Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Is it ever ok to walk away?

Firstly....blimey!! I cannot believe that my last blog post was in March!! That seems insane! Such a lot has happened since then, and it would take several blog posts to give all the details.

The inspiration for writing this blog was actually a departure from another form of social media - Twitter. I had taken a month or so off as I was struggling to maintain a professional lid on my rage over my current job. The rage has not subsided, in fact its probably got worse....but I'm now starting to see the ill effects it is having on my life, health and relationships.

My stress and frustration mainly comes from ambiguity, lack of direction, lack of feedback and a frequently absent line manager who feels the need to micro manage. All of these things would be manageable if you didn't add on top of that a lack of development opportunity, a refusal to even discuss pay, training or funding for training and monthly performance reviews that are constantly rescheduled and then eventually cancelled at the last minute.

I am swimming through a foggy pool of mud that seems to be swallowing up my passion, motivation and memory of why I moved into HR in the first place. So my option would be to surely speak to my line manager about this, and explain how I am feeling with the hope of finding a resolution.....didn't work! In fact, had the opposite effect of now I am being excluded and my requests for clarification are escalated to make them appear to be a lack of intelligence or inability to do my job.

Ok...I know how this works...I advise on it all the time. If that doesn't work then the next step is to speak to my line manager's boss and clearly show I have followed the appropriate channels. Now, that line manager happens to be the MD....but that doesn't faze me. What fazes me is that I have been down this road before...with my last boss! I don't want to be known as the 'girl who cant be managed'.

So after 17 months in a job that hasn't moved anywhere, that is increasingly making me feel anxious, stressed, under valued and questioning of my own ability should I walk away? Should I hold my hands up and say 'enough is enough'!

What's stopping me from doing that......explaining to my next boss! Or in my next interview. What would you think if you interviewed a HR professional who wasn't able to sort out an internal team issue? We are the masters of mediation, the gurus of resolution...the all knowing and knowledgeable! If we cant fix it....then who can!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Patience young grasshopper!!!! of my major development areas is my lack of patience...I get easily frustrated and constantly have to tell myself to slow down!! I'm so much better than I was a few years ago, and when dealing with others I've often give myself a little pat on the back for holding it in ;-)

But one thing I cant seem to be patient about is my career progression, and its something which frustrates and confused me almost on a daily basis.

Every company has its own way of running HR, and will structure its department in whichever way fits its model the best; so it is hard sometimes to benchmark yourself against others in the profession with, say, the same job title as you. Am I operating at the right level for a HR Advisor? Or am I operating above it, and really should be a HR Manager?? I don't know!!

Its unfortunate that I haven't had a stable line manager for a year now, and therefore haven't really had any HR guidance or development. I have taken opportunities where I can to gain feedback from colleagues; and I have even taken the time to speak to other HR Profs in my local area to try and benchmark myself. Unfortunately their feedback has been a mixed bag of complimenting me on my passion, my ability to engage and my knowledge around picking out obvious gaps in my practical experience.

So how do you know when you are ready for the next step? I have taken all the component parts on the CIPD professional map and all its telling me is that I have chosen Level 2 as my current operating level and the majority of my answers are at Level 3....but that's self assessment?!?!?

As you can probably tell, I am confused and slightly baffled by what my next step should be. I am looking forward to my new boss starting on the 14th, and I am hoping that she will take a vested interest and help me figure out my next steps. But if not, I need to take accountability for my career, and my progression within HR......once I have figured out what that is......

Thursday, 3 March 2011


Getting through life sometimes can feel like an uphill struggle. We face things on a daily basis that test our mental, physical and emotional strength. We all have our different ways of coping...but I bet all of us have that special someone, that special something that we return to in order to gain inspiration and regain our strength.

I would not have made it through the past two months without the help of my trusty collection of cheesy CD's that I have played FULL BLAST on my way into work, and when things were getting tough I would go for a drive at lunch time just to blast out a power ballad to remind myself that I am strong, I am supported and remind myself how to smile.

I found this powerpoint slide the other day (image above) that I used to have as my screen saver a couple of years ago. It contained all the things that at the time were my inspiration, the things I was either striving to acheive or gain...or the things that bought me happiness and joy. The fuzzy man in the bottom right hand corner is actually my true inspiration. He never pulls any punches with me, he actually has a love/hate relationship with HR so we have fierce debates on a regular basis. But I have always been amazed by how he remains credible, full of integrity and has never let pride get in the way of doing what needed to be done.

The other would be lovely to own an Aston Martin, but what I really cherish right now, and what inpsires me daily is just the feeling of being happy, at peace, and secure in myself.

What gets you through the day? How have your inspirations changed over the years?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The pull of community

Why do we tweet? Simple question....but I don't think a simple answer. I've discussed this with a few people recently, some who are twitter fans, some who just don't get it, and some who are wary of it but really want to give it a go.

I personally don't see the point in being on twitter purely to follow celebrities....their life's have no relevance to mine, and although I love a good bit of gossip I really don't give two hoots if Brittany has just seen some AWESOME shoes, or if Katie Price is just being a prized wally again!!

I was lucky that I stumbled across an amazing community of people, who are like minded and all work within a similar field to me. This was helped by the almighty force that is TheHRD, and the wonder of the ConnectingHR group but I hope I sustained my place by being honest, and exchanging the odd witticisms or two.

But I am not a naturally outgoing person, and definitely not one for large groups. Sometimes I sit watching the twitter feed and it reminds me of parties I used to go to where I would just sit in the corner and stare at everyone; wishing I could be like them....and just strike up conversations with strangers. But I've found that it's ok to be like that....and so I feel able to carry on tweeting my inane takes on life, and dip in to others conversations whenever I feel comfortable to.

And that's what I've come to really love and appreciate about Twitter. It builds communities of people that might not have ever met, and we all fall into our roles within the group, and it just works.

I have no powerful insight to share; just that Twitter is just a collection of life forces...who if thrown together in real life would probably act the same. But because we all live such 'busy' life's we sometimes forget we can be part of communities if we wish to, we can interact with strangers and make great connections if we wish to. Twitter just enables that in a very easy and safe way.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Generalist vs Specialist

So...sanity has returned and we can now get on with life as normal! I'm not saying another outburst wont occur, but for this moment all is well and I have something else to discuss with you.

Do we stay general or do we specialise? I'm going to be honest and upfront and say I'm not a fan of the business partner model. I never really got the point as I didn't see how the system needed fixing. So I'm ignoring that as an option.

My very lovely sister in law is currently working for a major corporate, within their L&D department as an administrator. She asked me the other day whether I thought she should stay put and focus on L&D or use her skills to move into a more general HR role, and learn the whole gambit.

I love being a generalist, I love having my fingers in all pies, I love knowing whats going on. I also like having the ability to directly affect peoples lives and see it happening. But yet...I am tempted by the lure of specialising, I have a real interest in employee engagement, and ER.

To my lovely those who have specialised, and those who have not - perhaps you could give me your reasons why....and why not. It might help me, but more importantly a newbie to the HR world.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Brand? What brand?

I feel like a fraud.....there.....I've said it.

I had an amazing response to my blog post written on Friday; and I was very proud of myself for writing it without making it into a rant. I've had some wonderful comments about how positive I'm appearing, how professional I've acted....I've even had the word inspirational attached to me!!!

The truth is......I drive into work every day feeling sick, sweating, dreading walking to my HR office and having to face someone who has made me feel useless for the past three months.

I sought advice from several angles on how I should deal with this, and took some action on Monday. This action involved a strongly worded email to the offending boss; detailing how she had made me feel, examples of when she had done it and basically my refusal to allow her to 'appraise' me without prior knowledge of how she was planning on doing this in a balanced way given her previous behaviour.

Now.....the response I received (as expected) was one of denial, an accusation of me being ill informed, confused and the accusation that I don't want to progress in my career - hence why I have 'refused' to have a performance review with her.

I only have to deal with this person for 7 more days.....but....then comes my new boss. And this is where my current dilemma comes into play. Do I tell them what has happened over the past three months? Do I protect myself and withhold my trust of them? Do I act like nothing has happened and see if they bring anything up?

How do I protect my personal brand? I didn't even know I had one until someone pointed it out to me. The idea of someone judging me for wanting to be treated fairly never entered my mind. Am I naive? Will I come across as awkward and hard to manage?

I am now not only anxious about dealing with a boss who is in complete denial about how they have treated me, I am now anxious about a boss I have never even dealt with!

Once of my favourite Twitter pals wrote about confidence this week, and how important it is in HR. But what happens if you've lost it?

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Let me count the ways......

I am a lucky person that I am in a loving relationship; which has been bought to my attention more so as tomorrow is Valentines Day.

I love being in love, and I would never want to go back to being single. Not because I hate the idea of being alone, or cannot live without him....but because I don't think anyone else would put with me!!!

Here is a list of things that despite being husband still loves me!!
  • Up until a few years ago I thought Motown was a real place
  • I mistakenly thought Mr T had proclaimed "I ain't eating no plane food" and my husband didn't wet himself as he should have when I loudly exclaimed this on a flight to a flight attendant offering me a soggy sandwich...thinking I was being incredibly funny
  •  I have an issue with baked beans...I don't like them touching other things on my plate. My wonderful husband now serves up my dinner putting the offending items into a ramekin; allowing me to dip as I wish
  • When I get home from work I don't like to talk for at least 15 minutes
  • I still need to get my Dad's approval before making any major decisions - especially when it comes to my car!
  •  I'm a HR Pro...and ask the difficult questions he doesn't really want to have to answer
Despite all this (and much much more) he still thinks I'm beautiful, he still makes me laugh everyday, he amazes me with his understanding of me, and hes still here!

So...just for one small moment I am going to wallow in my smugness.....

Friday, 11 February 2011

An open letter to my boss

Dear Boss,

We have had our ups and downs over the past 3 months, but as you move into your final week of managing me, I wanted to take this opportunity to write you a letter to outline a few things I have learnt in our time together.

Thank you for teaching me the power of my own internal strength. There were times when all I wanted to do is break down, but by continuing to push me to the edge you showed me how strong I truly can be when faced with a barrage of abuse.

Thank you for highlighting how valued I am within the wider business. Through your clear and consistent treatment of me I have received words of support and encouragement from people I didn't even knew cared. That has been a great discovery for me, and I now cherish their support.

Thank you for showing me the importance of objectives and performance reviews. Through your continued refusal to issue me with guidance and support you have given me the ability to recognise why objectives are required, and how the lack of them can breed confusion, lack of self esteem and self doubt. I will always ensure that anyone reporting into me has a clear vision for their future and clear expectations.

Thank you for sending me on a road of self discovery. I have learnt that I like to know 'the big picture', I have learnt that I sometimes go off policy/process but that's ok if the decision is considered and well thought out, I've learnt that I'm not ready for a big role just yet but one day I will be able to do it.

I don't know where you're going, or what you'll be doing but I wish you well. Our time has been short, intense and filled with moments of tension. But as I take the time to reflect on it, it will only make me a better HR Advisor, and a better human.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Objectively Speaking.......

Objective - the object of one's endeavours; goal; aim

My question is....who owns the objectives? We all know that once a year we have to justify our actions and the results against a set of objectives, and usually we will be rewarded for our efforts. But if we get back to basics....whose objectives are they? Are they the employees, the line manager or the companies?

My reason for asking this questions is....what happens if you don't have objectives? What then? Who's role is it to write them?

If the employee is proactive and requests them, or even writes them, then they may not be right from a business point of view, or they may not match the perception of their role/duties of the line manager. This could lead to all sorts of issues around performance management, meeting expectations, managing roles and responsibilities.

Ultimately, I know the best practice answer is that the line manager and the employee should write the objectives together...but lets be honest....sometimes best practice is not feasible for various reasons.

So...what does the employee do? Do they write themselves a set of objectives, and work to them to demonstrate their ability to meet targets and goals? Or do they carry on regardless, and hope that what they do is good enough?

I'd be really interested in thoughts and comments, and how you would advise on this situation.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Strangest places.......

I've had a bit of a break from the social media scene, I know I only just started...but have had to face quite a difficult situation really and it's been quite draining.

This isn't the right forum to discuss it....but rearrange the following phrase and you'll get it.....

raise I've had to grievance a my line manager against

This has left me questioning my future in not only my current role, but my career in HR in general. I've also had a slight issue with the fact that I'm not an 'academic' HR person, I'm a 'doer', I love getting stuck in and just getting on with it. This has been constantly bought up in my venture to progress and makes me I ever going to get to the top as I want to?

I'm not a big sharer, but I had the pleasure of going to my sister's wedding last weekend, and the topic of bad management came up when someone within the friendship group asked for my advice. I then confessed to some of own worries and had an immediate outpouring of support, and affirmation of my HR ability via their own accounts of how my advice had helped them all over the years we have known each other.

I also ventured back onto Twitter and immediately I had people asking how I was. These are people who have never met me....but who as humans have taken an interest, and therefore notice when a fellow HR Twitter-er is missing.

These two separate occasions, and the love and support of my family will sustain me through, probably, the toughest period of my career so far. But its an opportunity to learn and develop, and come through the other side with knowledge and skills I did not have when I started.

And that is what HR is all about, it's sucks when you come across bad HR......but we do it because we love people, and we love development. HR Professionals come in all shapes and sizes....and I need to just realise there is a place for an Operationally Focused, Heart of Fluff, Giggler when most inappropriate, Lover of all things development related HR Lady like me.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

You should know better!!!!

Is it really to much to ask for someone to call when they said they were going to call???? Especially when that individual is in HR, and is looking to potentially engage you in future employment!!!!!

I get labelled as a HR Generalist with a specialism in Recruitment. I think I'm good at recruitment because I love it so much. I love nothing more than designing a process, planning assessment centres, living my life by spreadsheet! And, on the other side, I love meeting new people and hearing about their wonderful and varied experiences. I don't believe in the one size fits all theory, so I have been known to bring some pretty random candidates forward.....but....the one thing I pride myself on.....more than I will get back to you when I say I will!

If I say you will get feedback within 24 hours you will do; because I firmly believe that the candidate journey (positive or negative outcomes included) should involve nothing but positivity around the company involved. If you have a negative experience, you tell people.....and the same goes for recruitment.

So....back to my personal experience......I went to an interview last week and the message I was given, was that feedback would be received by end of business on Monday. Tuesday afternoon came so I rang the interviewer at 4pm, and was assured I would receive a phone call at 1pm on Wednesday. It is now 6.40PM on Wednesday evening and yet no feedback.

I'm not naive enough to think I'm being called back for a 2nd interview, but the fact that no feedback has been offered up, and the HR Director has failed to follow up as promised has left a sour taste in my mouth.

What does that say about their communication style? Do I really want to work there when our values are so different?


Monday, 17 January 2011

Everyone's ladder is different......

I'm working on a project at the moment to review our company's performance review process, ready to launch in April. I hosted a consultation stage with our team leaders to discuss formats, measurement options, timelines etc.....

The majority of individuals totally got the process, and recognised the importance of a valuable conversation held on a regular basis to discuss development opportunities, and areas for improvement. Then someone made a comment which will stay with me for ages.......

Team Leader - "I don't know what to say to the employees with no career aspirations, so we just tick their target boxes (I work in a call centre environment so heavy focus on KPIs) and then I let them go."
Me - "What about the added value they can offer, do you discuss how they could perhaps expand their role or take on new responsibilities, or what about behaviours?"
Team Leader - "That's not development opportunities though is it?."
Me - "Uhhhh...ok...perhaps that's something we can work on with the new forms and guidance." Cue internal screaming of "ARE YOU KIDDING ME????"

Am I crazy in thinking that everyone is different and therefore the opportunities we offer them should be unique to them??? The whole point of a one-to-one is to ascertain what that person wants from the company, and therefore what they need to do to achieve it. But....that doesn't mean promotion, progression, salary increase or even movement from their current role. There are 101 ways a person can add value to a business......take on added responsibilities, become a mentor, train others, be a 'go to' person.

And what about behaviours? Communication style, time management, solution providing, decision making, team work.....I could go on!!!! Everyone has areas they can improve on, and everyone will benefit from clear, concise, measurable targets.

So, never, ever say that the conversation on development has run dry......just reconsider the ladder.

And as for my ladder.....well....its domination of course!!!

N.B - the world in world domination being HRHopeful world.....all visitors welcome if they provide cake

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Jim'll fix it for you......or will he????

Having had training in career development, coaching, talent management....etc, sometimes you can't help but blur the lines between work and play. The hubbie and I had our bi-yearly 'Where are we going chat?' chat today (life wise...not relationship!!), and it got me thinking about how easily we (as humans) can go into 'tell' mode when someone is confused by the direction life is taking them or what to do next.

I am always being asked to provide a solution to someones problem; and often have to coach managers and aid them in coaching others. Again, and again I come across the same comments "I don't know what to say", "I've run out of options", "I don't understand what they want from me". The problem being the use of the word "I"......we, as HR or as line managers are not there to provide all the answers, but sometimes its about allowing the individual concerned to find their own way.

They may not make the decision you would, and sometimes their decision making might be's their problem to solve, not yours.

Asking the right questions, and watching someone find their own path, and owning it can be so much more fulfilling than telling someone what to do, then managing the consequences when it doesn't work.

Jim used to offer to fix it for everyone....but that style of management has hopefully disappeared along with the shiny tracksuits and gold medallions!!!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Let's get it started.......

All of my life I have been fascinated by human behaviour. I was always the lone child sitting and watching everyone else. This behaviour worried my parents and I remember instead of being threatened with 'being grounded' for bad behaviour I was told I would have to 'go out and play' if I was naughty!!!! Just the thought of enforced socialising meant that I never rebelled or acted up.

I thankfully got better at the talking part, and now feel one of my greatest strengths is engaging with people.....but not because I am naturally outgoing (I have one of the highest 'I' scores in the MBTI system I have ever seen), but because I have learnt via observation what makes people tick.

This led to my career in HR, which is a daily dose of love and hate....... And somedays I feel I want to jack it all in and go and find something less stressful, or demanding of my brain and emotions.

But...thanks to my Army Dad....I am all about finding the solution. I never talk about problem solving, I always call it solution providing. This makes me keep coming back for more because there's nothing more I love than coming up with the solution that brings joy, development, or greater profit to the individual concerned. the end of the day.....they're only human!!!!!!