Friday, 7 August 2009

Own Goals and Golden Goals

I'm back from 2 weeks of absolutely doing nothing and I feel good. I am rather out of the loop having been deprived of the main stream media and am catching up. I resisted the temptation to take my usual holiday read of the codes of practice but did pop in to read some other blogs. I didn't give the job much thought at all and I'm very happy about that.

Sgt Twining name checked me on one of his posts, which was a response to a posting made by 200 weeks about a racial discrimination payout made to an Asian WPC. I don't know much about the case so will give a general viewpoint. I don't like to post on Diversity matters but as someone who's worked in small teams all of his career hope to bring some common sense to this.

I see diversity and teamwork in the workplace as allowing everybody to contribute and bring something to the table. Horses for courses springs to mind and there are very few people who can excel at everything. One thing I've noticed on teams is that if somebody is not pulling their weight or not upto the job other team members can be rather unforgiving. This is when strong management is needed to keep a team in check. Unfortunately people tend to regress to almost playground antics and paint the weaker team member in an unfavourable light. They might be fat, ginger, ethnic minority, male, female, or bespectacled and the likelihood is anything will be used to put that individual down. This will be true in any occupation not just the police as it's human nature. Just recall the case of Sarah Locker who didn't get "promotion" into the CID, until somebody typed a report in Stavros speak (she was I believe Turkish or Greek descent) and left it in her tray. Conduct like that somewhat makes the case out for her.

The weaker team member is no longer fully part of the team, and is made to feel excluded. Some team members will not want to work with that individual and there is a problem that needs sorting. Now I'm a great believer in saying things as they are and that's what worries me about this case in particular. If everybody perceives that individual as not competent, abrupt, rude or whatever, chances are that the person might be just that. If they are not made aware of it then how can they change and improve.

I personally will confront head on and tell somebody how they are perceived. It's not a nice thing to do but isn't it better then avoiding the issue and everybody is muttering about that individual behind their back. Most people are not able to take any criticism because we all think we are great and this is where things start to go wrong in the workplace. In the case highlighted the tribunal criticised the trainer for telling it the way it was. It would appear that the subsequent lack of a development plan has then gone against the job. Is this the end of informal management action?

I believe in the case mentioned there was a facilitated session with the rest of the class reported as a diversity lesson. This then makes it a racial / religious matter and was probably why the WPC in question won that part of her case. Why oh why was race or religion brought into it? If the issues were over her performance or attitude that is the issue that should have been addressed to bring matters to a conclusion satisfactory to all.

I see the point of 200 weeks and what he means however it would appear to be another own goal by ourselves when dealing with an issue. Does it deserve a five figure payout for hurt feelings? Of course not, as the individual is still employed and suffered no financial loss. As somebody who lost thousands through my injury on duty and with no compensation forthcoming it somewhat grates but that's they way it's set down. There is a tariff set down for most things and the same should be true in some of these cases. To win only 2 parts out of 17 and be seen as the victor again paints the organisation in a bad light. The tribunal system makes no exclusions for public sector employers and they have to pay out exactly the same as private sector, taxpayers money or not.

I also see the point made by Sgt Twining but feel he was speaking about his own experiences with management. I've had my clashes with management myself and again adopt the attitude of saying what I think. If you don't say your piece things do eat you up, but say it and let it go. It doesn't mean you're right but sod the consequences. That's not to say that perceived unfair treatment doesn't cause severe stress. I've seen a female manager treat a male sergeant unfairly for reasons only she knows. It affects all staff the same but not all have equal redress to the law. I also think our present grievance procedures leave a lot to be desired.

I had to watch CNN on holiday about the Gates affair. I don't know if it got coverage over here. Basically a black professor got arrested for disorderly conduct after police were called to his house by a neighbour thinking somebody was breaking in. President Obama called the police actions "stupid" and it caused no end of problems. It was settled around a table with all three having a beer and a sensible discussion. I think if unnecessary golden payouts were not available we could return to common sense resolutions. Therefore the system is wrong and that's what needs changing.


Inspector Leviathan Hobbes said...

Great post Stressed. You've captured the dynamics of a team beautifully. Why do people focus on the differences of an individual when 'straightening' them out though? It leads to claims of discrimination as you highlighted above. This only gives credence to other situations where someone is dealt with the same way or officially, but without focusing on their differences. The slacker will bring up discrimination, and will win, even though it was never mentioned. I'm sure I could have said this in an easier way, but I've just finished a hectic night duty and am mentally shattered.

TWINING said...


TWINING said...

When there is often a conflict both parties focus on differences.

Boss, there are many people, who are not slackers but have claimed that they have been unfairly treated.

Slackers will use the card I have no doubt.

How can we tell the difference between someone who has been badly treated and someone who is using the card?

Vetnurse said...

I had words with someone the other day telling them exactly how they are perceived. I am very blunt speaking, perhaps to much but l also know that the person is protected by a boss who is to scared to stamp hard on the person which is what is needed.

I am past caring when l see what the person in question does and gets away with. How they have caused extreme upset with various staff members, l have had many a wet shoulder from it over the past few years.
The person in q knows l won't tolerate their behaviour towards me and gives me a wide berth. They have only tried it on once... the other day and it cost them a verbal ripping that they have not had for many years if any.

It makes my blood boil when management is incompetent and does not provide leadership but hides in a hole allowing this to go on. He is so weak l have called him a coward to his face for not dealing with the problem.

A slacker is always busy yet nothing get's done. Generally the team will know who is slacking and who isn't and the wise boss listens to the whispers and finds a way to deal with the problem.

Anonymous said...

Good post, youve hit the nail on the head about diversity of talent in a team. A strong team will consist of individuals with different talents, strengths and weaknesses. Managed correctly they all compliment each other and produce great results. However what tends to happen in many cases is that a few strong personalities tend to dominate and it is only the particular strengths/talents of the dominant personalities which are held in high esteem. The team is lop sided and in fact is less team more of a gang . In Policing you do need thief catchers, you also need good interviewers, good report writers, those who have a clear understanding of the legal system, good communicators etc etc etc It is unlikely that all these talents are present in any one individual. Sadly many of the dominant personalities fail to recognise this, even more sadly many so called managers also fail to see this.

Stressed Out Cop said...


My point exactly - strange beast's are team's. The sgt should rule the roost and ensure everybody gets a fair crack ... my god that's what diversity should be.