Whipped into shape

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. In hard times, firms tend to take a hard-nosed approach to business and thatcan mean sidelining HR. Jane Lewis says HR could learn a few new tricks fromthe Government whips to fight the bully-boy tacticsParliamentary whips are such a shadowy and secretive breed that evenMargaret Thatcher once had to ask her friend Lord Parkinson: “Cecil, whatexactly do the whips do?” Few though, can be in any doubt as to theirstanding as some of the toughest exponents of people management in the freeworld. Frequently described as the henchmen of government, in their last majorpublic outing they helped prevent a full-scale backbench rebellion over warwith Iraq. While you may disagree with some of their methods, you cannot fault theiroverall effectiveness. This is particularly the case now, when the general toneof management thinking seems headed in a decidedly more whippish direction. “Terror in the workplace is making a comeback,” said The Economistrecently. And certainly, when times get tough, the balance of power tends toswing dramatically towards the hardliners, as Linda Holbeche, research directorat HR think-tank Roffey Park, confirms. She says HR professionals are reportingthat “senior management’s tolerance of strategic contribution from HR hasbecome much more limited”. The only thing boards want to talk about thesedays is ‘trimming heads’ and ‘an end to the war for talent’. The overall moodis: ‘we don’t need to be nice to anyone anymore’. Holbeche argues that HR must defend its corner and fight back against beingrecast in the role of corporate policeman. But some kind of tough role isinherent in any job that seeks to manage people and performance in a decliningeconomy. Shaun Tyson, professor of HRM at Cranfield School of Management agrees.”Performance management has become much more hard-nosed,” he says.”Appraisal no longer means a nice cosy chat about how things aregoing.” If emotional intelligence was the mantra of the 1990s, it’s all about toughnessnow. Even the most positive management gurus, like Good to Great author JimCollins, have described the benefits of keeping workers “productivelyneurotic”. The ability to induce neurosis in terrified MPs is a traditional whipspeciality – as is their skill in getting a disparate bunch of people to agreeto agree. “Like many business leaders, whips spend their time ensuring everyoneis moving in the same direction,” says Steve Harvey, director of people,profit and culture, at Microsoft. He says that at Microsoft, “where wehave equally as many strong views [as in Parliament]”, the ability tomarshal troops efficiently is just as critical. “There are times when youhave to make a call or a hard decision, and then force the organisation tocomply,” he says. But any company signing up to some of the whips’ more infamous persuasiontactics would swiftly find itself in front of a tribunal or worse. Tales ofbullying – physical and mental – are two-a-penny, emotional blackmail iscommonplace, and bribery takes every shape and form. Whips in all three major parties operate on the basis that knowledge ispower, and this goes much further than recording their members’ voting records.The common boast is that they know more about individual MPs than either theirspouses or their bank managers. The Tories, in particular, are renowned forkeeping meticulous records of MPs’ private lives in a Black Book locked in thechief whip’s safe. “It’s partly a confidence trick,” says onecommentator, “their powers depend on not being specific about how muchthey really know”. The arch-practitioner of this approach, it is widelyagreed, was Tristan Garel-Jones – dubbed “the Prince of Darkness” forhis service during the Thatcher years. The whips’ second weapon is patronage. This can take seemingly quite trivialforms – fall foul of the whips [who control office allocation] and “youmay find yourself hot-desking in the corridor for the rest of theparliament,” says Gary Gibbon, political correspondent at Channel 4. Other useful forms of encouragement include promises of trips abroad, seatson committees, winks about future ministerial jobs and future honours. Even theoffer of a cup of tea with the PM or foreign secretary, can do the trick, saysformer Tory whip and Independent political columnist Michael Brown – manyindependent-minded backbenchers have been swayed for less. During the lastMajor government, with the Government’s majority on a knife-edge and the Toryparty disastrously split over Europe, MPs with difficult personal financialcircumstances were bailed out by the whips to keep them loyal and preventby-elections (MPs declared bankrupt must resign). But “the biggest weapon deployed by the whips is, in my experience, thesame one deployed by most companies,” adds Gibbon. “Your advancement,your very job, depends on loyalty to the creed.” The small number of MPswho remain unamenable to bribery or threats (a “whip’s definition of anightmare”, according to Lord Parkinson) are usually placed on “ashit list”. There is only one crime greater than rebellion, says GaryGibbon, “and that is leaving your whip in ignorance of your rebellion andmaking them look like a fool in front of their own boss. Maybe that has echoesin the world beyond SW1”. The ultimate sanction – used rarely – is to beplunged into political no-man’s land by having the party whip withdrawn. Thisrarely goes down well with an MP’s local constituency. So who are the whips and how are they selected? Although both major parties have different systems (Labour whips areappointed by the leadership; Tory whips remain self-selecting), both haveinitiated major changes in their whips’ offices in recent years. Traditionally, the Labour whips were ex-union men, skilled at pushing largenumbers of people in the right direction and famous for their bluff tactics andindelicate language. One celebrated 1970s chief whip, Michael Cocks, once toldan MP that if he didn’t get back from holiday in time to vote “you’ll bein concrete”. The Tory office, meanwhile, was invariably populated – in the words of AlanClark – by “field sport enthusiasts whose last and only fulfilment hadbeen bullying lower boys at Eton”. Now, however, both parties routinely use their whips’ offices as a nurseryor proving ground for potential junior ministers. This helps explain why theranks of former whips include such apparently unobvious candidates as EstelleMorris, John Major (described as “one of the most talented whips of hisgeneration”), Stephen Dorrell and Margaret Beckett. Critics argue that this system has ensured that “instead of gettingthose with a modest ambition to bully, you get bullies with bigambitions”. But there is no doubt that whipping strategies have changedconsiderably as a result. “I would say the occasions where the whips have used sensitive humanresources techniques are rare,” says Gary Gibbon. “I’m not aware ofany training they might receive.” But in the Labour Party, at least, there is evidence of a new approach toparty management designed to show that MPs are not just “lobbyfodder”. In the run-up to the last election, former chief whip, AnnTaylor, even pioneered a kind of outplacement service offering careers adviceto MPs thought in danger of losing their seats. There are also clear signs thatpersuasion tactics have become far more subtle in recent years (see box aboveright). Party organisation, meanwhile, remains impressive: whips are routinelydivided into cells, each covering a different region. “They talk to theirown MPs and then report back to the chief whip [in Labour’s case, HilaryArmstrong] about who would be the best MP or minister to approach them as a‘friend’,” says Gibbon. But party control remains so tight that no whip –except Armstrong – knows the overall picture. “It’s almost like theBaathist party”. But perhaps the really major shift in the role of whips in both parties hasbeen their emergence as talent spotters. On any particular day, there is alwaysa whip lurking around noting every speech made in the chamber and in committees.At weekly meetings, they compare notes on potential high-fliers and ministerswho are under-performing. One of the whips’ least known, but primary, functions is to advise onCabinet composition. Indeed, it might be argued that whips enjoy the kind ofinfluence over senior post selection that many HR departments can only dreamof. Another lesson that HR might profitably learn from the whips is how to goabout getting new ideas accepted at a senior level. The secret of getting whatyou want lies in the preparation. “You need to fix things inadvance,” says one. “You need to have networked, to have people onside, taken them to lunch.” Thus, while it is all too easy for modern HR professionals to scorn anddecry some of the more archaic practices of parliamentary whips, there isclearly a good deal that can be gleaned from the way they operate – and notjust in terms of strong-arm practices. Parliamentarian managers could certainly profit from some of the lessons ofbusiness management in terms of “playing to the strengths” of theirpeople, says Microsoft’s Harvey. “When you think how often a ministerchanges roles, I wonder how many are ‘getting to do what they do best everyday’,” he says. But perhaps the most important lesson that HR can glean from the whips interms of people management is their espousal of an organisational model”that works for them”. In such a democracy, he says, “it wouldbe feasible to debate forever and never get to the decision”. Whips, like HR professionals, are two-way messengers: they are the eyes andears of the Government in the House, but they are also act as a vital conduitof overall strategy to the footsoldiers, says Linda Holbeche. HR managerslooking “to align themselves more closely with company strategy”,while working out new ways to achieve ‘buy-in’ from staff, could do a lot worsethan study their example. A brief too farOne of the more telling episodes inrecent years concerned the former Labour MP, Paul Marsden, who ran into troublewith Labour whips in 2001 for opposing the invasion of Afghanistan. Echoinglast month’s debate on the war with Iraq, he opposed the move on legal grounds(there was no UN mandate) and had no objection to intervention per se. Butafter addressing an anti-war rally in Trafalgar Square, he found himselfdragged into the office of chief whip, Hilary Armstrong. According to Marsden’s account of the conversation, Armstrong’smanagement of the situation was decidedly lacking. First, she played theloyalty card; when that failed she “lost her rag” and branded him aNazi appeaser. “It was people like you who appeased Hitler in 1938,”she said, finishing with a timely impersonation of George Bush: “Those whoaren’t with us, are against us.” The tactic backfired spectacularly: Marsden went straight tothe press, remarking that Armstrong “clearly has no man management orpeople skills at all”. Anybody who knows the Labour Party workings, headded later, “knows that it is now literally Stalinist – the leadershipmake a decision and then ask for rubber stamping”. The result: a concerted campaign of intimidation. Armstrongalleges he was physically roughed up, sworn at and briefed against as”mad, an embittered loser and a left-wing lunatic”. Soon after, hedefected to the Lib Dems. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Whipped into shapeOn 22 Apr 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

OH must work in partnership to create change

first_img Previous Article Next Article Occupational health needs to work with managers at an organisational levelif it really wants to effect change, a leading OH professional has said. Dr Olivia Carlton, head of OH at London Underground, said one of her mainfrustrations had been not having an input into corporate training, where manyof the key OH messages could be best delivered. “That’s when you really begin to make an impact at an organisationallevel, which is what we’re beginning to achieve. I can’t tell you how excitingit is when you start to get out of that ghetto of ‘off you go for amedical’,” she told Occupational Health. Carlton has been head of the 50-strong department since 1994, which nowserves the health needs of about 25,000 people at a cost of £2m a year. The OH service consists of a medical advisory service, a counselling andtrauma service, a drug and alcohol service and access to occupational hygiene. Getting this sort of commitment requires convincing management that OH isnot just a box that needs to be ticked off. “It’s about getting people to understand that the way we manage peoplematters. There are things we can do about the way we manage people throughoutthe organisation that can improve health and safety,” she argued. Related posts:No related photos. OH must work in partnership to create changeOn 1 Sep 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more

Kearsarge ARG returns from Middle East deployment

first_img Photo: US Navy photo of MV-22 Ospreys flying in formation over the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) in the Atlantic Ocean. Share this article Ships from the US Navy’s Kearsarge amphibious ready group (ARG) are set to return to Norfolk on July 18, after eight months of operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.More than 4,500 sailors and marines are embarked aboard amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), and the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).Kearsarge and Arlington are homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, and Fort McHenry is homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Florida.ARG ships started their deployment in December and have operated in the Mediterranean, Black, Red and Arabian Sea, taking part in international exercises and providing forward presence. The group made a number of port visits, including calls at Souda Bay, Greece, Rota, Spain, and Manama, Bahrain.In addition to participating in a carrier strike group exercise with USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Kearsarge delivered a refurbished AV-8B Harrier to the Italian Air Force. View post tag: USS Kearsargecenter_img View post tag: Kearsarge ARG View post tag: US Navylast_img read more

Former Philadelphia Eagles Placekicker David Akers Returns to Kick Off 138th Season at Ocean…

first_imgFormer Philadelphia Eagles Placekicker David Akers David Akers has goal, and it has nothing to do with field goals, football games or a Super Bowl. Using his own personal failures and low moments of his life for examples, Akers wants to teach others about the importance of never giving up.Six Time Pro Bowler and 12-year veteran place kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles, Akers returns to the Tabernacle to speak about overcoming life obstacles at 8:30 am and 10:30 am services at the Ocean City Tabernacle Sunday, May 28th.Akers has overcome many obstacles to become one of the most successful kickers in NFL history. Akers bounced around with three other NFL franchises and did a season in NFL Europe before finding his niche with the Eagles in 1999. Ten years into his professional career, he lost millions of dollars with an investment group. Many Eagles fans will remember how he missed two field goals in loss to eventual Super Bowl champ Green Bay in 2011. This was two days after his daughter Halley was diagnosed with a malignant growth in her left ovary.Through it all, he is one of those rare people who personify hard work, perseverance and striving for perfection under the scrutiny of playing in the National Football League.“I have always looked for a way to ‘Up My Game’ in my personal and professional life. I also think it’s important to be a game changer outside of our own lives,” says Akers.Akers, a devout Christian, became a licensed minister while in San Francisco playing for the 49ers. While there he occasionally participated in street ministry with noted pastor and author Francis Chan. During his time in Philadelphia, Aker’s advocacy for disadvantaged children resulted in the establishment of the David Akers’ Kicks for Kids. The foundation provided events and programs aimed to benefit children facing serious mental, physical or environmental challenges.The Tabernacle hosts distinguished guest speakers and performers every Sunday morning through September 10th. Keep up with the full list of events and speakers online at www.octab.orgAbout:Located at 550 Wesley Avenue in Ocean City, NJ, the Ocean City Tabernacle is an inter-denominational Christian worship and event center open to all. The Tabernacle is the historic center of the City of Ocean City which was established as a “Christian Seashore retreat” in 1879. This year will mark the organization’s 138th year of ministry.last_img read more

Morrisons gets the jump on salt targets

first_imgMorrisons is using new bakery improvers in its in-store bread to meet the Food Standards Agency’s 2012 salt targets ahead of schedule.Bakery trading manager Andy Clegg said it had been a long project, but the new improvers meant all its ISB bread now met the 2012 targets of 1g of salt per 100g of bread. “We have changed the recipe to ensure better flavour and a better crust formation as well,” said Clegg. The supermarket, which saw total sales (excluding fuel) up 9.2% in its first quarter, said in-store bakery had been performing “brilliantly”.Morrisons’ bakery sales have been tracking ahead of the latest market data. “The latest 12-week figures from Nielsen for total bakery sales, show an overall increase of 0.8% and we’re tracking ahead of that at 4.5%,” said Clegg.last_img read more

New PM urged to not let industry set agenda on child obesity

first_imgNew Prime Minister Theresa May has received a message from health campaigners, urging her to make sure the food and drink industry learns from its mistakes, when the government publishes the childhood obesity strategy.The Children’s Food Campaign compiled a letter to May, saying that she must learn from the experience of the Responsibility Deal, which relied on action from the food and drink industry to solve the problem.The letter also urged May not to offer any last chances for the industry to show it can self-regulate, while implementing financial penalties for those who fail to respond to compulsory targets.Children’s Food Campaign co-ordinator Malcolm Clark said: “Letting the food and advertising industries set the terms of their commitments on tackling the marketing of junk food to children is no way to prioritise public health.He added: “We are alarmed by reports that the government appears to have given in to industry’s economically short-sighted demands for purely voluntary measures and a lack of firm commitments on restrictions on marketing to children and promotion of less healthy food and drink.”This follows a leaked copy of David Cameron’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, revealed last week , which prompted campaign group, Action on Sugar (AoS) to call for its revision.AoS said the government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, which has been delayed until the autumn, does not go far enough. It estimated the plan, in its current form, will only reduce calorie intake by around 10-20Kcal/person/day as a maximum.last_img read more

The “Went Gin” Turns 20 Today, And It’s Still One Of The Definitive Phish Jams [Video]

first_imgOf course, this is Phish, so everyone is never going to agree on which was “best.” Lots of old-school fans will tell you that the Riverport “Gin” made for a stiffer drink, and had more to offer in terms of variety. Some 3.0 kids may argue that the 23-minute “Bathtub Gin” roller coaster from the first night of Magnaball should at least be in the conversation (though that camp, admittedly, may have a slightly less legitimate claim). And more still will preach the gospels of any number of other fantastic “Gins.” But you won’t find a fan of Phish who doesn’t at least have a place in their heart for the great, great, Great Went “Gin.” 20 years later, and two things are still certain: 1) The “Went Gin” is still a pinnacle moment in the history of Phish; and 2) we still love to take that bath.SETLIST: Phish | The Great Went | Night 2 | Loring Commerce Centre | Limestone, ME | 8/17/97SET 1: The Wedge, Beauty of My Dreams, Dogs Stole Things, Vultures, Water in the Sky > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room > Tweezer -> Taste, CarolinaSET 2: Down with Disease [1] -> Bathtub Gin [1] > Uncle Pen, Also Sprach Zarathustra -> Art Jam > Harry HoodSET 3: Buffalo Bill -> NICU, Weigh, Guyute, Dirt, Scent of a Mule -> Digital Delay Loop Jam -> Scent of a Mule , Prince CaspianENCORE: When the Circus Comes, Tweezer Reprise[1] Unfinished.This was the second show of The Great Went festival. Tweezer featured a Cities-like jam and Simple teases, and the Digital Delay Loop Jam included London Bridge is Falling Down teases. Disease was unfinished. Bathtub Gin contained a Proud Mary tease from Page. Throughout the weekend, fans painted pieces of wood that were assembled into an Art Tower. During Disease, Page and Fish painted their portions of the Art Tower; Mike and Trey painted theirs during 2001. The Art Jam saw the crowd carry the pieces of the band’s art to the side of the venue where it was hoisted onto the Art Tower and added to the fans’ art. During Tweezer Reprise, the Art Tower was burned to the ground as The Great Went came to a close. As the Hood jam kicked in, Trey asked Chris to turn the lights off and the band jammed while the front section of the audience engaged in the first Hood glowstick war. Trey remarked to the crowd at the end of the jam that the visual display was cool. Between the first and second sets, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra performed selections from Stravinsky and Debussy as a red-smoke-spewing glider synchronized its swoops and dives to the music. Buffalo Bill was played for the first time since December 31, 1994 (204 shows).[Cover photo from The Great Went Day 1, via Bittersweet Motel] Since Phish‘s earliest days, “Bathtub Gin” has been among the band’s most noteworthy songs. From nonsensical lyrics, to specifically-composed dissonance and weirdness, to audience participation, to the bouncing tempo and crisp, distinct guitar line that consistently prime the band for thrilling improvisation, “Gin” combines some of the most entertaining and thrilling aspects of the band’s prodigious skill set.After decades of remaining in heavy live rotation (and 258 individual performances), fans have surely gotten more than their fair share of awe-inspiring, impassioned “Gins,” but one in particular seems to rise to the top of the pile when discussing the greatest versions ever: “The Went Gin,” a.k.a. Phish’s action-packed rendition of the song in the middle of their second of three sets of the final day of their second-ever festival, The Great Went. The entire set continues to be known as one of the best Phish has ever put together, with a grade-A “Disease,” the communally engaging “Art Jam,” and the first-ever “Harry Hood” glow stick war.But the “Gin” in particular is a shot of rocket fuel. The jam packs more unhinged energy into 15 minutes than many of the celebrated improvs that extend much longer. All four members lock in around the 12 minute mark, press harder, faster, stretching the music’s boundaries to their limits. The results are quite literally hair-raising. Chill-inducing. Jaw-dropping. Normally, those phrases are just hyperbole, simply turns of phrase. But watch this pro-shot video of the impregnable “Went Gin” and try to tell me the that hair on your neck doesn’t raise on end, that you don’t get chills at about 12:45 in, that your jaw isn’t slacked by the time the song’s theme returns at the end. Even if you do, I don’t think I’d believe you.Thanks to YouTube user LazyLightning55a, you can check out video of the Phish’s vaunted “Bathtub Gin” from The Great Went in all its glory below:last_img read more

Say What?

first_imgI hope you ate a good breakfast.I’ve heard a lot of interesting comments by runners at various races that have stuck with me over the years, most of them are quite humorous. Everybody has a unique personality and sometimes these individuals (some will remain anonymous) really shine especially on the big stage (race day). Here are just a few of my favorites:“Extending my lead!” – Running coach and ultra badass Howard Nippert when asked by the local media after winning his 2nd JFK 50 mile what he thinks about while running for so long.“Here on the East coast rocks don’t move.” – While anxiously standing at the start line of the JFK 50 miler I heard one East coast ultra runner say this to another West coast ultra runner. He was wearing gaiters for the race.“Well I’m here to rip some face” – Two-time Shut In Ridge Trail race champion, Bryan Dayton after hearing the plethora of sand bagging from his competition at the start line of Shut In. After his statement, the stunned silence was awesome. Bryan went on to back up these words as I laughed about it for way too long.“I have to race at least 100 miles to reward myself with something like that!” – After we had just completed a 50 mile race, Anne was telling one of her competitors that we were heading to Dairy Queen for a Blizzard treat to celebrate. This was her response.“If a suppository company wanted to sponsor you, would you oblige?” – Another classic quote from Howard Nippert. He asked me this question during a training run together. I was telling him who my current sponsors were at the time. He was not impressed.“Ultrarunning: Most Sports Require Only One Ball” – Team inov-8 runner, Amy Lane’s trophy inscription after winning the overall title in a 50k race in New England. Rule #1: never assume a guy is going to win an ultra race.“I hope you ate a good breakfast.” – Overheard one elite male ultrarunner say this to another just before the start of an ultra race.“Downhill trail running 101” – Ultra running legend, Tom Possert said this to me as he pulled away on the final steep and rocky descent of the Rattlesnake 50k in WV in 2003. Three years later I was back chasing the eventual winner once again and did a flip onto my back running down this same hill. I guess I had failed Tom’s class again.“Yep, her horse won!” – This is what I started telling people at the Houston Airport while lugging a 60 lb trophy with a big stallion on it. Anne had won the Sunmart 50 mile earlier that day. I got more tired trying to explain she had just run 50 miles.“Quick just yank my arm back down as hard as you can!” –  The day I literally “fell” in love with my wife after she jerked my dislocated shoulder back into place. We were training together several years ago for the Mt. Mitchell Challenge on an icy section.last_img read more

Training and Engagement Mission Continues in Belize

first_img A U.S. Military training team on the High Speed Vessel Swift 2 is working with Belizean forces during Southern Partnership Station 2013. The mission, which began on February 18, is a U.S. 4th Fleet deployment designed to strengthen civil and maritime capabilities with regional partner nations in the Caribbean. The team is comprised primarily of Seabees from Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 2 and Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202. “We’re doing a military-to-military cooperation with our counterparts in the Belize Defence Force,” said CBMU 202 officer in charge, Chief Builder Nicholas Whitbeck. “We’ll observe, exchange ideas and learn from them and vice versa. We’ll also work hand-in-hand with them to improve military infrastructure.” The two units have separate missions but share a common purpose: to maintain a strong relationship with the Belize Defence Force and share ideas, experience and technology. CBMU 202 Seabees will build a multipurpose open bay structure, known as a seahut, and provide the materials for up to two additional buildings. RIVRON 2 Seabees will share their expertise with the Belize Defence Force and help them improve their skills in areas such as interdiction and inserts and extracts of security teams on the water. “We are here not only to build a seahut with the Belize Defence Force, but also pass on our knowledge so they can accurately and efficiently build more in the future,” said Builder 2nd Class Nathaniel Devincentis, CBMU 202. Swift and multinational crews are scheduled to remain in Belize working with the Belize Defence Force until early March. The Military Sealift Command high-speed vessel Swift (HSV 2) departs from Naval Station Mayport to begin Southern Partnership Station 2013. Swift is the first ship of this class to be used by the U.S. Navy. (Photo: U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Salt Cebe) By Dialogo March 07, 2013last_img read more

Brixton’s estate

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