Leadership, Personal brand, Working in People & Culture

The Balancing Act of Work/Life Balance in the World of HR

I wear many hats as a people & culture professional: strategic advisor, problem solver, sounding board, behaviour changer… but I’m also a friend, a partner, a daughter, a sister. There – I said it. I have a life outside of work!

While I love the variety my chosen profession brings sometimes it is really tiring. Tiring because in people & culture you can feel like you’re a million things to a million people, and it’s impossible to meet all of their needs all of the time. Then, at the end of a day filled with 10 urgent matters and 20 incredibly important ones, I roll on home to my family and try and switch my brain to At-Home-Renée (note: she doesn’t get as much done as At-Work-Renée).

I often have this conversation with other people in our industry – just how do you balance the two when it is so easy to prioritise a job you love over everything else? We are the best at preaching the importance of work/life balance but in my experience we are often the worst at balancing the two.

I’ve gone over to the dark side a few times, getting obsessed with checking emails from the time I wake to when I went to sleep, that little ‘ping’ sound sending shivers up my spine. But I came to a realisation that I did not do my best work when thinking about the office all day every day, I didn’t lead by example, insisting on responding to weekend emails the second they arrived, scheduling work travel in the weekends so not to impinge on my ‘productive’ time. I do my best work when I’m happy, when I can dedicate the time required to important projects and be honest with my colleagues about what I can, and cannot, reasonably take on.

I meditate (I know, it sounds terribly new-agey but I swear by it), I exercise, I don’t have my email notifications ‘pop up’ on my phone and I’m getting better about working reasonable hours. And do you know what I’ve noticed? I’m more productive, I produce better results and I’m a nicer person to work with.

It is really hard to fight the urge to ‘just’ do a few extra hours – because as we all know that is a perfectly reasonable, even required, thing to do occasionally – but as soon as it becomes the norm, then I know I’m straying in to dangerous territory.

How can I extol the virtues to the managers I work with of the importance of happy, healthy employees if I myself am not one? How to I promote the idea of encouraging employees to normally work a regular work day if I can’t do it myself?

I don’t believe being overworked is just dangerous to the person (increased risk of cardiovascular disease anyone?) – but it is also dangerous to role model this behaviour, particularly if you’re the guardian of good workplace practice in your organisation.

I’m always looking for ways to both increase my understanding of how I manage this balance and how I can promote this balance within my organisation which is one of the reasons I am looking forward to Dr Adam Fraser’s presentation at the AHRI National Convention on HR: Loving What You Do. Dr Fraser’s presentation promises to give HR professionals practical tools to switch between different roles and environments with less anxiety and friction.
The author will be a guest of the AHRI National Convention and has been asked to write up their thoughts on the event.

This article was originally published on the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) website.

Personal brand, Thinking differently, Uncategorized

Ugh: Networking!

Ok – so this is how I thought about networking most of my career: “Yuk! Guess I better go… wonder how quickly I’m going to be able to escape out of the door!”

Seriously – I hated it. The forced nature of everything. Meeting people who pressed you for meetings (or worse, work) incessantly. Engaging in awkward getting-to-know-you games after a dull speaker. The fakeness of it all.

But then I discovered I didn’t actually have to hate it. I realised it wasn’t networking I hated – because networking is, at its essence, just meeting people and getting to know them – it was that the events that I was attending were all wrong for me.

Just over 2 years ago I moved to Melbourne Australia from New Zealand. For anyone that has emigrated there is definitely a shift, no matter your industry: job titles don’t exactly translate, organisations you’ve worked with aren’t well known, the ‘nature of work’ can be different. Despite NZ and Australia having many similarities, I was definitely on the back foot when entering the Melbourne job market.

I thought I should just suck it up and get networking, I (luckily) found a role, but all of a sudden my wide network of connections in NZ didn’t count for much. I didn’t have many contacts in Australia who I could drop an email, asking how they were dealing with this law change, or that industry issue. I attending some great events, but I attended many more terrible ones.

I discovered that I have preferences when it comes to industry events and networking just like everyone, the key for me was figuring out what I wanted and who could provide me with that.

Some of my learnings have been:

  • I don’t need one event to do it all
    I love having the opportunity to hear someone speak I would never get the opportunity to otherwise, Commissioners, Head Economists, Politicians. A good breakfast event (because, coincidently, I also love food) with a great speaker is tops! What I don’t like is for an event to shoe-horn in a speaker with games and awkward conversation.
  • I like having unstructured talking time.
    I’m actually ok at striking up a conversation here and there. Often the best contacts I’ve made through various forums has been engaging in a great conversation and continuing it over dinner or drinks after the event has finished. If I’m not tied to a table or group I’ll mingle until I find interesting people who I can learn from.
  • I don’t like feeling like I’m being lined up as a client.
    The big divider between events where I feel engaged and those where I don’t is the authenticity of the conversation. You know what – if your company stumped up a lump of cash to make this event happen then that’s awesome! Good on you for investing in relationships. But I don’t want to sit through an hour of your MD telling us about how great their product is if they’re doing an ‘introduction’ for the speaker that got me in the door who then only speaks for 15 minutes.
    Likewise if you’re a consultant that is fantastic, I get that you need clients to make your business work. But I’m not going to become a client by you pressing me into a meeting. I’d like to actually connect with you as a person, and in exchange I won’t pretend like I might have some work if really I know there is no chance.

Recently I was flirting with the idea of reconnecting with a great group of people who I coincidently met at one of the great networking groups I joined when I first moved to Melbourne. I had a chat about it with a friend and thought ; well if I like the super unstructured drinks & a loose theme kind of networking event then maybe others would too’?

As a result of this, and subsequent conversations, with the original group I’ve set up a ‘People People Catch Up’ – for people whose business is people – People & Culture, L&D, OD, Projects, Change and everything in between. If this sounds like you and you’re based in Melbourne (or just happen to be here on August 13th 2015) I’d love to see you there!

For more details head to book into the #PeoplePeopleCU here or contact me via @ReneeRoberz

 

Working in People & Culture

Why Work in HR?

Guest post from Helen Sabell

The Benefits Of Working in Human Resources

A career in Human Resources can offer a wealth of opportunities within all business sectors. The HR industry has undergone a significant transformation, it is competitive and an essential part to any successful organisation. HR professionals are often involved in the execution of fundamental business change and on a daily basis liaise with senior management to coordinate their company’s performance.

Talent Development

There is a mentality within HR to be continuously growing and learning new skills and techniques. You will take pride in creating new training initiatives that you and your affiliates will utilise in order to maximise your professional skills in key performance sectors.

Challenging

Companies and their models are constantly evolving. As our workforce progresses, businesses are being required to attract and engage with new generations of employees. Human resources handles this area in order to ensure the business is continuously developing and employing proficient professionals. The HR department has a crucial role in implementing changes whenever a business goes through major developments, such as restructuring or mergers.

Variety of Tasks

This of course depends on the size of the company but you will be working on a variety of different tasks. These could include training and recruiting, interviewing, pensions, resource management, benefits analysis, payroll, redundancy, compensation to implementing employment law.

Workplace Opportunities

Ultimately, this gives you an opportunity to find the best workplace best fit for your personality but also career goals. You could work for schools, to small business firms, or major corporations as they all have a high need for HR professionals. Once you have the experience and essential skills you can take them to any organisation worldwide.

Working With People

Most significantly this job role requires a great level of interpersonal skills. You will be required to work with new hires to the leaderships teams meaning your communication skills will be utilised on a daily basis. So, why do you want to work in HR? The motivation is usually working with people. Employers look for candidates who are good with people and this quality is crucial in Human Resources. It is paramount that you genuinely care about the well-being and development of your employer’s employees which results in close working relationships with people across the whole business.

Author Bio

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.

Thinking differently

HR Consulting: What Works (And What Doesn’t)

Over the past 6 months I’ve been talking to a few friends and colleagues who have moved (or in the process of moving) from internal permanent HR positions to the exciting world of consulting.
I must admit, there is a part of me that’s pretty jealous – I’m risk adverse in nature and love the idea of being able to stick with my employer for a long period of time. It does help of course that I have a great employer, but to be fair, a lot of these friends have come from really positive work environments as well and have still wanted to spread their wings.
It used to be there was some stigma around self employed consultants in the HR space – this largely wasn’t helped by (hopefully, now outdated) sales methods of trying to convince every potential client that they needed the package with all the bells and whistles coming to 3x the amount of budget available per year for such services.
The recent change towards conscious consulting – ethical consultants who are genuinely fantastic at what they do and are eager to make life better for the people that make up organisations – has meant a rapid change in the way I, as a permanent employee in a relatively small People & Culture team, engage with consultants.
No longer do I feel the need to decline every invite for coffee, terrified of being hounded for months on end for business that I genuinely don’t have the budget to purchase. I am lucky enough to deal with a variety of consultants who I can call on with a quick question, who value the relationship, and who – when I have a piece of work – I don’t hesitate in getting in touch and completely trusting their judgement as to the best solution for the issue I have.
It’s these types of consultants in the L&D, HR, Project Management and Change Management spaces that I hope signify a shift in the way that the industry is headed. I love the trait that so many of these people share which is a genuine desire to see people, and organisations, succeed and grow. Rather than being concerned with ‘filling time’ or ‘seeming busy’ they are results oriented – which can be a change from stagnant HR teams which seem to be focused on the rules and putting blocks in the business’s way.
I’m lucky to work in a dynamic People & Culture team with great people – but many HR roles do not operate in this environment. Some people (who are incredible operators) really flourish with the freedom (and associated risk) which comes from the nature of a consultancy role. The ability of great consultants to give difficult advice, effectively manage really difficult change process and focus on their real strengths means that those of us in internal roles can bring in a pair of fresh eyes when needed and target people with the specialist skills when required.
I can’t say I’ve got a desire to become one of these fantastic people – but it is time that those of us in internal roles really embrace the conscious consultant, and in doing so, ensure that the values our organisations live by are reflected the people that we do business with.