At the end of 2016 we had the case of Katrina Percy, CEO of Southern Health Trust, who, after coming under severe criticism following the death by drowning of a vulnerable teenager, was seconded into a made-up job, for which there were no other candidates, on her existing salary. Public pressure eventually forced her to resign.
And her chairman Mike Potter resigned just before the publication of a damming report by the Care Quality Commission.
And then we had Mike Scott CEO of St George’s University NHS Trust which was put into special measures under his watch. Did he lose his job? No, he was seconded on his salary to the NHS Improvement team helping other Trusts (not to go into special measures presumably).
And his successor, Paula Vasco-Knight, had been the COO under him and you would think would bear some responsibility for the Trust’s deteriorating position. She only actually lasted two weeks in the CEO role before she was suspended after allegations of fraud by her previous employer Devon NHS Trust.
She’d already been severely criticised at an employment tribunal after the way she treated whistle-blowers who accused her of nepotism. She’d tried to play the race card at the tribunal but to no avail.
Interestingly at one time Mrs Vasco-Knight was NHS England’s national lead on equality and diversity matters, was the first female BME Chief Executive in the NHS, received an honorary doctorate in Law from Exeter University and a CBE in 2014 for her work on equality and diversity. So obviously ticking a lot of the right boxes.
And is that why people turned a blind eye and didn’t carry out proper checks before appointing herald then ignored her bullying behaviour?
I ask because this week it’s been revealed that a senior NHS boss built £1 million, 10-year career on a fake CV.
Jon Andrewes (photo on right from ITV) called himself a doctor and claimed to have two PhDs. One in ethics management from Plymouth University, and one in business administration from Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh.
He also claimed a master’s degree from Edinburgh and a degree from Bristol University, plus a diploma from CIMA.
He actually had a diploma in social work and had worked as a builder and probation officer and not, as he claimed, for the Home Office.
He got a job as CEO at St Margaret’s Hospice in Somerset in 2004 and was later appointed to the job of Chairman of the NHS Torbay Care Trust in 2007. In 2015 he beat 117 others to become Chairman of the Royal Cornwall NHS Trust.
Andrewes, aged 63, admitted obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (when applying for the Torbay and Cornwall jobs) and two counts of fraud (at St Margaret’s hospice). He was jailed for two years and an application has been made to seize his assets.
The Department of Health says it is examining how he came to be appointed to posts such as chairman of the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust.
After he was convicted, NHS Improvement admitted that it had not checked his qualifications when it appointed Andrewes under its previous guide of the NHS Trust Development Authority. I wonder if anybody in HR is being disciplined for that oversight?
The Department of Health said:
But in these days of reputational damage they can’t afford to actually insult candidates on social media.
All the national press this week covered the story of a teenager who applied for a job at a new Miller & Carter steakhouse (owned by Mitchell & Butlers).
Megan Dixon asked at the end of the interview when they would let her know and was told by the assistant manager Shantel Wesson, who had interviewed her, that she would get an e-mail in a few days. To her surprise, and dismay, she received a text within minutes saying “it’s a no x” (why managers would add a kiss to a text message is beyond me).
Dixon replied “Okay. How come? x” (and there’s that kiss again for goodness sake).
Shantel Wesson then replied “Just not engaging. And answers we’re “like” basic” followed by a ‘laughing so hard I’m crying’ emoji and another kiss.
Naturally Dixon was upset and complained to the company on twitter saying the interviewer was unprepared and her phone was going off throughout the interview. So unprofessional.
She then told The Sun newspaper about the interview: “She didn’t even shake my hand, didn’t have my CV out and was just sat drinking a coffee. Maybe because I’m 18 she thinks it’s OK not to be professional with me? I don’t know.”
“It was so rude. At the end of the interview, I asked when I would hear back. She told me it was never more than a few days and she had my email. But I got the texts a few seconds after leaving”
“I was shocked. The least she should have given me was some proper feedback. And the laughing face emoji was so unprofessional. It was a really bitchy thing to do.”
Miller and Carter had advertised up to 50 jobs at the new branch in Enderby, Leicestershire, and student Ms Dixon wanted to earn some extra cash for college.
Newspapers explained that the term “basic” was American slang meaning an unstylish or unintelligent person.
A spokeswoman said “we can’t apologise enough to Megan. It was never our intention to be disrespectful or upset her in any way. The texts were sent in error and were intended for our manager, not the candidate. However, we expect our team to act professionally at all times and to give constructive feedback after any interview via email. We are taking this extremely seriously and will be investigating to ensure it never happens again.”
In anyone’s book this is totally unprofessional behaviour. Candidates deserve respect and proper feedback – something sadly lacking these days.
And what does it say about the culture of the company that managers send each other such mocking text messages? If it were indeed actually intended for the manager.
HR probably doesn’t exist in this company but if it did some recruitment training seems well overdue,and possibly some disciplinary action against Wesson for bringing the company into disrepute?
Talking of being “basic” perhaps Shantel Wesson could take some English lessons as she obviously doesn’t know the difference between “were” and “we’re“.
And Megan, you’re young but don’t put kisses on business messages. You act professionally as well.
It seems a life-time ago when stress management courses were de rigueur and people, including me, were making a living from them. (Now it’s either resilience training or mindfulness but that’s another story).
There was plenty of research about to back up what we were doing. The famous Whitehall studies which showed that the more senior you were the less likely you were to die early. In industry after industry it was the same story. Employees at the bottom of the hierarchy suffered more ill-health than more senior ones.
One of the factors contributing to this was the amount of control people had – over decision-making and the way they spent their working day. The more control or autonomy people felt they had, the less stressed they tended to be.
Now a recent study in the US has confirmed once again that people in stressful jobs with little control at work were more likely to die.
The research followed more than 2,000 Americans in their sixties over a seven-year period.
Those in low demand jobs reduced their death risk by 15% and those who were able to set their own goals and had flexibility at work were 34% less likely to die.
They also found that the people in the higher risk jobs were heavier. Comfort eating? Less time for exercise?
26% of those who dies were in front-line service jobs and 32% worked in manufacturing – both sectors with high demand and low autonomy.
55% of the deaths were from cancer (linked this week with high levels of anxiety and depression), and 22% from circulatory system diseases.
Erik Gonzales-Mulé at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University said employers didn’t need to reduce demand on their workers but should allow them more flexibility in how jobs were done. “You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals. set their own schedules, prioritise their decision-making and the like”.
I’m having deja vu here.This is like re-inventing the wheel. We knew all this decades ago. Remember autonomous working groups? Have American businesses forgotten about US contributions to organisational psychology and research on motivation? In America most workers still don’t get sick pay or maternity pay and have minimal holidays.
Japan has its own problems with employees working too hard (see recent post)
And we aren’t much better in some respects in the UK with the worst sick pay in the EU!
Recently experts and members of parliament have expressed concern about working conditions in call centres and on-line distribution centres. Sports Direct and Asos have been criticised for having Victorian working conditions. Some of these places are like “warehouses” on the edge of towns with no windows for natural light, just like giant container units.
Perhaps I should brush off my old notes and get back on the road again. Why do businesses never learn how to get the best out of people?
Dame Athene Donald who is a master of Churchill College (isn’t that a bit sexist?) and a professor of experimental physics says references are often unintentionally written in a “gendered way” with academics more likely to describe women applying for research posts or fellowships as “hard-working” or “team players“.
She thinks this fails to communicate just how good female applicants are unlike when using words like “excellent“, “driven” or “outstanding” which apparently are often reserved for males.
She said “If letter writers just sit down and write the first adjectives that come into their heads to describe men and women, the words may be poles apart even if the subjects of the letters are indistinguishable in ability”.
“Do you really mean that your star PhD student is hard-working and conscientious or was the message you wanted to convey that she was outstanding, goes the extra mile, and always exceeds your expectations about what is possible, demonstrating great originality en route? There is an enormous difference in the impact of the two descriptions“.
She believes that this clearly can lead to a significant detriment to the woman’s progression, even if without a sexist intent.
Stanford University analysed performance reviews in technology firms and found that women’s evaluations contained almost twice as much language about their communal or nurturing style using words such as “helpful” or “dedicated”.
Men’s reviews on the other hand contained twice as many references to their technical expertise and vision.
Why is this surprising? Do people like Dame Donald think men and women actually behave the same at work? Of course there is an overlap but there is enough research which shows that women respond to stress differently, are often better at soft skills than men, can improve teams, and may be more emotionally intelligent to boot.
Professor Donald suggested that people writing references should use a gender bias calculator website that highlights words in texts that may be received as gendered. She also calls for training for selection panels – something most organisations have been doing for decades (my colleague and I introduced this into an NHS Trust back in the 1990s). I think she means well if a little too PC but maybe a bit out of touch with the real world.
Professor Alan Smithers, director of the centre for education at Buckingham University disagrees with her. He is quoted as saying “How do we know that academics using these words have unconscious bias? being a team player and hard worker are very important. It is perfectly possible that candidates do have these strengths and it is important that a referee is able to say so”
Common sense from one academic at least. And read what happened when a journalist investigated this issue for himself.
Following the shambles surrounding the disgraced CEO Katrina Percy – who eventually resigned from her overpaid, invented position along with her previous chairman, we now have yet another example.
Again a failing Trust, and again the NHS don’t seem to have the determination to deal with a highly paid CEO who is not delivering.
Miles Scott, the former CEO of St George’s University Hospital Trust which has been put into special measures, has walked into a new job on a fixed term secondment to health regulator NHS Improvement on a £220k salary.
He’d been at St George’s for five years (and CEO at Bradford prior to that) so plenty of experience at board level. But he failed to stop the trust being put into special measures by the Quality Care Commission this week.
Sir Mike Richards the chief inspector of hospitals said “I am disappointed that we have found a marked deterioration in the safety and quality of some of the trust’s services since we inspected two years ago, as well as in its overall governance and leadership.”
“Worryingly we found that areas in which children and young people with mental health conditions were cared for had not been checked for ligature points and that half the medical staff working with children and young people had not completed level three safeguarding training”
Scott is reported to be “undertaking specific change management projects and providing additional support to the executive team” On £220k a year! Rather overpaid for that remit I think.
Can no-one see the irony of someone who led a deteriorating (in terms of safety standards, governance and leadership) NHS Hospital Trust for two years advising other trusts on how to raise standards? The same with Katrina Percy. What are they thinking of when they make these appointments? Do they think people will really take advice from them in the circumstances?
To make matters worse at St George’s, according to a report in the Times ,his successor, Paula Vasco-Knight, who was the Chief Operating Officer at St George’s before Scott left last month, was suspended after less than two weeks in the job.
This followed serious financial allegations by her previous employer, Devon NHS Trust, that she defrauded them by abusing her position to bypass normal procurement arrangements and essentially siphoned off money to her husband’s company – which she has denied in court.
A statement by St George’s said: “As a result of serious allegations being made against her, Dr Paula Vasco-Knight has been suspended from her role as acting chief executive at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The allegations are financial in nature and relate to her work at a previous employer.”
At one time Mrs Vasco-Knight was NHS England’s national lead on equality and diversity matters, was the first female BME Chief Executive in the NHS, received an honorary doctorate in Law from Exeter University and a CBE in 2014 for her work on equality and diversity. So obviously ticking a lot of the right boxes.
However that passion for equality obviously didn’t extend to recruitment as she was accused of nepotism by two whistleblowers for giving her daughter’s boyfriend a job at Torbay Hospital for which she was criticised by an employment tribunal.
She tried to play the race card at the tribunal saying “On a personal level I found the allegations as nothing less than personal slander and I wonder if a white middle class male chief executive officer would have been treated with such disrespect.”
However that didn’t wash with the tribunal judge Nick Roper who ruled:”We find that there was a concerted effort by the South Devon Healthcare Trust to manipulate the investigation, accuse the claimants of malice, suppress the report and to mislead the other parties as to its contents, with the apparent aim of protecting Dr Vasco-Knight and Mrs Murphy against the force of the claimant’s allegations.
Mrs Murphy was a senior colleague in whom the whistle blowers confided who told them they would lose their jobs ‘through dirty means’ which left them feeling ‘bullied, threatened and intimidated’.
“This was completely contrary to the protection which they should have been offered under the Whistle Blowing guidelines.” said the judge. One of the whistleblowers returned to work, the other received £230,000 in compensation.
That event led to her suspension from the Trust and her eventual resignation. The official line was that she moved North for family reasons and for a time worked for East Lancashire NHS Trust as a management consultant, reportedly on £1,000 a day.
Her LinkedIn page, currently closed down, reportedly gave her roles as a “turnaround director/director of transformation” for Solitaire healthcare, where she says she had been since July 2014, and interim chief operating officer, a role she has held at St George’s since September 2015 where she worked under Miles Scott. So wasn’t she as culpable as him for the failures there? Why then appoint her?
Yet again we have a number of embarrassing failures of leadership or worse and the NHS seem incapable of dealing with them. No wonder the Taxpayers Alliance is up in arms. John O’Connell, the CEO, said “there is a worrying trend of impunity in the public sector where fat cat salaries don’t seem to reflect performance and nobody is held accountable for the failure to provide taxpayers with the services they pay for and expect.
“How can a Trust put in special measures possibly justify such a ludicrously large salary for its former chief executive and – bizarrely – continue to pay him even after he’s taken on a new role elsewhere?”
My point exactly. Why wasn’t he just sacked for poor performance? Why do we have this continuous revolving door of failed executives? Why are we still rewarding failure?
Photo Credit: Copyright 2016, Election 2016, by DonkeyHotey, http://flic.kr/p/CHMwo1
How are they Different in their Leadership?
The first Presidential debate is coming up on September 26th. Political commentators are anticipating that this will be the most watched Presidential debate in U.S. history. There are many predictions, but It is impossible to know what the outcome will be. In this blog we’re not looking to speculate. What we will do, however, is provide an overview of how these two candidates differ in their leadership style. How do Artisan Promoters ESTP and Rational Masterminds INTJ differ on various significant factors which impact their leadership?
Strategic Leadership vs. Tactical Leadership
Definition: “Strategy has to do with identifying the ways and means necessary and sufficient to achieve a well-defined goal… the most important thing to understand about the strategic intellect is that it is activated by errors found in complex systems. In other words, Rationals are…
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Tesco has been trying hard to recover lost ground, both in terms of its reputation – after accounting problems, senior managers leaving, and the way it dealt with its suppliers – and fighting off discounters like Aldi.
Clearly it still has some way to go. According to the Institute of Directors it has the worst corporate governance of the top 100 listed companies.
The top 100 companies were judged on 34 factors including board effectiveness, audit and risk, director pay, return on shareholder funds, and relations with stakeholders. The index also included a public perception measure based on a survey of over 700 IoD members and accounting bodies.
Tesco performed badly on some key measures which had the most weighting such as audit and risk, and external accountability. In January it was found to have deliberately withheld money owed to suppliers and it also suffered the biggest loss in UK corporate history.
To make matters worse three former executives have just been charged with fraud and false accounting relating to Tesco’s exaggerated profits statement in 2014
Also down at the bottom are companies like Associated British Foods, Rolls Royce (currently having engine troubles), and Travis Perkins.
And at the top? British American Tobacco, Unilever, Diageo, and Next.
It found that the more over-50s a company employed the less likely it was to increase productivity over a two-year period. Even a 1% increase in the proportion of older staff led to a greater chance that the company would stand still rather than improve its output.
The situation was much worse in Germany than Britain. There 57% of the companies had workforces with at least 20% of the staff over 50, compared to 41% in the UK.
Productivity was not reduced by older workers working more slowly but by the company’s reluctance to invest in training them.
The less successful companies also had weaker appraisal systems meaning that individuals were not held accountable for their productivity levels. Well appraisal systems have come in for a lot of criticism lately and in this case it suggests that it might be management not doing their job rather than the workers.
Certainly there are companies, such as BMW, that look after older workers better.
And they need to because there are more older workers around. Three quarters of people aged over 50 are in employment in the UK according to the ONS compared with two-thirds in 1994. And one in eight aged over 65 is still in work.
Discriminating against older workers is counter-productive. Often older workers have the unwritten knowledge about the company; their attendance is usually better, and they generally have a more positive attitude and are more loyal. Here’s an American take on this.
Katrina Percy, the former Chief Executive of Southern Health Trust, has been under pressure to stand down for months after the mental health trust she led failed to investigate the deaths of more than 1,000 people with mental health and learning disabilities between 2011 and 2015.
This catalogue of disasters in a Trust that states its aim is: “to provide high quality, safe services which improve the health, wellbeing and independence of the people we serve”.
Her LinkedIn profile describes her as: Passionate about leading organisations through transformational change of their clinical service; placing a very strong emphasis on the leadership and team development throughout the organisation to enable this.
That’s her opinion. An independent review found that “a failure of leadership” had led to these deaths going unanswered but she resisted efforts to resign until this week.
Announcing her resignation she said “I have reflected on the effect of the ongoing personal media attention has had on staff and patients and have come to the conclusion that this has made my role untenable.
I have, therefore, come to the difficult decision to step down from my role as chief executive after nine years.
“I am delighted to be taking on an alternative role, providing strategic advice to local GP leaders as they work with others to transform the way in which health services are delivered across Hampshire, and I feel that now is the right time to take on that new challenge.
I know and understand that many will say I should have stepped down sooner given the very public concerns which have been raised in the past months. I stayed on as I firmly believed that it was my responsibility to oversee the necessary improvements and to continue the groundbreaking work we have begun with GPs to transform care for our patients“.
Not one word of apology or any sign of contrition. This “I’m the only person who can fix it” attitude, despite getting the Trust in a mess in the first place (she was CEO for 9 years), is not uncommon. It’s also been used by Police Chiefs and other public sector chiefs.
And of course she’s delighted with her new role – she’s still being paid very generously – on the same £180,000 + benefits – in a consulting role. But why would GPs take advice from someone who has been criticised for leadership failures?
It now turns out that the post was created especially for her, there were no other candidates and no interviews. This is not the way to recruit top executives in any organisation.
And what were the chair and board members doing about the independent report? Well the Trust’s Chairman Mike Petter resigned days before the publication of the Care Quality Commission report which said that the Trust was still failing to protect people.
The interim chairman, Tim Smart, says “Katrina has ensured that Southern Health is now working more closely with other health and care organisations in the region to provide more joined-up care, so more people receive support at the right time and place”
But Andrew Smith, the MP for Oxford East, said that her continued employment was evidence that the Trust was “not fit for purpose“. He also said “it’s disturbing too that her comments and those of the Trust blame her resignation on media attention rather than acceptance of her ultimate responsibility for the abject and fatal failings of Southern Health”
The mother of a vulnerable teenager who drowned in a bath after having an epileptic fit , an incident a jury inquest ruled as caused by neglect, also criticised the Trust. “It’s good that she’s no longer CEO and hopefully there will be more movement at board level. To reward her with a made-up post at the same salary is simply scandalous”.
I think most people would agree with that sentiment.
I invite you to add your own caption to these photographs from the Times newspaper. They show Sir (as of today he still has his knighthood) Philip Green and Mike Ashley, both in defensive mode before parliamentary business select committees.
The blogger is obviously not a fan of the CIPD! Perhaps the Institute should issue one of those wartime posters “Keep Calm and Carry On” instead of being so melodramatic and fearing the worst.
The above recently appeared on one of the Linkedin discussion boards after the Referendum Vote on Britain leaving the EU. At first I thought it was a “send up” but then realised it was deadly serious.
What a pathetic response from the CEO of the CIPD* to the referendum result. What did he think was going to happen, people going into work verbally assaulting each other, punch ups between long standing work colleagues, mass demonstrations outside companies?
Has the CIPD ever issued such a diatribe, post any other election, local or national…..I think not.
What we have here is the namby pamby, mealy mouthed, PC nonsense that gives organisations like the CIPD a bad name. No wonder the HR function in many organisations is treated with derision and contempt when they promote this kind of rubbish.
I notice that Mr Cheese whitters on about “safe, secure and valued at work”…
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