Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Light at the end of the TUPE

In today’s economic climate it has become commonplace in the UK for companies to be taken over as they run into administration and face bankruptcy. Equally as common is the outsourcing of companies overseas to the emerging markets such as India and China where labour is cheap but knowledge and skills are in abundance.

Both situations would cause great concern for many working in the UK who are dependent on their jobs to support families and meet financial commitments. So this begs the question; what happens to me if one of these occasions arises in the company I work for?

The answer is quite simply TUPE… however TUPE itself is not so simple!

So what does TUPE stand for? The answer is ‘Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)’. So that’s great, we know what TUPE stands for but what on earth does that mean? In reference to our 2 scenario’s above TUPE means that when another company takes over the one you work for or takes over the work that your company currently carries out they effectively take you with them.

TUPE therefore means that your employment transfers to the new owner of the business with your exact terms & conditions of employment remaining the same. You might then think you are treated as a new employee within that company. However you are in fact treated as though you had worked for that company the entire time, which is known as ‘continuous service’.

It may therefore be that the company you transfer to keeps everything exactly the same and your job is safe and continues as normal. This is of course in an ideal world and is often not the case. This is where the benefit of TUPE comes into play. If your role is then put at risk to be made redundant, as say for example all of the work is being outsourced to a factory in India, because you transferred under TUPE you are still entitled to any notice or redundancy payments that were set out in your original contract.

This is also where ‘continuous service’ comes into play. To put it simply, the longer you are employed with a company the more money you will receive if made redundant. Therefore you will benefit from transferring under TUPE because you length of service is protected.

All in all, everyone hopes that this situation will never arise. However if it does all hope is not lost there is some light at the end of the tunnel… or in this case TUPE!
This Guest Blog post was written by Gareth Johnston: HR Advisor at Hewlett-Packard (Manpower Professional). Find him on Twitter at @HRFeed

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Mental Toughness in Business

Mental Toughness is a phrase that I’m starting to hear used more and more by the business community. As a sport psychologist, I’ve been developing mental toughness in athletes and sports teams for years. Sports coaches have long-understood the benefit of having players who have mental strength, grit, determination, hunger, drive, fire and spirit. It seems that businesses are also starting becoming acutely aware how valuable these qualities are in their people. It seems that mental toughness is becoming very highly prized.

But what exactly is it? How do we recognise people who are tough and how can we develop mental toughness in our teams?

I believe that the first stage is to understand what genuine mental toughness is, and is not.
  • What does it look like? 
  • What does it sound like? 
Some people would say that the toughest people are those who grit their teeth, shout the loudest and bang their fists loudest. There are a lot of people who try to intimidate others in an attempt to appear tough. But do they actually display true mental toughness?

mental toughness

In my work as a sport psychologist, it is something that has always fascinated me. I’ve seen many athletes and teams who have crumbled when they’ve hit tough challenges, or when they’re criticised. I have seen some teams that have imploded at crucial times during a game, or during a season. Some panic if they go behind. They seem to throw their game plan out of the window when they’re questioned. Others just seem unable to execute skills that they could ordinarily produce with their eyes shut.

When I look at tough athletes, I don’t tend to see fists banging. The genuinely tough athletes don’t tend to be physically or verbally intimidating. Perhaps they don’t feel the need to be. Instead, the people who show true mental toughness tend to have three distinct qualities. 

1. Resilience - Commonly seen as ‘bounce-back-ability’ and the ability to thrive in adverse situations.
2. Tenacity - The ability to keep going and push to the very limit.
3. Composure - The ability to make really good decisions and execute skills to a very high standard, whilst ‘under pressure’.

As you’ll appreciate, these qualities are not only required in sport. Success in any walk of life normally requires a degree of toughness. Whilst researching my latest book, How To Shine, I spoke to world-class performers from a diverse range of disciplines. I was fascinated to hear a twice Michelin starred chef and a US Navy SEAL explaining how they develop mental toughness in their teams. Although there is a huge difference in the demands of a kitchen and a war zone (unless you’re in Gordon Ramsey’s kitchen perhaps), their descriptions were almost identical, word-for-word.

These are challenging times. We are presented with tough tests on a daily basis. Uncertainty is a given. Adversity is a given. Knowing this, we have a simple question…

"How will we respond?"

As a sport psychologist, I am interested to see how athletes respond when they hit challenges. These are the times when I see how tough an athlete really is.

How can we see toughness in action? Look at how people respond when they encounter challenges.

How do they respond to criticism or when they make mistakes? What about a poor run of form or results? Will they come back stronger, or will they wither? Will they hide? Will we hear excuses and blame or see people taking responsibility? Do people choose the easy option or the best option? Do they prefer to push themselves or stick to their comfort zone? How do they respond in ‘pressurised’ situations? Would they resemble rabbits in the headlights, or would they be able to produce a peak performance?

The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about mental toughness in your people. Often the toughest people are not the ones who shout loudest, make the most noise or appear the most intimidating. Sometimes fear can be dressed up as toughness. Bravado tends to be a fa├žade; ‘fake toughness’. I suspect that it is a sign of weakness rather than strength.

Like any skill, mental toughness can be developed and learned. It is not simply an attribute that is inherent in people. Therefore, business leaders and managers can actually help to foster mental strength and toughness in their people, and also develop it in themselves. Once we understand what genuine mental toughness looks like, we have a great starting point!

If you’re interested in learning about how to develop mental toughness, listen to world-record breaking ultra-marathon runner, Andy McMenemy speaking ‘On Mental Toughness’ at the Be World Class Conference 2012.


Simon Hartley is the author of Peak Performance Every Time, published by Routledge and How To Shine, published by Capstone

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Feedback: Gareth's free tips

One area of our business which is growing rapidly is our Outplacement support service.  As the Manager of the provision and as someone that runs Outplacement sessions on a weekly basis, I’ve dealt with and helped people from all walks of life and all levels of the salary scale, across a wide range of professions.  In the past three years of carrying out the support, I’ve been pleased to have my perceptions of the average job seeker turned on their head.  The vast majority of people that I come into contact with DO have a reasonable CV, that can become excellent with only a few tweaks.

Most people DO have a decent understanding of how recruitment agencies work and how to best approach them and whilst levels of confidence at approaching interviews vary considerably from person to person, most have an understanding of at least covering the basics before walking through the door.

Now at this point, I run the risk of talking myself out of a job so it is worth saying that the value of a good Outplacement Consultant lies in taking what already exists, refining it and adding a bit of confidence and self belief to send the participant into the job market ahead of the pack.  I often say that with only fairly minor tweaks and adjustments to your approach, you can elevate yourself above 99% of the ‘competition’ applying for the same pool of jobs.  So, if I were to give one titbit of advice free of charge to help kickstart your job search what would it be?  Well, I think that the most neglected area of any job search is that of feedback – both getting it in the first place and subsequently using it to your advantage.

I always find it surprising that after applying for a job, preparing for an interview and giving your best on the big day, how many people actually accept that they will get either no feedback at all or at best a simple ‘There was a stronger candidate on the day’.  It’s disappointing enough that you haven’t been successful at interview – it becomes soul destroying when no-one will tell you why!  If you have applied to the role yourself, find out WHY the other candidate was successful.  Ask questions around the areas that held you back from getting the job – what more could you have done, what areas did the interviewer feel you needed to work on?

If you have gone through a recruiter, make sure that recruiter is giving you as thorough feedback as possible.  A good recruiter should give you honest feedback and help guide you as to where to improve next time.  If you are not aware of any areas of weakness, then why would you go away and work on them?

I would always suggest that you play to the human nature of the person you are seeking feedback from.  I’ve found over my career that if you were to ask an interviewer for honest feedback as a means for you to go away and work on it to improve yourself, nine times out of ten they will give you it.  As always, be polite and courteous when approaching for feedback and for goodness sake don’t fall into the trap of arguing it (you’d be surprised!) but there is no more valuable tool in your job search than constructive feedback.

To learn more about the support we can offer through our Outplacement in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland, please do not hesitate to give me a call or visit the website to find out more.
Gareth Harrison CIPD

Managing Consultant

Exclusive: Recruitment & HR Consultancy
Newcastle, Leeds & Aberdeen

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Steps to Switching Your Career - Guest Blog

Do you find yourself dreading going to work every day? Or fantasising about everything and anything else in life instead of being excited about what it is you are doing? While many believe that this is a common feeling amongst those in the work force, it actually isn’t. Many people enjoy going in to the office every day and are excited about what they do. If you find yourself unhappy with your career, it may be time for a new one. Follow these five steps to help you in switching to a career you love.

Step 1: What do you love to do? Sit down and think about what you enjoy doing. This does not have to be limited to one or two items. Write everything down in a column on a piece of paper. Do not exclude anything. If you enjoy scuba diving, write it down. Enjoy wood working? Write it down. List every possible thing you enjoy as more choices will give you more options to help you achieve your Personal Career Solution.

Step 2: What are you good at? In another column, write down everything it is that you are good at. Also, in this column, don’t hold back. Identifying any and every skill that you possess will also open up many more career options than just jotting down what you think would be relevant to a potential career.

Step 3: Choosing a Career Take these two columns and match your skill sets with the things you enjoy. Of the items you enjoy, look at which ones have the most skill sets matched to them. These will be the things that you enjoy to do that would most likely be converted into a career you love.

Step 4: Should I start my own Business? Do you enjoy the security of a steady pay cheque or are you able and willing to take a risk now to reap greater rewards later? Do you like knowing that you have your set responsibilities and someone to report to or would you like to be your own boss and make your own rules? This is also something to consider when thinking about switching careers.

Step 5: Make it happen! If you have decided that you would like to find a job in your new preferred profession, begin looking for job listings in this field. Check to see if you have the qualifications that most employers look for in that field. If you do not, perhaps taking some night classes or volunteering in your free time in that particular field will help you build up the skills and qualifications you will need before you make the big switch. Have you decided to become an entrepreneur? Be warned: do not go into this blindly. Sit down with a professional and lay out a business plan for your new business. Research the costs associated with beginning your new venture, whether you will need staff right away and whether this is something that can be done at home or will require you to buy or lease a unit to run your business out of.

Beginning a new career can be a scary endeavour at any age. If thoroughly thought out and with the appropriate steps being taken, it does not have to be a fearful thing at all. It should be fun and exciting and seen as an opportunity to begin the rest of your life doing what you love to do!


This Guest Post has been written by Livi Downing