This week’s letters

DTI will try to avoid damaging the job boards

As the Minister responsible for the Government’s review of the conduct of
employment agencies and employment businesses regulations, I can assure
Personnel Today that our aim is not to damage internet jobs boards, but to
protect job-seekers and employers from unscrupulous agencies (News, 15

To help us get the balance right, I urge your readers to log on to
www.dti.gov.uk/er, read our consultation in the publications section and send
considered comments and evidence to eas@dti.gsi.gov.uk.

Alan Johnson MP
Minister of State for Employment Relations, Industry and the Regions, Department
of Trade and Industry

People, not boards, make strategy happen

I have enjoyed your series Delivering HR Strategy, and Jane Lewis’ article
(Features, 8 October).

But the argument Lewis presents – that the ‘downstream alignment’ school of
John Purcell has been superseded by Paul Kearns’ offensive
‘HR-in-the-boardroom-driving-the-business-strategy’ camp – itself is an
outmoded distinction.

Neither business nor HR strategies are wholly rational, planned and
top-down-implemented phenomena. Early and influential HR involvement is
critical, but as John Purcell points out, there is a danger in our current
tough economic climate of HR strategies becoming ‘an illusion’ in the

As your series title suggests – delivery is key.

Purcell’s latest research for the CIPD focuses on this conundrum of
strategic delivery. Underneath the statistical correlations between HR policies
and business success, this research unpacks some of the key practical
components of the ‘black box’ of HR strategy.

Effective first line managers and fully-skilled employees – supported by
appropriate HR practices and processes – are all demonstrated by the research
to be critical to performance and strategic delivery.

As one of the employees in a hospital case study explains, "when I came
here a year ago it was very unsettled. Now we have a strong team out there,
encouraging you, and in return you want to do the job to the best of your

Boards, or even their HR executives, do not make strategy happen. People do.

Duncan Brown
Assistant director general, CIPD

Have you responded to the records code?

The Records Management Code is considered by many to be a bureaucratic
burden (News, 8 October).

It appears that employers should now seek staff permission to record
sickness details, include confidentiality clauses in HR personnel contracts,
provide data handling training for HR operatives, include data protection
rights in staff induction programmes, provide employees with personal details
on an annual basis and introduce a single HR database.

Not surprisingly, HR professionals believe this is impractical and will
increase administrative work.

We recently sponsored research that shows that 32 per cent of HR
professionals thought that the code was too complex, while 47 per cent had
never even heard of it.

There must be a considerable number of organisations who cannot be dealing
with the new code of practice adequately. More information on the new code
needs to be made easily available to employers.

Furthermore, HR professionals need to carefully review and upgrade their HR
information systems in order to ensure compliance.

Peter Collinson
Director, Midland Software Limited

Businesses must stop poor management rot

I read with interest Karina Ward’s views on poor training being to blame for
bad management and low productivity (Letters, 22 October).

While I strongly agree that we need to take a step back and assess the
shortcomings of British companies, I am not convinced UK industry is ready for
this level of self-criticism.

Following the DTI’s announcement that US business guru, Michael Porter, will
lead an inquiry into the failings of British management (News, 22 October), I
was shocked to hear various business commentators criticising the decision to involve
an American.

It’s time for UK companies to stop naval-gazing and face reality: without
world-class managers and leaders, the British economy will continue to flag,
and if businesses don’t shape up soon, they could be committing commercial

Let’s hope businesses in the UK learn what they can from Michael Porter and
stop the rot of poor management.

Roy Davis
Head of communications, SHL UK

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