Mentoring – it’s something HR are born to do

“Focus on what you have to offer rather than what you don’t have to offer”

When you went for your very first HR interview, how did you feel? Apprehensive? Nervous?

Looking back at that experience now, a few years later; a little bit older, much wiser; what do you think about it? Do you look back and laugh and think it’s crazy you were so nervous and unsure? I know I do!

Continue reading “Mentoring – it’s something HR are born to do”

What I’ve learned from mentoring

“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.”    Bob Proctor

It’s no secret that I have mentored for a number of years as a CIPD Steps Ahead Ambassador and mentor; I am incredibly lucky to have met some wonderful people through helping over these years from different industries, career levels and backgrounds.

Recently, I have undertaken the responsibility of supporting my CIPD branch by coordinating a mentoring scheme which aims to encourage HR professionals to share their experiences with a view to helping them to progress their membership or careers.

The long and short of it is that some perceive mentoring as a time consuming and long drawn out process, with many struggling to commit the time to mentor. In reality, it only takes up two hours a month and sometimes it’s a simple case of assisting with a CV.

Being a mentor isn’t just about feeling good, it’s about experiencing different perspectives.

It’s certainly not a one sided relationship, there are so many benefits and I have learnt so much, not just about people, but about the differences in generations, how to expand on existing skills, recruitment challenges and of course about different industries. This exposure has also helped me within my career especially with benchmarking and best practice exercises.

As a mentor I am there to listen, to offer practical advice, offer constructive criticism (which in the right way, is a good thing), and to help in any way that I can. However, it’s equally important that your mentee offers a different perspective or insight into their career, industry and aspirations. Believe it or not, mentees can help mentors as much as they help you!

In respect of the branch mentoring, this is distinctly different to the work I have done with Steps Ahead; I find that peer mentoring, can sometimes be more impactful than a traditional mentoring relationship. It can strengthen your network, enhances leadership capabilities and most of all supports your peers; as a branch, we are growing and progressing together, and one day we’ll be leading together, so it’s important to help one another along the way; I consider it future proofing our profession by inspiring future HR professionals.

 

World Mental Health Day 2017

“Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing.”

At least one in six workers experiences common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Research conducted by leading charity Mind, shows that 55% of employees surveyed said that work is the biggest cause of stress in their lives, more so than debt or financial problems.

Mental ill-health costs the UK economy £26 billion each year, this is through 91 million lost working days, staff turnover and lower productivity. With such staggering figures, it is within every organisations interest to establish ways to tackle the problem. What is really concerning is not just the prevalence of stress and mental health problems at work, but that employees don’t feel supported to be able to deal with these pressures.

The main causes of mental ill health at work are excessive workload, frustration with poor management, lack of support and unrealistic targets. Stress at work is also effecting people’s personal lives. One in five employees said that it puts a strain on their relationships, while 11% have missed important events such as birthdays due to work related stress.

Prince Harry has spoken publicly about the importance of mental health awareness amongst the armed forces; not just post career but has actively campaigned for mental health to become an active part throughout their career. This has lead to a review and implementation of new training methods and support mechanisms will also be rolled out to reservists, veterans and civil servants.

The starting point can be seen as difficult, but it does not need to be. Simply taking the time to speak to a colleague or manager to tell them how you are feeling and what your concerns are can help take that first step to improving mental health. It’s the little things that make the big difference, so if you are an employee reading this, your manager needs to know that you are struggling, if it is pressures with workload, they may be able to offer a solution. Likewise, if you are a manager yourself reading this, then you need to do the same, just because you have a more senior title it does not mean that you shouldn’t be able to address your concerns.

We must always keep in mind that mental ill health does not discriminate and affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives, this is why it is so important that we start these conversations to try and remove the stigma that is associated with mental ill health.

Mental health may be a hot topic but it is a very fluid subject, one critical point is to ensure that individual cases are treated as exactly that, as an individual. Just because one person has a condition, it does not mean that the remedies and supporting tools are the same. There is no one size fits all approach and therefore businesses cannot just roll out a wellbeing initiative hoping that it will work, the subject of mental health is ongoing and will be evolving at a fast pace for many years to come.

Mind has a fantastic guide to help support employers who want to promote positive mental health within their organisations; to access the guide, please click here.

 

Developing capability for shifting times #cipdmap17

With only 28 days left until the annual CIPD Midlands Area Partnership conference, which is being held at Chesford Grange in Warwickshire and I thought it is perfect timing to start talking about what we can expect from the event.

CIPD MAP 16 was an incredible event, very well organised and everyone seemed to enjoy the day. So what can we expect from this years event?

First and foremost, there are still a limited amount of tickets left so if you would like to attend then do grab your tickets via the CIPD MAP page on their website.

Secondly, if you cannot make the event, do not dispare! I will be blogging and tweeting the event as we go.

The title for this year’s event is developing capability for shifting times and with this year’s keynote speakers being Olympic Athlete Derek Redmond and Influential Professor Rob Briner, this event looks set to be one of the most successful yet.

To start the day, there will be a breakfast session held at 8:30am with Russell Deathridge from LHH Penna to discuss delivering high performance with an agile workforce in uncertain times. This is on my must see list of the day and look forward to hearing Russell’s thoughts on this incredibly relevant topic.

From 9:15am you’ll find me and a host of other branch committee members signing you all in at the registration desks, please ensure you do this in plenty of time so you can get on with some networking prior to the welcome and introduction, plus, it’s a Saturday so grabbing a good coffee is incredibly important!

The welcome and introduction to this event will begin at 10:00am before handing over to our keynote speaker Derek Redmond. Derek, as well as being an olympic gold medallist, has been a motivational speaker for 17 years and is Group Performance Director at Thomas International, so be prepared for an incredibly inspiring start to the conference.

One part of the day I am really looking forward to is hearing from Rob Robson from Tata Technologies, his session is being held at 11:55am and he is speaking about creating the employee experience, this topic is not only relevant now but will be for years to come.

Then we have the breakout sessions starting at 12:40pm;

  • A. New ways of working – myth or reality? which will be led by Professor Donald Hislop and Dr Sarah Barnard
  • B. Back from the future – is L&D ready? Led by Teresa Rose, Digital Learning Expect at E.ON
  • C. Building and developing the skills needed for organisations across the Midlands to succeed in the UK, Europe and the World. Led by Angela Joyce, CEO at Warwickshire College
  • D. The future workforce: an educational perspective, led by Matthew Crawford

I’m planning to attend sessions A and D as my work recently has been influenced by what the future holds within the education system and how that will influence the workforce.

The last but no means least, the closing keynote will take place at 15:15pm with Rob Briner; Shaking the foundations: time to challenge some common assumptions about HR;  be prepared for some fantastic quotes from Rob, he never disappoints!

Don’t forget, there is a brilliant exhibition area too, so make sure you visit the stands as well as taking the time to network with HR and L&D colleagues from across the Midlands.

I hope to see lots of you there!

 

 

Time to write my own chapter; my first HR book is in progress!

Books

Hello everyone,

I’m back in my writing chair with my tea companion (yes finally!)

I’m looking forward to sharing all of my new blog posts with you (and there’s quite a few!) that I have been working on behind the scenes. I’ve been exposed to varying situations over the past couple of months that has required a high degree of reflection to allow me to bring the situations to life on the blog; so thank you for being patient with me.

As many of you know, I adore books and always have since I was a child; naturally, it has always been an ambition of mine to write my own book but I never thought I would have anything to write about! Then I started my career in HR and my life changed, so what better subject to write about?

Therefore, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share the exciting news that I am in process of writing my first HR book, which really is a dream come true and I cannot wait to share it with you.

This book has taken various experiences that I’ve had to inspire those new to HR, the seasoned professionals, people considering HR as a career or those who have simply hit a career slump and want to bounce back. This book is about the practical realities of the profession to truly bring it to life; the practical pieces that cannot be taught in a classroom.

I started writing the book in March and it has come on a long way since then; I’m hoping it’ll be ready for release at the end of this year/beginning of 2018.

Watch this space and I look forward to releasing my next blog post tomorrow morning!

Best wishes,

Natalie

 

Taking care of your mental health wellbeing #MHAW17

Whilst it is important to promote the wellbeing of others, you cannot adequately support other people without having your own mental health as a priority. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and on the blog I am releasing some quick references to generate awareness of the subject but also to present practical advice for you to use, regardless of your profession.

Mental health awareness is something we can all promote and actively be a part of, whether it is for you or to support someone close to you.

How we are feeling can vary in our day to day lives, it often depends on circumstance in that present moment, or it can be impacted by significant events such as the anniversary of a bereavement. According to the Mental Health Foundation statistics; one in three of us will experience a traumatic event at some point in our lives, this is not just an incident, it is something that stays with us for the rest of our lives.

When we are in good mental wellbeing, we are able to cope with the stresses of everyday life, are able to adapt to the environment and situations around us and feel engaged with the environment around us. If we are not in a good mental state, it is easy to feel detached from people and the environment, lack confidence in our abilities to cope with daily life and most of all, unable to freely express emotions and maintain relationships.

Keeping this in mind, it only underpins the importance on supporting your own mental health, here are some quick and easy tips to help you support your mental health wellbeing:

  • Talk about your feelings; if you are experiencing a difficult time, having an open conversation with your friends and family can halve the problem and they may be able to offer help and guidance to support you. Just by having a conversation can make you feel a lot better
  • Learn to accept yourself; this is such an important part of our mental health wellbeing. Don’t compare yourself to others, this only damages self-esteem. This is so difficult with the influence of social media and this “perception of perfection” is not realistic, be yourself and acknowledge your positive qualities
  • Exercise; I run three times a week now and have done since January. I’ve never felt better, I’ve never been a gym bunny but getting out in the fresh air can really change your perspective on things and has a positive impact on my mental health, I find I worry less, sleep better and most of all, it’s an activity I enjoy
  • Diet; having a well-balanced diet has really complimented my new exercise routine and it makes me feel healthier and happier
  • Relax; as with everything these days there is an app for that! You don’t need expensive yoga classes or massages (although these are great too!) try Buddhify which can really help you to switch off and relax. This app has really helped me especially on those days when it’s difficult to clear the mind of the working day

HR & Marketing go together like tea and biscuits! Featuring Rebecca Jeffrey

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Have you ever taken a step back from your usual day to day and looked at how your work has a much wider impact than you realise?

I recently did just that after becoming involved in a number of projects that I’ve not experienced before in my career. In the past 18 months, my company has been through a name change and an entire rebrand. Of course, our Marketing team pulled out all the stops to ensure the launch of the brand was a huge success and the achievement is astounding. But if you look at it on a wider scale, it is so much more than a branding exercise alone, it’s working in collaboration that enables the building of a brand.

There are so many findings from projects like this, but who is responsible for the company image overall? The answer is simple – we all are.

For example, my team and I have recently attended a couple of recruitment events which received significant support from our trusted Marketing team. Whilst they did not attend the event themselves, they provided well thought out giveaways, such as branded earphones for our graduate fair, product brochures as well as providing a promotional campaign surrounding the events on our social media channels.

It’s not an isolated situation; there have been so many occasions where I have worked in collaboration with the Marketing team and they, like HR, are often the unsung heroes of the business, but are always willing to support with major business changes.

I undertook a project to design and implement our careers page on the company website, recruitment adverts, corporate social responsibility processes and communications to employees ranging from the company newsletter through to important announcements, again this was all alongside Marketing.

When a business is running smoothly, it’s not just that processes are operating like clockwork; it’s often due to the collaboration between departments who are all aligned to the same common goal. When you read that back, it sounds like a basic concept, but it’s often these foundations that so many businesses fail to put in place.

Recently, I have been fortunate to have connected with some lovely people, so I sought advice from fellow tea lover Rebecca Jeffrey, co-founder of Fi and Becs Design and Marketing. I was so excited by our conversation that I invited her to feature on my blog. I wanted to share her thoughts on why she believes HR and Marketing have such a strong connection and how both can work collaboratively.

Q: You have such a passion for what you do, what made you choose Marketing as a profession?

A: I randomly fell into HR after working for events company Michael Whisher who supplied temporary staff for events such as Wimbledon. I used to go along to events to recruit temporary staff such as students who were looking for work. I worked as a HR admin for about a year and then moved into internal recruitment, I liked it but didn’t like it loads so I thought maybe I should do marketing. I enjoyed writing job descriptions and adverts so much I took a secondment into a marketing role before moving into a Graduate Marketing role.

Q: There are so many crossover areas between HR and Marketing; how do you think both departments can work together to increase brand awareness?

A: Marketing crosses over into HR in so many ways; like with internal communications “where should internal communications sit?” my answer is that it should be in both, they should both be included in each other’s team meetings. I believe there’s a massive crossover between the two; especially in content Marketing. There needs to be consistency with all communications, job descriptions especially need to be written really well, for example with graduate recruitment, it’s so competitive and you have to stand out for the right reasons.

Q: What’s the key to attracting the best talent through a recruitment advert?

A: I recently worked on a project for a major retailer who didn’t have the best recruitment advertising and were set upon using boring job descriptions, so we made it sound more like a catchy advert to attract candidates, as recruiting is so incredibly competitive.

Q: There will be many HR professionals reading this asking how they can get involved with their Marketing department. What advice would you give them?

A: Go to each other’s meetings, work together by being collaborative you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve by working together

Q: We loved watching you on The Apprentice, congratulations on how far you got, the challenges did not look easy! What was your favourite part of the experience?

A: They had to film me leaving the boardroom a few times because I was grinning so much, the whole boardroom thing takes about five hours to film but I really enjoyed it.