Saturday, 16 February 2013

Different Rules for Different People

A couple of things have got me particularly grumpy and I thought I'd share them with you. It begins with a story, the relatively straight forward matter of filling the post of receptionist at a busy probation office. The practice has been to obtain temporary cover from a local recruitment agency. Some stay a day, others a few weeks, but every now and then one stays months and is obviously well-suited to the role. 

In such a key front-line job, good organisational ability is essential, alongside excellent skills in people management. In fact the opposite of what many of us find present with doctors receptionist's where staff often seem to have perfected the art of annoying people. Anyway, the practice is to encourage the obviously good candidate to apply for the substantive post, and invariably to my astonishment, they don't get it. How on earth can this be?

Well I suspect the clue lies in the ultra politically-correct way in which interviews have to be conducted by public bodies nowadays. Gone are the days when a panel can select by gut feeling on the basis of a free-flowing interview. A minder from HR is always present and only strictly proscribed questions can be put, with little or no opportunity for follow-up clarification. Not surprisingly the end result is often that an unsuitable person is appointed. 

To be honest I think this is how a number of unsuitable PO's and PSO's have come into the job in recent years. Bad enough you might think, but how is it that a large public body such as the BBC is able to appoint someone on a staggering salary of £295,000, without going to the expensive trouble of even advertising the post? Former employee and later Minister of Culture James Purnell has recently been so-appointed, presumably just on the basis of the old boy's network?

One final grumpy outrage before I sign off today. How can it be that the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange is a charity? Their sole purpose is to come up with right-wing wheezes such as Payment by Results as a way of influencing government policy and privatising public services. The £2 million they receive from unnamed donors might well be from the likes of G4S, who of course will likely benefit from privatisation contracts. It all has a very unpleasant smell about it, particularly as the Charity Commission is withholding charitable status from a church group in the West Country saying that churches are "not necessarily for public good."   

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  1. Is it just me or does a grumpy Reception equal a grumpy office and a smiley Reception equal a smiley office? Personal observation, totally unaccredited, not in any way evidence based but seems to hold true.

    1. Do you know, I think you might have something there! I'll do more research and report back.



  2. A serious independent look at the Charity Commission is long overdue.

  3. The best office I worked in was the smallest, where, when necessary, we all did everything.......and were cheerful.