The HR Juggler

2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth

Posted on: December 1, 2011

During December, I will be running a series of guest blog posts on the theme of 2011: Highlights and Horrors. The first of these has been contributed by the lovely Kate Griffiths-Lambeth on the highs and lows she has experienced within HR this year. You can connect with Kate on Twitter (@KateGL) and you should definitely take a look at her excellent Leading Light blog. Thanks so much to Kate for sharing her reflections with us here.


Wow – what a year it has been – a rollercoaster for most of us, in almost every way. The Arab Spring prevented me from relocating to the Middle East in January (or to be accurate, distraught children and a weeping mother pleading me not to go to a war zone did). Instead I found myself joining RBS, in an interim capacity, to help with what is perhaps the most challenging Change project in Europe. I was keen to make a difference and to devise ways in which the Group could reengage with its customers, employees and the communities in which it operates. To that end, I devised an innovative approach towards school leaver employment (thereby creating a much needed talent pipeline for Branch Managers and overcoming some of the disconnect between the business’ and graduates’ expectations – graduates tend to aspire to being Heads of Product or Marketing, rather than running Taunton).

It was highly rewarding for me to create a strategy that enabled the Bank to reduce youth unemployment, to better utilise its own talent and to forge stronger links with the individuals and communities in which it operates. It was a privilege working with the people engaged in the project (a mixture of HR colleagues and others from areas such as such as Customer Contact, IT, Community and CSR and Group Property).

I feel compelled to make a personal “shout out” to the then Organisational Effectiveness Director whom I reported to. She is inspirational, has high EQ as well as IQ, possesses enviable business savvy and I wish her every success in her new role. I genuinely went to work with a skip in my step, because I knew that I was making the world a better place both for employees and for those outside the Group. HR was able to prove its understanding of the business, to propose commercially grounded actions that would produce much needed results and produce some innovative ways forward that ticked most of the strategic boxes. It was wonderful to be working on such a positive project, when so many aspects of HR are challenging at the moment. My time at RBS was certainly a highlight of 2011.

It provided a small low light too – I asked the overall HR Director of the area in which I sat to give me some personal feedback, prior to my departure from the Group. I am always keen to find ways in which I can improve and grow. Instead of commenting on the calibre of my work or suggesting ways in which I could have ensured faster engagement with my proposals, I was simply told that I have too posh a voice, a tendency to use long words and that I don’t smile enough. I can’t deny the first two and I suspect that anyone who knows me would disagree with the latter, but I remain bemused as to how these comments are a reflection of what I can and did achieve. Short of elocution lessons and the rigorous use of a thesaurus of short words I am unlikely to be able to change and I am still unsure of the benefits that would be provided either to me or the business if I did.

The feedback itself was not the lowlight – it was the lack of thought that had been given be a very senior member of HR to my request for feedback or indeed a consideration of the impact that the feedback given might have. HR is often responsible for delivering messages to others (both individuals and groups) and we need to think in advance of how our messages will be received and ensure that we secure the best outcome. I am commencing Advent in a new permanent job. As Global Head of HR and an executive director for a fascinating Group, I know that 2012 will be another great year. I will take the learnings from both the highs and lows of 2011 to better equip me for the challenges I will face going forward. May you be similarly blessed.


If you’d like to contribute to this series of blog posts you would be most welcome, no matter what your story and whether you are an experienced blogger or someone who rarely writes. You can get in touch with me by leaving a comment on here or via Twitter @AlisonChisnell. I’d love to hear from you!

6 Responses to "2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth"

Great blog Kate. A fantastic example of the good that HR can do in a business. As for the thinly veiled criticism. I think that sounds a lot like envy and I’m pleased to see that you’ve moved beyond it. One of my old companies used the AID model, The Action you took, the Impact it had and what you could Do differently / better. It really helped to transform feedback in the organisation. Even some of the dinosaurs managed to get on board and start to give good constructive feedback which nourished and encouraged staff.

I wish you a great 2012

What is it about being a ‘contracter’ that makes employers think that they can break basic rules of good feedback by offering comments on who you are rather than what you do? Imagine the same scenario if it were an employee?

Hope 2012 goes well

Nicely put Peter, like it

I loved reading Kate’s post, glad you did too. Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

Thank you all for your comments (and you Alison for posting what I had to say). I failed to write it, but the contacts, advice and support I have been given by a huge number of people whom I have got to know and become friends with on-line is without doubt one of my highlights of 2011

[…] 2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth […]

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