Local Government fat cats

boss_holding_pound_clip_1600_wht_8420Once upon a time having a job in the public sector meant that you weren’t paid brilliantly but you had job security and a good pension.

That is no longer the case for senior managers (although they still aren’t paid as much as the mouth-watering sums given to CEOs in the private sector).

Nevertheless a Sunday Times investigation this weekend shows many councils have significantly increased the pay and packages for their Chief Executives at a time when they are cutting services.

Only five of the twenty top payers have reduced pay after demands for austerity by the government in 2010.

The 10 biggest pay packets in 2013/14 (2010/11 in brackets)

  1. Somerset    £318,500   (£128,894)
  2. Wandsworth   £215,696   (£174,271)
  3. Birmingham   £211,804   (£198,925)
  4. Surrey   £211, 600   (£210,000)
  5. Buckinghamshire   £209,070   (£207,750)
  6. Manchester   £209,934   (£203,934)
  7. Durham   £200,000   (£200,000)
  8. Sunderland   £196,627   (£193,148)
  9. Liverpool   £199,500   (£153,176)
  10. Stoke-on-Trent   £195,516   (£191,032)

Somerset is particularly troubling as the previous Chief Executive, Sheila Wheeler was paid a £198,000 package (£160,000 basic) and left for undisclosed reasons after being criticised for her inactivity during last year’s West Country Floods.

The salary of over £300,000 shown in the table above was for the Director of Children’s services who was recruited temporarily through an agency and was one of three  temporary appointments which in total cost the Council almost £750,000. The Council is trying to save £18 million.

The highest paid apart from that was £160,000 (£129,000)

Wandsworth, second on the list, has 11 officers paid more than the Prime Minister (David Cameron is paid £142,000 by the way) and the Chief Executive got a £15,000 bonus and a pay rise last year taking him to £282,210.

Stoke-on-Trent justified the pay increase for their top officer by saying the city needed someone “with the ability to effectively manage the delivery of complex services, and to drive jobs and growth for residents”.

This is a mantra we have heard before and you’ve heard me comment before on the topic of public sector fat cats.

Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems

Originally posted on Otrazhenie:

From http://richardacross.com

Life is full of problems. Problems that seem impossible to solve. Personal problems. Family problems. Problems at work, in our neighbourhood, and in the world at large.

Albert Einstein reportedly said, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.”

So what is the alternative way of thinking that can help us with problem solving? Stephen R Covey calls it the 3rd Alternative.

From https://allthingslearning.wordpress.com

Most conflicts are two-sided. The 1st Alternative is my way, the 2nd Alternative is your way. By synergizing, we can go on to a 3rd Alternative – our way, a higher and better way to resolve the conflict.

People with the 2-Alternative mind-set see only competition, never cooperation; it’s always “us versus them”. 2-Alternative thinkers often can’t see other people as individual human beings  – only their ideologies. They…

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How much would you need to change jobs?

newspaper_check_jobs_1600_wht_12083Not much it would appear if you are British.

The average Brit’s loyalty can be bought for around £2,000 (based on average wage of £26,500 – not a CEO’s over-inflated package).

A rise of 5.3% is all that’s needed to switch loyalty to another employer here in the UK.

In faster-growing economies it’s a different matter. Workers in Indonesia and Brazil want 20%, 17% in South Africa and 12% in China.

In Europe Spanish workers, despite the recession, expect around 6% and the French almost 9%.

We’re not the ones making the lowest demands however.  Italians, Germans and the Dutch have lower expectations than us.

Of course it’s not ALL about money. In the UK work-life balance came out as the most important consideration followed by location, stability and respect (compensation came 5th). I don’t know the results from every country but I’d guess that Sweden was high on the list for work-life balance too.

Compensation was rated as the most important factor by people in Canada, China, France, Germany, and the USA.

All this according to survey of 18,000 employees by a global advisory company CBE.

 

Can you have too much talent in a team?

people_puzzle_1600_wht_4253Well, yes, according to Professor of organisational behaviour Roderick Swaab at the French business school INSEAD (reported recently in the Sunday Times).

Apparently having too much talent can be as bad as not having enough in terms of team performance.

His research suggests that once 68% of your team is made up of highly talented people,  that becomes the point where adding more gives you less in terms of performance.

However this is based on research into elite sports teams and in football and basketball the highly skilled are known to pass the ball less and not provide as many assists to team mates as they would rather go for glory themselves.

Does that apply to business? Despite Swaab’s assertion that it does I have my doubts. Perhaps if you are  competing in an investment bank, the example he quotes,  you might be less inclined to share information and help colleagues, but that is hardly typical of most business environments.

The problem seems to be that very talented people are used to being recognised for their individual talent and  not for being team players.

Swaab says “hiring these people does add value but with potential costs”. Hiring big egos can easily lead to personality clashes and conflict over status when they all want to be recognised as the best.

Of course if you are working in a group that is not strictly a team (in Hackman‘s definition i.e. the members are not dependent on each other) then it shouldn’t matter how many talented people you have, in fact the more the merrier to get best results overall.

So it’s probably” horses for courses”. For independent workers in a group there’s no reason to assume a tipping point where performance drops off. In a real team you need the right mix of talent and diversity (and the right supporting conditions a la Hackman’s model).

Swaab acknowledges that the level of interdependence is important and it might also mean recruiting fewer star players to ensure team cohesiveness – or rewarding the team as a whole rather than individuals.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is leadership. It might be more of a challenge to manage a team brimming with talent but would a good leader rather have a team of mediocre people?

 

 

 

Erotic capital revisited

P1020328Dr Catherine Hakim was the closing keynote speaker at the 4th international Delta Intercultural Academy Conference on Global Leadership Competence: Personal Qualities, Culture, Language held in Konstanz, Germany.

She was a sociologist at the LSE when she achieved a degree of notoriety with her book “Money Honey: The Power of Erotic Capital” which was published in 2011. I blogged about it at the time and that  blog has been one of my most popular so obviously of interest in the wider world.

She now works as Professorial Research Fellow at think tank Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society but still holds the same views.

She believes that just as we have Human Capital and Social Capital we also have Erotic Capital. This is a mixture of things including appearance, and charisma.

She quoted economist Daniel Hamermesh who  found that better looking managers earned more money and CEOs of large companies were more attractive than CEOs of smaller companies.

And companies that employed attractive people were more profitable. (Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful by Daniel Hamermesh. Princeton University Press)

She pointed out that despite a world-wide recession people were still spending money on luxury items and in particular things which made people look good.

In a competitive job market appearance is important and people work hard at impression management because the social benefits of attractiveness are worth about 15% more pay.

Excluding the effect of IQ attractiveness is as good as having qualifications in many jobs.

She took some criticism from certain participants but stood her ground. “I’m a social scientist and just telling you how it is” she responded at one point.

And she’s not the only person to have researched in this area and found similar outcomes.

I liked her quote from Aristotle: “Beauty is the best letter of introduction”.

And she made her presentation without a Powerpoint in sight – a welcome change.

I first attended one of these conferences – dedicated to intercultural issues – with my colleague two years ago and we enjoyed it so much we resolved to return to this beautiful resort on the Bodensee (or Lake Constance).

It was another excellent conference – thank you Peter Franklin for organising it.

Be Himself

Originally posted on Please Understand Me:

I have often reflected that the causes of success or failure of men depend upon their … character, and [are] not a matter of choice. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He was there, tall and imposing, and upright with his natural grace and nobility. In front of the his men, he naturally commanded attention, his speech had seemingly come to close.

But now he hesitated. He stopped. This was unusual for him.

They knew him so well. They had followed him, through thick and thin, for years. But they were angry. They wanted to revolt. They hadn’t been paid; they had listen to his prepared speech; they had heard similar excuses before. Most of them still not convinced. He knew this.

He was at loss to what to do.

In a last desperate act, he pulled a letter from his pocket. Something was wrong, however.

He tried to read the letter…

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Flexible working with coffee

pajamas_figure_reading_newspaper_1600_wht_13021In the week that Brits gained the right to have flexible working after 26 weeks of employment a survey by O2 found that  half of us would rather work from a cafe.

They found the environment  more conducive to working productively than in an office.

2 in 5 of us spend more than 4 hours a week working from a coffee shop adding up to millions of hours each week and 1 in 4 of us would choose to work there if they had the option.

The smaller the company the more likely it is that they will work in this way, about a fifth compared to 1 in 7 from larger companies.

Almost 1 in 3 self-employed people use coffee shops as their base while others use their homes, trains or the local pub.

It seems more people are working away from the office but working from home does have its downsides.

 

from SGandA

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