Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

The Winter Wolf for Oxfordshire Mind

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There is always plenty of discussion about the issues that surround our mental health; ways of dealing with it, help available, attitudes of others etc. The biggest topics of conversation however always seem to focus on intolerance and care.

Our general attitude to mental health as a topic and to those that suffer from one form of mental illness has changed drastically over the last few years.  I hope so.  I hope it isn’t just because I am more aware having had my own challenges. although I suspect it’s a bit of both.  I remember a few years back being fearful upon starting a new job of what the reaction might be if the investigation into my medical history specifically highlighted a diagnosis of depression and anxiety.  Thankfully I avoided (refused) completing the medical history form.  But I shouldn’t have had to though. Thankfully legislation is now in place to protect people and to do what it can to eliminate prejudice or at least the fears of prejudice in the work place, the latter probably being more common than the former, I suspect.   However we still have a long way to go to, certainly evidenced by the poor judgement used by ASDA and Tesco stores in the last week and their “Halloween Costume”, the labeling of which went way beyond poor taste.

The other area of focus is the care available for people who are in need of help.  The range of mental health illnesses is vast and very complex, or at least it sounds it to me. 1 in 4 people experience mental and emotional health problems such as anxiety, bereavement, depression, life crisis, loneliness, recovery from breakdowns, panic attacks, stress and schizophrenia at some point in their lives.  To put some kind of scale to it, for the UK, that works out to roughly equal to twice the population of London!!  It’s not just those that are sufferers themselves that are impacted, but family, friends and carers many of whom go unnoticed and few are actually given the support and help they too need.

I’m not sure if it’s just my perception given how close I am to this but the press love to heap sensationalised criticism of the care either available or given to patients .  Sadly the criticism tends to concentrate on extreme cases the result of which adds more pressure on the system and perpetuates the negative attitudes that the uniformed and ignorant public has.

I could go on for ages on this issue and turn this into a major rant.  But I won’t.

For the last few years my wife studied Psychology at Reading University, obtained a First Class degree and now works as a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner for Oxfordshire Mind.  I am very proud of her not only what she achieve academically but also now for the work she does and the help she gives every day.   So when I was offered the chance (challenged more like) to take part in The Winter Wolf Run I not only jumped at the chance to get muddy and wet but also saw it as an opportunity to raise some money for Mind UK to help them help us all.

So this was a rather long winded plug for my run and a request for you to dig deep and sponsor me on 2nd November.  I have a modest target of £1000 to reach (for no other reason that it’s a good sum and an attainable target or at least I hope it is).  Thank you so much to all those that donated so far and got me 29% of the way to target in just three days last week, your help and generosity is inspiring.  However it still leaves me 71% to go.

If you would like to donate please go to

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!



Who Do you Think is the Most Influential Leader in Global Recruitment?

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Do you work for or know an influential leader?Banner 344x80

I am sure many of us will have been fortunate to have worked for, or with a manager who has been an inspiration to us and has possessed the true ability to lead, not only the team and its delivery of services, but also has had the clarity of thought to lead the thinking on different issues important to you and to the business that you support. They are rare and we don’t always appreciate them at the time, but each of them as had a bearing on you and how your do things.

In their August edition Recruiter magazine launched “Most Influential In-house Recruiters” with a stellar line up of in-house practitioners for 2013, each of whom in the opinion of the author of that piece made a significant impact in their business or is a key influencer and thought leader. Many, myself included (I am pleased to say I am friends or at least know all but two of those mentioned), recognise that they each deserve to be included and for a variety of reasons. These leaders have made a significant difference to the teams they lead, the services they deliver, the innovations they have implemented at their employers or the changes they have influenced in the wider recruitment landscape.

It goes without saying that each one of those included by Recruiter deserve to be there, yet there will be countless others across the world that have had a similarly significant impact on the people they work with and the services they deliver and also richly deserve the accolades of their peers.
Do you work with someone that deserves the acknowledgement?
Who has made a difference to you and your business?

Whether you consider someone to be a good leader or an inspiration to you or others will always depend on circumstance and perspective of course.  And it is your perspective that counts.

Who do you think deserve to be honoured as The Recruitment Leader of The Year 2013? who will you nominate?

Get your nominations in now  >> Click HERE

Closing date for entries is 30th Sept 2013

Originally posted on The FIRM Awards site

18 Months and All Change

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Be warned – this is a remedial brain dump.  This is for me, about me.  I should have written it a while ago to get it off my chest but hey………………….

So I apologise in advance if it is a wee bit introspective and selfish so wont be offended if you chose not to read on and click away now

It’s been quite a while since I wrote a blog from scratch, a blog that isn’t based on an observation of a topic trending elsewhere online, in fact I’ve not put anything out for almost a year.  I have to say I’ve missed it.

There are two or three reasons for this; firstly my confidence as a blogger took a knocking by someone who through either naivety, or perhaps simple ignorance was rather critical of the fact that I blogged and offered up observation or opinions on subjects or issues I was interested in.  Now normally I wouldn’t pay any attention or would discuss further in an attempt to win them over, however when it comes from a co-worker in an influential position it becomes somewhat tougher.  Now they never actually made a big deal of it to be fair to them, however it had me second guessing myself to the point that I lost my mojo, inspiration and inclination to write.

Secondly I was rather ill last year.  This had a massive impact on me both physically and mentally.  The strength of both capacities was for a certain time impacted drastically.  Physically I have lost approx. 25 kilos (55lbs) in body weight since then, much of it in the first few weeks which took all of my strength away. Mentally I was impacted by a massive amount of steroids that I had to take daily for the first 6 months before being weaned off of them from the start of this year, as well as the constant adjustment and fight against pain. It took its toll.

I also changed jobs so to speak at the end of last year and went from being employed to working on The FIRM full time for a few months and then setting up my own consulting business which had it’s own level of stress at a time, when I was starting to become unwell again, although I failed to recognise it at the time.

In July 2013 I had a reoccurrence (I was warned I would get them through life now) and was taken to hospital again – it could not have come at a better time.  Strange as that may sound, so much was going wrong physically that it was difficult to get through a day and then a night without pain. It was very stressful. I wasn’t a nice person to be around.  But getting into hospital again and being treated albeit, drip fed nothing but morphine, potassium, and paracetamol for 48 hours and then being put back on the steroids has been like having my factory reset button pressed.  Not only that, it has given me the power of hindsight and reflection. How to cope better, how to adjust to what is happening to me so I can better recognise when, (if) it happens again.

So looking back to over the last 18 months or so, the two things that have dominated my life and that of those around – change and food!

  • I’ve changed
  • My weight has changed
  • My size has changed
  • My way of thinking has changed
  • My moods change so much faster than I’d expect
  • I am much more disciplined now
  • I exercise much more – in fact having lost 25kg makes it easier

Oh and when it comes to food – where do I start? I have had to drastically change my diet – I am now gluten intolerant, dairy intolerant, fat intolerant and diabetic. Not all them were diagnosed at the same time either so I have had constant adjustments to make. Not only that but eating too much is a no no for me too! Who would’ve thought eh? Many of the good foods, particularly fruit and veg I cannot eat anymore, some cause me pain – why is that?  It can’t be fair not to be able to eat grapes, corn, oranges, broccoli, and cauliflower surely? Not to mention fried food!  I have yet to get an intolerance to water, so there is hope.

Those close to me know I have met many of the challenges of the last 18 months head on and enjoyed much of it. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t like being 10 inches smaller at the waist?  They also know that there have been aspects of what has happened that have not been so pleasant and have been a huge struggle; continued pain, continued weight loss, emotional extremes, fatigue, mood swings.  Each of which counters the enjoyment of the new Gary and has added extra worry, anxiety and stress for me and to others.

As with any illness either physical or mental there are no or at best, limited options or choices for much of what happens, control is taken away and your life is tilted on its axis. However it is still spinning, maybe at a different angle, at a different speed, it may even wobble but life goes on.  It’s all about managing change. We do it in our daily lives whether at work or a play, many don’t know that they are adapting or managing the change.

I am learning to change every day. I learn some aspects of it better and faster than others.  I, like you don’t have a choice in some of it, it just happens, that’s life, I can manage it and its impact perhaps, if I am strong enough and equipped to do so at the time. Alternatively I can ask for help.  Not always easy, seems to be a human condition not to ask for help. But you will be surprised from where help can come from, if only you asked.  This applies at work or at home, whether you are managing a team or a new function or in your personal life.

So it was a bit of a jumbled ramble that needed to be unloaded.  There are about 25-30 people who I owe a huge thank you too for many reasons. Genuinely. Thank You.

The HR Juggler


So, my original plan was to follow-up the wonderful advent blog series with a summary post presenting my learning and the analytics and then take a bit of a break from blogging. That summary post will absolutely follow soon, but as many of you will be aware, Day 43 of the series created a tidal wave of interest and commitment from people across and beyond my network to come together and do something about the topic of mental health.

It is too easy to feel that surge of commitment and then to fail to take action. If you need any further proof, look here to a post that I wrote about mental health two years ago and have done very little about since. I have spoken at length with the author of the post and both of us have chatted with Mind to devise a plan for all who want…

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In-house Recruiters – behaviours and ethics, improvements needed

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Whenever in-house recruiting practitioners come together online or in person you can bet your house the conversation will soon turn to the use of recruitment agencies and soon thereafter to how bad or unethical they usually are.  Some of the more entertaining discussions in the online communities I am a member of are full of anecdotes of bad practice, lack of integrity, stupidity…..well the list goes on. Sadly the comments are all too true, frequent and similar in nature, so it is hardly surprising that all agencies good or bad tend to get grouped together as bad.


However on a number of occasions recently I have been party to some discussions and comments from the other perspective; those made by recruitment agencies about the issues they have with HR, in-house recruiters or hiring managers.  Some of them are the expected moans about an inability to sell, usually coming from a blatant lack of understanding for their customers and not worth the consideration, others however deserve much more.


Whilst the in-house recruiters might enjoy “agency bashing” as a frequent activity, the agency sales people do have some genuine reasons to “bash” back.    I give you a mashup of a couple of incidents from earlier this year, as an example of one of really poor behaviour.  Sadly the in-house recruiters involved are members of The FIRM and yes they still are, in the hope that they will learn from others.  Discussions have been had.


An agency is briefed on a role by an employer about a specific vacancy, asked to find suitable applicants and submit CVs accordingly.  The agency supplies CVs to the inhouse Recruitment Manager as requested, in accordance with procedures.  The Recruitment Manager contacts the candidates directly and attempts to bypass the agency. 


Because this is a mashup of incidents, much of the detail from each is omitted, including the names of all parties, but you get the gist.


Let’s be clear on this, if the agency has been asked to provide CVs for a particular role and responds accordingly I cannot think of any justification why this kind of behaviour is acceptable. You should be ashamed. 


I’d be interested to hear if anyone can try to justify it.  This is also I am sure, just one of many moans or genuine complaints that could be aimed at in-house recruiters.


Many in-house practitioners generally take the high moral ground when it comes to ethics and professionalism and become quite partisan in either promoting or defending that position, myself included, yet I am all too aware that there is merit in what the agencies say and based on the above I am sure few would disagree.   A couple of years ago I presented to an audience of over 100 inhouse recruiters and used the words “you are not as good as you think you are”.  I had learned that at the time as a result of my own, then recent, job hunting experiences. As a result of the growth of the in-house recruiting function in the last two years I believe this to still be the case today, more than ever. 


To be able to do our jobs properly we have to act with integrity. This is true when dealing with everyone in the candidate supply chain, no matter how they are sourced.  To behave any other way is not only a mistake, but so damaging to your recruitment brand and to your own personal reputation.  Even if you don’t have your own personal code of conduct, your company should without doubt. 


I am not saying you have to deal with recruitment agencies, however I am saying that if you chose to, then doing so with the highest levels of professionalism and honesty can only be a good thing.  I would hope that members of The FIRM think and behave the same way. 


I welcome all comments and thoughts on this one

Resourcing – Why Chop Logs with a Teaspoon?

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This weekend I spent loads of time in my garden. About 4 hours on Saturday and about 3 on Sunday. It was time well spent.

I had a list of things I wanted to get done, the sun was shining, it was warm and dry, perfect weather for some hard work.

In the spring of 2010 we had six very large Ash trees felled in various parts of the grounds.  Two of the trees were easily 30 meters tall and were felled inside the garden with no way to get them up the very high steep bank through the woods and out of the garden.  I managed to get some of them cleared last year but had left the rest in piles to season where they fell.  Time to move some more; cut, split and stack them in the stables, (we don’t have horses, it’s just a giant storage shed), ready for winter use.

I’d put this particular job off for most of the summer hoping for a long hot spell to really dry the wood out.  That and the fact it was going to a long hard job and I didn’t really fancy it at all, but with cut and split logs costing in the region of £100 a tonne if purchased it made sense to use what was already ours. So to work.

With my in-ear headphones and the iPod on shuffle I just got on with it. A chainsaw and a bow saw on Saturday, an axe and hatchet on Sunday.  I was having fun, all the time the number of tree trunks and branches from around the place were being reduced to the size we could use in the house.  Whilst I was doing this I was thinking, amongst other things, about my next blog post.  Each time I latched onto a theme I just couldn’t make it work.

Then on Sunday it occurred to me.

I just spent hours reducing trees to 20cm logs to burn in an open fire.  Whilst it was most certainly hard work it had not been difficult at all, in fact it was easy.  I was methodical.  I paced myself.  It occurred to me was that I was enjoying what I was doing, I had the enthusiasm and energy to get the job done and I had the correct tools for the job.

Of course my mind linked it instantly to Resourcing and how organisations big and small don’t generally give it the priority it needs, don’t have the appetite, energy or the right tools to do it right.  To do anything right, there has to be an appetite, enthusiasm and energy to do it well and the right equipment to do it effectively and efficiently for the right results have to be available.  I could have created the same amount of fire logs with a bow saw and a regular saw and just an axe but it would have taken me so much longer and with much more effort and lots of pain.  This is a task I have done for year and love it! I know what I am doing and have the right approach, tools and technique.  Yes anyone can do it but you have to know what you are doing.  I’ve seen the damage done by poor attention to the detail and poor technique; it’s not pretty

When it comes to Resourcing the appetite comes from the leader of the organisation.  Many executives say it is a priority but few give it anything other than lip service and it tends to get marginalised because outdated attitudes to sourcing and attraction are cemented firmly in days gone by, i.e. pick the phone up and call and agency or search firm. (A bit like using a rust old and blunt hand saw).  This last sentence assumes it is recognised as an essential and specialist business function in the first place. I doubt very much that it is in the majority.  There are many companies that are happy for the hiring managers to leverage personal networks, place job adverts and engage with agencies; and for many this works well.  Whilst it doesn’t actually add any real value to the business it puts bums on seats.  Sadly for the majority of hiring managers and HR practitioners that’s all it’s about.

Equipping a Resourcing function properly is key to its success and essential to it adding far more value to the business than most people think it can.  It doesn’t start with simply giving someone the responsibility to recruit for your company.  It starts with a commitment to do it properly and to recognise that it is something that you need to invest in to allow the proper policies and procedures to be put in place and then constantly refined, retuned and modified to keep pace with a constantly changing landscape.

It also takes time to get it right for your company.  There is no overnight fix, but there can be a dramatic and identifiable improvement within a reasonably short space of time.  I’m talking within the current accounting period.

The one big mistake that many hiring managers, HRDs, HR Managers and company executives make when it comes to Resourcing is thinking it is easy and that anyone can do it.

Last year I asked an audience made up of about 100 HR management types “How many of you have personally been responsible for Rescouring someone in the last year?”

All but a few put their hands up.

Then I asked them “How many of you did that without using agencies or search firms?”  Only three hands stayed up.

I’m not sure what they thought they were doing but it wasn’t Resourcing, but it was easy.  I told them that the only thing they had proven to me was that they knew how to use a phone.  Only one or two of them had actually done the resourcing, all of the others had offloaded it to 3rd parties.    Now this is not a fault at all but simply an indication of what many think Resourcing is all about.

Recruitment, Talent Acquisition, Resourcing, Staffing – call it what you will, is not a one dimensional function and it does not follow a simple linear process that has a clear beginning and an end. To be sure that your business doesn’t suffer because of the bad hires you have made or the bad impression you have made in the market it must be given specialist continued focus and attention.  It is a front line customer and consumer facing function.  Treating it as anything else could be neglecting your responsibilities.

Providing your company with the right tools means applying the right priority to the function, finding the right people, paying them what they are worth, the right training, giving them the appropriate budget to use the appropriate technologies and platforms and give them the corporate support to ensure they are not marginalised by HR, Sales, Marketing or any other function.  Think about it!  An effective Resourcing team might speak to more people every week, selling your company to a wider audience than any other department in your organisation.  Do you really want them to be doing a bad job of it?   You get the right people with the right attitude and attributes and give them respect they will both save you money and add to your company’s bottom line.

With the right tools for the job you get a job well done, you get added benefit in terms of corporate reputation, the delivery of the right skills at the right time for the business and is done efficiently.  The best talent in the market will give you more respect and as such could well put you at the top of their list of places to work when they are ready.  And as with anything done right you will get value for your money.

I am looking for work at the moment and know from first-hand experience how bad the Resourcing/Recruitment processes are in companies if left to the HRBPs, HRDs or generalists. It’s not the individuals’ fault all of the time; it’s probably the priority given to it.  There is a simple answer – Hire me I’ll sort it out for you.  I can be contacted here

Let me just add this; if it was easy to do, why do so many of you get it so wrong all of the time?

Music of the Day – In Loving Memory by Alter Bridge

Thanks for reading


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What? Can you not read? but feel free to post an irrelevant comment