Avoidable risk continues for Beeb

‘Being told what to do is not the same as understanding what you should be doing…..Understanding what you should do is not the same as being confident and competent in doing it.

The BBC’s official statement[1] following the tribunal verdict against them on ageism and harassment is interesting for the questions it raises. The Beeb admit they were at fault and then promise more ‘training’ for responsible executives and ‘new guidance on fair selection for presenter appointments’. It goes on, ‘These findings also raise questions that need to be addressed by the whole industry.’

We have identified 3 particularly interesting points in the statement.

‘Being told’ or understanding?

Offering yet more training may not solve the problem. Being told what to do is not the same as understanding what you should be doing – albeit it gives HR proof of attending training for the Disciplinary. Understanding what you should do is not the same as being confident and competent in doing it. Setting limits and challenging behaviour is what managers do whatever the group or work team that the manager may be part of thinks. This, after all, is why managers are paid more than others.

Selection Criteria and Competence?

In the tribunal it was apparent that the BBC did not have clear criteria for presenter competence. Given the relatively recent changes to employment law on harassment and bullying, the risks should have been evident. Has the BBC confused the encouragement of an entrepreneurial/creative culture with giving rein to the whims and fancies of ‘Kings and Princes’[2]? Is this much vaunted people business unable to manage people?

Sector leader or follower?

The BBC has significant State guaranteed income. It is hugely economically, culturally and politically powerful. Thus it is difficult to understand why it should be overly concerned about ‘industry practice’. Sector ‘leaders’ do not usually follow the practices of sector ‘followers’ – especially when it comes to talent, a key differentiator of performance.

The Beeb itself now has more than an external PR problem. The BBC generally does better than many large employers at hiring, promoting and retaining female staff, not just presenters. It is this group who must really be wondering about the value of the organisation’s much vaunted statements of equal opportunity. When tested by tribunal process, policy was found not to be practice.

Yet it doesn’t need to be like this. Correctly engaged and motivated even your highest IQ and most creative or technical managers can become super competent in those difficult soft skills they usually avoid. Talk to us, in confidence and without obligation about helping your managers develop the competence and confidence to manage effectively.  Solutions that engage, motivate and fit around, rather than disrupt the business.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2011/01_january/11/oreilly.shtml

[2] Weber

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