Friday, 25 March 2011

From HR Toddler to Here and Now III

Karen Wise is an HR professional with 12 years experience in the field on different levels including HR Director. As an HR consultant Karen offers a great portfolio of HR and OD solutions as well as expertise in Coaching Psychology. You can find out more about Karen here or on her blog is also co-founder of Minerva's Mind: an organisation that supports women to become leaders in their own lives, by exploring what leadership means today in every area of life.
Karen regularly contributes to ConnectingHR community and can be followed on twitter as @karenwise.
I know Karen for some time now and should I describe her in fewer words than it would be "sharing and caring Karen" See below what she has to share with us this time:

I “fell” into the HR profession – it was pure accident.

My parents had arranged two weeks work experience when I was 16 at the large computer manufacturing plant where they worked. It was in the HR Department, and it was the most boring two weeks of my life (with the exception of meeting Martin Coogan of the Mock Turtles.) 

After those two weeks I swore to myself that I would never get an office job “when I grew up”.

At 22 I returned from a year doing voluntary work in the barrios of Bogotá and moved to London. I was given accommodation at my uncle’s flat for 10 days and my parents gave me £1,000.

10 days later I had paid one month’s rent and undertaken a touch-typing course. I had also secured my first “temp” post….you guessed it….in a Personnel Department.

Those four months were a depressing start to my HR career. I was working in a cramped office with two ladies who really didn’t care too much about quality or best practice. I had little work to do except for sticking labels on letters, stuffing envelopes and photocopying. A lot of my time was spent hiding in the toilets.

Three months into the placement I was offered the position on a permanent basis. I had a better idea, I wanted to live in Spain teaching English.

I enrolled on a TEFL course, and was offered a job with Berlitz in Madrid. I was all ready to pack my bags and leave when an ex-boyfriend re-entered my life. I turned down the job & stayed in London.

In the New Year I was back at the Temping Agency. They offered me the choice of one of two positions: one of which was working in the recruitment team at the London School of Economics.

And that was the real start of my HR career. I had a fabulous manager / mentor who taught me about quality, managing relationships and what a great profession HR is. I loved that job and the LSE was a fun place to work.

A couple of years later (after a short dalliance in retail) I entered the NHS. A short summary of the next 10 years I have already written about in another blog post.

Like a Toddler, my first few steps into the HR profession were very wobbly. But once I found my feet, my passion was nurtured and I was able to grow.

I love the complexity of the profession particularly in the context of working in a challenging environment such as the NHS. I'm proud to be a "grown up" HR practitioner.

If you like reading about other HR professionals beginnings go to the "HR Giving Back" page where you can see the list of all contributors in this blog series. Do you feel you have something you could share with HR beginners? Same page will tell you how you can participate and "give something back".

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

From HR Toddler to Here and Now II

After Katherine Connolly kicked of our series of guest posts with her reflection on HR and how we should not be afraid taking things personally, Cyndy Trivella came in to say few words herself about her beginnings. Cyndy was a guest on my blog in the past writing about personal branding and her support for me as a HR blogger has always been of a great value to me. 

Cyndy is the Director of Business Development in Kansas City for NAS Recruitment Communications, a Director on the Board for SHRM of Greater Kansas City and a committee member on the National HR Standards Workforce Planning Taskforce for the Society of Human Resource Management. Cyndy began her career in Human Resource Communications on Madison Avenue in New York City over 12 years ago. Prior to that, she worked in corporate human resources as a recruiter and as a training and development coordinator. Cyndy can be followed on twitter as @CyndyTrivella

Let's see what can we learn from Cyndy:

When I started my HR career there were few well-designed technologies in place to make any project or process an easy, time-saving endeavor. For example, though I am not a fan of the applicant tracking system, they do serve a purpose in that they enable the companies to database applicants, run reports and allow multiple users to access information that may not have been accessible unless faxed or emailed. Today, there are more technology options and sources to select from and many of them customizable to fit each company’s specific needs, and some more affordable than their predecessors.

Also thinking back to my early days in HR, there were very few options for reaching job candidates. There were basically four options: newspaper ads, employee referrals, job boards and external recruiters. Today these options still exist, and there are more to choose from than most people even realize, and many of these options are actually more monetarily attractive than the few from yester-year.

What all this tells me is that HR is assuming its rightful place in organizational importance by stressing the need for better options to manage one of the toughest roles within an organizations and one of the most important functions… management of talent assets.
Cyndy Trivella 

Friday, 11 March 2011

From HR Toddler to Here and Now.

My first post in this series is written by Katherine Connolly. After I have approached Katherine about writing this guest post, it took her one day to get back to me with what I find as exceptionally good written post. This text shows little bit of Katherine’s sense of humour but mainly very positive attitude towards HR seen as more than just a job. 

Katherine is a founder of the HR consultancy firm called “Keeping HR Simple” where name of her company reveals also her mission statement to help small businesses understand HR with no jargon involved. Katherine is also CIPD member and her personal views on HR can be seen on her blog here. You can also follow Katherine on twitter @HR_Katherine.
Now see what Katherine has to say: 

Firstly, let me say that I’m not sure I’ve progressed much beyond the toddling stage.  If we’re talking about the 7 Ages of HR, I’m definitely in the infant stage, although I like to think that I don’t do much “mewling and puking”! 

I must say that I do like the analogy of being like a child when it comes to working in HR.  Here are just some of the reasons:

I can honestly say that I learn something new every day even if sometimes I have to unlearn everything I thought I knew. 
I try to be independent but often have to ask for help to do something.
I have learnt that there’s no shame in acknowledging that I don’t know how to do certain things.
Sometimes, I just want to sit down and have a little cry but I know that crying doesn’t solve anything!

For me, HR has always been a passion and I’m equally passionate about helping businesses to see beyond the legislation and to understand that when things are done properly, they can learn to engage with their employees for the benefit of the business. 

If I had one tip for anyone starting out in HR it would be to take things personally.  If your company or your client has to make redundancies, be upset about it.  If there is very little communication between management and staff, do what you can to change the culture.  If you can make it a better place to work, do it.  After all, if you don’t care and you don’t take things personally, you’re in the wrong job.    

Katherine Connolly

Are you HR professional thinking of giving something back and you don’t know where to start? Writing short story about your beginnings in HR can help a lot to other HR enthusiasts looking for inspiration, answers and strength. Email me at hrbeginner at gmail dot com or tweet me @HRbeginner. Eventually, if you are looking for becoming more active in helping other HR on their journey, I strongly suggest signing up at Among other exciting features you will also find a group set up for mentors. For those of you not knowing what connectingHR is, well there is nothing like this community out there being so vital and keen to engage in HR talks caring about each other and helping whenever possible.ConnectingHR website by itself is relatively new but don't get confused as the community exists for some time now on twitter and yammer.

While I myself have some journey on front of me before I start sharing my HR story, for now this blog is my way of “Giving Something Back”. What is Yours?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Mask is a Must. Or is it?

Inspired by Emma’s @onatrainagain post “We wear the mask”. Thank you Emma. 

As we grow up, we also learn that there is a good reason for changing our behaviour (mask) depending on situation we are in. I suppose, it is one of the talents of human race for which we can only be grateful for, as there is no way we will make it through without it. In the same body we are many different people with different missions to accomplish: to be a respected and inspirational leader at work, loving husband and dad at home, fun and supportive as a friend in the pub, or to be honest to ourselves…..
Masks - picture source
On one side it is quite obvious that the ability to switch between our masks makes us more or less skilled in what we do; successful; happy….?!? Nevertheless it is the same, switching between our masks what makes us exhausted, and making us to burn out.
How often we wish to bring our real "I" into conversation but being aware of potential damage we all back off (most of the time, anyway). Some might say that makes us civilised. Switching different modes throughout the day can also be seen as creative way of living our lives, where our personalities get a chance to exercise what they are best in. We all want a job which will be fun and fulfilling our expectations. While reality of our success is different we will always do our best to get closer and closer to our dream job (even if we don’t know what it is). 

Taking emotional labour such as costumers' facing staff as an example, there is a monotone list of dos and donts no matter what organisation you are in. And just to make it worse, every employer will tell you to leave your private life at home (although few are starting to realise that actually caring about people makes sense in the long run and that “H” in “HR” means something too). 

The point I am trying to make is that it is not the matter of our choice but rather survival technique which brings us to learn how to wear different masks in different situations. Going even more philosophical we could say that we are all trying to survive by wearing as many masks as necessary while praying for this being as few as possible.

So what is my ultimate goal? The ideal would be waking up as Peter, making business with others as Peter, meeting friends and family as Peter and most of all being appreciated by all for being no one else than Peter.
I know I should probably wake up now…right?

…..I am just saying.

I am asking then. Is Mask a Must? and How good are we actually in hiding our real "I"?