Merry Christmas

Posted in : HR Updates on 17 December 2012
Nicola Shaw
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Nicola Shaw writes:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” is the Christmas song that keeps popping into my head as we fly towards 25th December. Christmas parties are in full swing and everyone is talking about their Secret Santa options and trying to figure out who bought what. It also makes this my 36th and final monthly blog – not bad considering that I was only for writing 12! So I thought I would use this blog as a time of reflection on what has been over the course of these blogs.

A Royal wedding has been and gone, and a Royal birth will hopefully happen next year, we have had the Olympics and of course seen parts of the world continue to be devastated by famine and hurricanes. But, what has the recent history of HR seen for us all?

How have Others Found the Last Year?

I asked some folks from the NI HR Manager’s Forum what they viewed as their biggest achievements, challenges and growth areas. The general consensus was that people were relieved to still be working and busy in their businesses, especially when considering the number of companies that have ceased to trade in recent years. Organisations are definitely not standing still as there is lots of innovation in reviewing reward policies so that the focus is not solely on monetary reward, but on finding meaningful alternatives that will make a difference to individuals, but not cost the business too much money. Restructuring remains a focus as people try to ensure that the strategy and operations are committed to the areas of the organisation that are profitable. This of course brings with it challenges in trying to ensure that the workforce is equipped and prepared for the emerging or growing work areas, which can result in difficult issues such as redundancy and/or performance management.

My Own Personal Review

Back when I started writing these articles in January 2010, I was 3 months into my new job with BDO Northern Ireland. I am able to say that I am still here, making it the second longest I have ever worked anywhere, with my 4.5 years in the civil Service still topping the list. I wonder where the next 3 years will take me? Is BDO the place where I will have my longest serving role? Time will tell!

When I started, I was idealistic and reckoned I was going to change the world and bring about significant change. 3 years on and I am less idealistic and less full of expectation that I can bring about change within a traditional professional services firm. But, that doesn’t mean that I am not making a difference – instead I am now much better at managing my own expectations about what is reasonable and attainable – and marrying this with the needs of the business.

Personally, the last 3 years have seen me run my second marathon and wreck my back in the process, meaning I am banned from road-running, gain and lose a few stones and change my hair from blonde to brown to red and finally go up in the air in a hot air balloon.

Professionally, I have introduced a new Staff Handbook, new contracts of employment, created a communications strategy and group, managed a few 'disciplinaries' and tried to ensure that there is a consistent and transparent approach to all HR matters within the firm.

It is great to do a job where you never know what each day will bring. That is the wonderful thing about our jobs in HR. We never know if today will be the day that someone asks to speak to us because they want to share their news with us. This can be that they are pregnant, that they are leaving, or that they trust you with something personal and devastating that has happened and they are looking your support or advice.

Where else could you get the challenges, the dramas, the varied scenarios and opportunities to have such an impact and to make a difference at both an organisational and personal level?

Sometimes I wonder why we do it – I mean how often do we get people coming and saying that they are happy and passing on their appreciation of what you have done for them? More often than not, people are coming and talking to us because there is a problem that they need help with, or they want to blame you for something. But... when someone trusts you enough to confide in you about a major event in their life; when someone, who you know previously didn’t rate you or HR comes and asks for your views and advice... those are the moments where it is all worthwhile and I am reassured that I made the right career choice 12 years ago.

Job satisfaction can be hard to find in these difficult times, but life is what you make it and I intend to celebrate the small successes when they happen, instead of overlooking them because I am focused on the next big thing.

2012 has been a tough year of consolidation and focusing on survival. 2013 could be more of the same, but no two days will ever be the same and that I look forward to. A job full of routine and normality is not for me. I thrive on the challenge, so BRING IT ON!!!

Thank you

I want to finish by saying thank you to Legal-Island for trusting me to write for them over the last three years; to thank you all for reading my blog and a special thank you to everyone who has reached out and made contact with me about something that has struck a chord – it has meant a lot.

Merry Christmas folks and here’s to an exciting and prosperous 2013.

This article is correct at 09/11/2015

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Nicola Shaw

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