CNC Property Fund Management MD encourages move away from blind compliance as PM defends government’s handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Published by Scott Challinor on September 24th 2020, 12:23am

Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons saw Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer cross swords once more over the coronavirus test and trace system, while chancellor Rishi Sunak is understood to be considering his options to replace the furlough scheme when it ends on October 31. Meanwhile, CNC Property Fund Management managing director, Robert Locker, encourages leaders and employees to question the status quo and move away from blind adherence to established systems to help augment real knowledge.

Leadership in Focus

CNC Property Fund Management is a business with a long and varied history. Starting out in the East End of London as part of a confectionary company, it has now grown into a property-based asset management and advisory firm. Robert Locker came on board in the 1980s, when the business was known as CNC Property PLC, guiding the firm through financial hardship in the 1990s, during which time his responsibilities in asset management increased.

Following this period, the business was able to grow and expand, with Locker and his colleagues purchasing the company in 2007. To date, it provides assistance for a range of commercial properties, including accounting and general asset management.

However, with over 35 years of operational exposure as an asset manager of commercial property behind him, Locker is concerned that real knowledge in the industry is being eroded and replaced by generalisation and blind adherence to existing systems. It is his view that leaders in the sector must take a stand to address the problem, and CNC Property Fund Management has sought to do exactly that in its own methods.

Writing in The Parliamentary Review, Locker said: “The inclination of any individual to question the status quo is being held back as conformity grows. Compliance to systems has bred complacency in analysis and a lack of common sense. Mistakes are reinforced by management structures that discourage dissent or criticism.

“As we create more internal systems to cope with these issues, the burden on individual employees is growing. Inadequate training and commercial work experience, particularly among the younger generation, has led to a superficial approach to problem solving. The failure to deal with a problem at its source inevitably creates considerable delays. In the property industry, the most obvious example is the planning process. Across the UK, it can prove extremely slow even for non-contentious schemes. It would be wrong, however, to suggest that this is an isolated area of frustration.”

As a means of combatting the problem in their own way, Locker explained how his business encourages its workers to take on their own leadership and think beyond the work which they are involved in.

He said: “Planners happen to work in a field of wide exposure. I believe that planning is simply representative of numerous systems that often deliver inadequate outcomes. We try to encourage our employees to think for themselves. They are encouraged to think beyond the work with which they are involved. We do have systems in place, but they are straightforward and always open to challenge.”

A key element of this approach, as Locker elaborated, is to avoid having a blame culture embedded within the business and allow employees to learn from the mistakes that they do happen to make in order to develop and improve, particularly given that they are tasked with responsibility at an early stage.

“We are not overly critical of mistakes unless they are repeated or not corrected where possible. People learn more from their mistakes than they do by conforming to a process and being instructed what to do. As a matter of course, we try to give responsibility at an early stage.”

While a smaller company like CNC Property Fund Management is able to operate in this manner, Locker does remain concerned that larger and more inherently system sensitive companies may find it more difficult to be flexible in their approach and address the problem.

Locker explained: “I feel that larger organisations are inherently system sensitive and have ingrained working methodologies that can often be detrimental in terms of overall productivity.”

Leadership Today

Prime minister Boris Johnson has defended his government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic as he and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer clashed on testing once more during Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions.

Sir Keir said that the PM was “losing control” of the issue and “losing control of the virus”, accusing him of being “really out of touch with what families were experiencing when trying to get coronavirus tests for children who are displaying symptoms associated with the disease.

The Labour leader added: "Health measures and economic measures are dangerously out of sync."

Johnson told MPs that it was an “epidemical fact” that Covid-19 spreads from person to person, adding that testing capacity was now “at a record high”.

Johnson said: "He [Sir Keir] knows we are doing our level best to get every child a test who has symptoms and 99.9 per cent of schools are back in spite of all his attempts to sow doubt in the summer".

The PM condemned what he called a “continual attack” on the testing system and on test and trace chief Dido Harding by Labour, telling the Commons that Sir Keir should stop criticising the testing system “from the side-lines” to help “encourage people to believe in it.”

Meanwhile, chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly weighing up his options to replace the furlough scheme when it winds down at the end of next month.

During Wednesday’s session in the Commons, Sir Keir and the SNP’s leader in Westminster Ian Blackford pressured the PM to take action to prevent a “tsunami” of redundancies.

Sir Keir said: "The CBI, the TUC, the Federation of Small Business, the British Chamber of Commerce and the governor of the Bank of England are all calling on the PM to stop and rethink and don't withdraw furlough.

"We have saying it for months. When is the prime minister finally going to act?"

Blackford told the chamber that 60,000 Scottish workers would be “sold onto the scrapheap” if the furlough scheme is not extended or replaced.

Johnson’s reply was that the chancellor was already at work on “creative and imaginative” solutions.

One of the options being considered is understood to be a salary top-up scheme, similar to those provided by the French and German governments, which would allow employers to reduce the hours employees work while keeping their roles intact, with the government then topping up their lost wages.

Johnson ruled out an “indefinite extension” to the furlough scheme but reassured that further support measures were being considered.

He said: "That is why we are looking at a massive package of investment in jobs and growth in the short, medium and long term.

"In addition to the package I set out yesterday, there will be creative and imaginative measures from the chancellor to help people through this crisis."

Leadership in History

On September 24 1853, under orders from Emperor Napoleon III, Admiral Febvrier Despointes took formal possession of New Caledonia.

In 1993, a new constitution was implemented in Cambodia, restoring the country’s monarchy and seeing Norodom Sihanouk reinstated as King.

In more recent history, September 24, 2019 saw the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, initiate an impeachment inquiry against US president Donald Trump, following allegations that he had abused his presidential powers by pressuring the state of Ukraine to smear a political rival.

The House voted to impeach Trump on two charges, but he remained president after being acquitted in February 2020 following his trial in the US Senate, which was controlled by his fellow Republicans.

Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash

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Authored By

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
September 24th 2020, 12:23am

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