A year in Ressources Humaine (not Provence!).

Introducing our fascinating new blog series from our guest contributor, Karen. After 20 years as a HR professional in both public and private sectors (including working for Ruth) for a diverse range of employers and looking after 85 to 12000 employees, Karen is very much an HR expert. Indeed if she was not embarking on her new life we would be welcoming her into the Amelore fold.

Having initially started her HR career in the travel industry, Karen has decided to take a career break and relocate to France. As well as aiming to perfect her French language skills, Karen is returning to where it all began and will be working for a travel company in France.

Karen has offered to share her new experiences from an HR professional’s viewpoint with us and with you.

Karen’s driver for the blog…

“People have some interesting views on what Human Resources actually is and does (from both within and without the HR sector). Quite often they see it as not being part of ‘real life’ but a hoop to jump through or someone to seek permission from before you can interact with your employees. Personally, I see HR as being about people, with all of their quirks and needs, and not about processes and procedures that can often hold an organisation back. Successful HR should be about real life and real situations; be grounded in what really makes people tick and what makes organisations thrive.

That being the case, what are the lessons to be learnt from ‘good HR’ in a non-HR situation? Over the next few months I hope to explore some of them..”

 

Karen toasting a new life
Karen toasting her new life leaving these shores.

Dog tired… It’s Friday afternoon

jasper
Jasper with that Monday morning feeling.

The truth about office dogs… At Amelore we have an office dog.

Jasper is a black Labrador/Spaniel cross and comes to work with my husband who is our part-time and very flexible Financial Controller, Head of IT Support and creative lead amongst other things.

Jasper loves his routine. He walks across the fields each morning with my husband to take the children to our local village school. Then they head into the office and he positively runs in the door. Having burst in he drinks a large amount of water and then wipes his wet chops on our Operations Manager Sam. He rushes around to greet everyone and then he crashes out on his bed.

He barks at all the deliverymen and occasionally at clients if they arrive early for a meeting (if we don’t know they are dog friendly he has his own dog sitters in the office next door or failing that he sulks in the family bus).

Now over the years I have come across dogs at work and it can work very well and it can work very badly.

When I worked in the public sector it was quite common in the rural offices for people to take dogs to work but keep them in their cars, walking them regularly and sitting with them at lunchtime.

One of my clients introduced a rescue dog into a crowded workspace and it bit an employee. She was very understanding but that was not sensible on many levels and clearly the employer always has a duty to provide a safe environment for its employees. A bite is a personal injury and can be serious.

Recently we hired someone that wanted to take her dog to a central London office everyday on the tube but we said no to that. The office was busy and there was nowhere for the dog to be exercised.

The thing about any animals in the office is that not everyone likes them. It can really add a friendly, healthy dynamic to your company as we feel Jasper does, but if we wanted to hire someone that didn’t like dogs (they would have to be exceptional!), Jasper would sadly no longer be coming to work.

If you are thinking about having an office dog, make sure everyone is happy about it and set out the rules. Certain environments (warehouses, factories etc) are not dog friendly and the temperament of the dog is a key and major factor.

How to progress your Career

 

fireman

Last week I attended a CIPD focus group.

The topic was the HR professional map (not the fire service…more later) which you are probably only familiar with if you have recently studied your professional exams. Sadly for the CIPD our focus group didn’t use or value it. Thought it wasn’t all bad news as everyone agreed that the CIPD Code of Conduct was a very good document. We share that at Amelore… we send it out with our proposals.

I always think focus groups are a great way to get a quick bit of professional development as they are almost always attended by people that care enough to turn up and say what they think.

The mixture was interesting. There was an L&D bias along with someone from a Reward background and me, a generalist with a twist.

One of the questions was about how our careers had developed. Mine had begun in training administration and progressed, once I had qualified, to HR manager/head of department/HR Director. This was in the days before the dreaded Ulrich model and Shared Service centres which have cut many career development opportunities away.

One guy that attended stood out.

He had a Retail banking background and came across as extremely driven, self-motivated and ambitious. He was an L&D professional and would be an asset to any organisation I have no doubt. He had recognized early on in his career the power of mirroring desirable organsiational behaviour and had used this technique to get himself from a trainer right up to an L&D Director.

Every organisation has its own set of unique and valued behaviours and values. These are often completely different to anything written down or spoken about by HR or the official corporate line.

When you join you need to quickly identify who the people are that are respected and looked up to and mirror what they do and how they behave.

This might include how they dress (very formally or smart casual or with a bit of style and panache), the hours they work (long or flexible or very smart and output driven), the personal values they exhibit (eg winning at any price v humility and respect for individuals), whether they look after themselves (gym, good diet, holidays space v no exercise, bad diet, booze) and how they treat each other.

Sometimes successful powerful people form a club within an organisation which they use to trade favours and keep out competition. If such a thing exists in your company you will need to work out how you can infiltrate it.
Of course analyzing your organisation in this way sometimes helps you identify that you have made a mistake because the person you are, will never match with your organisation.

In which case take a tip from the Fire Brigade…. Get out… Stay out!

But don’t call Fire Brigade, just get another job.

Choosing the right job but the wrong organisation or the right organisation but the wrong job can often shape your career as much as finding somewhere that perfectly suits you.

Successful people are clear about what they want to achieve and achieve it. Like my L&D focus group colleague. He drove his career, from job to job, organisation because he had a plan.

Do you?

Does getting legal benefit anyone?

scales of justice

Well yes it does actually… Lawyers!

If you are an individual or if you are a company, a lawyer may well encourage you to go to Tribunal. Whatever the outcome, for your business or your reputation or employability (employers don’t queue up to hire people that have taken their employers to tribunal) Lawyers will get paid.

If you are an employer, whatever the outcome of the Tribunal, whether you win or lose, they will get paid.

If you are an Individual and have a dispute, getting legal will only end in one place. You getting fired or damaging your career prognosis. Whatever any lawyer says, I just don’t know anyone in any business that has enhanced their relationship with their employer by taking or even threatening legal action. And there is no employer alive that would willingly hire someone that had taken their previous employer to tribunal.

Whatever the outcome.

It damages any relationship. You may win some money. But most likely some of that will go towards paying legal fees. So the lawyers still get paid,you get some money but then you haven’t got a job. The lawyers won’t help you finding a new career, because that is not what they do.

The good news for employers is that with the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunals claims have dropped significantly. The qualifying service for unfair dismissal claims is now two years which has also had an impact.

Thing is most employers don’t realise the average claim is around £4,500. And that claims have actually dropped by 85% in the last year. Let’s hope this isn’t reversed if we have a change of government.

Of course no-one takes good employers to tribunals and you can’t if you don’t have a case. So it pays to make sure your house is in order and get good advice but above all to value and look after your employees. Develop them. Give them feedback. Listen to them.

And if you are an individual and have an issue take advice about how to approach it. Externally is best. Not a lawyer as the workplace is about so much more than employment law. Identify what you want to achieve and if it is just a good moan, think again. Consider signing up to a Career Booster programme. Amelore are offering this soon to help people that don’t belong to a union or aren’t related to a HR advisor but want the equivalent of a HR Manager in their pocket. For more information on our Career Booster programme please email us at office@amelore.com

Labels – choose your identity before someone labels you

We can’t get away from them in society. I’ve had many in my career and indeed in my lifetime.

Teenage mother
Senior female executiveIMG_3317
Immune suppressed
Working mother
Older woman
Cancer survivor
Single mother
Female business owner
Older mother
Non-graduate
Mumpreneur
Older bride
HR person
Entrepreneur
New romantic (one of my favorites)
Main breadwinner
Support staff

Oh so many.

But I really don’t want to be defined by my health, my sense of style, the fact I have had children or got married or employ my husband or work.

The office of one of our local candidates has done a mail shot to potential female voters. His main assumption is that because I am female, I am in a low paid job with childcare issues. Now I accept that many people are in this position. Not just female but many will be.

But I have not got to the position I am in today (owner of a successful growing business) because I have ever had any self-limiting beliefs about what I can achieve.

In fact I have been positively driven by adversity.

When I had my daughter in 2006, I was back in hospital when she was 2 months old with septicemia. I was told I might not walk again. And that no one tended to breast feed in Intensive care. I did of course (managed 2 feeds a day to keep things going) and left hospital on crutches but these days I am a regular at combat training. That experience made me decide to apply for a promotion and move my family to the South West.

A few years later, when I had an unexpected spot of cancer a year after I had gone freelance I worked through it. I didn’t sign on and I didn’t let it do anything other than make me more determined. To get well. To work. To keep smiling.

I worked part-time predominantly for one of our favorite clients notonthehighstreet.com. Holly Tucker the CEO was very supportive and I used to go into the offices, wearing a turban and with a stick to help me walk.

That experience, helped me decide that if I was ill again I’d want a thriving business to be behind me. I’m not sure everyone has that reaction but I’d highly recommend it.

Don’t let other peoples labels define what you do. Drive your own identity and identify the choices you need to make and the path you need to take to get to the place you want to get to.