|A job for life|
I was surprised by something I saw in an advertisement in the Guardian recently.
The job advertised was a Lectureship in Human Resource Management at Cambridge University. Yes, it was interesting to see that such a role exists in the Manufacturing and Management Division of the Department of Engineering. But my eye was drawn to the final paragraph which read ‘Appointment will be to the retiring age subject to satisfactory performance of a five year probationary period’.
Two phrases stood out for me in the ad - ‘appointment to the retiring age’ and ‘a five year probationary period’.
I guess in theory any permanent appointment is ‘to retiring age’ if it suits both the organisation and the individual concerned, but compared to the working lives of our parents, this must be a much less common phenomenon now than in the past. Coincidentally I had a conversation in the previous week with someone who prior to becoming self employed worked at the University. She said that once employees of the University had secured ‘tenure’ that they could not be sacked and talked of the frustration of being surrounded by people who were not motivated by what they do.
And a five year probationary period? I fully support probationary periods – they give employer and employee an opportunity to test out the reality, only a glimpse of which they each saw at the interview. Depending on the role, six months is a fair time in which to carry out this assessment, provided objectives are set at the outset and rigorously tested at the review stage. This gives both parties the opportunity to opt out with minimal repercussions if it isn’t working out.
However, I can remember one instance where at the 6 month stage all seemed to be going well with someone I had recruited and then went pear-shaped after that. It then led to a painful parting of the ways. So maybe 6 months isn’t long enough.
But five years? There can’t be many jobs these days where the role stays the same for that length of time. It seems an extraordinary period of time for both parties to assess suitability of the job to the individual and the individual to the organisation/job. Perhaps it leads to ‘tenure’ and therefore says more about the work environment at this institution…..
What do you think?