…and it’s goodbye from me!

With a heavy mixture of emotions I will be leaving TFPL this week after 17 years’ unbroken service. My journey as a Recruiter to the Knowledge & Information world began way back in 2000 when I joined Intelligent Resources, who then joined forces with TFPL and in time we came together with the Sue Hill team under the Progility umbrella.

Many relationships were formed that continue to this day both in terms of colleagues, candidates and clients.  The Information Officers, Knowledge Executives and Junior Researchers I was routinely meeting then are now in positions of seniority and it has been a joy to see many careers grow and flourish.

How times have changed!  Back in 2000 we had dial-up internet access and woe betide anyone who didn’t close down their internet connection – think of the bills. We also relied on the regular use of a fax machine and could almost set our clocks on a Friday afternoon when our contractors started to fax through their weekly timesheets and the machine would whirl up and rolls of paper would spill down from it. Of course we did have a recruitment database, so we didn’t have to rely entirely on our memory vaults! Saying that, I have amazed myself over the years for an ability to remember names and companies people work for.

So much has evolved within the information world. We witnessed whole teams of researchers be made redundant when their roles were outsourced. Skills have had to adapt to meet new demands and role responsibilities. The outsourcing/offshoring trend continued across other sectors and I have clear recollections of heated discussions amongst the information community about the perils of offshoring their roles.  So too with Knowledge Management, we have seen lots of evolution in this area. Through it all we have retained an excellent group of clients who have remained loyal to both TFPL and Sue Hill through the ups and downs in economic change.

Anne Leaving PictureI have regularly been asked why I have stuck with this job for so long. The answer is simple – the people. The current team here at TFPL and Sue Hill have all been tremendously supportive with my decision to move on – I will miss you. I  also take away fond memories of many people across the many networking groups we have supported. I remember the CIG soirees… we got to party in some awesome venues!  I also loved the challenge and good banter at the SLA Winter Warmer Quiz and of course, the Association that has been closest to my heart for many years – BIALL. My diary in June will be sadly empty now I no longer have BIALL conference to attend.

But, a desire to change and have new adventures comes to the best of us. The timing was, to put it simply, right, right now.  In the last year I presented at several seminars and one of the areas I touched on was about how to future proof yourself and so I have taken on board some of my own suggestions which include the need to be adaptable, the importance of networking and building relationships, as talking to people really can open doors to new challenges. Above all be open-minded, listen to new opportunities and embrace change.  I have done just that.   You really don’t know what is just around the corner.

So, all that leaves me to say is THANK YOU to all the clients, candidates, colleagues and overall fabulous people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my time here for your continued support and good humour.

TFPL wins place on UK public sector procurement framework

TFPL has been awarded a place on the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) Framework RM3781 (Lot 6) for Multifunctional Devices, Managed Print and Content Services and Records and Information Management worth an estimated value of £35 million.

The CCS brings together policy, advice and direct buying; providing commercial services to the public sector and saving money for the taxpayer. Under Lot 6 of the RM3781 framework, TFPL will focus on the supply of records and information management services to central government and other public sector customers.

TFPL’s Managing Director, Chris Jones, said ‘I am delighted that we have been recognised as a supplier to the Government and have been awarded a place on Lot 6. Lot 6 is concerned with providing a Sensitivity Review Service for Government departments and other Public Sector bodies. This provides TFPL with a significant growth opportunity throughout the duration of the framework. I am also very pleased that the government’s commitment to increasing its usage of SME’s is demonstrated in our award.’

Suzanne Wheatley, TFPL’s Framework Account Manager said ‘This is an excellent opportunity for TFPL to build on our existing work with the public sector. We have a longstanding commitment to providing measurable value to our clients and a wealth of expertise in records and information management, our inclusion on the framework is testament to our knowledge of the sector and the hard work of the team.’

Lot 6 is a Sensitivity review service with options of a fully managed sensitivity review service or a triage service. It is designed to help with identifying material to transfer to The National Archives for release in the public domain. The scope includes; determining the sensitivity of a record, considering whether the exemptions support withholding sensitive information, determining whether records should be retained, closed or partially closed and provide a redaction service for a fully managed sensitive review service.

RM3781 runs through to October 2020, and enables Government Departments, Non-departmental public bodies, Local Authorities NHS trusts; Schools; Colleges; Universities and other public sector organisations across the UK to access services available on the framework.

The great mince pie challenge

mince pies
*Not an accurate representation of the testing area.

As the festive period approaches and generally most people start to wind down for a well-earned break, it’s that time of year when we take a moment in order to take stock on the important events of the year and the issues that matter. So here are our thoughts on the best mince pies available in the shops this Christmas.

For the record, I should point out that the outcome is as a result of meticulous research carried out by the TFPL and Sue Hill teams over the course of a number of weeks. We had a panel of judges, and some of us even got a bit too carried away pretending they were Mary Berry. We had categories for judging: pastry, filling and overall. This survey was not just cobbled together, oh no.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, of course, and it is a subjective matter of individual taste; but here are the right opinions:

3) Mr Kipling 7.5/10 Light sweet pastry, with just enough filling

2) Co-op 7.5/10 Substantial but sweet pastry, sweet tangy filling

1) Marks & Spencer. So they are not just any mince pies, they’re… 8.5/10 Smooth sophisticated, lovely pastry and a delicate filling

Trust us, avoid Asda’s version. Leave them for Rudolph.

We are obviously interested to hear your thoughts, so please add to the comments below.

If you have read this far, can I take this opportunity to thank all of the candidates and clients I have met and worked with this year, and wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Enjoy your mince pies!

How to conduct a training needs analysis

Maria Naylor from TFPL Learning explains the six steps to conducting a training needs analysis.

The transcript of the video is below:

Training needs analysis is used to identify new knowledge, skills and attitudes individuals, teams or departments require to meet their own and their organisations development needs.

So here are six simple waysto identify potential skill gaps:

1. List the roles within your team or department
To start with you need a list of the role types within your team or department. You want to simplify the process by grouping together similar roles, for example both a “Customer Service Officer” and “Customer Service Representative” would almost certainly require a very similar skill set.

2. List the skills needed for each role
Now that you’ve created a list of role types, the next step is to list the skills needed for each of these roles. What do the skills look like you may ask? They could be behavioural like “Listens to customer needs carefully to determine requirements” or they could be more Function Specific.

3. Create a survey
It’s ideal if you can find out all of the relevant skills a person has, not just those required for their current role. To do this, create a survey that makes it easy for people to respond. This essentially means you need to keep it short and to the point.

Survey Monkey is a great tool to do this as it will collate all the responses and help analyse the data.

4. Survey your workforce
With the survey designed, you are now ready to ask your workforce to respond to it. let them evaluate the current skill levels of their peers and estimate the skill level their group must reach in order to be successful. An added advantage of this inclusive approach is that it heightens employees’ awareness of their learning needs and helps break down any resistance to learning new skills.

5. Compile the results
If you can avoid it, don’t do this manually – there are plenty of free survey tools out there to choose from.

The results need to be compiled in two ways. For each person, you need to know what skills they have. For each skill, you need to know which people have it.

6. Analyse the data
You can now reap the rewards of your skills audit process. You can analyse:

•    The skill gaps in specific roles
•    Skill gaps within organisational groups
•    Potential successors for certain roles
•    The number of people who have critical skills
•    Future skill requirements

How to make training sticky…

I’m delighted to introduce the latest blog from our leadership expert Paul Dowding. This week he’s tackling the eternal question; “How do we make training stick?”

We all want a magic bullet that will transform learning into workplace change and improvement, create new behaviours and excellence, is there such a thing? There is no one single solution but if we understand how we can translate learning into practical change that’s a good start. From there we can look at the what.

Ideas about how learning translates into practical action have been around since the mid 1970s when James O. Prochaska defined his Transtheoretical model. This snappily named model describes the stages an individual goes through when turning ideas into new action or behaviour. (For the purposes of this piece we’ll call it ‘The Model’).

making training sticky

It is far too easy in our 21 century way to see change as yet another area of our life where we need to speed up, save time, get there quicker. There is a problem however.

The faster you attempt to change the less likely it is to stick.

Okay so a simple change such as ‘I’ll use honey on my cereal rather than sugar’, a simple substitution behaviour, can be achieved quickly, we can go through The Model almost instantaneously and make it stick if we have the commitment (a big ‘if’!).

Work based change is often more complex in a more complex environment:

  • ‘I’m going to get those reports in on time from now on’
  • ‘I’m going to be on time for every meeting’
  • ‘I’m going to stop getting so frustrated with people…’

These changes require a longer timescale. The three stages; Preparation, Action and Maintenance can be a long process requiring discipline to keep up the pressure and deliver actual, sustainable change.

It’s clearly not just time that is a determining factor on whether change is successful or not. Training and coaching have a big part to play in the delivery of lasting change if the training or coaching embodies The Model. The following groundrules bridge the space between training and actual change:

  1. Consciously accepting there is a problem…

Training and learning is the solution to a problem, a situation that needs to change or a different outcome that is desired.  Without conscious realisation that there is a problem in the first place (even if its, ‘I know I can do this better’) there can be no possibility of change.

  1. Devise the change you want to be…

If individuals generate their own alternative behaviours, approaches or attitudes they will have thought about it for themselves, weighed up the options and have exercised choice.  Having thought the change through comprehensively and then making a conscious decision to change helps overcome internal objections and builds determination.

  1. Repetition, repetition, repetition…

To behave differently, use a new approach or have a different attitude requires conscious thought day after day, reminding yourself of the change you want to be. Checking that you have delivered every day helps keep the commitment in front of mind.

Training should encourage the discipline of taking a planned, structured approach to change each day e.g.: taking time out each day to reflect on change achieved in practice at work.

  1. Broadcasting – get it out there…

Training should encourage learners not to be reticent about the change they want to be. Telling others helps firm up resolve and provides added incentive to deliver. Training can build in change motivation by helping individuals explore who would provide them with very honest and reliable feedback and reinforcement.

  1. Right first time?

Unlikely. Training can help individuals give themselves permission and build persistence to improve each opportunity / each day. New strategies take time to master but the early failures are where the nuances and choices are learned that make it possible to adjust appropriately to each situation.

Whilst the above may seem intellectually ‘bleeding obvious’ not all training and learning activities build this change success into their curriculum or their agendas.

What does this mean for training?

Training can easily incorporate all the 5 points above.  Whether the learning is self learning, coaching or training the simplest way to incorporate success is to ensure self exploration. The simplest version of this is questioning… not telling.

There are times when to ask rather than just tell is a waste of time and the benefits of exploring are minimal. If an individual needs ‘data’ then either tell them or enable them to be self sufficient by knowing how to go about finding it.  If the subject is very simple then telling saves time for exploring subjects difficult to explore alone. However one of the areas of change that people find hardest is around social / personal interaction.

Training can incorporate each stage of The Model if trainers and coaches (that includes all leaders of course) deploy the straightforward approach of questioning. Questioning places the emphasis on the learner to think for themselves. The questioner becomes a catalyst enabling the individual to transform themselves. So how does questioning work in the context of each stage of The Model?

Questioning can be deployed at each stage to enable the individual to:

  • Identify and define the problem.
  • Define and scope the practical change needed.
  • Explore the blocks, mental and otherwise, that may get in the way.
  • Identify new behaviours, approaches and attitudes
  • Help the individual identify whether or not they have the will to make the change real e.g:
    • ‘When have you achieved a significant change before?’
    • ‘When did you overcome barriers like this before?’
    • ‘How did you do it then?’
    • ‘What help did you need?’
  • Explore strategies to prevent back sliding

The process of change is a psychological as well as practical one, the move from consciously skilled to unconsciously skilled the ultimate goal. If training only generates an intellectual response such as:  ‘I can see that arriving late for meetings isn’t ideal’ then change is less likely to happen or stick.

There has to be an emotional engagement / realisation as well as an intellectual one: ‘I know that being late for meetings will hurt my reputation.’ Or  ‘I know that when I get frustrated with people they get anxious…’. That emotional element often more often than not provides the drive and energy to change.

Practical actions such as ‘planning in contingency time for report writing’ can only work if there is a psychological will to stick to it. Some call it discipline.

So how to make training (and coaching) sticky?

‘Fast is good’ is a modern mantra. It can result in greater productivity, pace of delivery, satisfied customers internal and external, reduced costs etc. There are some things that cannot / should not be rushed. Personal change is one of them. Training has to provide the space for individuals to fully understand The Model and develop the skills and thinking to take them through it to change.

If you’d like to discuss your leadership and management training needs, or find out more about how Paul could help your business, contact the TFPL Learning team on 020 7378 7068 or can read Paul’s full biography on our Trainer’s page or see his website for more information.

Sue Hill and TFPL Salary Survey 2016-17

2016 has been quite an eventful year so far and early indications are that 2017 will bring more of the same. It’s an interesting time to be releasing a salary survey, poised as we are on the brink of what will probably be some major changes to the UK economy in the post-Brexit world. With so much uncertainty in the air, it will be the knowledge and information professionals we’ll turn to for answers.

Once again, our salary survey covers information-related roles across all sectors and enables salary bench-marking by discipline and location as well as sector. We’ve made a few improvements since last year in response to your feedback – please let us know what you think by emailing

Download the 2016-17 salary survey here!

Why book in-house training?

TFPL Learning’s Mary Bloss explains why sometimes, in-house training has significant benefits over public courses.

The transcript is below:

The Top 4 benefits of in-house training…

Number 1 –Cost Effective. If there are 3 or more people who require the same training in your company, it’s more cost effective to bring the training in-house, as prices are calculated on a per-day basis rather than per person. You’ll also save on the travel and accommodation costs of getting everyone to the training centre.

Number 2 – Customised – With in-house training the course content can be tweaked to suit your requirements. You work with expert trainers to design a bespoke course to meet company-specific goals and create tangible business outcomes. Delegates will be able to work on relevant examples which relate to their roles, rather than generic examples.

Number 3 – Convenience – Organising training for a group of individuals with their own timetables and responsibilities can be a very difficult task. Running a course in-house means that you can choose a time, location and pace to suit you and your colleagues. You have the freedom to choose whether it’s a half-day workshop, two full days or a selection of bite-size sessions to suit your working schedules.

Number 4 – Team building – Regardless of whether everyone’s in the same team or from different departments, bringing them together for a training day is a great way to encourage team building. They learn to work with each other and it can help to create an increased awareness and understanding of other’s roles as well as boost staff morale.

Introducing our new offices

Ta-da! Our new address.
Ta-da! Our new address.

September is traditionally the start of the academic year – and despite having been out of full time education for more years than I care to admit, I still think of it as a time to buy stationery, crack out a new notebook and pen and head to the library.

This year, I’ve got that urge even more than usual as SHR, TFPL and ILX Recruitment have left Borough Towers behind and moved into 95 Aldwych, just over the road from my alma mater King’s College, London. In fact, I very nearly went into the university instead of work this morning. If I remember rightly it was metaphysics at 10am on a Monday (though the timetable may have changed).

Fortunately I recollected myself and joined the rest of the team in time to claim my desk. We’re all looking forward to getting out to visit our candidates and clients here and getting to know the area a bit better – do feel free to share any local recommendations with us!

We’re hoping to be able to invite you all over for a ‘housewarming’ at some point soon – but for the moment we’re still busy assembling furniture and rediscovering things in boxes.

Eating Brexit for Breakfast

Whether it was horror or jubilation (I was firmly in the horror camp), your personal reaction to Brexit has probably been usurped by the ‘what happens next?’ question that arises under your professional hat.  That change seems to have happened rather swiftly, which reminds me of Homer Simpson going through the 5 stages of grief in 30 seconds after hearing he has 48 hours to live from ingesting a deadly Puffer Fish:

Ready to commence the great ‘Brexit Breakfast’

Dr Hibbert: You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.

Homer: No way, because I’m not dying!

Dr Hibbert: Second is anger.

Homer: Why you little…

Dr Hibbert: After that, comes fear.

Homer: (paranoid) What’s after fear? What’s after fear?

Dr Hibbert: Bargaining.

Homer: Doc, you’ve got to get me out of this. I’ll make it worth your while.

Dr Hibbert: And finally, acceptance.

Homer: Well, we’ve all got to go sometime.

Dr Hibbert: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.

Moving on from the horror, we invited representatives from some of the most the prominent UK/US law firms to discuss their responses to the decision taken by the British public. Broadly speaking the responses fell into three categories:

Information gathering and sharing

From internal stakeholders to external customers, the thirst for information about the impacts is large. Many law firms are holding roadshows or have created briefings for their clients to start discussing the impact Brexit will have. Because of the uncertainty around what the EU/UK relationship will be, much of this information is about the process of exiting and helping to produce a list of ‘things to consider’ for example  – what will happen to EU born legislation that affects you? What is the effect on accessing the single market? What about EU employees?

Planning for the unknown

Some firms are more advanced than others, with internal task forces or project ‘Brexit’ teams and have identified areas of their own businesses that may feel the impact more deeply and have assigned them a RAG status. Others are using Brexit to push through deeper changes to their internal working practices, upgrading technologies, process improvement and agile working practices are all being embraced.

With change comes opportunity

The broad consensus is that there is a sense that Brexit (whatever your political view) creates an opportunity, indeed an imperative, to innovate. Whether this is to look at new markets or even re-structure, Brexit is not something that will allow us to maintain the status quo. For law firms and other professional services there are many examples of where macroeconomic events or global changes have increased their bottom line – think Y2K, SOX etc. Only the Global Financial Crisis had a negative impact. (A one year dip of-7% on combined revenues for the Big 4. However, they bounced back to growth rates of 5-10% year on year thereafter.)

So what does this mean for Knowledge and Information professionals?  

As with every article written about Brexit, there are no definitive views, no hard facts or answers to all the questions. They aren’t even found in Halsbury’s Laws. Some are considering headcount reductions, others looking to bolster their offering by hiring additional staff. Some firms feel they will be isolated from any impacts, others are convinced there are profound changes to come. There are too many variables to have a standard response to Brexit.

The only thing that feels a certainty is that it is going to be a long, turbulent yet totally fascinating journey ahead of us all.


Privacy in the library – protecting users

Safeguarding user privacy and confidentiality has long been a core part of the services offered by libraries. The specific challenges that this entails have changed almost beyond recognition as the way in which we access and store information has evolved. This week, our trainer Paul Pedley introduces the issues and challenges involved in protecting users’ privacy. Click here for further details on Paul’s course ‘Protecting the Privacy of Library Users‘.

Libraries rely on external vendors in order to be able to deliver the services they offer to their users. Examples would include discovery services, eBook platforms, library management systems, or the use of RFID. In addition, the vendors that they are reliant upon often make use of software as a service.

Once upon a time the library was the sole institution creating, storing and handling user records. Those records were paper-based, and were physically stored on the library premises. Those days are long gone.

As far back as 2000, Scott Johnston went so far as to call library circulation systems a “social surveillance system” because of the nature of the data that is processed.  Only last month someone said to me, “What is there to worry about, it’s only a record of what they are reading”. For one thing, the data that is generated isn’t necessarily limited to what items a library user has borrowed. But even if it was, would you want the world to know that you had been reading material about topics such as Pregnancy, Abortion, Mental health, Dementia, LGBT material, Gun violence, Explosives & demolitions, Lie detectors, Sex-therapy, Satanism,  Terrorism, Bulimia, or Anorexia?

Nowadays, when library users make use of the digital services available from libraries, those services are capable of generating a far more comprehensive digital footprint than the one envisaged by Scott Johnston back in 2000. The digital services that are currently offered by libraries can give us an intimate profile of a user’s intellectual activities. More than that, the data is shared with third parties and may not even be controlled or managed by the library itself.

We need to distinguish between services and data under the library’s control and services and data  that are controlled by third parties such as database vendors. In making that distinction, I am not for one moment suggesting that where the data is controlled by a third party, that it’s not our responsibility. Far from it, where that is the case it is incumbent on the library to put safeguards in place to protect the privacy of their users. That could, for example be by requiring vendors to adhere to the same privacy and record retention standards that the library has adopted; or ensuring that the licence agreements and contracts that are in place adequately address the privacy issues that arise.

Privacy does matter. If library users are aware that they are being monitored, or even if they merely think that they might be, that can have a chilling effect on their behaviour. They no longer feel willing or able to explore controversial topics, for fear of some form of punishment, ostracism, or discrimination.

I have picked three quotations which are given below as a way of encouraging everyone who reads this blog posting to have a think about privacy.

  • “If we cannot (or do not) protect the intellectual privacy of our users, then we are failing as professionals” Source: Ian Clark 2016 IN Journal of Radical Librarianship
  • We keep talking about how libraries are heralds of privacy, but we are terrible at it. Source: TJ Lamana @TheNewLibrarian, Tweeted 26 June 2016)
  • Hugh Rundle says”librarians talk good talk about user privacy but continue to use (and build) software that provides no protection from snooping librarians, contractors or police” and the reason he gives is that “librarians have tended to prioritise functions that make our lives easier rather than those that make library users’ lives easier” Source: “Zoia Horn’s library: protecting users’ privacy with Tinfoil” by Hugh Rundle, 3rd July 2016

Ask yourself, how good a job do you think your library or information centre is doing at protecting the privacy of library users?

Over the last eighteen months I have been conducting research into privacy and library users, and have put together a one day training course which looks at the issues involved. The course considers the practical steps that library and information professionals can and should be taking to protect the privacy of their users. It includes examples of requests for access to data that have been made in the past; as well as examples of data breaches that have occurred, and what caused those data breaches to occur. The course also includes practicals, where delegates can consider a number of scenarios and their privacy implications and will be able to share with other information professionals their thoughts and suggestions on how they would deal with such a situation.

Paul Pedley is a Visiting Lecturer at City University, responsible for a module on Information Law & Policy, and the author of “Essential law for information professionals” published by Facet Publishing.

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