Reference for a peer

Gamer 69

Clanker
I am in a bit of a tricky dilemma. Not army related, but you guys have given me good advice in the past, so here goes...

I did a job at x company, working directly to a board member. There are 3 levels in my job, assistant, technician and chartered. I see myself in the middle of this and I am quite clear I can do a good job at an intermediate level.

Because of agency rates, they were paying for a chartered salary, I was getting paid under a technician level. The board member didn't really understand the nature of the role. She also didn't really understand the business which meant there was quite a bit of debate between the 2 of us. She also didn't understand some of the legal requirements of the job, which got to the point that I was doing things for free to protect the business and myself.

In the end, I took another job. Whilst I was gone, the Director appointed another person on a ftc and increased his salary by £10k, her and the management team apparently went on about how they had now got someone 'at the right level',

6 months later, I was offered a similar level job (in another part of the business) and came back to the organisation. My replacement is now reporting to the CEO, the original director had 'moved on' and the last remaining manager in the old part of the organisation has just left.

I do not have a relationship with the CEO, this suits me, I am known by the other members of the Board and I have a good reputation. The CEO is pulling out his hair, with the standard of work handed to him by my replacement. He has outsourced 60% of my original job to a professional firm and is still cocking up the remaining 40% of the role. An individual auditor has come in and has done a report to say he basically can't understand how things have gone downhill 'until this date (my last day) everything worked etc, but now things have deteriorated.

Unofficially, we have been approached by the outsourced firm asking us to release them from the work. They are spending twice the amount of work as there are multiple issues associated with the work they are asked to do. They are concerned about their reputation of carrying on working for him, which is why they have continued to carry on (EDIT - as opposed to telling him to 'do one' and then being blamed for the mess that would follow).

The leadership team are preparing to get rid of him. He has asked me if I would be willing to provide a reference. His management has largely moved on, I am the only person who really understands his role and he has alienated the senior management team.

I am very torn, quite frankly he is desperate. The leadership team have told me, if he leaves they will turn a blind eye and would rather he had a job to support his family rather than sack him.

He is a really nice guy, he's just oversold himself. A previous colleague to me has said he wasn't deemed competent at his last job and he just can't seem to perform at a technical level and often leaves things to the last minute or calls in sick for important meetings.

I can see he can do certain things at the expected level, but he's not versatile, willing to go the extra mile and he's stubborn and won't ask for help.

I plan to be honest about our relationship (peers) and to comment on what he can do well. I want to comment on things he may need help with, but it feels like I am stabbing him in the back and I am concerned about my own reputation damage if he is taken on and doesn't perform.
 
Last edited:
If you lie in a reference...
 

cowgoesmoo

Old-Salt
You need to be very, very careful if you're writing a less than stellar reference that everything is completely factual and isn't your own interpretation of those facts. Questioning someones competence is a subjective minefield thats probably not worth the risk. Personally i'd just decline to do it - surely HR could do a bland generic reference?
 
Thinking on, as I've been in a similar position - the only reference you could give him - given you did not employ him - is a personal / character reference...
 

DAS

Old-Salt
Wouldn't touch that with a barge pole. As an out you could say as you're not his manager you can't give a reference. HR should be doing a generic one anyhow.
 
Shurley it depends on whether you're approaching on a port or starboard tack and can see either a red or green nav light. Oh..., I'll get me coat.
 

Oyibo

LE
Thinking on, as I've been in a similar position - the only reference you could give him - given you did not employ him - is a personal / character reference...
Agreed with BB's advice - character reference, but no speculation whatsoever about his professional ability. And if you do mention the work he did be very careful about any comments that may infer something that he was not - for better or worse.
 
What we always do is a simple factual reference

”_______worked for us from _____ until _____ in the role of _______.His general duties involved a variety of tasks including _________.

if They have a clear disciplinary record, we’ll add a comment saying so, if not, we’ll say nothing.
 
Sometimes when my wife twaddles on about HR legalities and practices it actually penetrates and half sinks in.

Never give a reference, especially in writing: Good, or bad. That way you can never be asked to appear in a tribunal or court to defend, or disparage an individual.

Only ever confirm: Date started work, date finished work, and perhaps, depending on the individual, whether they were terminated or resigned. A fair few of the really large corporates automate this information giving the employee a phone number and reference number which they pass to potential employers for them to call for confirmation of status.

Bottom line: If he/she is a waste of space and you give them a glowing reference then it may come back and bite the company on the arrse. For example: If to get rid of them the company says that the role no longer exists, lays them off and pays them off. Then, suddenly a month later when it is safe to surface again the very same role is advertised and that individual comes back and says give me the job, you gave me a shit hot reference it puts the company in a sticky position. It also opens up the door to other claims too, potentially wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, etc, etc.

Just never give a written reference, the old days are well gone.
 
Thinking on, as I've been in a similar position - the only reference you could give him - given you did not employ him - is a personal / character reference...
Wouldn't do that, not unless they were a friend and I knew them out of work. In work people can have one persona and another outside.
 

pooky

Old-Salt
As others have said, it’s usual practice for HR to send out generic references as it’s important to treat everyone the same / in line with company policy.
 

Chef

LE
Thinking on, as I've been in a similar position - the only reference you could give him - given you did not employ him - is a personal / character reference...
I would go along with this advice. I also wonder why your being asked for a reference for someone who started work after you'd left. from what you say of his work and ethics, (oversold himself, throws sickies under pressure, etc), I'd be very wary about commenting on his abilities at all.

Give it to HR, theoretically it's what they're meant to do for a living.
 
What we always do is a simple factual reference

”_______worked for us from _____ until _____ in the role of _______.His general duties involved a variety of tasks including _________.

if They have a clear disciplinary record, we’ll add a comment saying so, if not, we’ll say nothing.
If you can get Mr Bloggs to work for you then you are very lucky.
 

WALT

War Hero
Give it to HR, theoretically it's what they're meant to do for a living.
What he said.

They created this two-faced, lying, back-stabbing world of mistrust between colleagues. Let them deal with the spineless, deceitful working environment that they have created, where no one is free to utter an opinion without fear of criticism or retribution.

I am bitter and have been drinking. Does it show?

ETA;- "Human Resources." It sounds like a cattle truck on the way to Auschwitz. What was wrong with "Personnel Dept.?"
 

Gamer 69

Clanker
I would go along with this advice. I also wonder why your being asked for a reference for someone who started work after you'd left. from what you say of his work and ethics, (oversold himself, throws sickies under pressure, etc), I'd be very wary about commenting on his abilities at all.

Give it to HR, theoretically it's what they're meant to do for a living.
Sorry if I wan't clear. I came back to the organisation in pretty much the same role but in a different area of the business.
 

Gamer 69

Clanker
Sometimes when my wife twaddles on about HR legalities and practices it actually penetrates and half sinks in.

Never give a reference, especially in writing: Good, or bad. That way you can never be asked to appear in a tribunal or court to defend, or disparage an individual.

Only ever confirm: Date started work, date finished work, and perhaps, depending on the individual, whether they were terminated or resigned. A fair few of the really large corporates automate this information giving the employee a phone number and reference number which they pass to potential employers for them to call for confirmation of status.

Bottom line: If he/she is a waste of space and you give them a glowing reference then it may come back and bite the company on the arrse. For example: If to get rid of them the company says that the role no longer exists, lays them off and pays them off. Then, suddenly a month later when it is safe to surface again the very same role is advertised and that individual comes back and says give me the job, you gave me a shit hot reference it puts the company in a sticky position. It also opens up the door to other claims too, potentially wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, etc, etc.

Just never give a written reference, the old days are well gone.
I'm starting to see why the senior leadership team are keen for me to provide the reference.

'We thought he was sh!t, we never told you he was any good. Who's this Gamer bloke?'
 

anglo

LE
I am in a bit of a tricky dilemma. Not army related, but you guys have given me good advice in the past, so here goes...

I did a job at x company, working directly to a board member. There are 3 levels in my job, assistant, technician and chartered. I see myself in the middle of this and I am quite clear I can do a good job at an intermediate level.

Because of agency rates, they were paying for a chartered salary, I was getting paid under a technician level. The board member didn't really understand the nature of the role. She also didn't really understand the business which meant there was quite a bit of debate between the 2 of us. She also didn't understand some of the legal requirements of the job, which got to the point that I was doing things for free to protect the business and myself.

In the end, I took another job. Whilst I was gone, the Director appointed another person on a ftc and increased his salary by £10k, her and the management team apparently went on about how they had now got someone 'at the right level',

6 months later, I was offered a similar level job (in another part of the business) and came back to the organisation. My replacement is now reporting to the CEO, the original director had 'moved on' and the last remaining manager in the old part of the organisation has just left.

I do not have a relationship with the CEO, this suits me, I am known by the other members of the Board and I have a good reputation. The CEO is pulling out his hair, with the standard of work handed to him by my replacement. He has outsourced 60% of my original job to a professional firm and is still cocking up the remaining 40% of the role. An individual auditor has come in and has done a report to say he basically can't understand how things have gone downhill 'until this date (my last day) everything worked etc, but now things have deteriorated.

Unofficially, we have been approached by the outsourced firm asking us to release them from the work. They are spending twice the amount of work as there are multiple issues associated with the work they are asked to do. They are concerned about their reputation of carrying on working for him, which is why they have continued to carry on.

The leadership team are preparing to get rid of him. He has asked me if I would be willing to provide a reference. His management has largely moved on, I am the only person who really understands his role and he has alienated the senior management team.

I am very torn, quite frankly he is desperate. The leadership team have told me, if he leaves they will turn a blind eye and would rather he had a job to support his family rather than sack him.

He is a really nice guy, he's just oversold himself. A previous colleague to me has said he wasn't deemed competent at his last job and he just can't seem to perform at a technical level and often leaves things to the last minute or calls in sick for important meetings.

I can see he can do certain things at the expected level, but he's not versatile, willing to go the extra mile and he's stubborn and won't ask for help.

I plan to be honest about our relationship (peers) and to comment on what he can do well. I want to comment on things he may need help with, but it feels like I am stabbing him in the back and I am concerned about my own reputation damage if he is taken on and doesn't perform.
The advice I was given [many years ago]was, If you can't write the person a good reference,
don't give the reference, so if you can't write the reference with a good heart don't write it, IMHO
 

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