· 4 min read · Features

Martin Tiplady, HR director at the Metropolitan Police Service gives his views on HR

Published:

HR magazine asked the Metropolitan Police Service's HR director Martin Tiplady about some of the issues facing HR departments in the current climate, and here is what he said.

Leadership - Sir Paul Stephenson

"The process of appointing a new commissioner is complex and unprecedented. It involves the Mayor, Home Secretary, the Police Authority and sign off by her Majesty the Queen. I am a go between. I knew all the candidates this time - there is a limited pond from which to fish for a commissioner.

Paul brings freshness and the benefit of having worked elsewhere, as well as understanding London's issues. He is a strong leader, performance driven and extremely nice but you know exactly where you stand. If something doesn't suit, people tend to know about it. If it does suit, he gives serious praise. He is a charming individual to work with and for.

Paul believes presence, productivity, performance and professionalism add up to pride. Get the basic things right. You need to perform on the small things that matter to get the big things right. The financial position is such that we have got to milk more out of the system or we won't survive. We are not going to get loads of extra money given to us, so we have got to make what we have work better.

He thinks cops need to earn the right to be out on the street, If they have pride in their uniform, the organisation and what they do - then other people will have pride in them.

Getting the basic things right earns respect. Maybe what happened is that we stopped getting some of those basics right. Paul believes we should be smart and take pride in the language we use and the written word - it matters.

He is very keen we all exist to serve the public and get operational policing right. Anything else in the way of this, we should get rid of."

 

Transforming HR

Since June 2006, the Met's HR function has been undergoing the transition to a shared service centre and business partner model. A £42 million Transforming HR programme aims to automate standard transactional activities and increase the focus on strategic activities. Savings that are gained will be re-directed to the front line. The programme will remove 330-350 people from HR and goes live on December 1, 2009.

"We will save £15 millon a year. It will contemporise how HR works in the organisation:  how managers manage as opposed to HR managing for them, and how we get greater consistency across 120 different parts of organisation.

The new service centre is heavily reliant on self serve. It has a classic call centre structure, with expert services behind it. We have also located one HR presence in 80 occupational command units to deal with tricky cases.

We are deeply in the technology design process at moment with our implementation partner Steria. The structure is clear, the number of posts in each part of the organisation is clear and the system processes are clear. We are fairly advanced on training. Now we face all the pressures ofa  big project and run in. Until we have tested the new technological platform I can't really sleep.

We have suffered all the consequences of a major change programme: resistance and people asking why. We have now appointed all Band A and B upper managers and are about to advertise senior HR advisor level posts. All the business partners are appointed.

We will hit some low level redundancy.

It is all geared to the overall aim of communicating what HR is about. It is about making the organisation more productive, making money go further, increasing performance and helping managers manage change. It puts HR in a stronger driving position to focus on productivity as opposed to signing sick certificates and leave cards. You don't need HR to do that."

 

Diversity

"We have done a lot of work around race and women. Nearly one in five recruits to Hendon are from an ethnic minority and nearly two in five are female. If you go to a passing out parade and look at the line up, the thing really strikes you is that there are an awful lot of women. This hits you right in the face, especially given that this is so often talked about as a man's profession. You certainly cannot say that from here on in.

However, where I think we are not so good is around people with disabilities. We do all the right things and there is greater awareness of what is possible. If I am frank, however, one thing I don't find very useful is that people do not need to declare a disability. It is really hard to know how many people there are with a disability in this organisation. Therefore, we generally only get to learn about someone's disability in an adverse situation, which means we are only dealing with individual cases. The dilemma for me is that it doesn't feel like we are as positive around people with disability.

We have done some work. For example, dyslexia is a real issue in the organisation so we have modified the promotion process. "

 

Absenteeism

 "When I joined the Met we had cop absenteeism of 10.5 days per individual per annum. Now we are at the seven day mark. The value of each day of sickness saved is worth £10 million in productivity time.

We have robust absence management processes. I am a believer in carrot and stick. The stick is the process - if you are sick for a number of days there is automatic referral, rigid lines contact and return interviews. I insist that for every employee with sickness for more than a certain number days there has got to be plan for that individual.

But we also spend to save. We pay for people to have private treatment in order get back to work quicker. We have major initiatives around stress, cancer, fitness and diet. We have put occupational nurses in caravans and travelled around. Some 26,000 people took up the chance for a half hour medical on the caravans.

We are way ahead of the public sector league and compare favourably to the  private world."

 

What makes a good HR director?

"Being a good HR director means having an opinion in the organisation and delivering change in an organisation that benefits it. If I think about HR directors who are bean counters and rule keepers, I ask: Did I come up through HR wanting to be like that? You must be joking. I don't think I'm a bean counter, I get involved in quite a lot of mucky cases.

What's the purpose of me being here? It's to support the Commissioner and the board. To make sure this is the best, most economic, most effective police service. I think my board colleagues would say Martin is sensitive to the organisation and uses his position as leading a major business group to help make sure people policies not just there for their own sake but to drive the business forward.

As regards other HR directors, I really respect Beverly Shears (HR director Ministry of Justice), David Fairhurst (senior VP/chief people office McDonald's) and Angela O'Connor (HR director of National Policing Improvement Agency) - we are all of the same ilk. They all focus on reputational management, operational management and making the organisation slicker."

Read the full interview with Martin Tiplady