Engagement or Entwistle?

Entwistle loadsamoney.001.jpg  So perhaps just one more rant provoked by (not really about) the recent report ‘Nailing the Evidence’ produced by Engage for Success to support their launch this week….

So far I’ve suggested engagement can’t be about measurement or just about business benefits but has to start to put our relationships with employees first.  So we shouldn’t see employees as being like virus prone computers but ourselves – business and HR leaders – as the source of most of their – and therefore our – problems.

Because we continue to – and seem to do even more and more – dumb things.

And it’s our actions as leaders that lead either directly, or indirectly as a consequence of the actions we take and the culture this creates to these dumb things.

So one of the points I did really like in ‘Nailing the Evidence’ was the suggestion right at the back of the report that corporate reputation also acts as an enabler for higher engagement.

I don’t know if engagement at RBS can get much lower than I presume it has been over the last couple of years but Barclays as well as presumably HSBC and other banks fined for manipulating the LIBOR rate are clearly going to find their engagement scores hit.

If Centrica and the other energy firms are found to have rigged gas prices, they’re hopefully going to be in similar trouble with Ofgem, the government and the firms’ customers.  But the companies shouldn’t be surprised when their employee surveys suggest engagement plummeting either.

EBay, Facebook and Starbucks are already being hit by customer protests at their ‘immoral if not illegal’ tax avoidance strategies (I think it’s harder to take action against Apple and Google) and I’m sure we’ll see this filter into their employee engagement scores as well.

And closer to home, when Chris Patten and George ‘loadsamoney’ Enwistle play poker with viewers’ licence fees it just makes it that bit less likely that BBC staff are going to try harder to make good programmes, when the evidence suggests that instead they could just sit back and wait for a good pay off when something goes wrong.

How Entwistle thinks he is doing the ‘honourable thing’ by stitching up the licence fee payer by taking half a million pounds for a few weeks work is beyond me.

But why on earth does Patten think he can throw another quarter of a million after the first ‘contractual’ £250k just because he can’t be bothered to sack the guy for poor performance (did he not listen to the John Humphreys interview?).

And how did BBC HR agree to a £250k exit bonus for its new DG (CEO), irrespective of performance or length of service, anyway?  I’d suggest this is inappropriate even in an investment bank.  But it has no place at all in a publicly funded broadcaster and national institution like the BBC.  Any candidate (particularly an internal one) requiring such a clause should in my mind have been immediately disqualified from the recruitment process.  I’d have even had it as a selection test – anyone who puts their lawyer in touch with me is clearly not the person I need to do the job.

Oh, and by the way, suggesting your staff not comment (e.g. tweet) on your incompetence may help cover up the problems short-term, but it’s just going to send discontent underground.  Much better to have an open conversation.

And regardless of my earlier comments on the report, I’m really pleased to see that Engage for Success understands the importance


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I graduated from Imperial College, London in 1987 and joined Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) as a systems development consultant. After ten years in IT, change and then HR consulting, I joined Ernst & Young as an HR Director, working firstly in the UK, and then, based in Moscow, covering the former USSR.More recently, I have worked as Head of HR Consulting for Penna and Director of Human Capital Consulting for Buck Consultants (the HR consultancy owned by ACS).


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