Blair McPherson is a former director of community services at Lancashire Council where he was responsible for care services and equality and diversity. He also writes management books. Blair has been one of the most active experts on our panel during the past year and can answer a wide variety of questions. His specialism, however, is management.
Blog Posts (2)
Equality for women in the workplace has gone as far as it can go says Catherine Hakim a sociologist at the London School of Economics, but this doesn’t fit with the evidence on equal pay produced by the Human Rights Commission, says Blair McPherson.
Service cuts, changes in housing benefit, reduced funding for Supporting People and new rules for disability benefits disproportionally affect social housing tenants and combine to reduce choice, threaten independence and undermine people’s dignity.
Blair Mcpherson contributes to:
Comment on: Anchor names new chief executive
So the woman who knows where the bodies are buried becomes the woman in charge.
Comment on: Early exit for NLH chief exec
Bullying is in the news. It would appear to be a lot more prevalent than most people assum. Yet there has been very little advice on how to survive a bully .Here are my tips as a survivor.
The formal processes are not really designed for tackling a senior manger. So this is how to survive whilst finding another job.
Avoid the bully. It’s amazing how much of your job you can do without seeing your manager or talking about work. Keep them off work topics by talking about whatever they are interested in whenever possible. Don’t take your holidays at the same time this way you can spend the best part of summer without seeing them. Six weeks annual leave is twelve weeks you don’t have to meet. One to ones can be stressful so seize the initiative fill the agenda with information about what’s happening in your section/service. Fill the time and don’t leave space for the introduction of contentious areas or opportunities to criticise you or your work. Offer to turn the notes you made in preparation for the meeting into a record of the meeting. That way you control the record of the meeting reducing the chances that they will be used to further undermine you. Never re-arrange a meeting they have cancelled and make sure your diary has no gaps when they are free.
Resisting new and unreasonable demands can be difficult since you are clearly not allowed to say no or point out you already have too much to do. One perfectly reasonable strategy is to say that you are happy to take on new pieces of work but as you are fully stretched with existing work what would they advise are the priorities. You then run through all your existing pieces of work just to remind them. I once did this and my manager stormed out of his own office. I’m not sure whether this is a good recommendation for this course of action but at the time it felt like a small victory of sorts.
I survived the last six months by changing his diary when his PA was out to lunch. All meetings were entered in pencil because if someone more senior wanted his attendance this took priority. He was forever cancelling his meetings and rearranging his diary. I just rubbed out the meetings. The space would be quickly filled. I didn’t complain about the lack of opportunities to meet and he either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Not a long term strategy but sometimes you just have to do whatever it takes to get you through the next few weeks.
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Comment on: Commencing countdown
I view the changes as placing greater responsibilities on boards to be more actively involved in how their Housing organisation is run. As such I anticipate increased tension between the board and the senior management team. As the board flexes new muscles we may see some power struggles between Chairs and Chief Executives. This is not uncommon in the NHS or LA's and there has been recently a high profile casualty in one of the largest HA's
Comment on: Are they worth it?
The news that the Chief Exec of a Housing Association is drawing an annual salary plus bonuses of £400k is shocking but not surprising. Shocking because this is a " not for profit" organisation whose purpose is to provide care and social housing. Not surprising because many Housing Associations have enthusiastically embraced commercial values under the banner of being more businesslike. In fact they behave as if they were commercial companies believing that their Chief Exec and senior managers are motivated by money and that bonuses and big annual pay rises are necessary to stop them taking their talents elsewhere.
Comment on: Elbows at the ready
And then after you get the job what training and management development will you need to keep your career on an upward trajectory?
Traditional management development is expensive and few organisation can justify spending a lot of money of a very few managers. The MBA may look good on the CV but it is not the most effective way of growing the type of manager specific to your organisation needs.
What organisations increasingly need is a cost effective way of developing the leadership skills of large numbers of managers in a way that moulds them in to the type of manager best suited to the organisations' needs. Preferably without taking them away from their day jobs. Ideally through an approach that allows them to dip in and out when time and opportunity permits. Such an approach focuses on a management development programme based on executive coaching, management learning sets, mentoring and posting discussion material on the intranet. The aim is to give managers insight into how their behaviour affects others and to provide opportunities to share and reflect on their experience.
Be realistic if you want to get ahead don't push to be sent on an MBA instead ask about mentoring and explore the value of learning sets.
Q: I am a housing support worker and one of my service users is a recovering alcoholic. She cannot remember signing her tenancy agreement when she moved into her home seven years ago. The housing
In today's Guardian the acting chief executive of Anchor Trust is described as heading up a "social charity". I know they do more than provide social housing but housing and support is their business
Two reports published this week claim that public sector managers are ill equipped to respond to the challenges ahead as budgets are cut.
A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Devel
The Governance arrangements for social housing are about to see a radical change. From April the housing regulators the Tenants Service Authority (TSA) expect Housing Authority boards to take much mo
According to the charted management institute (CMI) 60% of managers fell into their job. The survey also reports that 40% of managers didn't want the responsibility. Do these figures sound about rig
Posted in: DV and terminating joint tenancy
Sometimes things get a bit technical and commonsense suffers. You have clearly explained your circumstances and I am sure the housing officers have encountered "difficult" ex partners before. You and your children's housing needs are the priority and it would be unreasonable to prolong your stay in the refuge whilst seeking the cooperation of your ex over the joint tenancy.I suggest you write to the Director of Housing asking them to look into your situation, confirm your transfer and place a time scale around the process. As an ex Director myself I would be very unhappy if my staff left you and your children in one room over Christmas if we had suitable available accommodation.
This is clearly going to be a difficult Christmas for you and your children but I hope that the new year finds you in a new home where you and your children can be safe and happy.
Posted in: Sheltered Homes Query under Guest/Visitors
I wonder what has happened in the past for your landlord to take such a stark position. I am aware of these type of rules in hostels and student halls of residence but sheltered housing is supposed to be your home.What counts as over night is it ok if your guest leaves at 1am but not at 6 am? How is this rule to be policed,are the other residents supposed to inform on you or is there an on site warden who records unauthorised over nights? I assume your landlord is concerned that you may invite some one to live in your flat rather than just stay over night on the odd occasion. As sheltered accommodation is usually specifically designated for a particular group then your landlord would have a concern if your grand daughter/son appeared to have moved in to what is accommodation for older people. There might also be concerns that this young person would claim tenancy rights if you died. Most sheltered housing schemes get round these issues by offering a guest bed sit /bed room on site for relatives and friends to stay over.
Posted in: HOUSING Allocations and Notices
In this case it might appear that commonsense and humanity would mean once you have notification of eviction you should be able to get help with accommodation rather than wait till you and your possession are on the street but you are not homeless until you are homeless.
As to the links with the locality well moving away breaks the link but moving back and having family in the area establishes a link so is the link strong enough to give you a higher priority? Depends what the rules say and how they are being interpreted. We don't so much live by the rules as in the scope for maneuver within the rules so the best advice is present your circumstances accordingly.
Posted in: Why be a tweet
I have recently joined twitter. I was initially reluctant but my son was very enthusiastic saying it was better than Facebook because it was easier to use, wasn't restricted to your " friends" and the limit on characters keeps comments short and to the point. For me twitting is a way to promote my articles and books to let others who share my interests know what is influencing me and to pick up on what others in my areas of interest are talking about. Of course I am not immune to the temptation to follow the trend.
Posted in: Selling off your former tenant arrears debt
Not everyone pays their bills even after reminders. A local authority or social housing organisation has a duty to collect what it's owed but when you’re dealing with vulnerable people it is not straight forward.
I was working as a senior manager for a large local authority when it was severely criticised by the auditors for allowing a very large amount of debt to accumulate over a number of years due to non-payment by a small proportion of service users.
In response the council set up a specialist team to pursue individuals and secure payment. This was largely carried out by sending letters threatening legal action, telephone call follow-ups and occasional home visits.
Some people were genuinely unaware they owed the money having never been billed. Some agreed they owed money but disputed the amount. Others just hoped to get away with it. Most did pay up. However two years later there was still a hard core who were unwilling or unable.
The council felt they had three options, large scale expensive legal action against people who probably didn't have the means to pay, writing off the debt, or selling the debt.
The advantage of selling the debt was that we were guaranteed to get some money – even though it would only be a fraction of the amount owed but we would be able to close the books. The disadvantage was that once we had sold the debt we had no control over the situation.
We might sell to a reputable debt collection company but once they had collected all they could, there was nothing to stop them selling the debt on. It was not hard to imagine that the debts of the least able to pay would end up with the less reputable local debt collectors who were not squeamish about the methods they used to get their money.
In the end it was decided to write off the remaining debt having agreed with the auditors that every reasonable means had been used to collect the money owed and that the cost of pursuing this further was disproportionate.
Of course being a local council another consideration was the potential for some very bad publicity around being seen to send in the bailiffs or being heavy handed in pursuing elderly, disabled and vulnerable people for money they didn't have.
I am not sure the same decision would have been reached in the current harsh financial climate, but the debate would be the same.