Business|Adults|Advanced|16. Relationships at work

Describe the pictures using the active vocabulary of the previous lessons



Discuss the questions

1. What qualities and skills do you think a headhunter needs to be successful in their job?

2. Do you think that headhunting is an ethical occupation?

A headhunter is a person who finds people with the right skills and experience to do a job, then tries to persuade them to leave their present job. Headhunting often involves cold-calling. When you cold-call, you telephone or visit someone you have never met before and try to sell them something or persuade them to do something.

Listen to the conversation and answer these questions

Enid Wong Patricia Evans

Enid Wong: Enid Wong.
Patricia Evans: Good morning, Ms Wong. My names Patricia Evans. I work for an executive recruitment agency.
Enid Wong: Oh yes?
Patricia Evans: I was given your name by Edward Zhang, I believe you know him quite well.
Enid Wong: That’s correct.
Patricia Evans: He suggested I call you. He thought you might be interested in a position that’s become vacant at KB Financial Services. It’s for a chief negotiator. Would you like to meet to find out a bit more about the job?
Enid Wong: Well, I’m flattered you’ve called me. It’s nice to know I’m still in demand. But honestly, I don’t think there’s any point in us meeting. I’m very happy in this job, and I don’t want to go anywhere else — well, not at this stage of my career, anyway.
Patricia Evans: OK, I quite understand. Can you recommend anyone I could contact and sound them out about the job?
Enid Wong: Well, let me see … no, not off the top of my head, I’d have to think about it. Why don’t you give me your number and I could probably think of someone if I had a bit more time?
Patricia Evans: Great. I’d appreciate that. My number’s 0207 644 8981 …

1. What is the purpose of Patricia Evans’s call?

2. Was the call successful? Why? / Why not?

Listen to the conversation again and complete the sentences

Listen and answer the questions


Patricia Evans Federico González

Patricia Evans: Good morning, Mr González . My name’s Patricia Evans. I work for an executive recruitment firm. A friend of yours, Enid Wong, gave me your name.
Federico González: I see. What’s it about?
Patricia Evans: A position has become vacant at KB Financial Services, Head Negotiator. I was wondering if you’d be interested.
Federico González: Mmm, KB Finance? They are a very good company. But I don’t know. I’m fairly happy here, actually.
Patricia Evans: People often say that to me, Mr González, but they change their mind when they hear more about the offer.
Federico González: Well, it would have to be a really good one to interest me.
Patricia Evans: It is. KB are offering a top salary and great benefits package …
Federico González: Are they?
Patricia Evans: Would you like to know the salary range?
Federico González: Sure.
Patricia Evans: Well, it’s over six figures, I can tell you that: probably in the region of a hundred and fifty for the right person.
Federico González: Is that pounds or euros?
Patricia Evans: Euros. There’s another thing you should bear in mind. It’s a very attractive part of the package they offer. They give staff a substantial bonus at the end of the year — usually well above the industry average.
Federico González: Mmm, interesting.
Patricia Evans: Look, why don’t we get together and I’ll give you some more details? Then, if you’re still interested, we can take it from there.
Federico González: OK, where can we talk?
Patricia Evans: How about meeting at the Chamberlain Hotel? There’s a nice bar there, it’s quiet during the afternoon. And it’s not too near where you work!
Federico González: OK, let’s do that. I know the Chamberlain Hotel well.
Patricia Evans: Fine. What day suits you?
Federico González: Well, how about next Wednesday? Say, at three o’clock. Is that OK for you?
Patricia Evans: Let me see … I’ll just check my diary … Yes, that time’s OK.
Federico González: Right, see you in the Chamberlain at three.
Patricia Evans: I look forward to it. Bye.

1. What does Patricia say about the position and the company to interest Federico?

2. What do they decide to do next?

Look at the audio script of the conversation. Find the expressions that Patricia uses to:

Persuade Federico to consider the offer Deal with Federico’s objections


Role-play the situation


Hello, Mr/Mrs/Ms X. My name’s …

I work for Y. I was given your name by …

Sounding people out

Z suggested I call you. He/She thought you might be interested in …

I was wondering if you’d be interested in …

Would you like some information about …?

Persuading candidates to consider the offer

KB is offering a top salary and great benefits.

It’s well over six figures.

It’s a very attractive part of the package.

They give staff a substantial bonus — well above the industry average.

Why don’t we get together?

If you’re still interested …

Dealing with objections

People often say that to me, but …

There’s another thing you should bear in mind.

You can look at this in another way.

I take your point, but …

Showing interest

Perhaps we could discuss this face to face?

Can you give me some more details?

I’d like some time to think about this.

Student Headhunter

Use this information to persuade the TV Producer to discuss the offer further.

The job: TV Producer at Barnard Media — a top company in the industry

Salary: Around €180,000 + bonus — negotiable

Main benefits: Insurance paid by company; top Mercedes car

Working hours: Usually 40 hours a week

Vacation: Six weeks a year

Office location: Five minutes from mainline station

Add any other information you wish.

Teacher TV Producer

You are very happy in your present job and have a great group of colleagues. The offer must be exceptional to persuade you to change your job.

Your present situation:

Position: TV Producer, Universal Entertainment

Salary: €140,000 + bonus, depending on company performance

Main benefits: Working in a beautiful building overlooking the river

Big discounts on theatre and cinema tickets

Working hours: Very long: start at 6 a.m., finish late.

Vacation: Four weeks a year

Office location: Office not very accessible; takes one and a half hours to get to work.


Read the information and summarize it

Background Information

Patrick McGuire, CEO of San Diego-based Techno21, is facing a problem caused by the highly competitive nature of the IT industry. Recently, employees have been working much longer hours than previously and often over weekends. As a result, a number of staff have developed close, personal relationships with each other. Patrick has begun to think that the company may need to introduce a policy to give these employees guidelines concerning their behaviour at work.

Techno21 is a young company with a very relaxed atmosphere, and staff are encouraged to socialise during their free time.


Read the assistant’s notes and summarize the information

1. Promotion application of Judith Fisher

Peter Walters, the Chief Financial Officer, had a close relationship with one of his staff, Judith Fisher, but they broke up. A few months later, Walters had to choose someone to be promoted to be his deputy. Judith Fisher was one of three candidates. She didn’t get the job. She claims now that it was because she’d had a personal relationship with Walters which had gone sour. According to her, this was Walters’s way of taking revenge. Patrick McGuire and Veronica Simpson (HR Director) took no action. Judith is now threatening to take legal action against the company.

2. The sales conference

At the company’s international sales conference Brad Johnson, a sales manager, met Erica Stewart for the first time. He attended the discussion groups she was in and always sat at her table at lunch. Hе texted her repeatedly, inviting her to have a drink or dinner with him. Hе was clearly verу impressed with her. When they both got back to Head Office, Brad Johnson asked for Erica to be transferred to his sales team. Erica went to see Veronica Simpson in order to reject Johnson’s request. However, Veronica strongly advised Erica not to turn down the transfer, saying, «Brad thinks you have the personal qualities to be a brilliant salesperson. He needs bright young people to strengthen his team and he thinks you’re the right person to join his team.» Erica is confused and cannot decide what to do.

3. The loving couple

About a year ago, two colleagues, Lisa Davis and Steffan Olsen, became romantically involved. They kept their relationship secret — or so they thought. However, the other members of their team suspected something was going on. The team noticed that at meetings Lisa and Steffan always supported each other’s opinions. Also, they would give each other loving looks or be more tactile than was normal among employees. Their behaviour upset the rest of the team. A representative of the group talked to the team leader and asked her to do something about it.


Read the discussion document and prepare for the role-play

To: HR Staff

From: Kate Mann

Subject: Tuesday’s HR meeting

1. Did we make the right decision concerning Peter Walters and Judith Fisher? What further action, if any, should we take?

2. Did Veronica give Erica Stewart good advice? What should Erica do now?

3. How should the team leader deal with the issue of Lisa and Steffan? She has asked for guidance from HR.

4. Which of Patrick’s four options is best for the company?

5. How can we avoid someone gaining an unfair advantage by having a close relationship with a colleague or boss? What action can we take if this happens?

Listen to the expert and complete the summary

Jeremy Keeley is an experienced facilitator and specialist in change leadership. He works with people and organizations in a commercial, professional, public, education and charity sectors. His clients include Sony, Aviva, T-Mobile, Oxford University and the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

Interviewer Jeremy

Interviewer: Jeremy, how would you advise the company to deal with its staff relationship dilemmas?
Jeremy: This is an interesting situation. I would normally advise individuals. And in this particular instance I would like to be advising Veronica Simpson, the HR Director. The background is that the company knows that personal relationships are likely to form here because of the working hours and the intensity of the work. The HR Director therefore should be very awake, very proactive, very in control of the situation, watching out for the warning signals of personal relationships creating a conflict of interest. With Peter Walters, the Chief Financial Officer, she should have set up a situation whereby he was not recruiting on his own particularly where one of the members of the pool from which he was recruiting that was a person he had an affair with. It’s a very dangerous situation for the company and tragic actually for the person who feels that they’d been rejected because of the affair rather than because of any skills or work. In this situation of Erica Stewart and Bret Jonhson, Veronica Simpson should be warning both of the parties of the dangers of going into boss-subordinate relationship when more than simply merit was the issue. She should be sitting with Bret Johnson asking him what his real intention is and warning him of the potential disaster that he was setting himself up for. And she should be warning Erica as well not for pushing her into it, in addition because Erica has come to see her the company is exposed. Because Erica can always come back later and say she told the HR Director about the situation, and in general, the HR Director should be the one driving the policy, not the Managing Director.
Interviewer: What do you think of the proposed policy options on work relationships?
Jeremy: Well, they’ve put forward four options. So, one is to ban relationships in the first place or all together. The second one is to have a love contract. The third one is that the team leader should be informed about the relationship and the fourth one is to do nothing. So, the first option, it feels to me very unfair, very unrealistic and probably won’t work, it’s most likely to drive this relationships under ground rather than to stop which would be more dangerous. And a lot of relationships are formed at work, a lot of personal relationships in life. This company has demonstrated that it is more likely. So it seems very very unfair. The second option, a love contract, on the other hand, feels quite invasive to me. It’s about the personal relationship between two people, and who is the company to decide what that contract should look like. And it has a soft feeling to it, it doesn’t feel firm or useful. The third option has the basis of a good policy to me. People should be transparent about their relationships, particularly where there is a conflict of interest. And people should be able to talk about their relationship freely and other people in the organization should be able to talk about the impact that it has on them. People in relationship or potentially in relationship with each other should be informed about the difficulties that are likely to arise because of that relationship. And the policy that covers those things is useful including the possibility of somebody being dismissed if the relationship sets up an illegal activity such as happened in the first instance with chief financial officer and the person working for him. The fourth option about doing nothing is a very dangerous option. We’ve already got three examples here, where some serious implications for the company could arise. They potentially are going to be sued by somebody because she feels unfairly treated. There’s another situation brewing with HR Director being warned of a potential relationship issue. And so that could put them into even more dangerous situation, more exposed, and another situation where team members are very unhappy with their colleagues’ relationship. So, doing nothing is not an option. But what’s typical of this organization here is that the HR Director has been doing nothing. And really it is her that should be driving this policy, not the chief executive.
Interviewer: Do you know of other solutions that companies have found to this problem?
Jeremy: Yes. Actually, I’m finding the whole topic really intriguing and I’ve done a lot of research into it recently. Public sector or governmental bodies tend to be very rigid, they have very firm written policies, very clearly laid out, quite strictly laid out, about personal relationships at work. They are allowed but if there is any situation of a conflict of interest people are likely to be moved and they could possibly be dismissed. In the private sector, it feels much more varied. And very interestingly some companies have no policy at all. The companies that have no policies at all, sometimes simply have not thought about it or are actually deliberately not having a policy because they find it might be prejudicial given high preponderance of this relationships between senior males and junior females. And therefore, a fear that even the policy itself might be prejudicial. It is very interesting. Within the other companies that have no policies, a lot of the policies are by word of mouth. People still get dismissed. People still get moved. But that is not, probably, written down anywhere. It happens through the informal proceedings in the company, and dismissal seem to be supported by the law in the majority of cases from what I can see. By the way there’s a lot of help as well on the Internet now which I was quite intrigued by. A lot of advice on policies which feels very straightforward from some of the policies that I’ve seen.

Complete the letter with an appropriate passive form of the verbs

appoint, issue, pay, set out

Mr Andrew Harris

77 Dunham Road


Lancashire BL3 2FK

14 March

FairerTrade Ltd

Denzell House

5 Connaught Avenue

Congleton, Cheshire CW1 7TL

Tel: 01260 271289

Fax: 01260 271288


Read the article below about employees who lack motivation and complete it

pic3_Accounting and Finance_L1

Listen and complete the telephone conversation with the verbs from the box

Rosalia Valdesi Paul Whitby

Rosalia Valdesi: Rosalia Valdesi.
Paul Whitby: Good morning, Ms Valdesi. My name’s Paul Whitby. I work for an executive recruitment agency.
Rosalia Valdesi: Oh yes?
Paul Whitby: I was given your name by Luis Deltell. I believe you know him quite well.
Rosalia Valdesi: That’s right. Yes. And what is it about?
Paul Whitby: Mr Deltell suggested I call you. He thought you might be interested in a position that’s become vacant at GSP Consulting. It’s for a senior financial adviser. Would you like to meet to find out a bit more about the post?
Rosalia Valdesi: Well, thank you very much for contacting me. But to be honest, I don’t think there’s any point in us meeting. You see, I’m very happy in my current job, and I’m not thinking of going anywhere else.
Paul Whitby: Sure, I quite understand. Maybe then there’s someone you could recommend? Someone I could contact and sound out about the job?
Rosalia Valdesi: Well …


Read the article and answer the questions below

The landscape of work-life balance has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades, and the nurturing of personal relationships is now more important than ever. Research has shown that employees with strong and effective relationships live longer, have less stress, and have higher levels of employee engagement. Wise employers understand the importance of how personal relationships enrich our professional lives.

Managing and nurturing our relationships is perhaps the most important and impactful thing we can do to enrich our lives. Our society respects and reveres those who have happy personal relationships. Much thought, research, and time is put into reinforcing the importance of balancing these varied responsibilities.

Rather than focusing on the number of such relationships, it is important to examine the quality of our relationships with spouses, children, co-workers and others. Social media can give us a false sense of an effective support network, when in reality, we may just have an abundance of superficial friends online. High-quality relationships give us energy and low-quality relationships take energy from us. It is important to spend more time in positive relationships and less time in negative ones. Failing this, it’s vital to somehow change the way we view a negative relationship. Doing this helps us keep the right focus in life. If you really want a boost in energy and perspective, volunteer your time and build relationships with those who are less fortunate. Many companies encourage employees to be mentors for this very reason.

For employers, it is important to let employees focus on results, not just time in the office. This will let employees design their own best work-life balance. It also sends a message that the company trusts the employee to get the work done. Companies will see employee engagement rise in this environment. This also results in a performance culture instead of a face-time culture.

Gone are the days when you leave your office and your work behind. Laptops, email, and smartphones saw to that. Now there is no longer a physical barrier between work life and personal life. Successfully plugging in and then unplugging is one key to managing your relationships. Career coaching services can help with tools on refining this skill.

Being able to focus on work, then focus on your family or personal relationships, and then focus again on work is a recipe for success. This is not easy and will take practice to refine. However, once mastered, this skill makes for happier employees.

  • Warm-up
  • Headhunting and cold-calling
  • Headhunter's call
  • Another call
  • Recruiting a TV producer
  • Just good friends?
  • Relationships at work
  • HR meeting
  • Expert's commentary
  • Complete the letter
  • No job satisfaction
  • The telephone conversation
  • The landscape of work-life balance
  • Complete the letter
  • No job satisfaction
  • The telephone conversation
  • The landscape of work-life balance
  1. 1. Business|Adults|Advanced|1. Good communicators
  2. 2. Business|Adults|Advanced|2. E-mail: for and against
  3. 3. Business|Adults|Advanced|3. The price of success
  4. 4. Business|Adults|Advanced|4. Marketing and partnerships
  5. 5. Business|Adults|Advanced|5. Marketing internationally
  6. 6. Business|Adults|Advanced|6. Going global
  7. 7. Business|Adults|Advanced|7. Describing relations
  8. 8. Business|Adults|Advanced|8. How East is meeting West
  9. 9. Business|Adults|Advanced|9. Building customer loyalty
  10. 10. Business|Adults|Advanced|10. Working across cultures
  11. 11. Business|Adults|Advanced|11. What makes people successful
  12. 12. Business|Adults|Advanced|12. The greatest achievements
  13. 13. Business|Adults|Advanced|13. A sponsorship deal
  14. 14. Business|Adults|Advanced|14. Job motivation
  15. 15. Business|Adults|Advanced|15. Job satisfaction
  16. 16. Business|Adults|Advanced|16. Relationships at work
  17. 17. Business|Adults|Advanced|17. Taking risks
  18. 18. Business|Adults|Advanced|18. Insuring trade risk
  19. 19. Business|Adults|Advanced|19. Evaluating risks
  20. 20. Business|Adults|Advanced|20. Working across cultures 2