Musts and wants

Some years ago I was invited to join in a think-tank, organised by the Cabinet Office, to generate ideas on what the government could do to motivate more people to embrace lifelong learning.  It seems that far too many people treat learning and development as an optional extra.  This despite all the messages about learning being the core capability; the only skill that can never become obsolete; the gateway to employability and fulfilment; the only way to sustain a competitive [...]

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A manager who sampled 360 degree feedback

Ben was a middle manager in the purchasing department of a company that manufactured tyres for the motor industry.  He worked in a large, draughty Victorian building that, despite refurbishment, still showed its age. The purchasing office was tucked away in one wing of the building along with other administrative functions.  The bulk of the site, however, was given over to tyre manufacture – a dirty process. The manufacturing areas looked as if they belonged to another epoch.  There were [...]

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A manager who insisted on precise definitions

Nick was a human relations manager in a large telecommunications business.  He had many years’ experience of HR, having worked in a diverse range of industries from car manufacture to food processing to computers. Nick a man of average build who looked remarkably like 1960s prime minister Harold Wilson without the pipe.  He was fond of pontificating and could produce an instant opinion on, well, anything!  Over the years, Nick had formed strong views about many issues, particularly about the [...]

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A manager who couldn’t resist relying on his predecessor’s advice

Simon had worked all his life in business and commerce and the time had come, as it must, to retire.  His career had been one of unblemished success.  He had been knighted three years previously for services to industry.  He served on a variety of government advisory boards and had the ear of the Chancellor and the Prime Minister. Besides being chairman of an international financial institution, he held an impressive string of directorships.  His opinions on current events were [...]

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A manager who loved to wander around

There was a very senior HR manager whose name was Albert.  He, as you might guess both from his name and from the fact that he was very senior, was nearing a comfortable retirement and, so far as anyone could tell, did little actual work.  He was, however, very good at wandering around.  Quite possibly, but this is sheer speculation, he had read an article by Tom Peters about the perils of senior managers losing touch and had latched on [...]

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