Blow the whistle on BO offenders

This week’s guru column

• There always seems to someone in the office who has a bit of personal
problem, be it bad manners, bad breath or plain old BO. For years we have had
to put up with the problem for fear of psychologically damaging the staff
member concerned by directly confronting them about it.

In response to this delicate problem a specialist message service, called A
Quiet Word, has been set up to enable co-workers to deal with the issue through
a third party.

Suffering staff contact A Quiet Word with details of the problem, and the
office offender will then be sent a letter outlining their problem "in a
straightforward but kindly manner". The lucky recipient will also be sent
a relevant product that might help alleviate the problem (deodorant, mouthwash,
sheep-dip, etc).

Inspired by this considered approach to matters of personal hygiene, Guru
has decided to set up his own shop-a-minger service, called You Stink, with a
rather more forthright approach.

Drop Guru a line at guru.personneltoday@rbi.co.uk and let the (dead) cat of
the bag about the worst personal hygiene problems you have encountered.

Anonymity guaranteed.

Back to basics with Gordon, Tone ‘n’ Steve

• Addressing an audience in east London the other week Chancellor Gordon
Brown shed unexpected light on the workings of government.

"Green Street," he announced, "sums up much of what we are
aiming to achieve. Asian entrepreneurs have transformed it into what Stephen
and Tony tell me is the most successful Asian shopping street in the
country."

Stephen and Tony? Did he mean his local hosts, or the Secretary of State for
Trade & Industry and the Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury?

It conjures up a delicious image of messrs Byers and Blair hopping into a
discreet Ford Mondeo and touring the country looking for examples of
rejuvenated inner city areas. As soon as they find one, they beetle back to No.
11 and say, "Look, we’ve found some splendid entrepreneurialism in a
previously deprived area, Gordon. Best get down there and make a speech."

Such ingenuous enthusiasm is a far cry from Margaret Thatcher’s haughty
"We must do something about those inner cities", or the old Labour
battle cries. We should be grateful.

Losing sight of the party line

• Financial Services Authority chief Howard Davies couldn’t resist a quick
dig at Labour’s London mayoral campaign nightmare last week at the launch of an
Employers’ Forum on Age initiative in favour of age diversity in Holborn.

Sitting next to equal opportunities minister Margaret Hodge he cheekily
described the gathering as the inaugural meeting of the Holborn Branch of
Londoners for Ken, to which she immediately replied, "In that case I’m
leaving."

Still, Guru was more interested in what Hodge had to say for herself. And
management lingo watchers will be shocked to hear that throughout her speech
she referred to employees as "human capital". It might be a trendy
term but it isn’t popular – our recent phone poll of personnel professionals
found only one out of 300 favoured the term.

Guru is just surprised that Hodge missed out on the chance to describe staff
as Labour.

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