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HR Practitioner’s Diary: Chicken lickin’ good?

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We catch up on Sue Kingston’s latest adventures including her sleuthing activities to find the light-fingered employees with a penchant for ‘lifting’ beef fillets, lamb hocks and chicken breasts; read on to find out more.


W/C: 25 September 2005
Well, what a month I’ve had! I don’t know if I’m coming or going, there certainly don’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

Who, what, why, when, where and how?
My three days per week contract with the local food processing manufacturer has proved quite interesting, if not a little dull! Procrastination and lack of vision have been real problems.

For the last two years the client has been working in a ‘low’ hoping that their new business plan would bring them back into the mainstream. But it just hasn’t happened, the position as it stands at the moment is that there is no business plan to speak of and they have no idea how they are going to compete with their competitors!

In fact the Operations Director is hoping that I will write her business plan for her!

Well, as ever, I’m up for any challenge thrown my way, so tomorrow I have called a 7 a.m. meeting to get the process rolling for a clear definition of what exactly they need to do to make their business viable once again. I’ve also proposed a brainstorming session in the hope that the senior staff will get ‘switched on’ to what is needed to format a realistic and achievable business plan to keep this business running. Time will tell!

This reaches beyond the realms of HR, but I believe that HR potentially has a great part to play in this type of scenario. If all HR people would focus more on business strategy then I believe the partnership in business would be so much greater than the old style ‘Personnel’ department which often appears to be tolerated on the sidelines of the corporate world. What do you think?

I’ll keep you posted on progress here, but I know it is going to be a real uphill struggle, albeit one that I will thoroughly enjoy!

Make way, consultants coming through
Another interesting digression this month involves a firm of solicitors who are looking to create a subsidiary dedicated to HR services.

This will be headed up by a small team of key HR ‘generalist’ consultants who will be dedicated to specific project management with clients of the firm with a view to establishing an HR structure for them regarding their business processes. Once this is successfully up and running the HR Consultant will recruit an HR Officer to maintain the structure, thereby relieving the HR Consultant to move on to the next project, and so on.

Where I come in is potentially as one of the key HR Consultants, the only drawback of this being that it could be very time consuming and restrict my activities with other private clients. Still, I suppose ‘multi-tasking’ is something to take in our stride in the 21st century!

Having always wanted to work in the legal environment, I find this idea really exciting and I must say, I am inclined to go with the flow to see where this particular avenue leads. I’m a great believer in coincidences and evolvement. If any of you have read the “Celestine Prophecies” you will understand where I am coming from!

What a ‘fickle’ world!
My clients in Kent are ticking along nicely. They’re being as dynamic as ever and I have three recruitment projects underway at the moment.

I’ve had no real problem resourcing a ‘receptionist’. I am receiving good caliber candidates for the role of ‘management accountant’, but I seem to be struggling to obtain good CV’s for a ‘technical underwriting manager” – surprise, surprise this is the higher salaried role on offer!

It would seem that in the Kent area, the majority of candidates are quite happy to commute to the City, locate a role with a suitable salary and live in the fast lane of the ‘rat race’! We are a bit thin on the ground of TUM’s who are happy to work ‘in the sticks’, for the love of the job, where salary doesn’t really matter, and they value quality of life more than the materialistic elements.

I wonder what the pay off is sometimes? Why do some people choose material gains over quality of life? If you have any light you can shed on this subject I would love to hear from you.

All of the managers have bought in to the personal performance reviews (PPRs). They love the one page format I use and the staff are now feeling listened to. It is already reaping rewards allowing us to look in more detail at training issues and improving the working environment generally.

Even the Chief Executive is taking time out of his entrepreneurial agenda to carry out PPR’s on staff directly responsible to him. His PA is really looking forward to this opportunity to share her thoughts with him – constructively of course!

Chancery
I’ve been helping a business associate who has had problems recruiting for a particular role.

I have assisted them with some research to explore their past methodology and am now helping them with recruitment issues to try to succeed with the ‘square peg, square hole’ scenario.

I’ve put in place a basic IQ and psychometric test, but both have proved so successful for me over the last five years. The identification and retention rate has achieved in the region of a 90% success and in one case in particular it is 100% in the last 12 months.

Softworld
I went to the NEC Softworld HR exhibition which was great fun. I chaperoned a friend who was giving a presentation on motivation and ‘breaking down barriers’ in terms of diversity training.

It was also a great opportunity to network and research what software is out there to assist HR professionals.

One stand I approached focused on providing HR services to UK companies in the form of consultants. I was fortunate enough to speak with the MD, Nick, who has proposed a meeting to explore me being their HR consultant for the area of Northamptonshire and surrounding counties – yet another interesting avenue to follow.

Security searches
My food processing client has a problem with light fingered employees as over a period of time they have monitored missing beef fillets, lamb hocks, chicken breasts and all sorts of tasty things.

As a result I have recently issued a ‘search policy’ throughout the company and we plan to carry out locker and personal searches as a regular, but random feature.

As a part of this process I have made it clear that the searches will be carried out by two managers, one male and one female.

Although they have certain suspects we need to include everyone in the searches to ensure equal and fair treatment, but it will be interesting as and when we unearth the culprits – we do suspect more than one! We have also noticed with Christmas only being eight weeks away that these ‘culprits’ are being tempted to ‘stock up’. I’m a great believer in ‘the truth will out’ – watch this space.

Vital stats:

  • Weight: 9st 9lbs (working on toning things up now, before it permanently heads South!)

  • Chocolate: nil (theory: chocolate is a figment of my imagination – like Father Christmas!)

  • Wine: enjoying in moderation as it is clearly not a figment of my imagination!

  • Cider: a must after a round of golf. Enjoyed the company of 68 men in a tournament recently – great company, great course and a pretty decent round of golf too.

  • Boyfriends: ‘Rocket Ron’ appears to be taking a more meaningful role in my life, but I’m so out of touch with interacting in a relationship it’s weird thinking as a couple instead of a ‘happy single’! Unfortunately he has a very difficult time ahead of him with a particularly nasty divorce (nothing to do with me I’m glad to say). He discovered his second wife, like his first, had had an affair, so it’s amazing he has shown such immediate trust in me. For now we are having fun and keeping things fairly light – he certainly makes me laugh which is a real plus. I know that part of me is holding back though. I think it’s a self preservation thing until I get to know him a lot better. His culinary skills are interesting in that a Bolognese sauce concealed some extra ingredients such as Piccalilli and salad dressing – yes you did read that right, but it certainly gave the sauce a bit of a twang!

  • Deep thoughts: why don’t couples work harder at staying together ‘until death us do part’ – should it really be so difficult?

Keep it simple everyone and enjoy your month ahead!

Sue

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