The Apprentice 2014 has proven to be exciting viewing as 20 hopefuls started 12 weeks of tasks; aiming to become Lord Sugars next Apprentice / Business partner.
In the last few weeks, we have seen the apprentices tackle projects and go up against each other; seeking to be the most successful when the results are announced in the board room; after which a member of the losing team gets fired, with immediate effect.
Lord Sugar’s HR Manager
Obviously the TV production of the Apprentice is sensationalist and we are sure that the BBC and Lord Sugar have an HR team working tirelessly in the background. However, on the surface the hiring and firing process could be managed better.
Before any candidates have been met, the HR manager would have produced a detailed job specification. In the Apprentice the candidates have very diverse and eclectic skill sets. If all of these candidates turned up for one job it would be clear that something was unclear in the job specification.
The job specification should detail essential and desired skills that are needed for the job.
Expectations of tasks
Within the job specification there should be some good indications of daily, weekly and monthly tasks. The candidates would have a good expectation of the job role and how they would fit into the company.
In the Apprentice, Lord Sugar sets them a completely different task every week. Each task is so diverse that some candidates are completely out of their depth whereas others can shine as it is better suited for them.
In the Apprentice they have 2 days to complete each task from concept to completion, they sometimes get 3rd party help, but this is entirely unrealistic in the real world where sign offs and approvals need to be considered. Realistic deadlines need to be set for each task.
HR managers and project managers should manage staff workload reasonably; this helps staff retention, ensuring staff are not put under excessive pressure.
Whilst Lord Sugar provides constructive criticism regularly, it is rare he offers advice on how they could improve and next steps to further their career and employment chances.
In the real world, it is important for employers, managers and HR staff to conduct regular appraisals for employees. This would prevent so many people being fired, and possibly help boost company moral and staff engagement.
In previous visits to the boardroom, Lord Sugar has fired three people simultaneously, with no notice, no warning and no procedures. Of course, this is the fun part of the show, but would be illegal in reality as employees have rights.
HR Managers need to follow proper procedures, including verbal and written warnings to give an employee the opportunity to improve. In some cases, this may require a disciplinary sanction but there will always be clear steps to follow.
When firing an employee there are important requirements around following the correct process, notice periods, payment and in some cases appeal. You cannot just fire someone on the spot with no warning and with immediate effect as shown on The Apprentice.
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