending on how you were hired, you may have been in contact with external professionals (psychologists, coaches, external HR consultants, head-hunters) who got to understand you and the company you were going to work for. It may be something to consider so you have an external sounding board that can support you. Pretty much everyone at every level benefits from this especially if you engage someone before you join so they can help negotiate favourable terms for you. Well worth considering.

Good luck in your new role. Enjoy it and make those first 100 days really count!

Dog tired… It’s Friday afternoon

jasper
Jasper with that Monday morning feeling.

The truth about office dogs… At Amelore we have an office dog.

Jasper is a black Labrador/Spaniel cross and comes to work with my husband who is our part-time and very flexible Financial Controller, Head of IT Support and creative lead amongst other things.

Jasper loves his routine. He walks across the fields each morning with my husband to take the children to our local village school. Then they head into the office and he positively runs in the door. Having burst in he drinks a large amount of water and then wipes his wet chops on our Operations Manager Sam. He rushes around to greet everyone and then he crashes out on his bed.

He barks at all the deliverymen and occasionally at clients if they arrive early for a meeting (if we don’t know they are dog friendly he has his own dog sitters in the office next door or failing that he sulks in the family bus).

Now over the years I have come across dogs at work and it can work very well and it can work very badly.

When I worked in the public sector it was quite common in the rural offices for people to take dogs to work but keep them in their cars, walking them regularly and sitting with them at lunchtime.

One of my clients introduced a rescue dog into a crowded workspace and it bit an employee. She was very understanding but that was not sensible on many levels and clearly the employer always has a duty to provide a safe environment for its employees. A bite is a personal injury and can be serious.

Recently we hired someone that wanted to take her dog to a central London office everyday on the tube but we said no to that. The office was busy and there was nowhere for the dog to be exercised.

The thing about any animals in the office is that not everyone likes them. It can really add a friendly, healthy dynamic to your company as we feel Jasper does, but if we wanted to hire someone that didn’t like dogs (they would have to be exceptional!), Jasper would sadly no longer be coming to work.

If you are thinking about having an office dog, make sure everyone is happy about it and set out the rules. Certain environments (warehouses, factories etc) are not dog friendly and the temperament of the dog is a key and major factor.

How to progress your Career

 

fireman

Last week I attended a CIPD focus group.

The topic was the HR professional map (not the fire service…more later) which you are probably only familiar with if you have recently studied your professional exams. Sadly for the CIPD our focus group didn’t use or value it. Thought it wasn’t all bad news as everyone agreed that the CIPD Code of Conduct was a very good document. We share that at Amelore… we send it out with our proposals.

I always think focus groups are a great way to get a quick bit of professional development as they are almost always attended by people that care enough to turn up and say what they think.

The mixture was interesting. There was an L&D bias along with someone from a Reward background and me, a generalist with a twist.

One of the questions was about how our careers had developed. Mine had begun in training administration and progressed, once I had qualified, to HR manager/head of department/HR Director. This was in the days before the dreaded Ulrich model and Shared Service centres which have cut many career development opportunities away.

One guy that attended stood out.

He had a Retail banking background and came across as extremely driven, self-motivated and ambitious. He was an L&D professional and would be an asset to any organisation I have no doubt. He had recognized early on in his career the power of mirroring desirable organsiational behaviour and had used this technique to get himself from a trainer right up to an L&D Director.

Every organisation has its own set of unique and valued behaviours and values. These are often completely different to anything written down or spoken about by HR or the official corporate line.

When you join you need to quickly identify who the people are that are respected and looked up to and mirror what they do and how they behave.

This might include how they dress (very formally or smart casual or with a bit of style and panache), the hours they work (long or flexible or very smart and output driven), the personal values they exhibit (eg winning at any price v humility and respect for individuals), whether they look after themselves (gym, good diet, holidays space v no exercise, bad diet, booze) and how they treat each other.

Sometimes successful powerful people form a club within an organisation which they use to trade favours and keep out competition. If such a thing exists in your company you will need to work out how you can infiltrate it.
Of course analyzing your organisation in this way sometimes helps you identify that you have made a mistake because the person you are, will never match with your organisation.

In which case take a tip from the Fire Brigade…. Get out… Stay out!

But don’t call Fire Brigade, just get another job.

Choosing the right job but the wrong organisation or the right organisation but the wrong job can often shape your career as much as finding somewhere that perfectly suits you.

Successful people are clear about what they want to achieve and achieve it. Like my L&D focus group colleague. He drove his career, from job to job, organisation because he had a plan.

Do you?

Does getting legal benefit anyone?

scales of justice

Well yes it does actually… Lawyers!

If you are an individual or if you are a company, a lawyer may well encourage you to go to Tribunal. Whatever the outcome, for your business or your reputation or employability (employers don’t queue up to hire people that have taken their employers to tribunal) Lawyers will get paid.

If you are an employer, whatever the outcome of the Tribunal, whether you win or lose, they will get paid.

If you are an Individual and have a dispute, getting legal will only end in one place. You getting fired or damaging your career prognosis. Whatever any lawyer says, I just don’t know anyone in any business that has enhanced their relationship with their employer by taking or even threatening legal action. And there is no employer alive that would willingly hire someone that had taken their previous employer to tribunal.

Whatever the outcome.

It damages any relationship. You may win some money. But most likely some of that will go towards paying legal fees. So the lawyers still get paid,you get some money but then you haven’t got a job. The lawyers won’t help you finding a new career, because that is not what they do.

The good news for employers is that with the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunals claims have dropped significantly. The qualifying service for unfair dismissal claims is now two years which has also had an impact.

Thing is most employers don’t realise the average claim is around £4,500. And that claims have actually dropped by 85% in the last year. Let’s hope this isn’t reversed if we have a change of government.

Of course no-one takes good employers to tribunals and you can’t if you don’t have a case. So it pays to make sure your house is in order and get good advice but above all to value and look after your employees. Develop them. Give them feedback. Listen to them.

And if you are an individual and have an issue take advice about how to approach it. Externally is best. Not a lawyer as the workplace is about so much more than employment law. Identify what you want to achieve and if it is just a good moan, think again. Consider signing up to a Career Booster programme. Amelore are offering this soon to help people that don’t belong to a union or aren’t related to a HR advisor but want the equivalent of a HR Manager in their pocket. For more information on our Career Booster programme please email us at office@amelore.com

Since I’ve been in HR, I’ve watched a lot of porn

It wasn’t what I expected that’s for sure….
Lap-dancing clubs for corporate meetings
But having worked in some very male dominated environments it has been the subject of a number of investigations I have led that have often resulted in dismissal.  I can recall one guy that used the company systems to book an escort and others that sent shocking images to junior female staff for a laugh.

I can still remember in my early 30’s when I began working for a small merchant bank (that no longer exists) in the shadow of St Paul’s and going into the dealing room and just seeing a sea of porn on the screen savers.

In those days male traders still entertained male clients at Spearmint Rhino and it would pop out at lunchtime for a bottle of wine and to watch a quick semi naked dance before they slithered back to their desks.  You could always tell who had. They had a far away glint in their eye. It wasn’t nice.
Using lap-dancing clubs as corporate venues certainly excluded women even if one did get invites to go and watch and be one of the lads. Some women felt forced to do this to progress their careers as it was where lots of deals were done as well as recruitment. 
I’d like to say it doesn’t happen anymore but of course it still does.
Porn at work – hard to judge
In the days before the internet, you would not expect to see someone sitting at their desk reading Penthouse or something similar but there is a culture in some workplaces of highly inappropriate emails being passed around.
Now I say highly inappropriate because I am mindful that any pornographic image is probably very offensive to some people and that most people wouldn’t feel it was proper conduct in the workplace.  And of course it breaches the Equality Act as the employer has a duty to provide a positive working environment for all.
But it seems some people find this hard to judge.  Especially District Judge Timothy Bowles, Immigration Judge Warren Grant and Deputy District Judge and Recorder Peter Bullock who have all been removed from office for viewing pornography during working hours via the judicial IT systems.
Penalities are severe (or should be)
None of them work together so it looks to me like the Judicial IT department  have done a random sweep of their systems and picked this up.  Whenever I have done this in a workplace (after issuing a code of conduct and a warning) it has always picked up people mis-using the system and not expecting to get caught.  And it is gross misconduct which means they can be dismissed without pay. And they often are.
But often we don’t take senior folk to task enough.  So I’m delighted that the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice have concluded it was an “inexcusable misuse” of their official accounts and “wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office holder”.  I firmly agree. If you hold the office and take the salary you need to behave in a manner that is fitting. We should expect the same standards from MPs and anyone in a senior or responsible role.
What should you do if someone sends you an inappropriate email?
Delete it without forwarding it. To anyone. Even yourself at home.
What should you do if you receive a complaint that one of your employees has done this?
Don’t do what I heard recently and delete the inappropriate content.  That just makes you as the employer more culpable.  You must do an investigation and if appropriate discipline your employee.  Make sure your IT and Communication policies are fit for purpose and update them if not.