Careless talk costs... RBS staff called to account

Oh dear. A salutary reminder for all bosses, courtesy of their RBS Group opposite numbers: that once you've committed something to paper, you can't take it back.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010
A rather heavy-handed sounding memo sent to the bank's UK staff - reminding them in no uncertain terms that failure to have their salaries paid into an RBS-run account represents a ‘breach of group policy' and could result in disciplinary action - has escaped from captivity and is now running amok in the media jungle, causing all kinds of chaos for its authors. Apparently as many as 14,000 staff there don't currently do so, and it's clear that the bank's top brass are not happy about it.

While it's entirely understandable that employers should promote staff use of company services by means of discounts and special offers, when you reach the point at which exhortation starts to look like coercion things have gone a bit too far. Most people who work for Sainsbury's doubtless shop there too, but presumably aren't averse to popping into a Tesco Metro when needs must; it's a good chance to do some intelligence gathering on the opposition, anyway.

RBS's rather flustered response that it is common practice in the industry for banks require this of their staff may well be the case, but their chosen means of enforcement hardly makes them look like a modern, caring and enlightened company. It's the charmless terms in which it has been couched as much as the message itself that is at fault here.

The moral of the story for managers? When you feel the need to send a mass email or memo to get something off your chest, sit down, take a few deep breaths and think about how you would feel if the boot was on the other foot. If you still want to send it, go ahead. But don't say we didn't warn you…

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