Hierarchical Management – a reprise

down_the_chain_1600_wht_5908Employers who want peak performance from their employees might do better by ensuring that they have a strong but fair hierarchy in place.

Aaron Kay at Fuqua Management School of Business at Duke University, Carolina,  thinks leaders should worry less about empowerment and equality.

He says “In organisations there is a move to become flat but that is not always the best thingy you want to keep employees working hard”.

“People may say that they want to work in an egalitarian workplace but sometimes they actually function better in a hierarchy” regardless of where they sit in the organisation.

It’s not  just that a hierarchy offers more chance of promotion – although some staff will appreciate seeing a ladder to climb – but that hierarchies offer staff a sense of order and structure which they like.

When times are turbulent and external circumstances reduce their sense of control preference for hierarchies increases. Kay says “People seek out guidance and leaders”  And a  hierarchy helps them feel that they are in a safe, stable environment … where they can predict the outcome of their behaviours.

His research also suggests that a strong hierarchy helps people feel that they are being more effective in tackling long-term goals. “If you lead an organisation where you need employees to work on long-term projects, committed to long-term goals, it’s tempting to think that if you give them autonomy they will be more interested and it will drive the right behaviour”.

But as he points out long-term goals are hard to achieve and people need to forgo immediate reward to focus on something way off in the future. They have to trust the system. Having a clear structure and a hierarchy reassures employees that things won’t change before they complete the task.

Hierarchy might also be better for complex tasks where each person needs to complete their part exactly as it is specified. This doesn’t necessarily mean managers should adopt a directive or autocratic approach. Employees obviously like to know where they stand but managers shouldn’t lord it over them and be open to new ideas.

Other experts disagree. One said  ‘it’s naive to think that structures always work the way they were intended”. In some organisations employees feel that although there is a structure and the rules are fair, they are not always applied fairly.

It seems to depend on whether or not you can trust the leaders and managers to be fair and whether or not the rules change as you are working.

See also my earlier post on this topic. 

Get the best out of your team

everyone_has_an_idea_500_wht_12709 There is a lot of research on how to develop more effective teams and research that shows what hinders a work group becoming a good team.

And what happens when a  group is set up to achieve a particular task? A common problem is that the more confident, extroverted members tend to hog the limelight and the real experts often take a back seat which reduces their contribution.

Bryan L Bonner, at the University of Utah, and Alexander R Bolinger, at Idaho State University, say the following intervention can help to change that dynamic.

Ask the team, early in the meeting, to check what each individual can contribute to the problem. This period of reflection can increase the team’s performance  probably because the process of collectively assembling the knowledge within the team increases overall understanding of the task and how to complete it.

In the experiments set up by Bonner and Bolinger – reported in HBR September 2014 – university students were set up in 3-person teams and all given estimation problems e.g. heights of mountains or weight of heaviest person who ever lived.

Some teams were instructed to begin by coming up with two pieces of information each which could be helpful. In some teams this was done individually and then brought to the team (a bit like the improved version of brainstorming) but the rest did it as a group. Other teams, used as controls, were given no guidance.

In the control teams they tended to defer to the whoever seemed most confident – and they had the worst performance.

The best performance came from teams that inventoried their team knowledge as a group and used that knowledge to devise ways of solving problems.

The process sounds simple but is not unique. In Action-Centred Leadership participants in the leadership training exercises are encouraged to check their teams for relevant knowledge and/or experience.

Bonner and Bolinger rightly point out that on their own teams rarely  allow time for this kind of intervention so team leaders should encourage the group to assess the knowledge and experience within the team.

This shifts the emphasis from social influence to informational influence and helps the team to filter out irrelevant factors such as confidence, extraversion, status, assertiveness, gender and race.

 

Leadership capabilities necessary for a successful merger or acquisition

puzzle_people_working_together_1600_wht_6984Growing through mergers and acquisitions is a common strategy but the sad truth is that 40-80% of mergers fail to meet their objectives.

A study of 94 mergers by a Washington-based consultancy firm Potentious found that, using the Korn-Ferry 360 degree evaluations, the following leadership capabilities were the key to success.

In the acquiring company

  • Motivate others
  • Influence others
  • Build relationships
  • Develop others
  • Act with integrity
  • Show adaptability
  • Focus on customer needs

In the target company

  • Motivate others
  • Influence others
  • Build relationships
  • Provide direction

The findings are  based on a five year study using a range of financial indices as well as the 360 data.

Although there is an overlap in the capabilities for both organisations the study revealed that they were more important in achieving success at senior level in the acquiring company but at middle management level in the target company.

I wonder if this is because senior executives in the target company are more likely to be demoralised or worried about their future whereas middle managers might see it as an opportunity?

Cary Cooper and colleagues did some research in the UK into mergers and acquisitions back in the late 1980s and found that morale and productivity (what we would now call employee engagement) often took 12 – 18 months to recover.

Based on these findings the author of the study, J Keith Dunbar, proposes that :

  • assessing the collective leadership capabilities should be part of the due diligence carried out before any merger, and
  • that the middle managers at the target companies, who are crucial to success, should be offered contracts which will keep them there.

Source: HBR September 2014

Female managers more influenced by their bosses and colleagues

businesslady_shrugging_500_wht_14231At least when it comes to hiring or promoting other women in science and engineering companies.

A study of middle managers by the California School of Professional Psychology found that concern about what other people might think was more likely to lead female managers to forego “women-friendly” hiring practices.

Many of the managers surveyed also thought that women can be harder to manage, emotional, sensitive, and distracted by family commitments so that they are less likely to be committed to their careers.

In the UK women seem to enjoy the best work-life balance but that’s not to say they are not overlooked despite evidence that they can do a better job than men in some situations.

However research also shows that women working in teams with men don’t alway perform at their best.

Just when you think things have changed. This was in Californian tech companies which obviously still have male-dominated cultures.

 

 

 

Public sector fat cats – update

running_with_money_pound_bags_500_wht_15383There are now almost 400 public servants receiving pensions of at least £100,000 a year. This number has doubled since I last wrote this post 3 years ago.

The  recipients are from the NHS, military, teaching, civil service and the judiciary.

There has been a surge in the pensions of NHS chiefs and consultants with the number increasing to 241 from 97 in 2011. The sharpest increase however was in the number of top civil servants which more than quadrupled from 12 to 53 over the same period.

There has also been a doubling of the number of people receiving more than £50,000 a year .

The number of pensioners receiving more than the average pay of £27,000 has increased by a third to over 100,000.

These pensions were based on final salary schemes and their replacements are probably on career average salary schemes.

Updated September 2014

Government Ministers demanded a pay cut of 5% for Council CEOs being paid £150,000 pa or more and 10% if they were paid more than £200,00. It appears that only 7 of the 129 have done so. TheTimes yesterday (04/01/11) reported that Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, was furious. Yesterday his deputy ordered Councils “to stop dragging their feet” and protect front-line services after a planned 4-year 30% cut in central government grants. “It’s disappointing that so many earning six-figure salaries are not leading from the front in these tough economic times” he said.

Apparently there are 20,000 public servants being paid more than £117,000 per year which cost the taxpayer an extra 1/2 penny on basic rate tax and the earnings of Council bosses grew by 5.5% a year between 2001 and 2008, similar to the increases in Council Tax bills.

The Personal Finance Editor of the Times, commenting (4 December 2010) on the Fair Pay Review, and the recommendation that top pay should be capped at 20 times the salary of the lowest paid employee’s salary, scoffed at the idea that Councils must always pay top rates to get the right person and asked what would happen if these bosses have their pay capped. As he says they can hardly go off to manage a council in Switzerland can they?

The minister had written to CEOs last Summer urging them to take immediate steps to reduce their salaries after an outcry about public sector “fat cats”.The Times said that only two of those earning over £200,00 had agreed to have their pay cut. Many had argued that their wages were far lower than those in the private sector (well let’s see if they could get a job in the private sector in the first place!) and have opted for redundancy instead. They don’t seem to grasp the concept of being a public servant any more let alone the idea of servant leadership.

All local government staff had their pay frozen last year and are expecting the same again this year. Tens of thousands of workers have already been made redundant – many of them from low-paid jobs and who won’t enjoy the packages received by the CEOs.

Of those who did take a pay cut, one was the CEO at Essex County, Joanna Killian who took a drop of 5% even though she was on almost £290,00 and therefore should have taken a 10% cut, and Kevin Lavery, CEO at Cornwall Council, who took a £30,000 cut from his £200,000 salary ie 15%. In a council not far from here the CEO is retiring and his deputy taking over on £30,000 pa less than his former boss  – close to a 20% reduction. So there are some authorities getting the message but the rest probably wouldn’t understand the meaning of leadership anyway!

Updated 3 May 2011: Andrea Hill, Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council  and one of the higher paid CEOs on £218,000, has been criticised in the press for agreeing over 1/2 million pounds-worth of gagging orders for departing staff at a time when the Council has to make savings of £44 million. She has also refused to take a cut in salary (10% was requested by the government for those earning over £200,000) as she says she has refused two pay rises.

It is also reported that she  has been on leadership coaching sessions which cost £14,000. Despite all this she further enraged public opinion by having professional photographs taken which cost the Council £1,500. Not sure why she needed to do that other than to boost her ego and make the best of herself but you can see the results on the Council web-site and elsewhere.

It seems she has now been slapped down about her hotel and travel expenses but if you want to read her side of the story click here.

Updated 3 June 2011: Things are moving apace at Suffolk County Council. The leader, Jeremy Pembroke, has stepped down. He was leading the outsourcing and change agenda “New Strategic Direction” which would have outsourced most if not all of the Council’s services. That programme has now been put on hold.

He also appointed Chief Executive Andrea Hill on her £200k plus salary. Mrs Hill has become the focus of media attention particularly when it appeared the Council had paid for some glamour photography for her. She is now on extended leave whilst there is an inquiry into whistle blowers’ reports about her alleged bullying and complaints about her extravagant expenses claims.

Updated 5 July 2011: Andrea Hill has finally proved too much of a distraction to the Council and will be leaving after 3 months on extended leave (plenty of time to polish her CV and put those glamour shots to good use).

According to the Times (05/07/11) she will be leaving with a full year’s payout of almost £220,000 (she refused to take the government recommended 10% pay cut as she thought “she was worth it”)  which has not gone down well with hard-pressed ratepayers. The good news is that her replacement will be on a lower salary reflecting economic realities but the public sector is still rewarding failure far too often.

NB This post was originally part of: Why are we worrying about gender differentials?

Updated 25 July 2011: To add insult to injury some civil servants are receiving generous redundancy packages running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Particularly irksome is the news, reported in the Sunday Times (24/7/11), that Bernadette Kenny, who was head of personal taxation at HMRC  until she stepped down after denying that her staff had made mistakes when they got the tax wrong for 6 million tax-payers – received a £150k lump sum when she retired on a £50k a year pension six years early. She is now working for the CoE’s pension fund. The newspaper says she is a roman catholic so she’s probably been to confession.

Apparently these eye-watering amounts were paid under the old compensation rules and the new ones are meant to be fairer to the lower paid and capped for the higher-paid.

The TaxPayers Alliance isn’t happy and feel that some people viz Bernadette Kenny, have been rewarded for failure. How often do we see that in the public sector?

Updated 4 September 2011: It seems CEOs of quangos are doing very nicely in terms of their pensions. We are talking about people who would have been civil servants before we created quangos eg NHS Blood, H&SE, regional development agencies, and the newer Care Quality Commission.

As civil servants they would have enjoyed a non-contributory final salary pension but now have gold-plated £1 M pension pots.  Even the head of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which is not a permanent organisation and will be wound up after the event, has put £1.3M into the CEO’s pension pot with more to be added. (This latter is sheer lunacy, a generous contract would have been sufficient).

Updated 12 September 2011:  Another fat-cat quango chief in the headlines this weekend. Kevin Roberts was CEO of the quango, the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), and left in April just in time to avoid the 50p tax rate, thus saving almost £30k, and cleverly spreading his pay, benefit, and bonus of over £220,000 and his similar sized redundancy package over two tax years.

He picked up the £218k redundancy cheque when he was made redundant in 2008 from the Meat and Livestock Commission because he didn’t want to relocate 50 miles from his home at the time. This despite the fact he was immediately appointed head of the super quango which replaced it and four other agricultural levy boards!

And the icing on the cake is that he moved immediately into a job as Director General of the NFU – sort of gamekeeper turned poacher – which is located just a few hundred yards from the AHDB building.

In Greece the government has decided to appease angry public opinion by docking every elected official 1 month’s salary. This sounds dramatic until you realise they get 14 months salary a year with bonuses at Easter, in the Summer and at Xmas (we won’t mention spinster pensions for unmarried daughters and Foresters getting extra pay for working outdoors…).

However this is on top of a 30% reduction in their bonuses announced in March as part of the country’s austerity measures.

Leaders without any shame – 2014

 

employee_diciplined_1600_wht_56352014 update

Sepp Blatter and the corrupt organisation that is FIFA hit the news again this weekend in a Sunday Times (STexpose.

The FIFA President and his executive committee were secretly given limited edition Swiss watches worth almost £15,000 each during the World Cup despite their own rules saying that gifts should only be of “symbolic or trivial” value.

They will be ordered to give them back by Michael Garcia their ethics investigator after the ST discovered the gifts made by Swiss watch maker Parmigiani which sponsors the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF).

They’ve been told to hand them back by 25 September. Michael Platini is refusing saying he’s a “well-educated man and you don’t give back presents”.

Apparently Garcia has already blocked the gift of two watches worth up to  £42,000 which the World Cup sponsor Hublot had planned to give to Blatter and all 26 members of the ruling executive committee (exco).

So Sepp Blatter and the execs would have received gifts worth £2.5 million during the tournament in poverty-stricken Brazil.

Blatter must  be sick of the ST after they exposed the fiasco surrounding the Qatar bribery scandal. But for three of the executive committee taking a principled stand – the others accepted the gifts –  and reporting the gift to the ethics committee it probably wouldn’t have come to light.

So well done Sunil Gilati, the US exco member, Moya Dodd, the Australian member, and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

As for Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president has previous for not seeing bribery and corruption in front of his eyes.

Updated: 14 September 2014

__________________________________________________________________________

And we turn again to child abuse by men of Pakistani heritage, this time in Rotherham.

An independent report found systematic failures by the Council and Police over an extended period between 2007 and 2013 during which 1,400 girls were raped, trafficked and horribly sexually abused.

The leader of the Council Roger Stone has resigned saying he takes responsibility “on behalf of the whole council for the historic failings that are described so clearly in the report

Someone who has not yet resigned is Shaun Wright currently PCC responsible for policing in South Yorkshire who was a cabinet member at Rotherham from 2006-2010 responsible for Childrens’ Services. In 2012 he was Deputy Chairman of the Police Authority and objected to the press “picking on Rotherham”.

He’s under a lot of pressure from all sides of government. Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, said Mr Wright “needs to stand up and be counted for what happened under his watch” and it’s not often I agree with Labour’s Ed Balls but he was quoted as saying;  “Mr Wright should resign…when leadership fails it’s important people take responsibility“.

By tomorrow he may have resigned as PCC but we’ll see.

He hadn’t as at 4 September but hasn’t been seen at his office for a couple of days and is due to appear before Parliament shortly.

Shaun Wright resigned today (16 September 2014) as PCC.

So far no-one at the Council has been disciplined for this disgraceful mess as the Chief Executive Martin Kimber has said that  there’s not enough evidence to prosecute anyone currently there and others have left.  Excuse me Mr Kimber but disciplinary action doesn’t need the same burden of proof as a prosecution. Maybe you should have a word with your HR Director?

Mr Kimber is also leaving the organisation in December he announced on 8 September 2014

Is it too much to hope that those managers who have moved on can still be held to account?

Latest reports say that Rotherham CEO has requested meeting with Doncaster Council where Jackie Wilson is now employed as Assistant Director for Children and Families. She was a senior manager at Rotherham with safe-guarding responsibilities during the years when abuse was going on.

Local police district commander Chief Superintendent Christine Davies also gets a mention for berating Home Office researcher for raising the issue. Where is she now?

The Mayor of Liverpool said he would demand answers from their current Chief Executive Ged Fitzgerald who was Rotherham’s Chief Executive from 2011 to 2013.

A tory MP has realised questions about whether Pam Allen who was in charge of child protection at Rotherham from 2004 to 2009 can remain as head of safeguarding at East Riding Council.

And let’s not forget Joyce Thacker OBE who became Director of Children’s and Young People’s Services in 2008 after working in Bradford and Keighley, places also associated with sexual grooming by Pakistani men and where it was also ignored.

She resigned today (19 September 2014) but still has her OBE –  awarded for her work in children’s services!

Professor Alexis Jay, who wrote the report, condemned the ‘blatant’ collective failures by the council’s leadership, concluding: ‘It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered.’

Posted August 2014
For 2013 update and earlier click here:

 

Want to be your own boss? Think hard about it before you take the plunge

figure_work_life_balance_500_wht_13760Working for yourself is not the bed of roses assumed by many fed-up employees.

Research shows that self-employed people work the longest hours for the worst pay.

So you’re not going to get rich quick and forget work-life balance!

The self-employed work longer hours with a third putting in more than 45 hours a week and 1/8 working 60 hours or more.

They are also among the countries poorest paid earning just half of what people earning regular employment. Median earnings for the average self-employed person are £207 a week.

Self-employment is at an all-time high with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recording 4.6 million self-employed people which is 15% of the nation’s workforce (compared to only 9% in 1975).

The government’s take on this is that it shows we are a nation of entrepreneurs. The more cynical observer might point to people going into self-employment because they can’t get a regular job.

Over a million people who were self-employed in 2004 were working for someone else by 2009 suggesting that many people would prefer a steady job with a steady income – if they could get one. The self-employed tend to be older on average, about 47 years of age, than employees and it’s harder to get jobs the older you are.

The numbers are also distorted by the number of over-65s, half a million, who have  eschewed retirement to become self-employed (a sad reflection on the level of our pensions in this country compared to the rest of Europe).

The TUC has picked up on this noting that almost half of the UK’s self-employed are over 50 and not quite the bright young entrepreneurs the government would like us to believe.

What do the self-employed actually do? Top jobs are builders, taxi drivers, and carpenters with a fast-growing group of managers. The latter group presumably reflecting company downsizing or stressed managers wanting to became consultants?

As I’ve posted before working for yourself is not easy and working from home especially has its own problems.

from SGandA

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