I consider myself extremely fortunate to have fallen, via a series of happy accidents really, into the world of HR and OD. I have had a varied and interesting career over many years in very different and challenging roles and organisations.
Over that time some things have remained constant in my experience and at the heart of my practice. People, of course, in all their many and wonderful varieties; values and the role these play in shaping the culture of an organisation; and the quality of leadership. HR, and increasingly OD, impacts on all of these and makes a significant difference to the way organisations function and the way people feel about working within them.
You do have to like people to work in HR! More than that, you need to be really interested in what makes them tick – how they are, what they are good at, what annoys them – maybe it’s an inherent nosiness but it is essential if we are to help people turn up to work and turn on. Aligned to this is a need to be able to live the values of the organisation and challenge where necessary. Great HR is tough. Being firm and fair, challenging and straightforward, responsive and in touch takes effort and time. Above all, being a leader is critical. We have a responsibility to be the very best we can be and leading by example.
I am currently working on my first assignment as an independent with the West of England Combined Authority in Bristol. This is a new organisation, made up of three of the local authorities in the region – Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Working with partners including the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, North Somerset Council and other local service providers, it’s aim is to deliver economic growth for the region. Led by a Chief Executive and with a Regional Mayor, this Combined Authority is driving economic growth and prosperity and leading transformation from the front.
It is a real privilege and an opportunity to be involved in shaping this new organisation. There is much to do and a real sense of urgency and purpose which is energising and exciting to experience. There is a key role for HR and OD in helping to roll out the newly agreed values, shaping the behaviours and establishing a productive and creative culture where people can contribute fully and see the value they bring to the venture. Alongside this there is organisational design work, shaping teams and job roles which will drive the work of the Combined Authority, helping to ensure that the right people are in place with the right skills to deliver the strategy and realise the enormous potential for growth and development across the region. HR is at the centre of this leading and developing the people strategy and plans which will ensure that everyone is able to play their part. This feels like helping to lay the foundations for a bright future. How lucky am I?
So, I find myself working with interesting and inspiring people, leaders who are keen to lead, who have a clear vision and work hard to communicate and inspire. I am impressed with the hard work, energy and commitment from all teams and a real desire to make a difference in their region. Above all, it’s great to have a chance to demonstrate just what HR and OD can bring to the table – modern, fit for purpose practice, a passion for people and a commitment to developing the kind of organisational culture where staff can thrive and give of their best.
I am using the learning from the past and applying it now in a different context – being an interim is a new experience and I am enjoying it very much. It’s not an easy assignment, there are challenges, it is demanding and full on but it is enormously satisfying to put things into practice and to play a part in something so exciting. I’ve landed on my feet I think!
Article by Sue Evans – WME Associate (find out more about Sue)