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Author Topic: On selecting people for roles, and their interest in that role and in other role  (Read 1227 times)
grahame
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« on: April 17, 2018, 09:25:34 am »

Who is your ideal candidate for a role that's got significant decision making and influencing responsibilities, but doesn't constitue a full time job? Is it someone who's retired - perhaps winding down and filling part of a gap?  Is it someone who's excellent at decision making and influencing but in a very different field, so that person can hold a portfolio of roles?  Is it someone with industry / same field exerience who can take on the role efficiently, and bring / share practical experience across a portfolio of roles?

These are the questions faced by recruiters for a number of roles we've seen advertised on the forum over the years - for public members of Network Rail ( https://www.harveynash.com/nr/the-role.asp ), for board members of Bus Users, and indeed for the recenly advertised Transport Focus board member position.  The organisations have something of a difficult choice.  They could choose a retired "has been" with limited shelf life.  They could choose a professional director who's very good but also expensive and has little or know knowledge of or interest in [transport]. Or they could choose a current dynamic person in the field who has some time capacity, but will also run into situations where decsions and actions for his new role could or would differ from decisions or actions of his other existing role(s).

I sounded pessimistic in that paragraph above - finding issue with all the potential candidate groups I identified - yet that's the issue faced by senior appointers.   Fortunatley, there are candidates who can rise above the issues, and compromises that can be reached to allow excellent use to be made of skills available and enthusiasms already help.  Regrettably, there are also opportuities to appoint expensive and dis-interested has-beens into inffective situations where they just occupy seats, and there are opportunities to put someone in place to follow a different agenda to the one your organisations is mandated to follow. 

With part time / shared role people, the employer / recruiter also has to consider how roles and positions change over time within the organisation - how the organisation changes, and other roles taken on.  Someone who fitted like a hand in a glove in 2008 may have conflicts of interests by the time 2018 comes around, or may no longer be right for a modified role.  I'll admit to that latter applying to the full time positions too - classic saying of "working yourself out of a job".

My thoughts above have come from three independent directions in the very recent past with regard the potential of conflicting interest. One of them does not relate to this forum at all. A second is purely hypothetical - a "what if" to be aware of for an unlikley scenario in the future.  And the third is the question asked here "how can this forum be independent of GWR when the forum provider works closely with GWR in his Community Rail role?"  It's a good question, but I feel comfortable to answer it.

This forum has a clear set of guidelines. All views are welcome, whether or not I personally share them.  Subject to (sorry - there have to be some constraints) remaining more or less on theme, subject to legal constraints, and subject to the forum not being used for personal attacks and harrassment - that's whether a poster looks to attack another member of the forum, or someone outside the forum. (This is a summary - see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=1761.0 )

Our forum members are wonderful - for the most part - in following the letter and the spirit of the strategic guidelines and rules. Occasionally, a hard or soft limit can be overstepped - after all, it's so easy to forget or overlook a rule or request in excitement, enthusiasm, lack of thought or lack of knowing the guideline.  And a quick and easy personal message, allowing for the situation to be re-considered and perhaps a post edited, moves us on without any loss of face, direction or purpose.  On rare occasions, it is necessary for the moderator or admin team to move a post or thread out of public view while something's considered - no presumption of final outcome, and indeed the final outcome may err on the side of pragmatic safety (don't republish) even though there's probably nothing wrong with the post.  We don't want to risk a fight with a third party on a matter that's not key to our objective of being a talking shop for rail passengers.

Where we're looking at a soft / arguable limit - where opinions may differ - I am very conscious of the potential conflict of interest that wasn't here at the start, but has developed over the years.  I started the forum when I was a protester - but times have changed.  Mixing that protest with constructive criticism, and (much more important) changing time and views, protest has drifted into partnership.  Our strong guidelines, and our superb team of administrators and moderators,  allow me to recuse myself where there's a situation where my judgement may be swayed not by our very clear standards, but by conflicting interests.  I can become purely the technical purveyor of the material we hold and encourage, whether or not I agree with the views expressed.  And - though I am often opinionated - I don't need to comment or express my view at all.

The Coffee Shop forum is not a regulatory /governmental body, so there's no requirement to jump through lots of hoops to provide 100% proof of unity and cleanness of purpose.  It's not the only show in town - certainly not a monopoloy of social media concerned with public transport in our area, so there's no sense of it being the only place that certain things can be posted; on that basis, suggestions of censorship (preventing unwelcome vies being heard) are far-fetched when there are so many other places to post.

Is the current setup perfect? No, and indeed we are open to challenges that question our perfection. I felt I spent a great deal of time the other evening answering very specific and detailed points on these matters (and indeed have done so this morning inthis post), but when it came to me asking towards the end of the discussion "would you like to take on my role" and "what would you recommend as a better way", constructive alternatives weren't on offer.  So deep and repeated was the questioning that I felt harrassed, and indeed another member involved felt the same way to such an extent that he's had his account deleted after being with us, and posting, for a number of years.

Volunteer time in doing moderation and admin here is valuable.   Quoting from a text I received the other night "After a night like tonight you wonder why we all do it."   Indeed.  We do it because it's useful, because we love doing it, because it's rewardning to see results, it makes and maintains friendships, it helps keep our minds active.  It's not a paid role nor one that's specificed by statute, so if we cease enjoying it there's nothing to stop us removing the source of the irritant that has caused the enjoyment to cease, or indeed giving up of removing ourself/selves.  Members may be assured that the very last statement there is more my system analyst's looking at all possibilities than anything else.

I wonder if anyone has read right through to the end of this??   Please feel free to quote bits / comment / add your thoughts. Summarising the text, this place is about sharing a wide range of views in a friendly way - an opportunity to agree and also to disagree in safety.

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eXPassenger
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2018, 10:34:19 am »

I did read to the end.

I am trying to work out what your message and the reason for posting is.  You start with the very valid question of how to select individuals to fill part time advisory posts.  You then move onto the Coffee Shop and explain how it works and how you ensure it is independent of your links with GWR.

I see those subjects as two separate points, unless you are answering a non publicised question on independence.
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grahame
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 10:52:18 am »

I see those subjects as two separate points, unless you are answering a non publicised question on independence.

I was, indeed, answering a question on independence - not an unpublicised one, but one that was asked recently in another thread and has perhaps got swamped with following forum traffic.

My intent in providing such a long answer was to help anyone who's interested (if anyone is  Grin ) the various issues that come up when you're looking to do something without conflict of interest, and yet do an effective job, and against that background explain the need to compromise at times, and how that compromise is planned to happen here.

I am too much a scientist, and I will tend to provide answers and explain even where it might be in my best interest, and indeed far easier for me, to brush things under the carpet and hope they go away / get resolved and forgotten.  Of course, such an approach is one taken by those who really reach the top - you can see it by example in some of the very top politicians in the USA and in the UK, and very often things do get forgotten.
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CyclingSid
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2018, 02:49:45 pm »

The NR "posts" are much what public service boards call Non-Executive Directors. Often a range of requirements/types from clients/users to staff. Did think recently about putting my name forward for a staff post, but chickened out at the possibility of getting "blamed" by colleagues for cuts or similar unpleasant changes.
Also being originally of an engineering background tend to see things very much in black and white, unlike those with humanities backgrounds who are happy with many shades of grey.
As with a lot of these things it is about being willing, in some form, to be an active agent for change. Personally I think I am not about to get on the first rung of the great and the good.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2018, 12:29:30 am »

Is the current setup perfect? No, and indeed we are open to challenges that question our perfection. I felt I spent a great deal of time the other evening answering very specific and detailed points on these matters (and indeed have done so this morning in this post), but when it came to me asking towards the end of the discussion "would you like to take on my role" and "what would you recommend as a better way", constructive alternatives weren't on offer.  So deep and repeated was the questioning that I felt harassed, and indeed another member involved felt the same way to such an extent that he's had his account deleted after being with us, and posting, for a number of years.

That was indeed a rather sad outcome, after all your efforts at diplomacy, grahame.

CfN.  Sad
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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
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