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Don't become part of the problem

“Frontline managers have the largest and most immediate influence. If you’re a manager who wants to grow your team, demonstrate that you’re committed to growth yourself.” [Kristi Hedges, September 2018, Harvard Business Review]

At The HR Agenda we actively encourage HR leaders to take some time out to invest in themselves. It’s a hard sell as us HR folk aren’t used to this concept so it takes a while for us to understand that we are also a vital part of the human landscape, we don’t just manage it for everyone else. We also need time out - away from work - to refocus and become all the better for it.

HR sits alongside all of the other departments but - because HR is an umbrella function - the effects of our work permeate throughout the entire organisation, so we can become overlooked, often by ourselves! It’s hugely ironic of course as we deal with everything to do with an organisation’s people – organisational design, workforce planning, performance, disciplinaries, recruitment, restructuring, development and coaching to name just a few of the responsibilities that sit within the sphere of HR . But when do we look at our own needs – who manages OUR wellbeing and growth?

This is one of the reasons I set up The HR Agenda after a lifetime in the corporate world and the ensuing recognition that, if we don’t start investing in our HR teams, we may well become part of the problem.

When I am at full capacity, which is most of the time, it doesn’t take too much to overload me. To manage to perform properly when I am over capacity, I HAVE to take time out. It doesn’t matter how much needs to be done right at that moment. I stop, make lists, organise, even clean my desk (although I admit that is an activity reserved for the most serious of times), clear my head with some time outdoors and then gather my troops for a quick round table discussion. It’s a sort of recalibration. It clears the decks, reorganises my priorities and means I am more effective long-term because of the short-term time investment.

We’ve taken this type of screeching halt to a whole new level at The HR Agenda. Formally and with some degree of structure, we join other equally frantic HR leaders (directors, senior managers, team leaders and others of a similar level) in a small group and we think, we talk and we listen.

We practise listening (this really tests our ability to not talk and not mentally prepare our ‘sentence of interruption’) and we vocalise our challenges (out loud, largely unprepared). This is harder than it sounds. We take it in turns to hold the floor. We feedback from our own personal experiences, never in a way that directs or advises. Understanding how a different organisation approaches the issues you are facing is eye-opening. It’s an interesting way to step back, learn from the collective intelligence in the room and also to learn from yourself.

By investing in ourselves we are also demonstrating our belief in the value of self-investment to the rest of the organisation. When you are organising training days for people within your business you’ll have greater empathy for how they will manage to maintain their workload whilst taking vital time out for themselves. You’ll also be able to enthuse about its benefits.

“When managers open up about their personal areas for improvement, it becomes more acceptable for everyone else to do the same.”  [Kristi Hedges, Harvard Business Review]

All of a sudden you’re not rushing, you’re not agonising over a problem, you’re not juggling too many roles. You are just thinking, speaking and listening in a productive, positive environment. It’s amazing.

Is it time to invest in yourself?


Kristi Hedge, September 2018, Harvard Business Review

accessed on 30 April 2019.

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