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Lucienne Jones: The more things change...

Friday 24 June 2016

Lucienne Jones, Director of Organisational Development and Human Resources (HR) at Acas discusses her views on the changing world of HR.

Lucienne Jones Lucienne Jones

Lucienne Jones is Director of Organisational Development and Human Resources at Acas.



No matter how much we automate processes and use digital media, I believe that people will always be at the heart of organisational success. HR has a key part to play, as organisations seek ways to make best use of their people in the digital world. Being Director of OD & HR at Acas can feel like an added pressure - our people are workplace experts and expect us to lead on best practice in leading and managing people, not just follow it. They always have a view about how to lead, develop and engage our people, to deliver the best possible service to our customers and make Acas a great place to work.

Of course, when I started out thirty years ago, I just had a desire to learn and to do the best job I possibly could. Getting to know people and throwing yourself into situations and experiences at work is a pretty good way to understand how a place ticks. It will help you gain those unique insights that might make you stand out.

If I was going to give my twenty-something self some advice now, it would be this: 'be a sponge, show enthusiasm, remember there isn't a right answer all the time, build networks, learn quickly and ask questions - and do what you say you'll do.'

The HR profession has changed so much, with a much greater business and customer focus than in the past. Three key themes stand out for me over my working life:

  1. The need to balance your own resources, in terms of time and energy, as well as the needs of the business. Gill Dix, Acas' Head of Strategy, in a recent Acas pdf icon Workplace trends of 2016 [680kb] article, wrote about the need to balance an organisation's vision, values, processes and skills and of course HR straddles all of these.
  2. Remember that it is change that will often get you noticed and make a difference in your career. Constant change is a given for so many businesses, particularly with advances in technology and social media. Can you help turn what could be seen as disruptive changes into positive transformations?
  3. There should always be a place and time to regularly stand back and reflect: on how what you and others do adds value, what you may need to change, and on your own personal career path and those of others, whilst keeping in mind the overall purpose and vision of the business. As Anne Sharp, Acas Chief Executive, said in pdf icon Workplace trends of 2016 [680kb], as a leader your ultimate responsibility is to the organisation, so it's stronger when you move on than it was when you arrived.

I was lucky to have had a very supportive and inspirational MD when I started out, who made sure I was involved in a full range of organisational activities.

The HR role is often about supporting and enabling others, and providing support for those new to HR is vital. Fortunately, I think technology is helping to open up more opportunities, allowing newer recruits to be involved in strategic thinking much sooner than in the past.

One piece of advice I wouldn't have been able to give the young me would have been about emails as they didn't exist when I started. Emails have transformed the way we work, the way we structure our day and even the way we plan and think. And as the last WERS survey showed, they have also transformed communication, with a marked rise in the use of emails as a form of communication. Digital communication is also moving on, with increased use of channels like instant messaging and Yammer.

So I would say "Lucienne, thirty years from now you will receive hundreds of electronic messages every day. But don't be alarmed if you can't keep up with all of them. The people sending and receiving emails are not very different from before, and they will still want to discuss many issues face to face. The secret for you is to work out the right form of communication at the right moment."

Sounds easy enough?

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