This week’s letters

Management’s full support is vital for real success at work

I was excitedly drawn to the headline ‘Turning management thinking on its
head’ (Professional agenda, 13 April). And crikey, what a disappointment!

Customer service is only superficially in the remit of ‘frontline’ people.
Why waste money training staff to ‘smile and use the right words’? If you have
recruited good people they will know how to do it anyway, mainly because they
are customers themselves. They often do it exceptionally well, but go home fed
up because management regularly put the kibosh on their efforts.

Now, really turning management thinking on its head means agreeing that
management and supervision, in whatever organisation, are in their position for
one reason alone, and that is to fully support non-management staff to get it
right first time.

All processes must support that value. For example:

– Each worker should have customer service objectives included in their
appraisal (yes, even the gardener)

– Customers should be surveyed at least every three months, to find out how
they feel they are treated

– Customer survey results should be reported to everyone

– Bonuses should only be paid on the outcome of these customer satisfaction

– Each customer complaint should be reported to everyone for discussion,
resolution and monitoring, so that it does not happen again

– Ditto any praise that individuals or the organisation receives

– Include topic(s) related to customer service in every meeting agenda.

Making staff care is unnecessary. People go to work only wanting to do their
jobs well. They don’t get up in the morning thinking: ‘Well, I wonder what I
can mess up today?’ It’s usually management that does that for them.

Anne Faris
Managing director, AF Associates

ELA set to further its investigatory studies

I would like to clarify a couple of points about the Employment Lawyers
Association’s (ELA) work on accreditation, referred to in your front page
article ‘Lawyers threaten Union power base’ (News, 20 April 2004).

The ELA has been consulting with its members on the question of whether we
should take a lead in introducing a form of accreditation for employment
tribunal practitioners. We are not, however, in the initial stages of
consulting with the Government on whether to introduce such a scheme, allowing
only certain lawyers to represent claimants at tribunal, as stated in your

The catalyst for the consultation of our members was a report into the
operation of employment tribunals which indicated, among other things, that
some form of accreditation of tribunal practitioners would be of benefit to the
general public. The ELA is committed to ensuring the best practice of
employment law and, therefore, the promotion of an appropriate accreditation
scheme could be consistent with that aim.

Having consulted with our members, we are now in the process of analysing
the results. The issues we have canvassed opinion on include:

– Whether an accreditation scheme should only focus on tribunal practice

– Whether an accreditation scheme which the ELA might sponsor or establish
should be open only to lawyers or to all tribunal practitioners, including
employment consultants and others who already practise in the tribunal.

Once we have analysed the results of our survey, we will share them with our
members and a wider audience of interested parties.

Julian Hemming
Chairman, Employment Lawyers Association

HR selection criteria is too short-sighted

There have been many letters in Personnel Today regarding the Chartered
Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification versus experience.
I have to say that as a jobseeker, I am finding a great deal of
unprofessionalism in recruitment. And as a recruitment specialist myself, I
have been surprised at the stereotypical and short-sighted selection criteria
used by many organisations.

Many companies only want recruitment staff from the same sector, but I think
this is really an insult to the intelligence of their wider recruitment
colleagues. I am qualified and experienced in recruitment and current methods,
and believe it would only take a day or two to pick up the culture of an
organisation if they hired me.

I have had a number of interim project-based positions, through necessity to
work, not choice. Yet I was told by a professional services recruiter that this
showed I was a risk. I hadn’t realised studies had been carried out that showed
a link between fixed-term contracts and a person’s ability to do a job.

The comment that took the biscuit, however, was from another professional
services firm, which said I had been unsuccessful because of the university I
attended. In the interviewer’s words: ‘All our team have been to the top
universities’. As I have a good degree and a post-graduate diploma in HR
management, I am a little saddened that in the 21st century, people are still
snobbish enough to place such importance on which university someone attends.

Unfortunately, such narrow-minded recruitment attitudes are prevalent among
City institutions.

The more professional an organisation claims to be, the more unprofessional
its recruitment seems to be. Thankfully, many organisations are not so
short-sighted, so hopefully my job search will not last for too long.

Details supplied

Obesity may hinder the future workforce

I have been following the debate on obesity with great interest. I found the
survey commissioned by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) very interesting. I
particularly agreed with John Krebbs, chairman of the FSA, when he said that
families need support from schools, industry and broadcasters if the Government
is to make a difference on this issue.

I am the managing partner of a contract caterer focusing on education, and a
parent of a school-age child. I have always believed today’s children are the
workforce of the future. An unhealthy workforce is not something to be

I see it as my responsibility and that of my colleagues, to offer children a
menu that is low in fat, salt and sugar, with a good quality choice of fresh
fruit and vegetables.

But equally, it is the responsibility of those charged with the welfare of
the workforce to seize this challenge and give their caterers the focus to
improve everyone’s diet. The problem is not just in schools. Adults need
support as well. It takes is imagination and it is harder work to produce a
healthier menu, but it is worth it.

Kate Martin
Managing partner, Brookwood Partnership

Where to draw the line on equal pay?

Can you ask HR Hartley what he thinks we should do about equal pay? First,
for people who have been in their role for a long time and therefore command a
higher salary, and also, how we can pay someone an equal salary when there are
no men to benchmark their salaries against? In my firm, the HR department is
made up solely of women.

Is there going to be some directive to ‘let us off the hook’ when it gets to
tribunal stage, if we find that we have been under-paying a female member of
staff? Come to think of it, should we just pay all women in a similar role the
same rate of pay, regardless of their length of service?

And what would happen if a man’s salary was less than his female
counterpart’s? Would we be over-paying the woman, or should we bring the man
into line with her wages? Now, there’s a thought!

Details supplied

Promotions through affiliation rife in HR

A letter printed in Personnel Today (13 April) entitled ‘Qualified doesn’t
always mean better’ outlined the reason why HR has no credibility.

Every HR professional with qualifications knows of a senior manager in HR
who doesn’t, yet got a senior position with a salary to match.

To become an HR officer or assistant in some organisations, you are required
to be MIPD. This creates confusion as many individuals begin to ask what are
the benefits of being qualified when you can just land a job in HR because your
face fits, or you have been around for a long time.

HR has created its own problems. In professions such as teaching, nursing
and law, you need a qualification to undertake work in your chosen field.
Moving the goalposts when it suits you (often moved by the said senior
management officers, who have no respect for the profession or what it has to
offer) creates confusion and disgruntlement. I have worked with many seniors
who did not have HR qualifications and were able to obtain the titles MCIPD and
FCIPD through affiliation alone. So what value does a CIPD qualification have?
In my view, not a lot.

Details supplied

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