Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Why It's always sad to say goodbye

On the tube heading home from what is likely to be the last time that I make the long journey back to mine from my dads place. Today I signed draft contracts in readiness for the final queries to be settled. Plus I am away on holiday next week and want this sale to go through.

As much as I am relieved that the sale is nearing completion it is still sad to say goodbye. Jut over 2 years to the day that we buried him and 18 months since the flat has been on the market. Nd boy has it been a long tough slog. So many hurdle along the way and yet I still just wish I'd taken more time when he was round to look after him, clean up the lat, get him support and generally a what time he had left on this planet just that little bit more comfortable. 

I guess in truth it's regret that is making me sad. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Why it's always handy to have a good employment lawyer on speed dial

A chat with one of my friends the other day and other events made me realise that to stay ahead of the corporate game that you must have a good employment lawyer on speed dial.

You never know when our time is up?
Why you may ask? Well you never know when your face will not fit, plus businesses are still trying to restructure to make more money or minimise losses so the whole workforce for the past few years has been in a state of flux. So it's always good to be prepared as you never know when you may be called into a room and have a bombshell dropped on you "we are sorry but......". 

As you know this scenario has happened to me and the one thing I've realised is that being able to act quickly once the shock has subsided is the best way to secure the best deal for you.  

HR don't care about you
Ultimately they are there to safeguard the best interests of the business so really if they are not completely following the letter of the law or not offering you the best deal so be it.  The best thing for you is to take independent advice so that you are in an informed position when it comes to negotiate.  Things like the business covering your legal costs, negotiating more time to finalise your package and having someone who acts as your sounding board and reviews your final package details are vital to ensuring you get the best deal.

Good lawyers are worth their weight in gold
My friend helped me find an employment lawyer when I was having issues with a job which I subsequently left. We have both kept her contacts on file and referred numerous people going through employment issues to her. She is lovely gives you practical advice and often gets you to negotiate so that they pay her fees and get a better overall package. All stuff you would never have known unless you have been on through it.

It's on the rise
Never get complacent. Companies want to be lean mean fighting machines plus you never know when your face won't fit so its best to expect the unexpected and to be able to put together a strong game plan should the need ever arise.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Can Anyone Really Live on £53 per week?

Yesterday was D Day for the Government, loads of their benefits and welfare reforms kicked in.  The fact it was April fools day was somewhat apt.   barge of negative press has been building over the past few months and now things are all coming to a head.      

Lots of rhetoric about dealing with spongers and the deficit left by labour but where is the humility, where is the support to really help people when they hit an all time low. I have to admit that the conservative government with their bullish ways really does leave a sour taste in my mouth. 

All the initiatives that are meant to ultimately save us money are only likely  to continue the divide between the rich and the poor, the have and the have nots. Here is a rundown on what I think about some of the changes.  I've signed on three times and got housing benefit at times so I know how some of the rules will impact things, I grew up in the wrong part of town and have had to work hard to get where I am so appreciate how hard you have to work to get somewhere in life.

Bedroom Tax 
The premise behind this one is in some instances fair.  I listen to talk radio a lot and to be honest there are lots of people who live in large council houses and feel it is their god given right  to pass it onto friends and family as some kind of family legacy even though it is owned by the council not you.  So in many ways it's creating some kind of impenetrable circle where council homes will only be within reach to those who already have them which is not the reason that the system was created.  It should be about need.

My main issues with the bedroom tax are that:
They need to make it easier for people to downsize - we need empty nesters to downsize into smaller homes so that their properties go to larger families and all rooms are occupied.  As I've heard it when people do want to downsize and stay in the local area councils are not falling  over themselves to help people to relocate.  Make it easier and help people to move.  Their running costs will be less and they can not be penalised. 

People who are already in dire straits are being stung - there are people who exist on very little income.  If jobseekers is your main source of income that is not a lot of money to have to stretch.  Penalising these people by docking them for having spare rooms etc and not helping them to downsize etc and by now making them have to contribute towards council feels like an extra hard kick.  More and more people are being thrown into poverty whilst the rich are only continuing to prosper. Things do need to change but I just think the methods being introduced are too harsh.

Effectively could you live on £53 per week?
Well yes, it's possible but it's bloody depressing if you can't see an exit plan about how you will get our of the vicious circle. Iain Duncan-Smith does not have a clue.  Scrimping and saving, having to decide between food or paying your bills, what happens when an unexpected cost crops up, how do you cover that if you have no reserves. All things that those on benefits have to comprehend.  

Not everyone is a sponger looking to sit on their arse so really as I've said before to help people get back into work their needs to be better support to help people get back into work. No one teaches you how to look properly, how do you write your CV, interview skills etc.  As the competition for work continues to be fierce out there we must make sure that we equip people with the right skills before we get out a big stick to hit people with. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Juicy Goss

So why did my inept former boss go:

What she pushed or went of her own accord? I think it was a bit of both.  She knew her 6 mth probation period was drawing to a close and that she had delivered nothing apart from a team who were demoralised and miserable.   Plus she had few, if any, allies left within the business and there was no way that that information was not filtering it's way to the very top.  It wasn't just the marketing team complaining, it was everyone. There was no way that the management could continue ignoring it.

How did she view herself? I honestly think she viewed herself as being very good at her job, a real case of the emperor's new clothes. Towards to the end she was even saying to members of the team "well one day when you work for a real company"  - implying that the she was above everyone else and that the company was at fault.

She must have truly believed her own hype that she was the bees knees.  How else could she survive and be so confident even when out of her depth and sinking via her flood of bad decisions that people were picking up on more and more.

Why did she do it?  She was in and out of work and had been unemployed for quite a while.  I guess therefore her having any job, even one way out of her realms of understanding, was better than having none.  It's always easier to find a new job when you are in a job. 

She got to where she was by working by being brash and confident regardless of whether she knew what she was doing and taking credit for other peoples work and ideas.  Her background in large agencies meant that she could hide away her actual ineptness.  Far too many people who would have covered her tracks and the fact that she knew how to do nothing on her own, working for a small company with a small team left her exposed.

Really,  there is no way to know what she thought and why because on the rare occasions that she actually spoke to the team what she said was often contradictory and blatant lies. Whenever we pieced together what she said nothing ever rang true.  All I do now is that she's gone and thankfully the team are far happier and the business are actually talking to them again.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Ding Dong the Witch Is Gone

So the my awful witch ex-boss just disappeared a few weeks' after I left.  She announced to the team at the end of a horrendously long team meeting that she was going.  And that she wanted her departure to be kept secret and that she would be gone in just 2 weeks. The team meal after that was a lot freer and lively, everyone was relieved.

Clearing out my flat recently I came across some of the notes that I'd compiled when I was there to make a complaint and it makes shocking reading here are just some of the best bits:

What has such and such delivered in the past 6 months?.  Oh yes that's what to ask a member of staff about a fellow colleague on day 3 in an aggressive manner.  How to not to make friends...

Withholding information.  Oh yes, the best thing to do is to cut members of the team out of meetings with other people in the business for projects they would have to deliver.  The aim being that she would then hold all the cards.  Main problem here was that she didn't have a clue and therefore couldn't brief you about what you actually had a do so pointless barriers. HHmmm since she left, lots of the projects that she said were in hand hadn't actually started at all - makes ya wonder what she did for her £70k plus per year...

Making team members do tasks way out of their job remit.  From making sure conference phones are in meeting rooms (IT or admin responsibility) to fixing video conferencing she just wanted to throw her weight around.

Damaging relationships with the business.  How she managed to piss off so many people was highly impressive.  Marketing is all about have good relationships with your internal clients as well as external ones.  Everyone couldn't stand her.  Directors had meetings where they said that they couldn't stand marketing and when asked why, all their reasons involved her. They even stopped coming to see the marketing team as the atmosphere was so dire plus she would butt into everything. When she left many of them refused to sign her leaving card, relations were that sour.

Now that she's gone they are all working together better and just getting on with it, the need to have a new boss who is a saviour has relented as the chaos that was caused by her will take a long time to forget. In my next post I'll delve more into why I think she went - was she pushed or was it her decision......

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Government Welfare To Work Programme Not Working - Surprise!

Ha, this week one of the headlines that I loved reading about was the abject failure of the Government's Welfare to Work Programme.  The results that have just been reported are abysmal.

So lets set the scene the aim of the Government Work Programme is for 18 Government prime contractors who won contracts to  get the long term unemployed back to work and the aim is that they are paid based on outcomes which is placing someone and them sticking to that job for 6 months.  In principal not a bad idea but to be honest the way it's been executed has been crap.

So these 18 contractors, mainly private sector, would have gone through hoops as any company does bidding for Government contracts and therefore would do everything possibe to claw back bid costs and also to maximise the amount of profits that they can make from the contract. So far so business like.

£435m and Counting
Yes, that is really how much the Government has spent on this rubbish scheme so far.  What a waste of money. When I was unemployed many of the things that the Government provided were inadequate, they didn't understand what I did or what I wanted to do. It was all a  tick box exercise and trying to shoe me into a shite job so that I'm no longer an unemployment statistic and on the DWP's book. The type of support that would have been of value was never offered to me and I learnt all the latest skills for job hunting from a career coach paid for by an employer when I was made redundant.  Such valuable lessons and the things I've learnt I have passed onto others that I know as no one teaches people how to job hunt properly. A competitve market means you must up your game.

Only 1 in 28
Only one in 28 actually met the target of getting and keeping a job for 6 months.  Even in a recession that is woeful.  Many charities and non profits didn't win these prime contractor contracts, as usual they were bundled into large contracts that were far too big for them.  But the Government had envisaged that the prime contractors would subcontract to these organisations and draw on their localised knowledge and success in placing unemployed people.  Did the happen?  Nah of course it didn't.  Instead some of these non profits were signed up but recevied no referrals from the prime contractors - well really why would you dilute the amount of profits that you ultimately can make regardless of how woeful some of these main companies were at working with the unemployed.

Doomed to Fail
These private companies just do not care and it's telling that non profits who receive no Government funding and operate in local areas have far higher successful outcomes. These types of organisations know the locals, know the employers in the locality and give practical advice that really helps the unemployed. We need people that really care and can provide the long term unemployed with practical advice and opportunities.  Not private sector companies chasing those who can give them the quickest payback and the easy wins - although they've not even really managed that.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Gen Y - The Give It To Me Just Cos Generation - Part One

copyright socialmediahq
As I now have a couple of bright whipper snapper reports in my new job, it  is opening my eyes to a whole side of the working world that I had never really encountered that much first hand, Generation Y. The tech savvy generation born in the 80s and 90s. 

Speaking to my bosses they started to use the term Gen Y to describe our grad intake so today I took a look at some recent blog articles about this very topic.  The Wall Street Journal and CNN really stoked my imagination. So many of the attributes that they describe are so true.  Parents always saying that you're fantastic and never saying no, constant need for recognition,  constant requirement for immediate responses and a type of entitlement not based on their abilities but on being in a spot for a certain period of time. 

Volunteering just to be seen
In part it's part of being young and being so competitive that they actually want to volunteer for things that in no way suit their individual strengths and will ultimately stress them out.  Why? Just to be seen by the big boss in the hope that it will get them noticed and promoted. It's my job to point out that this doesn't make sense - what ever happened to doing a good job and getting on with it.  The constant oneupmanship is draining and not healthy for any of those concerned.

Having to rapidly progress up the ranks 
I guess I am not the best advert for rising the ranks in companies.  I've moved around a lot, I've taken jobs without the title but fantastic development opportunities that have made me a much stronger marketer. I like having fun and working with people that I like. Oh and I like to voice my opinions to people at all levels regardless so me working in an environment where people expect to be revered is never going to work for me.  Anyway, back to Gen Y, they believe as long as they have worked somewhere for x years they deserve to progress through the ranks.  

It's about time spent not being an good to get promoted
Excelling at your job is not even a factor is just their right! That is the kind of attitude that makes me slightly crazy work hard, develop an amazing set of skills then rise up the ranks. Society is in danger that in a few years there will be a generation of managers who can't manage a piss up in a brewery. When the shit really does hit the fan they will cower in the corner, fire off shots in all directions to save their own butts and not have a clue about how to fix things - that is what happens when someone is out of their depth.  

Admin is beneath me
Anything that isn't strategic but actually is important to the business is seen as being beneath them.  They want to write the strategy and be there sharing their vast knowledge and experience not doing any admin tasks that actually underpin any business.  Get over yourselves and get on with it, we've all been there and to be honest when it needs doing even senior level people do it.

I'm Getting Old!
God I'm actually starting to sound like some veteran  but having worked in a variety of places I do get how companies work and how to sort things out. Most of the grads I am taking to do not appreciate this apart from an enlightened few where I tell to get amongst it and get experience and not to rush up that ladder too fast plus you always need to make time for fun. Anyway, I will continue this topic over the coming weeks as it's fascinating but feel free to share your views.