Effective Management


Can you afford to pay for performance?


The topic of reward and how to do it effectively is a fairly well debated topic. A great deal of research exists on the topic and every few year a new fad or a rinse and repeat of a previously outdated model is dusted off and becomes the new buzz to ensure reward effectively motivates staff. Daniel Pink in his book Drive hits the nail on the head for organisations that operate a reward system that offers pay for performance. The CIPD’s Reward Management Survey published in December 2017 cited that 48% of employers who took part in the survey stated that they operate a performance related pay system.  The most common criteria used to manage individual base pay progression was also individual performance,competencies, skills and retaining potential.

What is interesting to me is that many organisations that operate a pay for performance scheme, simply do not have the budget to pay “a meaningful amount”. In fact the sums that are offered at times are so meaningless as to be quite de-motivating for employees who strive for that magical rating. Part of the problem at times with how organisation set up their reward system is akin to keeping up with the Joneses. They fall into the trap of being so in awe with another organisation that they admire that they decide to be just like them, even if there is not a fit with that organisation and the one in which they operate. It is also true that many organisations pay consultants to come in, and propose what their reward structures and strategy should be. Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this approach but where it can become an issue is when the proposal is adopted wholesale without much thought of best fit for the organisation.

If your budget is limited pay for performance may not be for you. If you are not able to pay a meaningful sum which makes a difference for performance rather than embark on this route ensure that your base pay offer is fair both internally and in the external market. The budget that you would have used to pay that percentage uplift annually, use it instead to consider paying a bit more than the market offers. Make that your attraction tool. Invest in learning and development opportunities for all staff, not just leaders and ensure that promotion opportunities are offered internally. Look at the non-financial rewards that are on offer. Talk to your staff, what do they value the most from work and can you provide these? Let’s be adult about what we can and cannot offer and. Like a friend likes to tell me when I get too excited and want to buy a particular designer item “stay in your lane, the Joneses are broke”.



This thing called culture

When you type the word culture into Pixabay, one of the largest images site, it returns a range of pictures showcasing well known sites and scenes from countries all over world and weirdly quite a good range of pictures showing garlic. I am still trying to figure out that one! What this showed through the use of images is that culture is not something that is easily defined and differs greatly from one country to the next. The images also highlighted that it is not something one can necessarily touch but experience.

Miriam-Webster.com defines Culture as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.” From an organisation‘s point of view Culture is defined by the same source as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  The use of the word “shared” when used in this context had me thinking about how culture is formed at organisation level. At a social group, religious or racial level culture is easily understood and perpetuated.

As a Black Caribbean woman of African descent, I grew up feeling, breathing and living my culture which manifests and displays in many tangible and intangible ways. I was taught our way of life at my grandfather’s knees. The values of respecting your elders; putting God first in all things; cooking, laughing and dancing together as family and friends; being ambitious for yourself and others; being open and honest in your dealings with self and others; working hard, always having a clean home and the list goes on and on. My culture is so much an ingrained part of me that it is like breathing. I didn’t truly understand this until I left the Caribbean and moved to the UK. Talk about a culture shock!

At an organisation level Culture takes on a different context in my view. Different racial, religious and social groups have chosen to come together to work at a common goal. They bring with them all their different cultures and we have what I like to call a culture cocktail. The inherent problem with this is, with so many mixers involved, how then does an organisation maintain and define what it wants its culture to be and how does it ensure this is what all these different groups are perpetuating when they are with them?

I think in very simplistic terms it is very akin to how you parent a child. You set the ground rules ( not many, keep it simple and relevant). You reward compliance; you call out non-compliance and ensure there are consequences to behaviour which breaches the ground rules. You also leave enough space for the creative spirit to manifest itself and bring new things in that enhance what is already there.

When it is time you also provide the opportunities for your child to spread their wings and take flight to forge their own journeys and create their own subcultures. Similarly within any organisation for the culture to remain a thriving microcosm, some will need to leave and others will need to arrive and bring their experiences to bear.


Working from home: Hell or Heaven?

Working from home to quote the queen Beyoncé “can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare”. For some reason I now want to grab the imaginary mic and sing the full song. Tempting but I am not sure you would survive my rendition. This question has been on my mind all week due to “the Beast from the East” storm that rolled into the UK last week. I was snowed in at home for over 4 days and what is usually a dream became a beautiful nightmare!

Now don’t get me wrong I was glad that unlike other employment I have had throughout the years, my employer is very flexible and encourages working from home, so I didn’t need to take holiday or unpaid leave as I was able to and fully equipped to work from home. To understand my predicament you need to understand that given the choice, I would never choose to work from home unless I had personal appointments which meant I needed to be closer to home than work or I was having work done at home which required me to be present.

I applaud and encourage employers who offer this flexibility but for me personally I like going into an office and interacting with others. I like walking into a train station and getting my morning coffee. I like putting my headphones on and tuning out everyone on the train while browsing emails and the news. I like walking out to get lunch and debating what I should eat that day. I love being stopped by colleagues in the corridors and having impromptu conversations. But what I also love, is being able to sign off for the day, whatever time that is and putting on my coat and catching that train home. Work is done for the day unless there is emergency and that ability to stop and go home is essential to me, in enabling me to manage and have a good work life balance.

Working from home while great when it is convenient for you, I found this week was almost unbearable as there were no other options. I literally wanted to climb my walls! maybe it was the endless white of the snow outside or the cold or the feeling I had of being trapped inside! to be fair I wasn’t literally trapped I could have chosen to go for walks outside in the snow, but why? I mean its wet and cold! I grew up in a tropical country, unless I have no other choice and I always have a choice, I do not choose to be cold or wet! What this brought home to me is that employers should offer a variety of options for employees to choose from in their flexible working offer.

One size definitely does not fit all, consider asking your employees to be involved in suggesting what is on offer. Do not put limits rigidly on what is considered suitable or desirable. Be open to different ways of working and understand that what one employee will consider o good option for them will not fit someone else.

What this week also drove home to me, is how we engage with employees whose normal location is home.  Are they in danger of becoming the forgotten workforce?


Is reading really worth the hype?

Some of the most influential Chief Executives and thinkers all advocate reading and laud the value that this has on their ability to be effective people. Even before I read the personal notes from these people, I was convinced that reading on a wide range of subjects in a consistent way gave an individual an advantage that others lacked. While I am nowhere near the level of some these highly successful and motivational individuals, I like to think that in my own small way, I am also able to influence and coach others based on my reading list.

I cannot speak for others but I know that if I was not able to read I would one day wither away and die. Death will happen eventually but without books it would come sooner than it should. For me 80% of everything I know and have learned has been through books. Even though I am often pretty pragmatic in my approach, I am enabled to be so because some way along the course of my life, I have read a book on the subject I am delivering or teaching. In 2018 my reading is list is pretty ambitious as it was in 2017 but I exceeded my expectations and can foresee that this year will be no exception. So without further ado what is on my reading list so far in 2018?

  • The Total Money Makeover: Classic edition: A Proven plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
  • Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey
  • The Power of Habit:Why We Do What We Do and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
  • Learn Dutch: Word Power 101 by Innovate Language
  • Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts by Iyanla Vanzant
  • What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  • Well that Escalated Quickly by Francesca Ramsey
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
  • Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath

Mixed in with these will be a suite of non-fiction books that will take me into the world of fantasy and magic, of love and tragedy, or music and food and exotic destinations. Life if nothing without balance.

What is on your reading list? comment below, I am always looking for good thought-provoking books to add to my bookshelf.

Do you have a book club at work? if you do, is this something that you think adds to employee engagement?


The Gender Pay gap: con or conviction?

With the Gender pay gap reporting deadline looming for many organisations in the UK, I got to thinking today with International Women’s Day around the corner about the importance of gender fairness in organisations and society as a whole. British society is formed in such a way that there are inherent gender norms, stereotypes and bias aimed at women. Having spent most of my adult life in England, I can attest to my observations of this fact.

Let’s break it down into bite size chunks for you:

  • Most organisations operate a 9-5 working day, this is inherently biased predominantly against women who have young children.
  • The government puts laws in place ostensibly to protect women but by their very definition it emphasises the fact that society is unconsciously and consciously operating with a gender bias against women.
  • There are laws to protect women when they are pregnant and on maternity leave; there are laws that guarantee women a minimum amount of time off for maternity leave. Conversely the law for men is pathetic in the extreme. Why is this? Because men are seen as breadwinners and not carers of children, this is woman’s role.
  • There are also laws to prevent unfavourable treatment of part time workers the majority of who again are women!
  • Career average pension schemes which replaced many final salary scheme also disadvantage women because women are more likely to take time off work to have children or care for dependants and are also more likely to work part time to take care of their childcare or other caring responsibilities
  • Something as simple as station car parks discriminate against working women. At my local station over 250 car park spaces are provided. The ones that are parking at anytime are around 50 and the rest are by season ticket before 9 a.m. or you face a penalty. Women are more likely than men to be affected by this system
  • Schools also seem to be set up on the premise that one parent (usually the mother) does not work. School hours are from 9:15- 3:15 in most areas, which means that more women than men will need to pay for or use some out of school hours childcare, yet as the gender pay gap will show in 2017 in the majority of organisations in the UK, pay is in favour of men rather than women.

This is why I am feminist and why I support and believe that organisations should support and put in place gender hubs in their organisations if they do not already have one. It is not just about talking the talk about gender, the time for this is past! Organisations need to wake up and realise that by perpetuating gender norms, gender stereotypes and gender bias they are weakening their productivity and disengaging a significant proportion of their workforce. Women are a force to be reckoned with and we should not be discounted in the value add that we bring to organisations. Gone are the days when we were their to make the tea or type the letters. We are powerful acquisitions of self taught inherent knowledge. Which other gender (without surgical interventions) could grow an entire human being, whilst holding down a job, managing a home, supporting a partner, being an effective team player and all round “Jill” of all trades?

I often feel like paraphrasing Rainbow Johnson from the American TV Series Blackish. Rainbow is a doctor and takes every opportunity to remind her husband that she is a doctor and she saves lives. Whenever men or women seek to question my value add or put down my opinion or contribution because I am a woman,  I often want to say and remind them that I am woman and I create life!  

Organisations that fail to address their gender pay issues will find themselves paying a high cost for this failure and losing in some cases the most valuable talent that they have.

To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie “If we do something over and over again, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over again, it becomes normal…if we keep seeing only men as heads of corporations, it starts to seem ‘natural’ that only men should be heads of corporation.” because something becomes habit forming and appears normal does not mean that it is and where ever we come across issues of gender unfairness or bias we should stamp it out.

By the way if you have not read her book “We Should all be Feminists” do so!


Gender Pay vs Equal Pay


So someone asked me last week why companies are not paying compensation to women for the gender pay gap in line with equal pay regulations. Well I hate to be the one to tell you this, but having a gender pay gap does not equate to equal pay issues in most organisations. “Equal pay deals with the pay differences between men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value. It is unlawful to pay people unequally because they are a man or a woman. The gender pay gap on the other hand shows the difference in the average pay between all men and women in a workforce. If a workforce has a particularly high gender pay gap, this can indicate there may a number of issues to deal with, and the individual calculations may help to identify what those issues are.”

As you can see the way in which the gender pay gap is calculated does not take account of work of equal value, similar jobs or even the same job. Its purely formulaic in how its calculated. This does not mean that we cannot glean valuable information from what it shows and use the data to drive change where issues of unfairness or bias are detected. There are many ways in which organisations can work to address their gender pay gap. Things that have gained traction in the last couple of years are:

  • Championing blind recruitment campaigns to eradicate or reduce any unconscious or conscious gender biases at the attraction stage of the recruitment campaigns
  • Organisations are also offering commitments to recruit more women to senior roles in the organisation or in some cases setting targets to achieve 50/50 split in terms of representation across all layers of the organisation
  • Apprenticeship levies are also be utilised to offer more training and opportunities to under represented groups in organisations
  • Management training and leadership development programmes are also being developed and aimed and equipping more women for senior roles in organisations
  • Flexible working practices are also gaining in momentum and many organisations are looking at ways that they can attract and retain more women into the workforce following periods of maternity leave.
  • Championing gender equality and neutrality in HR policies and procedures and ensure where there are practices no matter how ingrained that perpetuate gender bias that these are addressed and stamped out.

If you also do not have a gender equality policy, consider putting one in place and champion this at the most senior level in the organisation.




Management 101

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our respon


The relationship contract

So today while lying in bed recovering from a virus, I got to thinking about the psychological contract. Well in all honesty my initial thought was about the relationship contract that Sheldon established with his girlfriend in the comedy show The Big Bang Theory and how such a simple thing managed to convince an otherwise rational and highly intelligent woman that she was in fact in a relationship for many years even though what they had was stretching the definition of what a relationship should be. So my mind wandered from that particularly interesting model to the thought of the relationships that we form or enter into in our professional lives and how the relationship contract is very like the psychological contract that David Guest posited.

For those of you new to the concept of the psychological contract, this is defined by Guest et al as the perceptions of the two parties, employee and employer of what their mutual obligations are towards each other. Hmm sounds like a contract of employment doesn’t it? Well not quite, it took me some time to understand this concept and truthfully it something that is best understood by being experience. You cannot truly understand what the psychological contract is unless you have experienced it, similar to how you can never truly understand the role of a parent and all it entails unless you have children. You can read about it, babysit your friends kids all you like but you can never truly understand what it means unless you yourself have kids.

So part of any psychological contract is mutual trust and respect. As the employee I trust that my employer will do what they say, deliver what they promise and let me know if there is anything that I need to know do my job properly or anything that could affect my job. I expect my employer to be honest and upstanding in their dealings with me, to create a safe environment for me to work or mitigate the risk where possible and to invest in me. Any good employer will expect the same from their employee. They will expect their employee to trust in their vision, model their values so that they are a credit in public to the company; that they will do for the business what they say they will do, that they will let the company know anything that could interfere with that commitment that they will continue to develop their skills so they remain credible and relevant to the company.

Similar to any other type of relationship when you feel or know that the beliefs that you had have been broken you lose faith. Some quickly move on to another relationship; others try therapy; some live in denial, others move on to try other things and some stay to fight and change things back to the way they were. What this serves to remind us is like any other relationship, our professional one needs attention and work. Without this it will fail. This basic principle underlies many theories of why disengagement happens in the workplace. Relationships personal or professional are not difficult, they just need work.