Category Archives: Career

Are you climbing a career ladder or swinging on a career jungle gym?

Otrazhenie

From http://www.sprint2thetable.com

“The most common metaphor for careers is a ladder, but this concept no longer applies to most workers… Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder,”  writes Sheryl Sandberg, who attributes the metaphor to Fortune magazine editor Pattie Sellers.

“Ladders are limiting – people can move up or down, on or off. Jungle gyms offer more creative exploration. There’s only one way to get to the top of a ladder, but there are many ways to get to the top of a jungle gym.

The jungle gym model benefits everyone, but especially women who might be starting careers, switching careers, getting blocked by external barriers, or reentering the workforce after taking time off. The ability to forge a unique path with occasional dips, detours, and even dead ends presents a better chance for fulfilment. Plus, a jungle gym provides great views for many people, not just those…

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Veterans as ‘Military Alumni’

Steve Rose PhD

Military Alumni

“The returning warrior may not realize it, but he has acquired an MBA in enduring adversity and a PhD in resourcefulness, tenacity and the capacity for hard work.” – Steven Pressfield

The concept of ‘veteran’ is usually associated with honor, but in some cases it may carry a stigma. Finding work after leaving the military can be frustrating for individuals who feel employers do not understand their value, associating their service with a stigmatizing view of PTSD. An individual I interviewed said the following:

“Nothing was more demoralizing than trying to find work with a military resume… the literacy of the general population to reading military, they all read it as a PTSD case.”

Embittered and shocked at how difficult it was to find employment, this individual took certain things off of his resume hoping to reduce the perceived stigma, minimizing his deployment to Afghanistan to the point where it…

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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.

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.

Flexible working not popular with everybody

geek_icon_1600_wht_9297Flexible working seems to be on the increase, desired by many workers, and even welcomed by many employers.

However it seems that many Generation Y (those born between 1980s and early 1990s) employees think people who work flexibly are not as committed to their jobs as those who work from the office every day.

At least according to a survey by a company of employment solicitors.

They found that while Generation Y employees were quick to complain about discrimination they were also more likely to display hostile attitudes towards equality policies.

The report said it reinforced the reputation of these younger workers as being “awkward” and “difficult to manage“.

It does seem a paradox that these Generation Y employees, who love their technology (ideal for flexible working) and work-life balance are so disapproving.

 

Local Government fat cats – update

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  (Peter Lewis) 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.

NB Lewis has since lost his job with the Council having failed to deliver the improvements it needed.

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.

Update December 2014

The Chief Executive of struggling Pembrokeshire council left recently with a pocketful of cash (well more than a pocketful – £280k) rather than a pension contribution.

He was paid £195k a year plus benefits and had a £90k Porsche Panamera leased for him.

During his time there he oversaw 1,000 members of staff having pay cuts of up to £5,000. Obviously not leading by example!

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.

 

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.

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.