The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Christmas Eve is finally here…how very exciting!

Hard to believe that before this month, Ailsa Suttie was the only person to have guest posted on this blog…and rather a long time ago now at that! I can’t say enough good things about Ailsa, she is a warm and wonderful friend who will always fight your corner, support causes she believes in and get involved to make a difference.

You can find her at @AilsaSuttie…and anywhere where there is a bottle of red around ;).


When, asked by Alison to consider writing a guest post for this series, I looked back at the Highlights & Horrors of my HR life 2011 and although I could write about both a different emotion took over when I thought about you all.

If asked to describe it I would have to say the closest thing I could compare it with is that it was, well, ‘Christmassy’. A slow spreading feeling of warmth and well-being, a sense of all things being as they should.

In 2011 I have met some inspirational people, some challenging folk, been helped by some and have helped others. Like any group some don’t see eye to eye and these relationships also serve to strengthen and enrich our community. Life would be pretty bland if we all agreed, right?

I would like to thank the individuals who made my year special, you know who you are. To those I don’t know so well, I look forward to getting to know you better in 2012. I hope that where I have tried to help that I’ve managed to make a difference too.

To those of you who attempted to ruin my liver, I am sending you my bill from the Priory!

So, I am raising a virtual glass of mulled wine to you all, Merry Christmas and here’s to a very happy New Year, you rock!


So that’s it….or is it? Those of you that have been following the series of guest posts may have noticed that I haven’t written about my highlights and horrors yet…and I have had a couple of wonderful bloggers suggest that they may submit a post over the next few days. This is definitely it for the daily posts (phew!) but there may be one or two overflow posts between now and New Year’s Eve, so watch this space :).

All that really remains is to sincerely thank all of you who have written posts, read them and recommended them to others. What began as a fairly random idea has taken shape to be a powerful and wonderful experiment that I have absolutely loved facilitating. Truly, the response has been beyond my wildest dreams or maddest hopes…and that is totally because of you.

I wish you a very, very Merry Christmas!

This weekend marks my first ‘blogday’, the anniversary of my first post, written as a direct result of the first ConnectingHR Unconference.  I’m amazed that it has already been a year and I can honestly say that although I embarked on blogging with little thought to where it would lead me, I have really enjoyed writing regularly and found it a real source of personal development and support.

Why Do I Blog?

  • I like articulating my thoughts and experiences and find it makes me reflect on them more deeply than I otherwise might have done
  • It’s a great way of engaging with like-minded people
  • I enjoy the creative process
  • Getting feedback and comments on posts helps me to explore my thoughts around a topic and often adds many dimensions that I have not even considered
  • It’s fun and enjoyable…and possibly a little addictive once you’ve started 😉

Some Facts and Figures

I originally started my blog on Posterous and moved to this WordPress platform at the end of November 2010. Since this time I have had 11,285 individual hits on this site, with the highest daily traffic peaking at 260 views and the busiest month of September 2011 bringing in 1,694 hits. I have written a total of 73 posts and have an amazing 570 comments, although that includes my own responses. All of this is obviously small-fry in comparison to many other blogs out there, but I’m really proud of the way this site has developed and hugely grateful to all of you who take the time to read and comment.

The most popular posts are not always the ones I would have expected, but for those interested in having a browse through some of the archives or just plain curious, the most-read ones are as follows –

Title   Views
Home page More stats 2,983
LinkedIn: 5 Reasons Why I Won’t Connect More stats 505
My First Year on Twitter: Lessons Learned And Questions Asked More stats 410
Four New HR Blogs to Brighten Your January! More stats 251
Breaking The Ice More stats 238
The Art of Conversation More stats 237
Why Are HR The Worst People Managers Of All? More stats 234
To TheHRD With Love and Thanks More stats 225
ConnectingHR: The Best Kept Secret in HR Networking More stats 223
Back to School More stats 217

So, all that remains is to say thank you. For reading, for commenting, for making suggestions, for challenging and most of all for encouraging…I appreciate it enormously.

Let’s see if I can make it to my second blogday 🙂


So, anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I’m a big fan of ConnectingHR and hugely enjoy being a part of what they do. Without ConnectingHR I would not be the avid Twitter and social media fan that I now am, and nor would I be a keen blogger.

Quite simply, ConnectingHR is a fantastic and energised group of HR people – generalist practitioners, recruiters, consultants, communication experts, learning and development folk and many, many more –  who connect on Twitter under #connectinghr and who interact and chat over at the website. Once a quarter there is also a bigger event for people to meet up, outside of the usual informal drinks and get-togethers – either a networking evening (known as a tweet-up) or a day’s long Unconference.

I’m not usually prone to gushing, but genuinely I have never come across a group of HR people more willing to provide help and support, genuinely interesting and interested, vocal and articulate, inclusive and thought-provoking. Seriously, they are great – we are great.

Why do I tell you all of this now? Well, the third ConnectingHR Unconference is taking place on the 20th October and now is the time to get your skates on and book your place. It’s very easy to do, just register here. Excitingly, I also have the opportunity to give away a free ticket to the Unconference and all you need to do to apply is to submit a comment at the end of this post by Friday 7th Oct and tell me why you want to come and what you hope you will get out of it. The only rules (of course there are rules, I work in HR!) are that you should be an HR practitioner who hasn’t attended an Unconference before. Oh, and I might ask you for some blog comments once you’ve been :).

So, that’s it. I have always highly disliked the traditional concept of networking, but the lovely thing about ConnectingHR is that you will find yourself amongst friends…and it really is a form of networking that totally works.

What are you waiting for? Who wants a free ticket? Go on…make my day…. 😉

Blogging energises me. For me, there is a definite correlation between my general sense of personal and professional well-being and how inclined I feel to write on my blog.

Lately I have a minor case of blogger’s block, so in true Twitter style I asked for inspiration from the good people of #connectinghr. And as usual they rose to the occasion and unleashed a wave of ideas. Thanks to @MattWarrener, @SpeccyWoo, @BettyBBlonde and @ChangeContinuum, they provided the following eclectic inspirations –

– Why is HR the brake and not the accelerator and how does it need to change?

– Training has absolutely no ROI other than as a placebo

– HR is a band-aid to imperfect organisations and they are minded to keep them that way

– Why are HR the worst people managers of all?

– If you had to axe one function in your business which one would it be?

– Why don’t more execs blog?

– The morals of being forced to interview someone because of the colour of their skin

– Which members of Take That were better looking in 2004 and in 2011?

All of these got me thinking: about the topics themselves, the creativity of those individuals providing them and more than anything else about the power of collaboration to inspire and lift you out of a temporary rut.

So, as of next week I am going to undertake a blogging experiment and tackle one of these each day to write about. Please also feel free to contribute any other suggested topics in the comments below, however frivolous or intellectually challenging (!!) and they will also go into the mix. Once I work out the wordpress voting widget, I will also ask for your collaboration in helping to choose the top 5 blogging topics for next week ;).

A lazy way of generating topic ideas? Possibly. A fun way of getting me back into the blogging habit? Absolutely!

I await your suggestions with anticipation…thank you!

Michael Carty over at XpertHR is running a great series My Year in HR So Far where HR professionals have been sharing their experiences and reflections of 2011.

You can read my contribution to this theme here and also check out the excellent posts from David Goddin and Rob Jones

If you are in HR or a related field, Michael would love to have your contribution to the series…and if you’ve never blogged before, what a fantastic opportunity to have a go :).

Later this afternoon, I will be going in to my 5  year old daughter’s class at school and talking to them about my job. Eeeek! I did, of course, volunteer for this a few weeks ago, as a result of a letter that was sent home requesting parents talks, however now that the time has come, I feel more than a little nervous. Tweeting about this earlier prompted a fantastic response and Michael Carty has set up a theme on his blog about how you would describe HR to a class of schoolchildren.

So I am now as prepared as I am going to be and have decided to use lots of pictures to try and give a really short and simple overview of what my job and HR is about. 

Leaving aside the pictures of my journey (a train, tube and picture of my office no less!), the rest of my talk will run along the following lines –

  • My job has a very strange name – HR or Human Resources. What it really means though is that my job is all about people.
  • It’s my job to make sure that everyone gets paid their money for working. It’s very important as all of the grown-ups who work for us need money to pay for their house and food and look after their families. 
  • It’s also my job to make sure we find people to work for us  and that we put them in the right jobs.  Everyone is good at different things, so it’s really important to make sure that someone’s job helps them to use all the things that they are best at doing.

  • We want people to feel happy at work, so we do all we can to make it a nice place to be. Sometimes, if people feel sad then they come and talk to me and I try and find a solution to their problems.
  • Sometimes even grown-ups do naughty things and it is often my job to tell them off. Usually I just have to explain why what they have done is not right, but sometimes if they have been really naughty they won’t be able to work with us any more.
  • Just like your teaches teaches you new things every day, people at work learn new things too and HR helps them to learn new skills.

  • Part of my job is also to answer lots of questions.  I’m quite good at doing that, so if you have any questions you’d like to ask me, please let me know.
So…..I will come back later to update you on whether there were any questions and if I managed to hold their attention for 10 minutes!!
How would you describe your job to a classroom full of 5 year olds and what have I missed about HR?


So, its been a little while since I last blogged. And a couple of lovely friends on Twitter have been gently prodding me to get back into it. So, thought I’d pop back in to say hello and how have you been?

My blogging mojo comes and goes, but what I’ve enjoyed about this recent absence is that I haven’t felt in the least bit obliged to keep writing if I didn’t feel like it.  Which is a good feeling – blogging should definitely be a pleasure and not a chore. Although I distinctly recall, I did initially feel like writing things down and then I got completely distracted with a business trip to New York; a cold and windy (but thoroughly enjoyable!) camping weekend with friends on the South Coast; motoring through the entire Twilight saga on my Kindle and of course busy, busy work. Life :).

So have I got any amazing insights for you? No. Not today, not really. Only this: that sometimes its great to take a break from things, to do something different and get a new perspective. And that when you want to get back into doing the activity you enjoy, not to worry if it doesn’t feel like it comes as naturally as it did, just give it a try and see what happens.

So how are you? What’s new? Its been ages……..!

Last week the Prince’s Trust came to give a presentation to Informa’s divisional HR directors and corporate social responsibility committee, as we have recently become a patron of their organisation. It was an inspiring and interactive discussion with lots of ideas of how individuals and companies can get involved and make a difference.

Let us never become immune to the shocking statistics –

  • around 2 million young people (16-24 year olds) in the UK are growing up in unemployed households, in many cases second, third or even fourth generation unemployed
  • 10% of young people leave school in the UK with absolutely nothing: no qualifications, no work experience, little if anything in the way of interests, hobbies or skills…their CV is blank and their self-worth and sense of value negligible at best
  • Youth unemployment costs the UK £22m every week

The Prince’s Trust has helped over 600,000 young people since it was set up in 1976 and focuses on providing real support to those who have under-achieved at school, are long-term unemployed, have been in trouble with the law or have grown up in care.

They have a huge range of initiatives for companies and individuals to get involved with…if you want to learn more please do check out their website.

I can only imagine how inaccessible the world of work must seem when your CV is truly blank…with our collective HR, business and recruitment expertise, I would sincerely hope we can start to make a tangible difference.

I am fascinated by how different organisations select their leaders.

My church is in the process of recruiting a youth minister and a potential candidate came to visit today. During the children’s talk, she was ‘interviewed’ and children read out all manner of apparently random questions, which she then had to answer spontaneously in fromt of the 200 or so people present.  Questions included –

  • do you prefer ice skating or roller-skating?
  • would you rather go to Disneyland or Darfur?
  • do you prefer taking a bath or a shower?
  • would you rather be an artist or a scientist?

It was interesting on many levels, not least because there were no generally known selection criteria, other than perceived cultural fit and ability to communicate effectively. In principle, none of the questions would necessarily have right or wrong answers, but they were surprisingly revealing – it turns out she didn’t know where Darfur was and chooses to take a shower directly after every bath. To what degree either of these things matter remains to be seen…knowedge of humanitarian crises and an environmental awareness could potentially be seen as important…but then perhaps honesty is a more powerful trait than an ability to negotiate questions with political correctness. It comes back to the selection criteria (and whether there is one!).

For the candidate, the whole day was to be a prolonged interview and selection exercise: she participated in the children’s sunday school activities, she was due to host a lunch for 20 so church members in their twenties, she was to meet with the deacons (church leaders) and then lastly preach at the evening service. After all of that, the church members will meet and vote on whether they would like to make her an offer.

It made me think about the potential corporate alternative: candidates spendig a day with the organisation whilst making a choice whether they felt it would be a good fit for them personally, lunching with colleagues, presenting to the board, exploring their personal values, in addition to the more standard interview, with all who met the individual having a say in whether they ought to be recruited or not.

I suspect there are lessons to be learned from both sides and being part of somethg so out of my usual recruitment and selection experience is great for challenging our accepted norms and thinking differently. One thing is for sure though – as and when leaders are recruited in this open and transparent way, in whichever organisation they join – they should surely have a huge amount of buy-in and support to lead their organisations forward and really make a difference.

What do you think?

I’m not keen on networking. I’m often ambivalent at best about a lot of other HR people. So developing an HR network was never going to be easy or enjoyable, right?

Well, here’s the thing that still seems to be broadly unknown in HR circles: there is a fantastically social and sociable network of HR professionals known as ConnectingHR. And anyone in HR or a related field can be part of it.

We connect via Twitter using the #connectinghr hashtag and we interact on the website. We hold regular drinks (known as tweet-ups), there are informal, interactive conferences (known as Unconferences) and there are a huge number of informal get-togethers in-between times: lunches, drinks after works, coffee, breakfast meetings…

Without exception, the people I have met through ConnectingHR are engaged, passionate, approachable, knowledgable, generous, helpful, influential, encouraging, committed and likeable. Many have become true friends in a relatively short space of time and they are a superb professional network, who share knowledge, support each other, debate ideas and inspire with their energy to make HR better.

ConnectingHR is only just beginning and is destined to grow much further. Be a part of it, wherever in the world you are based…check out or #connectinghr on Twitter and say hello…I guarantee you’ll get plenty of hellos back and much more besides :).

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