This week’s letters

Future leadership under your nose

The Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership report is a serious
wake-up call for business (News, 21 May).

It is confirmation of what well-informed chairmen and chief executives have
long realised – a shortage of leadership skills among UK managers is holding
back economic performance.

In these times of high ambiguity and short-termism, it is often seen as expedient
to parachute in a new leader when a skills shortage becomes evident. In some
cases this may well be the right answer.

However, when you consider the estimated cost of replacing a senior manager
on a salary of £100,000 is two-and-a-half times that salary, while £350,000
will retain a middle manager for five years on a salary of £40,000, it is an
expensive option if the wrong decision is made.

This is especially damaging when you consider that all too often the
individual with the right potential already exists within an organisation. The
trouble lies in identifying this person and assessing whether they are ready
for the added responsibility. Harnessing the skills of existing employers,
already au fait with an organisation’s culture and values is a much more cost
effective, but all too often overlooked, solution.

It is imperative for organisations to understand the value in investing time
and money in developing key personnel. This study has fired a warning shot and
it is now time for companies to act.

Lisa Cramp
Managing director, SHL (UK)

Credit where the pensions are due

While BA’s decision to close its defined benefit pension scheme (News, 28
May) may well prove disastrous for long-term recruitment and retention of key
staff, at least the airline should be given credit for its frankness.

BA’s chief financial officer attributes the decision to the costs of running
such schemes – a position that can always be reviewed.

At least we were saved the oft-heard excuses of ‘greater flexibility’, ‘increased
freedom of choice’, ‘taking ownership of your own destiny’ and so on, that we
have heard from so many others.

So, four out of 10 for the decision, but 10 out of 10 for honesty.

Chris Green
Compensation & benefits manager, AXA Sun Life Services

Diverse news – stereotype views

It was interesting that Personnel Today ran such strong articles on the
benefits of diversity on its front page and comment column (News, 4 June).

In the same week, you published an advert from Ward Diamond with equally interesting
views on national stereotypes.

I may be out of touch, but I would question whether this recruitment
advertising is in tune with your thinking. I wouldn’t wish to be too PC but…

David Archer
Personnel manager, Gedling Borough Council

Response from Ward Diamond

While I understand the argument, I think David may have taken our
tongue-in-cheek advertisement a little too seriously. As our advert says, we
help organisations achieve their aims and that includes those related to

As examples, we have recently promoted an internship for ethnic minority
graduates at a major arts institution and helped a travel company increase its
number of Asian employees in Bradford.

We have recently gained a new client due to our advertising campaign, so
while I am disappointed that it has offended you, it has clearly worked.

Samantha Diamond
Joint managing director

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