The End of the Year is Nigh - Lessons from 2011

Posted in : HR Updates ROI on 5 December 2011
Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting
Issues covered:

Angela Schettino writes:

The End of the Year is Nigh!!

Given that we are fast approaching the festive period and next month we will already be entering 2012, we thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to take stock, in this, the last thinkpeople HR Clinic of 2011.

We asked some of our influential friends and colleagues in HR and the legal profession to consider what it is that 2011 has taught them and to consider what, with the very best of intentions, their resolutions will be for the coming year.

We share below a selection of responses, perhaps there is food for thought in there for all of us.

Myself - Angela Schettino, Senior HR Consultant - thinkpeople Ltd;

"2011 has taught me the huge value of personal and professional authenticity. It’s also my resolution for 2012 to encourage others to make sure their decision making and communication style is always authentic. This links to trust, which is a corner stone in engaging people in any circumstance"

Mark McAllister – Senior Employment Relations Manager – LRA & Lecturer;

Biggest HR lesson for 2011 – “Just when you think employment law has started to settle down something comes from left field and totally blindsides you. Every day is a school day, never forget that”

Resolution for 2012 – “Educate, talk, learn, adapt, prevent” – the words of a recovering academic.

Adam Brett – Partner at McGrigors;

"The biggest lesson from our HR clients in 2011 is that employees understand the need for tough decisions - they challenge them where there is not enough transparency leading to a feeling of unfairness- and a claim.

Over the last few weeks the Coalition government in G.B. has announced a series of changes which will cumulatively streamline the tribunal system and cut costs and (perhaps) the number of claims. While we need not slavishly follow G.B. in 2012 the Northern Ireland HR and legal community needs to make the case for positive change to the Minister and to the Assembly- we must all be willing to get actively involved in consultations"

Scott Alexander – Head of Training and Development - Legal-Island;

"My biggest HR lesson is that HR theory and hard evidence count for little at strategic level politically when the economy is struggling. Regardless of all the evidence that employee engagement makes the difference between high performance organisations and others, the Government is ‘improving’ things for employers by making it easier to dismiss staff and create uncertainty in workforces. It should, in my opinion, be looking to reward organisations that bring staff with them during the hard times, that encourage employee involvement in decision-making, that try to retain experienced employees and share knowledge in a nurturing and challenging environment.

"Confidence gets you much further and you don’t encourage confidence by making it illogical for people to move for fear of getting sacked by a new employer. People won’t suggest new things if they think they’ll get sacked if the ideas don’t work straight away. And unions (and their members) won’t trust employers who use minimal rules to announce mass redundancies without meaningful consultation.

"My personal ambition for 2012 is to make it alive to my 50th birthday and have a day out at Edinburgh zoo with the new giant pandas they’re getting there.

I might even invite the family if they’re nice to me. And get over my residual fear of heights by Going Ape":

Emer Hinphey – Managing Partner - thinkpeople Ltd;

"Organisations and the people working within them have faced some difficult challenges. Lots of lessons have been learned but I think there is a reinforcement of the fact that regardless of the climate organisations should constantly be focussed on efficiency and prudent in their decision making to reduce their exposure in tougher times. In relation to people management, having a genuine strategy for engagement in the good times creates the productivity needed to deliver, but also engenders relationships built on trust and loyalty which many employers are now relying on to get through the more difficult periods.

I have lots of resolutions about work but personally I’ve decided this year to give in to my creative side and take a photography course and have more fun!"

Paul Hamill – Head of HR - Kainos Ltd;

"The importance of retaining good people and good skills during tough times, even at the expense of profitability. When the business returns to good times, it provides such a strong platform from which to bounce back and grow again quickly, as has been the case for Kainos in 2011.

Resolution: Work smarter, not harder, and get home earlier in the evenings."

Linzi Conway - KTS Consultants;

"During the current recession I have seen better opportunities for a new breed of managers, who challenge processes and procedures and inspire a shared vision of the future. Therefore, my biggest HR lesson from 2011 is that HR Professionals are playing a greater role in all aspects of business strategy, management development and have been more creative in relation to staff training.

Professionally I am setting myself the challenge of completing a Certified Environmental Awareness course to look at cost reduction via better environmental management and developing policy, procedures and action plans accordingly. On a personal level, I look forward to all the joy that family life continues to bring and creating some times for a few spa treatments along the way if possible!!"

Claire Murray HR Manager - Futures NI;

"I’m not sure if this is a lesson learned or more something that has come to the fore for me having joined shortly after a major re-structuring but the importance of clear communication, focusing on people and providing as supportive and encouraging an environment as possible to keep employees engaged and motivated is definitely something which has been highlighted to me over the last few months.

Resolutions: Well of course I have the usual resolutions of getting fit (never quite seem to achieve that one) and spending plenty of time with my family and friends (not normally too bad on that front).

Professionally, and stemming from the lessons learned since I have started in this role, I will be continuing to focus on employee engagement and motivation and what the organisation can do to effectively support and encourage our members of staff not only for the benefit of our employees but also for the benefit of the organisation as a whole and the clients to whom we provide a service."

Fionnuala McIntyre – Learning & Development Consultant;

"Biggest lesson of 2011 - Authentic leadership always ‘wins’. This has been evident when clients have had to make tough business decisions (redundancy/restructuring) and the way they treat their people.

Resolution for 2012 - Achieving continuous professional development goals despite a reduced budget!"

Anne Dougan - Managing Partner – thinkpeople Ltd;

"2011 has been a tough year for business and employees alike. Many Employers have had the ironic challenge of attempting to implement rationalisation and engagement side by side with us as HR practitioners guiding them through the legal and emotional turmoil.

For 2012, think ‘commercial’, think ‘legal compliance’ and think ‘truly engage your people’."

Hopefully this has given you some food for thought and reflection.

As we approach a new year what are your own personal reflections and learning points? What will be your work and personal resolutions?

We recommend all to reflect on what challenges you have found most difficult this year.

What skills have you developed as a result and what this has taught you for the future?

This article is correct at 06/08/2015

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Angela Schettino
Think People Consulting

The main content of this article was provided by Angela Schettino. Contact telephone number is 028 9031 0450 or email

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