HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

HMRC Staff Survey 2010 - Strathie Responds


In February 2010 HMRC published the results of their staff survey which were less than, ermmm, "encouraging".

The good news is that, some 4 months after publication, Lesley Strathie (CEO of HMRC) has commented/responded to HMRC staff about the results on the HMRC intranet.

The bad news is that it may take a wee while for the promised improvements to materialise. Strathie expects the results of the next survey to be equally dismal:

"We may not see much, if any, improvement in the next set of People Survey results. These issues are deep-seated and will take time to turn round; with your help, we can do that."

As John Maynard Keynes once said:

"In the long run we are all dead".

Here is the text of her message:

"Whenever I visit one of our offices, it's not long before someone asks what we are doing in response to our People Survey results (PDF). It is one of the biggest issues in the Hotseat and I know people take the whole issue extremely seriously. Quite rightly, I want to see action.

Let me be clear. The results of the People Survey were incredibly disappointing and, along with my ExCom colleagues, I appreciate most of you are passionate about the work you do. It is not acceptable for HMRC to be placed as poorly as it was and we need to work hard to reverse that situation.

Over the last few months, we have looked carefully at the results. We have done a great deal of research about what motivates people in HMRC; what do you expect from us as an employer; and what gets you out of bed in the morning.

This has given us a real understanding of the action we need to take. It is why we are looking at the following three big areas that we are confident will make a real difference.

Getting leadership right

The first is leadership. Getting the right leaders in place with the right skills is absolutely critical if we are to motivate people and unlock their potential. That's why we are making it clear what good leadership is and – equally importantly – spelling out the actions and approaches we do not want to see in this Department. We will be very clear that bad leadership has no place in HMRC.

This won't just be words on a page. Our appraisal and reward strategies are being redesigned so it is clear what we, and you, can expect from our leaders. The customer is central to all of this, along with a more open and collaborative approach. We are also looking at the skills our leaders have and the support we can give so they can do their jobs better. You will see more about this from July.
Great expectations

The second big area of work is all about the relationship our people have with us as their employer. That means being clear about what you can expect from us and what, in return, we can expect from you. This will cover many of the practicalities around our work.

It will look at a range of topics including how you can expect your career to progress; the benefits you receive as an employee; and the type and amount of work we can reasonably expect from you when you're at work.

We've already started on this and we will be talking to many of you about what this means in practice over the summer months. We are, of course, working closely with our trade unions on all of this.

The work itself

People have repeatedly told us they want more of a say in the decisions that affect their work. This is already a fundamental part of PaceSetter, which we are continuing to introduce and embed across the whole Department.

HMRC's strategy, which will be launched in the autumn, sets out how our processes and procedures will be designed around the behaviours and needs of our customers. Clearly, the involvement of the people who interact with our customers day in and day out will be a fundamental part of this work. We will tell you more about what this means during September and October.

Your own business areas are also committed to acting on the results of the survey. You should have all had conversations with your line managers by now about your team’s results and what can be done about them.

Our challenge

It is important to be realistic and honest about the challenges we face. Things will not get any easier over the coming months. Equally, there is no magic wand we can wave to improve the way people feel about the Department.

We may not see much, if any, improvement in the next set of People Survey results. These issues are deep-seated and will take time to turn round; with your help, we can do that.

Despite the challenges we face, our achievements as a Department are considerable. We need to be proud of what we do but should never forget that we can always do better.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. It is the usual garbage she spews, leadership etc, what you expect from us (that she is totally useless)and what we expect from you (= a licence to bully staff). Strathe can't even be bothered to change the record and this from some creature on the best part of 200 grand?.

  2. It is actually quite simple to sort out a lot of the problems.

    "Show respect to your staff"


  3. Actually there are some quick fixes - get rid of the incompetent middle and senior managers who have been overpromoted and have not got a clue about either complex tax issues or how to manage people, instruct managers to have genuine respect for their staff and listen to their ideas and not treat them as naughty children who can't be trusted to think and act for themselves.

  4. I was actually undecided whether HMRC are deliberately vicious, and do this kind of stuff to bully businesses, or intrinsically stupid. They are, for sure, one of the two. I actually believe it is a responsibility of company directors to keep their tax affairs in good order. And do what I can to achieve that. And still, I treated like a criminal.

    After reading how they treat their staff and what that Strathe woman says, I have my answer!

  5. Too many managers do not understand the business they are alledgingly managing. They are the real problem as they fail to listen to the staff who do know the job and do want to provide good customer service.

  6. From senior management right down to area management and to local management they have the one trick pony which is Pacesetter/lean working practices,(or more for less)
    and they can't or wont see this is problem but they have no plan B.
    The work now is so micro managed and broken down into streams that there is no longer any choice in what you do or the order you do the work,the endless quest for stats and the endless counting and recounting of the post on hand, the whiteboard meetings and so called problem solving sessions that cause more problems that they solve it is a madhouse,if management would back off and let the staff work without endless getting in the way HMRC would not be in the shit state it's in.

  7. A first step would be to ban the managers from using e-mail.

    As if being bullied into submission and treated like some kind of naughty child were not bad enough, I have to endure on, a daily basis, "death by e-mail" from my lazy manager who sits just two desks away from me.

    Managers too farking lazy to get up off their asses and actually speak to their staff as decent human beings aint helping morale.

  8. 4 June 2010 00:39

    E-Mails are good (so are re-written reviews), they come back to haunt managers later as my partners managers are going to find out soon.

  9. Senior management just do not know or really want to know what happens at local levels. There is a high amount of poor management and the Department is now bogged down in processes and procedures which have been introduced under the guise of pacesetter and other daft initiatives (the new penalties regime process is a prime example -how many staff hours are now lost to this system?). Go back to having staff managed by their discplines (eg VAT by VAT managers, EC by EC managers) who understand the work rather than the current system where some managers (there are some goods ones left - but not many) just get on your back and demotivate seemingly to justify their existence (too many managers throughout the Department) - probably because they do not understand what their staff do. Empower the staff to do the job and make decisions (now largely removed following the takeover of C&E by the IR). We are adults but we are too often treated like naughty children (I suppose the next lot of Pacesetter will introduce the naughty step!). There is now a fear culture where you now have to watch your back.

    There is little doubt Corporation Tax rule the roost internally because of the grading structure - we need to get away from this, one tax stream cannot be allowed to dominate how this Department is run - senior management need to look at the bigger picture.

  10. The trouble is that 'leadership' and 'management' are not the same things. Any bloody fool can be a manager (and, these days, usually is), but leadership is a personal quality which - by and large - someone either has or has not.

    It's like the difference between 'authority' and 'power'. G K Chesterton once made the distinction thus:

    "If a rhinoceros were to enter this restaurant now, there is no denying he would have great power here. But I should be the first to rise and assure him that he had no authority whatever."

    And there's the problem - HMRC is full of managers who are rhinos. They have power, certainly; the power of life and death (of one's career or well-being), but they can never have authority because they are incapable of it.

    And that rot, my dears, goes from top to bottom.

  11. Re the comment about the Corporation Tax people ruling the roost is spot on. In my office there are around 20 ex IR Grade 7's whose contribution to to additional revenue is minimal - whereas there are only 6 ex C and E VAt staff who brought in several million £ extra VAT last year - yet are two or three grades below the CT people and paid considerably less


  13. In our local staff survey(i work in an HMRC call centre) our team leaders fared well, but their managers were seriously slated. When asked questions like do the senior management team value your contribution, we all said hell no!!
    Their response was to have our team leaders come around and ask if we'd understood the questions properly !!
    As another person commented, if the team leaders had had such a pasting, they would have been shouted at for 30 minutes and told to improve..