Saturday, 23 November 2013

Weeding out the Flowers as inquiry starts to dig deep at the Co-op


Why is it in this country that we are expected to keep up with our continual professional development at the workplace, have endless checks before we are allowed in to watch a school nativity, three month and six month trial work periods and appraisals, yet one of our leading banks manages to elect a chairman without, it seems, properly checking whether he was competent to undertake the role?In June this year Mr Flowers was forced out of the Co-Operative’s banking arm because doubts were raised about his competence but he had been in the role since March 2010.
Since the eighties when quality kite marks and QED (Quality Every Day) schemes were flown as the answer to quality assurance, allowing consumers and others to see who was a quality company, organisations have had quality assurance managers running around auditing, checking and preparing for external inspection visits. Box files of flow charts, individual qualifications and CV’s have been gathered over the years so that a business can retain the right to proudly display its sign or logo of quality assurance.
Setting the standards for consumer choice and confidence

I am all for consumer choice and believe that having a standard that everyone can aim for in terms of quality assurance is an excellent idea. It makes sense that in different industries and sectors there will be a set of slightly different criteria but in the end the core principle is this. In any transaction, whether it is banking, shopping, service delivery, medical treatment, educational activities and so on, as a consumer we all want to be treated fairly, we want to know that the service or goods provided will do what it says on the tin or if it goes wrong, then we can get a refund or exchange or the appropriate compensation if it has drastically impacted on the quality of our life. We expect the people who are delivering the goods or services to be qualified in what they are doing and those elected to oversee their work have achieved that position because of a reasonable and justified process. This can come in the form of experience, qualification and personal and social skills as long it is appropriate to the job in hand.
Thinning out those responsible for electing Chairman to post

The Co-operative Bank and their staff shouldn’t be tarnished with the same brush because of, allegedly, what their ex-Chairman got up to, and an inquiry will soon be underway. But someone, somewhere should have checked on what made Mr Flowers qualified for the post before he was offered it and it will be interesting to see what comes from this sorry state of affairs. Interestingly one of the trustees of an educational awarding body called Open Awards, responsible for ensuring the quality and rigour of these educational qualifications is a staff member of the Co-op bank –perhaps they have a check list he can borrow when electing the next Co-op chairman?

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