Why the Bankers bonus 10yr claw back won’t change a thing.

Having been an HR Director in the City I was mildly amused by the headlines today that Bankers who are guilty of misconduct would have to pay back bonuses from the last 10 years under a Labour government.

Under previous rules, bankers’ bonuses were often deferred for a period of three to five years, during which time the bonus could be clawed back if necessary. But I bet the reality was that few were penalized like this unless it got in the headlines. More likely they were bollocked behind a closed door, no record being made of it and their bonus was paid out in the normal way.

Insider dealing is not acceptable

Of course I absolutely think that those who deliberately do something forbidden like rigging the interest rates or insider dealing or trading over ones limit should face severe consequences. As should the person managing them. And a financial penalty is appropriate but more so the fear that they will be dismissed for gross misconduct which would result in the Financial Conduct Authority deeming them not fit and proper to work in a regulated activity and career over.

But the reality is that such events are rare. And the people that work in the City do so because they wish to take informed considered calculated risks and that sort of behavior is positively encouraged.  The ones that make big profits for their firms, can pretty much call the shots.  Which is just commerciality. Imagine if entrepreneurs were regulated. A crazy thought but there are some synergies.

HR are the ones that truly know what is going on

Thing is that the politicians just don’t understand the City. No-one truly does until you have worked in-house for a number of years. If you were in a senior HR role. You really really will. Often even more so than the CEO.

Lack of consequences means the behavior won’t change

For all the City has an image of being cut throat it is actually much less likely to actively define and manage poor behavior for its high flying front office staff. Mainly because reputation is everything and even acknowledging it almost feels a bit grubby to some firms.

Even when an individual (most likely Back Office)  has committed a criminal offence such as fraud, whilst they would be likely to be dismissed their file would not be handed over to the police.  I actually think all companies (across the country) should have a legal duty to do that.  Otherwise that person will pop up somewhere else. And do it again.

Different People Practices can have a big impact

If you have ever looked at appraisal forms, where they exist and compared it to all the other intelligence in the business – what the senior folk are saying – what the clients are demanding – what the PA’s think the priorities are – together with all the metrics – you will see that they really are apples and pears.  Which does beg the question  – Why do appraisals at all accepting they are currently a measure of a ‘well managed’ firm.

The thing is that everyone I have ever worked with past or present in the City absolutely wants to do the right thing.  Professionalism is hugely valued. Especially as they know that being on top of the people agenda will help them grow and win further business.

But often they doesn’t get much of a fresh steer on the changing possibilities, 

What are needed are systems and different practices to facilitate the growth of a culture that clearly has consequences for people that are doing what is expected of them, or not.

Doing that will have much more impact on behavior that the 10 year bonus claw back.  It would also be a rather useful approach in the Civil Service but that is another blog post.

I was in Starbucks the other day when I heard…

My sister in law (well she would be if she married my husbands brother but who cares – family is family and sisters are sisters) is a brand specialist in Canada. She shared via her FB page that as she was sat working in Starbucks, she overheard the conversation happening at the table beside her. Two young girls in their early 20’s were talking about becoming a “specialist” at something.

They were discussing their goals and their future and she was in awe of their maturity and drive and ambition.

I’m also finding that 20 year olds these days are very special. They blow me away actually. What I’m seeing is that they have a fire inside them. A fearlessness. A real self-belief; they’re a new breed. I think we will see them do amazing things in this world.

These two girls were saying that most people want the quick and easy buck or career these days and that it takes about 15 years of doing ONE thing and mastering it before you can call yourself a “specialist”.

They were discussing their plans to become specialists and how they will gladly and passionately invest their time, even if it means the next 15 years of their lives. They are proud to have this goal and they have it independent of any corporate appraisal system.

I’m not so sure I was thinking that way when I was in my twenties. Even if they do change their minds, that’s still impressive,… to be sitting around sipping tea having that conversation so early on in the game. Makes me smile.

I had been working for 10 years when I felt I was an HR specialist and it was at the 15 to 20yr mark that I felt I was truly an expert. This is not to say that one cannot call oneself a specialist or expert sooner, but I do think that a certain right of passage and degree of credibility is earned after this many years.

As a specialist, your work is second nature. It’s in your blood. It’s a passion. You know what works and doesn’t. You have years of leaning from mistakes and trial and error under your belt. You are driven to improve and be the best you can be.


This leads me on to my main point.  How come there is no system or app that can capture those thoughts and plans to become a specialist or whatever the individual goal is and track them. I would love to see my thoughts, goals and various career milestones all together so I can could see the progress and personal growth I had achieved.

At Amelore we are working on something right now that does all that as well as exploits the social media world we all live in. We feel very excited. Watch this space for more information or make contact to find out more.

Bad HR Communications Damage Credibility and Impact

At Amelore we do quite a bit of work re-positioning the HR function within a business where it has lost focus.  A critical area is around communications where HR can lapse into jargon or use clichéd business-speak that most people find uncomfortable. Often people tell us that they just don’t understand what the HR department is saying to them.

I was in the City the other day and the Senior Executive I was talking to couldn’t remember the job title of the Senior HR lead as it had just changed. People Director was the answer and whilst I understand the desire to rebrand HR (another blog post) I think every time we change things, we damage our credibility. The FD is the FD is the FD.

A friend of mine contacted me to share a gem received from their HR department which she felt was a example of HR communications at its worst. I agree
“The HR organisation continues it’s change journey as we transition to our new Target Operating Model in 2015, looking to the future and the impact the Enabling Program will have on the HR structure and new ways of working for everyone.”
And HR said to me…
Really!!!! And what does that actually mean to anyone? And is what they are proposing what the business actually wants or needs? I doubt it very much.
Here is what I would say:

“The HR department has reviewed how it works so it can operate more efficiently and reduce costs and headcount.  In 2015 we will move to a new structure and way of working with the business.”

Think of our golden two page rule re a CV.  HR communications need to be a lot shorter and snappier. We should look to our marketeer colleagues who know how to communicate quickly with consumers. If they wrote like the HR department no one would ever sell anything. 

Look at the brilliant strapline of the current advertising campaigns for notonthehighstreet.com “How to live a life less ordinary”.  Says it all really. Buy our products and make your life and you more interesting. We get it.

But imagine if the HR department had been in charge. They may have said something like this: “If you wish to look to the future and transition to a new way of living, to enable you and your family to operate more efficiently with greater well-being and contentment please look at the list of our products and register your interest.”

Enough said?

On our HR Bootmap programme we go into some detail on HR communications because it is so important. And we throw lots of current HR speak and jargon on the good old Amelore Bonfire.

If you would like more information about HR Bootcamp, please get in touch with us.

New Year blog – Common mistakes employers make

Happy New Year everyone and goodness I have had quite a gap since my last blog.  2 years to be exact but some content from it did get me quoted (well quoted out of context) in Private Eye which was fun. 

Our new blog is going to have an HR take as we will share some of our expertise but we will also challenge some traditional HR thinking and identify practices that we may want to throw on the HR bonfire

The New Year is inevitably a time to review the existing workforce and it is often when redundancies or dismissals are on the agenda. 

The key thing for employers is to avoid making costly mistakes.


The most common mistake employers make 

  • Not keeping good records so they have no evidence when challenged
  • Firing in the heat of the moment without any investigation 
  • Telling people they are redundant without any consultation period 
  • Suspending someone as a punishment but with no good reason or no pay 
  • Forgetting that positions can be made redundant but not people – ie if a job is going, consider other options for that employee 
  • Saying someone is redundant but writing a letter that sites a performance issue as the cause – will automatically be unfair. 
  • Being kind and allowing friends and family to get involved but making the situation more complicated – especially if those friends and family understand the process better than the employer 
  • Ignoring grievances or letting situations go on for too long 
  • Not using probation periods for new employees properly – 6months always 
  • Deducting money from wages for damaged or lost goods without the permission of the employee – you just can’t do this. 
  • Hiring quickly and firing slowly. If at all.
In our next blog we will look at 10 Golden Rules for Firing people effectively. It’s never a nice thing to do – but done well and for the right reasons helps everyone move on quickly.