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From barista to boss for a willing temp

This article appeared in The Mail on Sunday 16 August 2009

As the unemployment figure continues to climb, competition for jobs is fiercer than ever and many people have been forced to take temporary work to make ends meet. But for some, temping can lead to bigger and better things.

When Simon Wade took a temporary job as a barista, making coffee for contract catering firm Lexington Catering, he did not think that five years later he would still be there, now as the deputy group manager.

Simon, 27, from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, says: 'At the time I had no real career ambitions. The only real plan I had was to earn enough cash to go travelling, so I took the first job that came along.'

Two months in, he realised how much he was enjoying the work and the rapport he had with the public, while the company was seeing his potential.

'I have an outgoing nature and was genuinely enthusiastic about my work and I think that stood out,' he says. 'After six months I was made a supervisor, then a site manager and then to my current position.

'I never thought my original job would lead to this, but my advice to anyone in a similar position is to consider all your options, apply yourself and show willing. You may never know what may come of temporary work.'

With large-scale recruitment freezes still in place, many employers are having to promote from within. The most enlightened are including their part-time and temporary staff in the appraisal process and finding out what their aspirations are, says Jane Sunley, managing director of management firm Talent Toolbox. 'Many of them will only be there for the short term, but with jobs at a premium and redundancies a reality, there could be some high-calibre candidates among the peripheral workforce who employers would want to retain,' she says.

The challenge for the temp is to stand out. Maria Yapp, chief executive of business psychology firm Xancam, says the most promising candidates are those with an appetite for learning who relate well to senior people and customers and who motivate others.

'They usually have a very good understanding of the business and are willing to try new things and learn other jobs,' she says.

This article appeared in the Mail on Sunday.

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The Big C

Mary Jane Flanagan - Training Director

The power of commitment and how to inspire it.

They say women strive for it, men are scared of it and most students have difficulty spelling it (I guess it's all those

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Working... creatively

Jodi Goldman - Communications Manager

There are many times I hear of things that American companies do, and I smile, shake my head and think 'only in America!' For example; I was watching a TV programme about a

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Engage, retain and grow the people you have

This article appeared in The Sunday Times 12 July 2009

Sean Wheeler, group director of people at Hotel du Vin and Malmaison (click here for a case study)

I joined Malmaison just after it acquired Hotel du Vin. I knew that the two brands would surely employe a wealth of talented people. The trouble was that nobody really knew what their skills, aspirations and needs were.

I am a great believer in making the most of what you have before looking elsewhere. We are known as a great place to work and I feel we owe it to our people to help them reach their potential or at least help them towards it.

The other important aspect is that, with strong brand cultures like ours, the people are the brand. It therefore makes sense to engage, retain and grow the people you already have.

This approach also means that you can save on recruitment and training costs. We use and online system from Talent Toolbox that enables us to manage performance, track the aspirations and have comprehensive succession plans as well as providing a "people balance sheet" for the board.

For a case study of how the hotels group has worked with us click here.

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Sales through service

Helen Flint - Business Development Director

Over the past few years we've noticed an increased demand for the bespoke customer service programmes that we offer our clients. It seems that people who previously felt t

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Insiders rise to the challenge

This article appeared in The Sunday Times 12 July 2009

Hiring new staff is expensive. Yes, the recession has increased the number of people looking for work but it has also made high performers wary of leaving their jobs without a significant financial incentive.

A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests that it costs companies an average of £20,000 to replace senior managers who leave. Across all levels of employees it costs an average of nearly £6,000.

However, other research suggests that when the productivity drop associated with recruitment is included, the true figure for replacing a key manager is more like five times their salary, or ten times for a Director, said Jane Sunley, chief executive of Talent Toolbox, the people management system.

The answer for employers, according to Sunley, is to develop existing employees and promote from within. "it's good for morale for people to see others in their team being promoted."

Companies that have a good sense of where individual employees' aspirations and abilities lie are better placed to develop their succession, too, and its an effective way of protecting the company's brand.

"Business depends on their people. It's really hard to get brand consistency if you keep changing your people. Customers are demanding and they don't want to wait for people to get up to speed," said Sunley.

Gary Knowles, engineering and quality manager at Fascia Graphics in Chippenham, Wiltshire, said: "When you bring people straight into senior positions they might not necessarily understand how the company works and its ethos."

Knowles, 33, was himself promoted, literally, from the shop floor after joining at 20 to work on the production line making membrane keypads. "It wasn't what I wanted to spend my career doing but as a starting block it was fine," he said.

He took the job on the understanding that he would rise up the ranks when a suitable opportunity came up and that was exactly what happened - and has continued to happen.

Rather than simply promoting people and leaving them to it, Fasca ensures staff get the training that they need to move up. One technique they use is "multi -roling" - allowing employees to shadow someone to learn new skills before they step into the new job.

Organisations that want to promote from within should be open-minded about where high-potential staff can be found as not all future leaders join in management positions or even on a graduate programme, said Lesley Uren, the Chief Executive of Jackson Samuel, a recruitment firm.

"Talent does not always present itself in obvious places," she said. "If you build in too many criteria, such as that they have to be a grauate or they have particular experience, it limits your ability to spot raw talent."

Instead, look for people with a gift, such as an instinctive understanding of customer, resilience or charisma. "You also need to be willing t develop that talent," she said. "When you are looking for diamonds in the rough you have to knock a few edges off."

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Let’s talk money

This article appeared in the Evening Standard 7 July 2009

While many firms are freezing salaries, some City firms are back paying out record bonuses. So how should managers tackle the tricky subject of pay?

Now may not be the best time to discuss a pay rise. However, with executive pay rising at its slowest rate for five years, according to the National Management Salary Survey from the Chartered Management Institute, there will be pressure to increase remuneration packages as the economy recovers.

The City is already showing the first Signs of this improvement in remuneration, with Goldman sachs staff in line for a record £430,000 in pay and bonuses per employee and Morgan Stanley employees likely to come close to their average paid out in pre-recession 2007.

So how should executives tackle this Difficult subject?" In the current climate it could make you vulnerable," says David Bryson, director of Negotiation Workshop. "It may be better to wait until autumn in terms of there being better news for the economy, And maybe think about your organisation and wait until they have good news."

Knowing the demand for your role in the market and the level of remuneration is critical he says. Do background research by using salary surveys compiled by professional institutions or recruitment companies  for example, the online Robert Walters salary survey (http://www.robertwalters.com).

Jane Sunley, managing director of Learnpurple, suggests: "Speak to recruiters - they will give you a realistic picture and advise whether your bid for an improved package is reasonable.

Glassdoor.com holds more than 5,500 UK salary reports and company reviews posted by employees from companies including UBS. Barclays Capital. PWC and RBS. To access them you just need to post your salary details on the site.

"You need to understand what your colleagues are paid and also what sort of response they got to a request for better pay. If it is negative you might want to reconsider," suggests Bryson. and the amount of hard work you put in. MY reaction was always based on how valuable and useful and effective the person was."

Then you must understand the person you are going to approach. Their character is key and you need to know which buttons to press and which to avoid. Bryson says: "Some people will react favourably to a strong and polite request backed up with facts and a clear rationale. Others would be more responsive to a humble approach based around asking how the situation is.

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Purple, only green

Jane Sunley, Managing Director

On July 10th EDF, the first sustainability partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, are launching the UK's first 'Green Britain Day' as part of the lead-up to t

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Customer service the remake

Mary Jane Flanagan - Training Director

Taking a look at how to invigorate your training and make it 'stick'.

I don't know about you, but I rarely watch a remake that is better than the original. OK so Oceans Eleve

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Eat your way out of a recession

Jessica Cain, Managing Director learnpurple Bristol

It's not a secret that eating healthily and exercising gives you energy and makes you feel alive. I should know - being pregnant recently and letting go of the dis

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