Peter Cardy says compromise can be best when people have to leave

The sector veteran offers answers to your workplace dilemmas

Peter Cardy
Peter Cardy

Q. I need to persuade a senior manager to leave the charity. It has changed totally since he joined 20 years ago, but he's been unable to adapt. I've tried to help him change – what else can I do?

A. If you can get him to recognise that the only way is out, the usual method is a compromise agreement – a no-recrimination, no-regrets contract in which you pay him (usually close to the amount an employment tribunal would award for dismissal without good cause) and he forgoes his right to other redress. Your lawyer will advise you to include a confidentiality agreement. Gagging clauses are repugnant in principle, but losing your job – even with compensation – is a terrible shock, and even the coolest people might feel like sounding off.

Q. We have had a lot of flak for our decision to help with a green policy, working with government and spending both its funds and our own. Opposition politicians say we are putting Tory policies and money ahead of our independence as a community interest company. This has been picked up by the media and there has been at least a Twitter squall about it.

A. I've heard there is a general election this year, and I believe the opposition knows that too. Anyone can get caught in the crossfire. Mostly, politics is focused on the next five years and you will be old news very quickly. But parties and their hacks have long memories and can be vindictive. There are risks if you're identified too closely with the policies of a party currently in power; its successors are likely to reverse the policy, cut funding and send you into the wilderness. So it's worth doing everything possible to defend your reputation for independence, including taking the high moral ground in the media and the Twittersphere.

Q. I am a chief executive and have developed a close working relationship with my chairman. It has become closer than either of us intended and we are seeing each other outside work. We keep our professional and private lives separate and are completely discreet. But my ex-partner is very angry about the situation and has threatened to reveal our relationship to the rest of the board and staff. Any views?

A. You have only two choices: either you or the chairman resign. Although you are doing your best to keep your private life separate from work, your relationship is bound to leak. You might feel you are behaving in a professional way, but you will give subtle clues of which you're unaware – choice of words, glances, silences, unnecessary explanations, accidental closeness or deliberate distancing. Eventually, no one will be sure that either of you is impartial and able to make independent judgements. Even if your colleagues are pleased for you, your new relationship will do neither of you any favours in the end.

Q. We might be in line to have a royal patron. What's not to like?

A. The cachet of royalty is interchangeable with celebrity in general. The key is chemistry – if you and the royal or celeb like each other, many doors can be unlocked. But there can also be downsides. You will find yourself in unspoken competition with their other charities for time and attention, both of which are in short supply. Some royals can be very demanding and even pernickety about what they will and won't do to help, so establish ground rules early. There can be a lot of hassle with private secretaries, security, protocol. Royalty can help with fundraising, but you still have the hard work of getting the money in. Above all, remember that the main job of most celebs, royal or not, is being a celebrity, not being a patron.

Sector veteran Peter Cardy offers answers to your workplace dilemmas. Contact him at

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