Tuesday, 15 May 2018

General Secretary Election - Person Specification

Here is the Person Specification, revised in March 2018, in order to assist in the discussion as to whether either candidate for Napo General Secretary actually measures up:-

General Secretary 

In short-listing and assessing the suitability of potential candidates for election as Napo General Secretary the panel will have due regard to all of the following essential criteria. The successful candidate will need to: 

1. Demonstrate significant relevant experience of leading within an organisation at a senior level, preferably within a union or not for profit context where there is a requirement to recognise democratic accountabilities upon elected leaders. This is likely to include demonstrating relevant experience of providing leadership, support and oversight to large and small committees of volunteers, generating positive accountable outcomes. 

2. Demonstrate the importance of building and maintaining trust across an organisation, including by delivering what they promise; being empathetic and supportive of team members; always leading by example; and encouraging empowering staff and elected officers to be leaders across Napo. 

3. Be able to work under considerable pressure, including managing competing demands and to tight deadlines, whilst always conducting themselves in a way that epitomises the aims and values of the organisation. 

4. Demonstrate, with relevant examples, understanding and experience of what is necessary to successfully manage a team of staff and support elected officers as well as leading and supporting member volunteers. 

5. Demonstrate an understanding of what the highest standards of corporate leadership means for the General Secretary role in Napo; what challenges could be presented in this context and how they have/or would respond. 

6. Demonstrate, with relevant examples, experience of developing corporate policies for an organisation including those policies aimed at changing the policies and actions of external organisations (e.g. employers, politicians, strategic partners). 

7. Demonstrate, with relevant examples, experience of ensuring the work of their organisation both champions equality and diversity and challenges all forms of oppression and discrimination.

8. Be an excellent communicator – demonstrating a capacity to communicate effectively and appropriately to different internal and external audiences, both verbally and in writing. This should include an understanding of the strategic importance and challenges of communicating using information technology. 

9. Be an experienced public speaker, including in a representative capacity to internal and external audiences, preferably including senior government officials and/or Ministers and/other senior union/partner organisation leaders. This will also demonstrate an ability to make good use of both spoken and written news media. 

10. Demonstrate a strong working understanding and knowledge of the pressures and challenges encountered by Napo members across all aspects of their operating environments - including different elements of the probation service, the Family Court Service, Courts more generally, and prisons. This will particularly include an understanding of the professional issues, challenges and obligations on Napo members as accountable public sector professionals; and the systems and frameworks necessary to support and sustain a strong sense of professionalism across this workforce. This will enable to General Secretary to act as a credible professional champion for all aspects of Napo’s membership.

11. Have a strong working understanding of the UK’s political systems, including how different elements of these could and/or do impact upon different elements of Napo’s membership. Demonstrate an understanding of how this knowledge can be utilised to support better outcomes for Napo members – including relevant examples of how their own political engagement has generate positive outcomes for others that they have represented. 

12. Have a strong working understanding of UK employment law, as well as ACAS principles in relation to discipline and grievance procedures; and demonstrate, with relevant examples, successfully using these to deliver positive outcomes for workers. Alongside this they should have a working understanding of how the law impacts on trade unions; alongside a complimentary understanding of the role of regulation in protecting and developing workers’ rights. 

13. Demonstrate a strong understanding of what is involved with providing accountable leadership in collective negotiations through all stages of the process up to and including a successful outcome. In particular, this should include an understanding of the difference between strategy and tactics; the importance of maintaining trust from all sides during negotiations; what constitutes excellent communication skills in a negotiating context; and what is required to ensure accountable leadership, especially in an organisation like Napo. We would expect this will include specific reference to their successful track record of negotiating positive collective outcomes for workers and/or groups in their current and/or previous roles. 

14. Demonstrate a high level of literacy and numeracy and, in particular, a capacity to understand, interpret and use data typically relevant in individual and collective negotiations for Napo members – for example pay data or other relevant staffing data. This will also extend to a working understanding of budgets and transparent accounting in an organisation. 

15. Demonstrate an understanding of Napo’s legal and moral obligations in regard to managing sensitive personal information across an organisation like Napo. 

16. Be a natural and convincing champion for Napo remaining a strong and independent collective voice for the probation and family court services, explaining to different audiences what this will likely mean for Napo members and how Napo organises and sets priorities. This must include recognising the importance of Napo’s status as a professional association as well as a union; and demonstrate an understanding of what this means for members; and why this impacts on how Napo organises, sets priorities and acts. 

17. Demonstrate, using examples, a long standing record of activity and commitment within the trade union and/or Labour movement, preferably including activities closely aligned to Napo’s values – for example, as reflected in our partnership with affiliates organisations. In doing this they must also recognise and explain the importance of Napo being independent of any political parties and not being seen as overtly partisan. 

18. Demonstrate a strong commitment to their own personal and professional development.

Additional desirable experience and qualities: 
  • Given the General Secretary’s leadership role in promoting the Edridge Fund, some demonstrable experience of working with and/or as a Trustee of a charity and/or voluntary organisation outside of trade unions and the Labour movement. 
  • Membership of a professional body and /or relevant professional qualifications to demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of professional status. 
  • Experience of being involved in successfully concluding difficult grievances and or disciplinary matters as an employer. 
  • Experience of successfully managing complaints against employees in their role as a line manager and/or employer.


  1. Most of that rules out both candidates as unsuitable!

    1. With all due respect to Ian, who I would like to thank for his dedication as GS, I wholeheartedly plead with all members to vote for Mike. Mike has a media profile, connections with the POA and Justice Alliance, he is a former prison officer and like it or not gives him greater (albeit not the greatest) experience of probation issues and concerns. He stood as MP for the Labour Party (and increased their vote by 11% in a predominantly Tory and UKIP seat, knocking UKIP to third place). He is intelligent, hard working, connected and is the thing Napo needs most right here right now. Change is uncomfortable but for crying out loud the status quo cannot continue. If it does be it on your heads. A vote for Ian is a vote for the death of our beloved union.

    2. Mike, stop the propaganda already. Prison officers don’t understand probation and you lost the by-election to the Tories who won with a huge majority. With POA Chair being your main attribute I don’t see what “change” is being offered. Seem just as unsuitable as the current GS, although I’m sure you already have the vote of Crozier, Spurr and the Ministry of Justice.

  2. Mr Rolfe gets my vote. Why? Because Mr Lawrence failed in TR, he failed in pay, he failed in fair case loads, he failed in increasing membership (or even holding what little we had). He failed to manage our finances. As approved premises privatisation looms, whilst the never ending winter of pay freezes bites for another year, as E3 hurdles on like a derailed train and as CRCs lose joint negotiating rights, as staff and members leave in droves as the job and union I was once proud to belong becomes a former shadow of itself barely recognisable. I beg any member who can be bothered to vote. Vote for change vote.

    1. IL has been a failure and there is nothing from either IL or MR to say they will change this. If any quote “Make Probation Great Again” I’ll cringe ... a lot! IL should be held to account and elections should be postponed until there is a variety of suitable candidates.

  3. Mike who? Never heard of him. I will vote for Ian. Stoic, hard working and such a perspicacious individual. Look what he has achieved as General Secretary…

    1. You set 'em up, 21:50, & there's a queue a mile long to knock 'em down...

    2. Just someone who will serve the service and not just advance their own career will do.
      Just a straight forward honest broker.

  4. Hello 21:50 "look what he has achieved" ! you must be joking I could write that on a fag paper and there would still be room to right a 500 word essay. Get real. Someone tell me please what has the GS achieved. His legacy will be to have failed to protect members from a mass attack on our terms and conditions, jobs, professionalism and pay. Where are the real hard hitting campaigns I see weak attempts to challenge at ministerial level its embarrassing and we get no wins.

  5. Self-serving, professional bureaucrat and Grayling's man on the inside Ian Lawrence, or self-serving, want this for my CV to help me be an MP Prison Officer Mike Rolfe - How did South Park put it? A choice between a giant douche or a turd sandwich