Opinion

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Ask Timpo

4 Mins

My front of house receptionist wears low-cut tops and skirts that leave very little, if anything, to the imagination.  How can I get her to tone down her attire and dress more professionally?

Who’s complaining? Is it a genuine concern, or just jealous gossip? If she really is causing so much of a stir, be careful. This is a job best given to the HR department.

Did she reveal more than necessary in her interview? If not, and she originally appeared to be as prim as Mary Poppins, a simple request should get her to cover up.  

But if she has always shown a lot of confidence by wearing a waspish wardrobe, you have to be tactful.

You could use devious tactics such as introducing a receptionist uniform, or putting the central heating on cold. As in most people-matters, though, it is best to be blunt. Buy your HR director a large drink if she can get your girl to dress down while maintaining the personal charm that has probably given pleasure to many of your visitors.

I’d like to introduce a share scheme for senior management. I don’t have an FD, where can I get advice?

Share schemes might be okay for public companies but in private businesses, like yours and mine, they should be avoided. Do you really want your senior management sitting in judgement as shareholders, pointing out missed opportunities and criticising extravagant expenditure, all the while hoping an attractive takeover bid will provide a windfall big enough to pay off their mortgage?  

Share schemes are complicated enough to be loved by lawyers and, when established, you will be welcomed into the world of governance – just imagine your next AGM!  

In-house schemes, whether for real or phantom shares, are usually established in the firm belief that the company will prosper and each individual manager will be a superstar.

But forecasting more than four years ahead is fraught with danger. You could be creating disillusioned executives with worthless share certificates, while mediocre employees act as irritating shareholders.

If you want to reward your management team give them a pay rise. Award a big bonus. Provide a final salary pension scheme. Just don’t give them any shares.

One of my employees is going through a divorce and the quality of his work has really declined over the past few weeks.  Should I say something or wait to see if the rough patch passes?

Forget all the macho management speak about not bringing your personal problems to work. People can’t help brooding when their life is turned upside down.

All managers should recognise the importance of looking after good employees, especially when they’re going through a difficult time.

It would be heartless, and unhelpful, to tell your employee to snap out of it and send him a warning letter for poor performance. But it’s also wrong to do nothing and hope the difficulties will disappear in time.

You and your HR director need to sit down and talk to him, in the gentlest possible way, about his circumstances. Listen to what he says. Find out how you can help – listening may be enough. Knowing you’re sympathetic will certainly ease his mind. If he needs it, you could offer him time off, or lend him some money.  

With your support, he’ll have a much better chance of returning to his former self quickly.

Picture: source

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