Home Office outsourcing immigration operations ‘on the cheap’ due to funding shortages and lack of ministerial interest, says chief inspector

Pretty damning indictment of poor political and bureaucratic management:

The Home Office has been outsourcing immigration operations “on the cheap” because of funding shortages and a lack of interest from ministers, the government’s own chief inspector of borders has admitted.

David Bolt, who provides independent scrutiny of the UK’s border and immigration management, told The Independent that in order to “manage its capacity”, the Home Office had made subcontracting part of its “modus operandi” – and as a consequence had reduced control over its own operations.

He questioned whether there was “sufficient visibility” around the way the department had increasingly placed the onus on external agencies, such as landlords and doctors, to carry out immigration checks, and around the manner in which immigration detention, visa processing and other provisions had been outsourced to private firms.

The department has come under fire over the past year for wrongly treating those with a right to live in the UK as illegal immigrants under its hostile environment policies – an issue encapsulated by the Windrush scandal – and has been accused of creating barriers to applying for UK status through its decision to privatise the visa system.

The chief inspector said that while Home Office processes that had adequate funding and “enthusiasm” from ministers were working well, such as the EU settlement scheme, other operations were not being so effectively executed.

“The EU settlement is working better as a process,” he said. “You’ve got senior ministerial interest; you’ve got funding; the Home Office was essentially able to design the system to suit itself; you’ve got enthusiasm around delivery; you’ve got a clear target – all of those are ingredients that will make something work.

“Much of the rest of the business doesn’t feel like that. It doesn’t have clear targets; it doesn’t have the same ministerial interest; it doesn’t have the funding; and it’s not prioritised so it doesn’t necessarily have the resources, so I think that’s the department’s challenge.

“That’s why outsourcing is part of its modus operandi. That’s one way in which it can try and manage all this capacity – to give the task to somebody else.”

Mr Bolt raised concerns about difficulties for visa applicants and for other immigrants to access the services of private firms who have commercial contracts with the Home Office, such as Sopra Steria, a French firm that took over in-country visa processing in November.

The Independent revealed last month that the company had raked in millions for providing what lawyers branded a “substandard” service, which had forced some applicants to pay high fees and travel hundreds of miles to submit applications on time.

MPs and lawyers subsequently called for an independent investigationinto the outsourced system, raising “extreme concerns” about Sopra Steria’s “capacity and ability” to run the service.

Speaking after an event organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Visas and Immigration on Thursday, Mr Bolt said: “When you hear that people have difficulty accessing Sopra Steria or any of the other outsourced commercial contracts, what is the Home Office doing to ensure that what they’re providing is actually meeting the terms of the contract?

“In earlier contracts, one of the challenges was whether the contract had been properly funded, so there’s been an attempt to try and do things slightly on the cheap. And then it always feels rather reluctant to press the provider, because they realised they’ve got the provider over a barrel.

“The question is, does it retain sufficient visibility of what’s going on and sufficient control over it? And to what extent is it accountable for what’s delivered?”

He also said that when the department placed requirements on agencies such as the NHS, schools and landlords to carry out immigration checks as part of its hostile environment measures, he was “not sure that it [took] enough responsibility for what then happens”.

A report published by Mr Bolt in 2016, which aimed to understand how the Home Office was going to assess the effectiveness of the hostile environment policies, found there were “no real measurements in place to collect, analyse and evaluate” the measures.

But the chief inspector questioned whether the department had “the capacity to do anything about it” because they were “short of resource generally, meaning everything is under pressure” – likening the situation to “changing a tyre as you’re driving down the motorway”.

Why is the Home Office getting so many immigration decisions wrong?

“Across all of the Home Office, its business is bigger than its capacity to manage. It’s constantly having to make decisions about priorities, and getting dragged off to do things. That for me is one of the key issues – whether it’s got the bandwidth to cope with everything,” he added.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We welcome the independent scrutiny of the chief inspector and take his comments, criticism and recommendations very seriously.

“We are committed to delivering an immigration system that is fair and delivers value for money for the taxpayer and the inspector is a crucial part of that work. It is only right that the department and ministers give full consideration to the recommendations made in ICIBI (independent chief inspector of borders and immigration) reports, which can be complex and wide-ranging.”

Source: Home Office outsourcing immigration operations ‘on the cheap’ due to funding shortages and lack of ministerial interest, says chief inspector

Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice. – The New York Times

Good piece and advice by Adam Grant.

One of the more interesting articles, forget the reference, that I read in one of my management development programs, was about “managing authenticity,” which appears to ba a contradiction in terms, but makes sense as being more aware (“self-monitoring”) of your impact on others and how best to engage:

But for most people, “be yourself” is actually terrible advice.

If I can be authentic for a moment: Nobody wants to see your true self. We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.

A decade ago, the author A. J. Jacobs spent a few weeks trying to be totally authentic. He announced to an editor that he would try to sleep with her if he were single and informed his nanny that he would like to go on a date with her if his wife left him. He informed a friend’s 5-year-old daughter that the beetle in her hands was not napping but dead. He told his in-laws that their conversation was boring. You can imagine how his experiment worked out.

“Deceit makes our world go round,” he concluded. “Without lies, marriages would crumble, workers would be fired, egos would be shattered, governments would collapse.”

How much you aim for authenticity depends on a personality trait called self-monitoring. If you’re a high self-monitor, you’re constantly scanning your environment for social cues and adjusting accordingly. You hate social awkwardness and desperately want to avoid offending anyone.

But if you’re a low self-monitor, you’re guided more by your inner states, regardless of your circumstances. In one fascinating study, when a steak landed on their plates, high self-monitors tasted it before pouring salt, whereas low self-monitors salted it first. As the psychologist Brian Little explains, “It is as though low self-monitors know their salt personalities very well.”

Low self-monitors criticize high self-monitors as chameleons and phonies. They’re right that there’s a time and place for authenticity. Some preliminary research suggests that low self-monitors tend to have happier marriages and lower odds of divorce. With your romantic partner, being authentic might lead to a more genuine connection (unless your name is A. J. Jacobs).

But in the rest of our lives, we pay a price for being too authentic. High self-monitors advance faster and earn higher status, in part because they’re more concerned about their reputations. And while that would seem to reward self-promoting frauds, these high self-monitors spend more time finding out what others need and helping them. In a comprehensive analysis of 136 studies of more than 23,000 employees, high self-monitors received significantly higher evaluations and were more likely to be promoted into leadership positions.

Interestingly, women are more likely to be low self-monitors than men, perhaps because women face stronger cultural pressures to express their feelings. Sadly, that puts them at risk for being judged weak or unprofessional. When Cynthia Danaher was promoted to general manager of a group at Hewlett-Packard, she announced to her 5,300 employees that the job was “scary” and that “I need your help.” She was authentic, and her team lost confidence in her initially. Some researchers even suggest that low self-monitoring may have harmful effects on women’s progress.

But even high self-monitors can suffer from the belief in authenticity because it presupposes that there is a true self, a bedrock to our personalities that’s a combination of our convictions and abilities. As the psychologist Carol Dweck has long shown, merely believing that there’s a fixed self can interfere with growth.

Children who see abilities as fixed give up after failure; managers who believe talent is fixed fail to coach their employees. “As we strive to improve our game, a clear and firm sense of self is a compass that helps us navigate choices and progress toward our goals,” Herminia Ibarra, a professor of organizational behavior at the business school Insead,notes. “When we’re looking to change our game, a too rigid self-concept becomes an anchor that keeps us from sailing forth.”

If not our authentic selves, what should we be striving to reach? Decades ago, the literary critic Lionel Trilling gave us an answer that sounds very old-fashioned to our authentic ears: sincerity. Instead of searching for our inner selves and then making a concerted effort to express them, Trilling urged us to start with our outer selves. Pay attention to how we present ourselves to others, and then strive to be the people we claim to be.

Rather than changing from the inside out, you bring the outside in.

When Dr. Ibarra studied consultants and investment bankers, she found that high self-monitors were more likely than their authentic peers to experiment with different leadership styles. They watched senior leaders in the organization, borrowed their language and action, and practiced them until these became second nature. They were not authentic, but they were sincere. It made them more effective.

The shift from authenticity to sincerity might be especially important for millennials. Most generational differences are vastly exaggerated — they’re driven primarily by age and maturity, not birth cohort. But one robust finding is that younger generations tend to be less concerned about social approval. Authentic self-expression works beautifully, untilemployers start to look at social media profiles.

It worked. Next time people say, “just be yourself,” stop them in their tracks. No one wants to hear everything that’s in your head. They just want you to live up to what comes out of your mouth

As an introvert, I started my career terrified of public speaking so my authentic self wouldn’t have been giving a TED talk in the first place. But being passionate about sharing knowledge, I spent the next decade learning to do what Dr. Little, the psychologist, calls acting out of character. I decided to be the person I claimed to be, one who is comfortable in the spotlight.

Source: Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice. – The New York Times

The Rise of Multicultural Managers | INSEAD Knowledge

A good overview by INSEAD academics of some of the advantages for larger companies of multicultural managers and leaders, and some of the advantages:

  • “Making creative associations and drawing analogies between geographical markets, allowing L’Oreal to develop global products and build global brands while remaining sensitive to local market differences.
  • Interpreting complex knowledge – i.e. tacit, collective and culture-dependent, hence impossible to simply “explain” across cultures and contexts, an essential skill when marketing products like cosmetics, where much of understanding is tacit and culture-dependent.
  •  Anticipating cross-cultural conflicts, and addressing them, something critical to the effectiveness of global teams.
  •  Integrating new team members from different cultures into teams that quickly develop their own norms of interaction and a strong “in or out” identity, making joining the team once it has been in existence for a while particularly difficult.
  • Mediating the relationship between global teams, with a high level of cultural diversity among their members, and the senior executives they report to, or their interaction with local subsidiary staff they collaborate with, who are usually monocultural.”

The Rise of Multicultural Managers | INSEAD Knowledge.

Thirty years of business-like “reforms” have backfired on the public service: expert

Thirty years of business-like “reforms” have backfired on the public service: expert.