Beating Bullies? Even if it Means Admitting You Made a Hiring Mistake..

This post stems from a conversation which I have been having with an employer who is trying to deal with allegations of bullying by a senior employee within the workplace.  The issue has now reached a critical stage as one employee has raised a girevance and two others are threatening to.

The employee in question has been accused of a catalogue of behaviour which can only be viewed as bullying including standing over employees and shouting at them in front of co-workers, exhibiting a loss of temper so vitriolic that colleagues were left speechless.

My post, however, is not about how to manage incidents of bullying rather the factors that may influence how such behaviour is managed.

This senior employee is very new to the business, and it could be argued that as they are still within a probabtionery period it should be relatively straightforward to deal with the problem.  Why then do we often see bad behaviour being left to continue, often for many years?

There is an argument that says dealing with a bully means the hiring manager admitting they may have made a hiring mistake.  This is a crucial point.  No-one wants to admit that they made a mistake, but where you think you may have hired the wrong person it is an essential first step.  Look at it this way:

  1. No-one will blame you for hiring the wrong person, they will blame you if you fail to deal adequately with the fall-out of doing so.
  2. We can all be hoodwinked by a superbly drafted CV, a well cut suit and a smooth talking candidate.  The interview is only a very brief snapshot of the person in front of you.
  3. We should practice our interview skills to ensure that we are better placed to pick up on points which under further probing may help you to spot potential problems.
  4. There is no shame in putting your hands up and saying ‘hey, this is not going as well as I had anticipated’.
  5. You are doing everyone a favour by tackling it sooner rather than later: the new employee might actually feel out of their depth but is too afraid to say so, you won’t know this if you don’t tackle the problem.

Just because you have hired a person does not mean that you have to keep them.  All this being said, you obviously saw some spark of brilliance in the new recruit so you owe it to yourself to try and tease it out.  This will mean spending time with the employee mentoring them, coaching them, pointing out the things that you see as a problem and actively encouraging them to grow and develop in a more positive way.  The employee is, afterall, an investment and as such they should be ‘nurtured’ so that you get the best return on your investment.  Not forgetting that if the investment is obviously failing to thrive, despite your best efforts, then you should sell it on and invest elsewhere.

Afterall, a happy workforce means a better bottom line.


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Cake Frosting…

So, I thought I’d try my hand at making cakes. I bought a lovely 1953 A700 Kenwood Chef (photos to follow ins other post), and hubby bought me some great cake making books as a pressie.

My first attempt was, if i say so myself, blooming gorgeous. Chocolate Mud Cake to die for.

Next attempt – Cupcakes. Cranberry Spice to be precise (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it… Haha). These are looking good but at the moment they are naked. They have no frosting 😦 I’ve tried a couple of batches but it’s just too runny.

There is a cake decorating shop in our little town. She sells various items for people who make their own cakes. She also sells her own very nice creations.

I’ve been in to the shop a couple of times. As a novice I’m not just looking for products to buy but also guidance and a bit of ‘it’ll be ok, just keep practising’. Unfortunately every attempt to engage the owner in anything other than telling me how much I’ve spent has proved impossible.

Today was the final straw. I went in and asked if she sold ready made frosting. I’m thinking it’s unlikely because it has a limited shelf life and most people can make it easily themselves so there will be no demand. However, it’s worth a shot. As expected she doesn’t sell it, she said she tried it once but it didn’t sell. So I tell her I am really struggling to make it and that every attempt ends up runny and in the bin. I say that I’ve got cupcakes waiting for frosting and am sad that I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Her response? Stony silence. She said nothing at all. She didn’t change her expression, she just stood there.

I waited a moment then said again that I wish I knew what I was doing wrong or if there was a better recipe I could try or a different technique but she still remained silent and unmoved.

End result, I just walked out of the shop. I didn’t spend any money. I won’t be going back in to the shop again. Her loss. Small businesses need to be as good at customer service as any other business, this is a very small town and it doesn’t take long for little shops to go under, our high street is full of vacant shops.

Bye for now,


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CIPD Committee Member

Tonight I attended my first cipd branch committee meeting, really enjoyed it, everyone was very friendly too. Looking forward to getting more involved in the coming mths.

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Speeding Woes

As the roads of Bridlington became congested with striking public sector workers who’d decided to spend the day at seaside, a speed camera van appeared at the end of our street. In the three years since the police parking space was created I have only seen it used twice. Such a rare sight is it that, as I left Brid for the quiet of the city, I was distracted to the point where I inadvertently increased my speed. Looking at the van and moaning about strikers I crept up to 36mph in a 30 zone. A notice of intended prosecution was waiting for me when I got home yesterday. I’m thoroughly appalled with myself, especially as I’ve managed to keep a clean licence for so long. Its more galling because I don’t speed, I like to enjoy the journey, so this has ticked me off quite a bit. It’s a pity the camera isn’t there in the early morning when the lorries are speeding along the road, but hey ho can’t have everything. Apparently if I’d only been doing 35 then I would have ‘got away with it’ perhaps I should have slammed on the brakes like everyone else instead of worrying what would happen to the car up my arse…

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Crazy Dog Bandit


Nemi, our Rhodesian Ridgeback, was having a bad hair day… ‘Dont look at me’ she said 🙂

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Social Media Checks… Are You Up To Scratch?

Thanks to @colmmu for tweeting this morning’s story (and @CatrinMills for RTing on LinkedIn) from Edwards Gibson about Law Firms using social networking sites to vet candidates (see HERE).  The tweet has generated a lot of comment and there seems to be quite a split between those who think it is ok and those who believe it is a step too far.

For my part I welcome more interaction from law firms looking to recruit new people.  If that means that they are looking at my social media profiles then ‘bring it on’.  In a world where getting your next legal role means competing with huge numbers of other candidates to even get to the stage where an agency will put your CV forward, it is great news to think that law firms might be conducting their own research.  Job hunting is, more than ever before, a numbers game.  There are so many out of work lawyers that agencies are able to be very selective about which candidates they put forward.  Yes, this is good for the law firm because it means they have fewer CVs to review but it also means that they could be missing out on the perfect candidate.

This is why empowering law firms, and especially the partners who are looking for new team members, with the ability to check out potential candidates is a good idea.  As more and more law firms start using Twitter and LinkedIn, more partners will develop their own profiles.  In turn, they will interact with a very wide network of potential candidates and it makes sense, therefore, to ensure that your social media profiles are as positive as possible.  This is simply good house-keeping anyway, why would you want to tweet that you were ‘smashed’ last night or ‘high as a kite’ on Thursday for example? I am not saying that we can’t let our hair down and have fun, but that if we do, we should keep the events and aftermath confined to those that were there to witness it – ‘What Happens in Vegas…’

We should also consider the impact of unsavoury or inappropriate comments on client retention.  Would we want to instruct a lawyer who cannot manage an appropriate online presence?  Probably not.  It is the same reason that I am not FB friends with my Bank Manager, I like to think of her as professional and competent, my respect for her might be diminished if I found out that she kept blowing all her wages on telephone psychic lines in the hope of finding out when she was going to meet the man of her dreams…

Social media has revolutionised the workplace, it has brought the workplace out into the everyday world that we inhabit.  We are constantly on show to anyone with an internet connection.  Yes, it has brought about great new opportunities for networking and marketing but the price was always going to be high.  That price is the freedom, that people thought they had, to behave badly outside of the hours from 9am to 5pm Mon – Fri.

I’ve already said this but there’s no harm in repeating it here: I’m delighted that prospective employers may be viewing my social networking profiles, and I’m working hard to keep the content appropriate and relevant.  Marketing and networking skills are becoming more important for lawyers and I like to think that my social profiles show that I can manage an online presence both personally and professionally. Hopefully it makes me more of a ‘known quantity’ and helps prospective employers see if my personality would fit within their organisation because it says more about me as a person than my academic results do.


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It’s all About the Service!

Heritage Joinery – a company that prides itself on restoring original wooden windows to their former glory. Their website is very nice, they show photos of completed restoration projects and when I was looking for a window restoration company they were the first company that I thought of.

Sadly, my experience has been about as bad as it could get. The gentleman turned up on 15 November and measured a bay window, a bullseye window, a door and porch. That went well, he was pleasant and knowledgeable, he assured me that he would get the quote out to me very quickly.

That is the last that I heard from Heritage Joinery. I have made several phone calls to chase the quote, each time I am assured that it will be emailed to me. The lady on reception makes her usual apologies for the fact that I am still waiting and assures me she will get the chap to send me the quote that very day. Still nothing arrives in my inbox.

As it turns out the gentleman who measured up is actually a Director of the company. What does this say about the company?

In these difficult times you would expect companies to make every effort to secure new business. The appalling service that I have received suggests to me that Heritage Joinery don’t give a flying fig about customers or new business. If they are so poor at getting quotes out for work then just how bad will they be once they have my order and a deposit? Will I be left forever with boarded up windows whilst they renovate mine in their workshop?

I don’t ask for much, all I want is a quote delivered in a timely manner. I want the service that you offer to be excellent throughout the whole process, from the initial call to book an appointment up to the point where you take my money when the job is complete. I want you to care enough about your business and the livelihood of your employees that you will not jeopardise new business by failing to maintain even basic standards.

It really is all in the service, give me bad service and no mater how great your product I simply will not buy it.

This isn’t a legal post I know, but the principle applies to all businesses including law firms. It is a stark reminder that there is always someone else out there, willing to go the extra mile and get the customer. It is those businesses that will weather the storm and thrive in the years to come.

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