Consult Summer Soiree

on Wednesday, 02 August 2017.

Number 2

We celebrated yet another great year at the Consult Summer Soiree! The visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery was amazing and was followed by a BBQ on a beautiful, warm Summer evening.


Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - keep track of people moving jobs

on Friday, 11 August 2017.

Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - keep track of people moving jobs

Congratulations to Nicola Texeira upon joining The Racing Post as HR BP

Signija Elms begins her new role as HR Manager for SGN. .

Wiggle welcomes Bianca Carlin as their new HRBP.

Dixons Carphone welcome Sue Green as their Interim People Change Manager.

We are delighted to announce that Nuala McIntyre has joined the HR function within Leidos.

Steve Shurmer has been introduced to L’Oreal as their new Head of HR Operations.

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Iain Fourniss to SGN as their new HR BP.

Congratulations to Leanne Saunders upon joining David Lloyd Leisure as their Regional HR BP.

Freya Kendall joins the HR team at Savills.

We are delighted to announce that Iain Willets has joined Kambi as their Interim Reward Consultant

Sanna Sand joins the Resourcing function within Crest Nicholson

Congratulations to Karena Fulford as she begins her new role of Interim HR Business Partner at Local Pension Partnership.

The Local Pension Partnership also welcomes Tasneem Lakkadghat as HR Analyst.

26th June 2017

Congratulations to Vicky Pickles who has begun her new job at PT6623 – NHS PS as Regional HR BP (West Midlands).

We are pleased to announce that Gary Booth has begun an interim assignment as Director of HR Operations for Dixons Carphone.

Hayley Kerr has joined LGC as HR Business Partner.

Pladis welcome Kirun Gutteridge as their Interim Senior HR Business Partner

Congratulations to Trevor Rawlings as he joins SGN. His new role within the Head Office Shared Services

Moneycorp welcome Anh Le Nguyen as she joins the HR team.

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Caroline Williams as Head of Talent and Development for SGN.

Sarah McGinn joins NHS PS as Resourcing Partner.

Congratulations to Rob Milsom as he begins his new role within Leidos as Talent Acquisition Resourcing Partner.

We are pleased to announce that Christian Moran has been introduced to Crest as their new L&D Manager.

Susan Lowe joins David Lloyd Leisure as their new Regional BR Business Partner

Bell Integration welcomes Suzanne Maynard in her new role within the HR function.

Grainne Henderson joins the HR team at NHS Property Services

Congratulations to Michael Queally as he joins Deluxe Media Services as their Talent Acquisition Lead

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Gerard Leahy as Lockheed Martin’s Employee Benefits Manager

Helen Firth begins her new role as Talent Acquisition Consultant for Deluxe Media Services

Congratulations to Natalie Carter as she joins the NHS PS team as Interim Senior HR BP

We are also pleased to announce that Theakreh Mosleh has joind NHS PS as Resourcing Partner

Congratulations to Mathew Davies as he begins his new role as HRD at Addison Lee.

Congratulations to Darren Taylor who joins LV as their Led ER Consultant

We are pleased to announce the introduction of Satvinder Kaur to Deluxe Media as their Snr Learning & Talent Partner

Jo Dolan begins her new role at LPP as HR Project Manager at London Pension Fund Authority

Congratulations to Gemma Howe as she begins her new role as HR BP with General Mills

Ross Broome has joined Collinson Group as their Talent Acquisition Manager

Richard Hawksworth has been introduced to Deluxe Media Services as their EMEA C&B Manager

Amy Rochester has joined the HR team at Moneycorp

Kerry Haynes joins the HR team at Kane Partnership

Heena Valambhia begins her new role at General Mills as HR Business Partner.

Kate Ware joins the team at TUI as HRBP.

LGC have welcomed Sarah Pool as their new HR Manager.

Congratulations to Alice Williams as she begins her new role with Land Securities as HR Manager.

Dani Sa’adu joins the Collinson Group as Head of L&D.

Helen Wentworth joins the team at VCTC.

Hannah Greenan are welcomed by Dixons Carphone as their new Head of HR.

Congratulations to Anita Arscott-Brookes as she joins Simplify as their new L and D Manager.

Angela Williams joins Which? As their Group HRD.

Kevin Fairbairn has joined the L’Oreal team as HRD

Anne-Marie Greenfield has joined Balfour Beatty as HR Business Partner.

Resilient have welcomed Heena Surani as their Chief People Officer.

Monica Parmer has joined Moneycorp as an Interim HR BP.

Resilient have welcomed Heena Surani as their Head of HR.

Leanna Hamilton has joined Balfour Beatty as Senior HR and Legacy Manager.

Vodafone have appointed Julia King as Senior HR BP.

Lucy Atherton has joined the team at Grunenthal as an HR Associate.

Deluxe have welcomed Ingrid Simmons as Senior HR BP.

Louise Howe has begun an interim L and D assignment with Go Ahead Group.

Julie Philip has begun her new role as Resourcing Partner with Balfour Beatty.

Congratulations to Stephanie Caines who has joined the team at BSI as an Interim  HR Business Partner.

SAUL is pleased to announce the arrival of Jennifer Perkins as their new HR Manager.

We are delighted to announce the arrival of Claire Sumner in Grunenthal as their new Head of HR for the UK.

Balfour Beatty have welcomed Ryan Hunt to the HR team as their HR Project Advisor and Julie Massey as HR Advisor.

Sophie Mullen and Trish Hewitt are to be congratulated on their new roles within the HR teams at Simpify.

Congratulations to John Best as he joins TUI as their Overseas Recruitment Manager.

Mel Lepine has joined Dixons Carphone Warehouse as their Head of Colleague Development.

Vicky Anscombe has begun her new role as Social Media Manager with LifeHouse Company

Sally Simpson begins her new role as Talent and Development Partner for Dixons Carphone.

Michaela Vlachova joins the HR team at Berry Bros.

Mali Mehmood is Talent Acquisition Specialist for

Nicola McBride is now a Regional HR Manager for Lifeways in the North West.

Angela Harding is now Head of ER for BOC.

Lyn Picken joins the team at Nestle as Communications Manager.

Hilary Wells joins Mount Anvil as their new HR Director.

Elaine Sital-Singh is now HR Shared Services Manager for Hitachi Rail.

Lucy Jarvis joins the HR team at David Lloyd Leisure as Reward and Policy Manager.

The Power of Myers-Briggs. Celebrating Difference.

on Friday, 05 August 2016.

I remember the date well. It was 1989 when Sheila and I launched our business, Consult – now Consult-HR. We had grown to be friends working together before, but running a business was new to us and as any of you who have done it will know, a start-up brings its own tensions; houses on the line, business development and the start of a deep recession to boot.
But that wasn’t the half of it. Different ways of thinking, different working styles, different needs from the business. In terms of our understanding, back to the beginning with unconscious incompetence. This was just how it was and so we cracked on, in our own sweet ways.
We hired people and they had allegiance to the brand – and to one of the partners, but rarely both.
And then we took a big step. One of us was uneasy at the prospect of having weaknesses exposed, the other plain reticent, but we agreed that the group would all take the Myer-Briggs Test.
“So that’s why you do that” and “That’s why you do it that way”. The scales fell from our eyes. As an ESTJ and an INTP we didn’t have a lot of common ground. The transition from right and wrong to just different was almost immediate, but we hit the jackpot once we realised that difference wasn’t just to be understood but to be celebrated. With abilities, motivations, styles, preferences et al marshalled, we covered every base and the business was a nicer, better, more successful place to be.
With the occasional hiccup we have now worked together successfully for almost 27 years. Myers Briggs has certainly played an important part in our lives at work.

Fabulous Private Breakfast at Google yesterday exploring ‘How the World’s most Innovative Companies Create and Sustain a Culture of Innovation’

on Thursday, 05 May 2016.

Fabulous Private Breakfast at Google yesterday exploring ‘How the World’s most Innovative Companies Create and Sustain a Culture of Innovation’

 WP 20160504

Great morning in May 2016 co-hosting a private breakfast for a number of our clients at Google’s St. Giles Offices in London where we discussed ‘How the World’s Most Innovative Companies Create and Sustain a Culture of Innovation’.

Partnering Consult HR Executive with my great friend Michael O'Keefe, MD of The Innovation Beehive – we were able to introduce some of our key HR clients, whilst exploring MOK's extensive insights into the world of innovation.

Our clients joined us from a range of organisations including Paypal, Home Retail Group, McDonalds, John Lewis, Colt Telecom, Trinity Mirror, La Salle Investment Management UK & US, White Stuff, Good Energy, Google and Rentokil.

This was a very lively, interactive, informative morning and certainly challenged our thinking about how HR & Marketing can really partner to ensure we create an innovative and engaging culture that reflects and mirrors our brands external positioning. This will allow us to ensure we attract and retain the most creative minds in the market and release their expertise to allow growth, change and continued success.

Our busy morning was followed by a tour of Google's most iconic offices.

If you would like more information regarding either Consult HR Executive or the Innovation Beehive do call me on 07979-244195 or drop me an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Supporting Cancer Research UK

on Tuesday, 05 January 2016.

Supporting Cancer Research UK

IMG 4404 sweb

We are delighted to continue supporting Cancer Research UK in terms of their HR recruitment but also proud to announce that Emma Crichton, one of the consultants looking after CRUK, completed the fund raising run and plans to do the same again this year.

Consult-HR 25th Anniversary Bash at the Tower of London

on Friday, 16 January 2015.










Tower of London - Consult-HR 25th Anniversary Celebration

Around 100 people enjoyed our 25th Anniversary celebration at the Tower of London. It was a very special occasion on the day after Armistice Day with the poppies in full view under the lights - spectacular!

Read some of the emailed comments that our guests so kindly sent:

Sheila and Nigel,
Well done on steering Consult through over 25 years – an achievement in itself in our turbulent times!  You have always provided a consistently high client service, and have been the most ethical organisation to deal with.  In essence, you have been and still are my ‘most admired’ recruitment consultancy.  I wish you both and your staff a most successful 2015.
With my best wishes,
Mike Pearson

Dear Nigel
I’d like to say it’s been a pleasure working with you over what must be too many years to count!( it can’t be 30!).  Your ability to spot HR talent in what is not always the largest  available field and what worked for our business … and me(!) is a credit to you. It’s been good to work with someone whose professionalism and skill is matched with their decency and good humour.
 Kind regards,
Paul Willis (retiring)
Divisional HR Director | Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK

Hi Sheila
25 years and a birthday! Thank you so much for last night and again for putting me in touch with Stephen. Fingers crossed with his coaching I grow the business.
What hit me last night was the obvious shared values that existed with the people you have built relationships with and their appreciation for your work. "One of a kind" was the message I heard along with "if Consult were to no longer exist it would the end of the an era of quality". Pretty special and to be treasured I thought.
All the best
Tracy Manning

Dear Sheila and Nigel
I just wanted to say thank you so much for such a wonderful evening at the Tower last night. The company, the surroundings and the atmosphere were amazing! I met some lovely people including your two partners and it was a testament to you both that everyone was so energised, interesting and such obvious fans of Consult!
I hope you both enjoyed it and look forward to maintaining the links for many years to come!
With best regards
Lucy Bolton
Global Employee Relations Director


Many thanks for you all for such a lovely evening in such an amazing venue, with such great people.
It was a great reflection of Consult HR  and the people you place.
Very best wishes
Jessica Long

What a wonderful evening last night and such a fabulous way to celebrate your 25 years in business. Thank you so much for inviting me, I really enjoyed it and last night’s success is a true testimony to what you have achieved.
I realise you will have lots of contact today (so no need to reply) though it was also an incredibly memorable evening with the poppies in place.
Best wishes
Sylvia Doyle

I just had to write to say thanks for a wonderful evening last night and congratulations on 25 years!
It was such a lovely evening and you looked fantastic. I felt so privileged to be at The Tower let alone at the time of the 'poppies' and to be with the lovely Scott too, so surreal.
I'll ring your assistant to get someone's contact details that I met last night - she didn't have a card and said it was okay. Maybe when we're both not so busy we can grab a coffee one day and catch up.
Thanks again and all the best to Consult.

Lynda Greenshields

Hi Sheila, I just wanted to thank you and Nigel so much for s great evening in a fantastic venue - lots of interesting chat and an opportunity to meet new people and catch up with old colleagues. 
Well done again on celebrating 25 successful years.

Kind regards
Cindy Peters

Good Morning Sheila
And Happy Birthday, I hope you have a most enjoyable day.
Thanks so much for allowing me to take part in Consult HR’s own birthday last night at the Tower of London.  What a cracking event it was and it was good to get some insight to the background of the Royal Fusiliers from Nigel Easton.  All in all a great night and, of course, I met some lovely people which is always the big takeaway.
Here’s looking to the next 25 years.
With kindest regards
Andy Gillham
Managing Director

Sheila/ Megan and team
What a lovely evening you hosted!  Thank you so much for the invitation.  It was great to network with some old faces and meet some new people too.  The venue was amazing and Tessa and got a special tour of the museum with Nigel!
Sheila I noticed you also have a birthday so many happy returns!
All the best
Heather Garrett

Hi Nikki
Unforgivably late, but I wanted to say thank-you to all at Consult for letting me join in the 25th celebrations.
Please could you pass on my thanks to Sheila, Nigel and everyone involved. It was a super evening. And a thank you too for the Colonel for the special tour of the museum.
Here’s to the next 25! (Although much as I love you all, I hope I’m long retired by then…otherwise I’ll be the one in the corner with zimmer frame and attendants.)
Best regards
Fiona McPherson

Megan - just to say thanks for organisaing the event so excellently - I suspect a lot of work went in to it on your part - it was great.
Many thanks
Malcolm Chew

Thank you so much for an amazing evening at The Tower of London - it was fantastic.  Well done on 25 years of Consult - just looking around the room you can see the great impact you have had.
MOK @mokbeehive

Thank you for the invite it was a fabulous evening.
Kind Regards
Julie Crabtree



Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - keep track of people moving jobs

on Friday, 08 May 2015.


Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - Catch up on where  Consult-HR  candidates are starting new roles:

Kathryn Bowe – Sunrise Senior Living – Resourcing Manager (comments from both client and candidate attached)

Jo Sharpe – Interim Resourcer and Lisa Briggs Resourcing Specialist - TUI

Bev Russell – Balfour Beatty  -

Katie Bradford – HR Associate and Agie Galea HRBP – Just Eat

Anneka Singh – Laing O’Rourke – Cadet Programme Manager

Barry Dow – Robert Dyas – Head of HR

Anthony Bishop – Head of HR and Keira Genesis – Resourcing Manager - Ryman

Ashley Messina – HR Manager – Academia

Sandra Groves – Interim HR Manager – CooperVision

Jan Muldowney – HRBP – RSSB

Emma McDermott – HRBP - Grunenthal

Mo Macdonald – Interim HRBP – Radian

Tracy Corney – Senior HR Manager – BOC

Eimear D’Arcy – Head of HR – Hitachi Rail

Sarah Wilding – HR Manager - Kenwood

Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - keep track of people moving jobs

on Monday, 23 November 2015.

Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - keep track of people moving jobs

Consult-HR Movers & Shakers - Catch up on where Consult-HR candidates are starting new roles:

Luke Webber, Resourcer at Client Server

Adrian Phipps, Interim HR Director at Cancer Research UK

Carl Akintola-Davies, Senior L and D Manager at Cancer Research UK

Lis Gleed, People and Change Manager at British Standards Institution

Rachel Lampkowski, EMEA Comp and Bens Manager at Paypal

Ola Allen, HR Business Partner at Land Securities

Sian Fisher, Head of Employee Services at Welsh Water

Sophia Cooper, Interim Resourcer at Balfour Beatty Rail

Sophia Raquel, Resourcer at RSSB

Bally Heera, HR Business Partner at RSSB

Angela Redstone, Consultant at Kane Partnership

Andrew Finnity, HR Business Partner at Tibco

Kate Holland, HR Manager at Quanta

Andy Cast, Head of HR Business Partners at University of Southampton

Paul Tulett, ER and IR Specialist at Hitachi Rail

Grace Roberts, HR Business Partner at Cobham Wireless

Laura Coleman, L and D Specialist at Hitachi Rail

Janine Sparks, Head of Reward at BOC

Deborah Odunsi, Interim HR Business Partner at Godiva

Helen Molloy, Associate HR Director at Astellas

Jim Lenga-Kroma, Cadet Programme Manager at Laing O’Rourke

Paul Taylor, Technical Trainer at Hitachi Rail

Sam Taylor, Learning Technologies Manager at Hitachi Rail

Heather Shaw, HR Advisor at Volkwagen

Lee Roberts, European HR Director at Astellas

Michele Russell, Interim Compensation and Benefits Specialist at Ordnance Survey

Lysha Busher, HR Business Partner at RSSB

Meha Meghani, Head of HR at RSSB

Belinda Lewis, HR Project Manager at Aldermore

Jane Tilford, HR Business Partner at Nestle

A 25 Year Testimonial from Ian Watkins - Senior VP& Chief HR Officer Mallinckrodt

on Thursday, 23 October 2014.

mallinckrodt   A 25 Year Testimonial from Ian Watkins - Senior VP  &  Chief Human Resorces Officer

Congratulations to Nigel and Sheila on reaching such a significant milestone for Consult. I very much regret that I will not be able to join you at the Tower, but I would like to take a moment to share some thoughts on working with you over the years.

Having been a candidate and a client there are two key outcomes that I would like to share. Firstly, I consider that the opportunities that you introduced me to as being pivotal in shaping my career, there is no question that you opened doors to opportunities that were foundational to my growth and success. And secondly, you have constantly demonstrated the ability to cut the "wheat from the chaff" delivering true value as a search partner with an ability to find real talent (in HR and Sales!!!). I consider you as the best in your field.

I truly wish that I could be with you to share in the celebration, have a glass for me!!

Thanks for your friendship and support.


Thinkers, Doers and Intelligent Sheep - third in a series of articles by Nigel Murray

on Wednesday, 16 July 2014.


Thinkers, Doers and Intelligent Sheep

Bear with me on this one. Living the work/life balance ethos that we wholeheartedly embrace at Consult HR, I was out for a lunchtime power walk when I passed a road called Shepherds Down. What with the Pythons back on stage, this put me in mind of one of my favourite sketches, “There’s nothing so dangerous as an intelligent sheep” where the intelligent sheep had led his followers up a tree and the backing vocal to the sketch was a metronomic “Plummet” (best West Country accent) followed by a thud as each sheep fell out of the tree and hit the ground.
School embedded in me the belief that intellectual intelligence was the most prized human asset; after all the brightest won the prizes and in the main got the leadership roles. So when I recruit the first thing I look for is some proof of mental agility, not that humbling intelligence one very occasionally finds in people, just some demonstration that the candidate can mix it with leaders with intellectual horsepower. Of course IQ is not the whole story and is best executed alongside those much more human attributes of emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence. But when you are fighting for resource you do need to be able to marshal your arguments and put together a concise and cohesive case.
I could go two ways with this. Misguided/ing leadership taking you down the wrong path or one of my favourite soap box subjects, Thinkers and Doers. No contest then.
I have another, equally unproven, long held belief that people are either Thinkers or Doers. This doesn’t mean that one cannot do the other, just that people have a preference and it helps if their role reflects that preference. I have been doing this job long enough to meet some thinkers with whom you would be loth to entrust a task (very few actually) and some doers for whom thought seems to be a step too far (sadly too many). In certain circumstances HR can be a bit of a talking shop, but in the main successful HR people are either Thinking Doers or Doing Thinkers. I’m sure we could get bogged down in the mire of high thinking/low doing, low thinking /high doing and all the permutations and put it in a grid but I like the keep it simple thing. The best Thinking Doers are great operationally and add value along the way. The best Doing Thinkers are visionaries and great leaders. And it is, generally, the best that we are all after.
From a career perspective does it impact on the generalist versus specialist debate? Some people straddle the two with assured ease, but I see the generalist as someone whose job is to help a business run often in the commercial hurly-burly and the specialist as someone who revels in taking part of the whole and going deep to make it good, better or different.
So if you are a Thinking Doer, which choice would you make? Of course it might depend where you are in terms of emotional or spiritual intelligence. Or are you better off just choosing an organisation where you are at one with the culture? Simple? Not on your life. That’s the joy of HR recruitment.
Nigel Murray is one of the founding partners of Consult HR and leads the Consult HR Executive practice. Over the last 10 years he has a 100% track record of delivering assignments, 97% of those he has helped to hire have spent at least 2 years in role and over 60% of them are still with the businesses that hired them.
This is the third article in his series “Observations from Offstage” garnered from 35 years of finding great HR talent.

Linking Reward & Talent - How can this help you engage Talent?

on Thursday, 05 June 2014.

It's not all just about money!

RewTal             Linking Reward & Talent

Much effort and energy has been focussed on a number of areas that have developed in HR over the last decade; Talent Management, Comp & Ben, Reward, Employee Engagement and so on. Sylvia Doyle who is Managing Consultant at Reward First has been working in the area of Reward Management with her clients for many years. From the lively discussion that went on at this two hour seminar there is a thirst for developing the link between Reward and Talent and a desire to share experiences. 

Taking the big picture, there are three main drivers at work; Globalisation, Rhetoric (do employees really believe a CEO when he says “people are our greatest asset”?) and shifting demographics (employees entering the workforce today have very different expectations than those already in the workforce).

The World at Work Survey (2012-2013) questioned 1605 employers and found that 72% have difficulties attracting critical-skill employees, 50% report challenges retaining them and 43% have problems attracting diverse employee populations. They also found that establishing an effective Employee Value Proposition (EVP) lead to three times as many employees reported feeling engaged by their employer than those with a poor EVP.

When Sylvia mentioned that she found most companies have Talent and Reward in disconnected silos a ripple of recognition went around the room followed by the shared experiences of the difficulty in integrating the two. In particular, avoiding the trap of seeing Reward as mainly about money and the difficulty of senior managers to recognise that what they wanted at the start of their careers is not what generation “Y” now seeks.

The linking of Reward and Talent is not an easy journey for companies to embark on but an integrated approach can lead to the design and development of an overarching Employee Value proposition (EVP) that in itself leads to engaged employees and a direct impact on the bottom line. EMEA findings have shown that companies that achieve this are five times more likely to have engaged employees and twice as likely to achieve financial performance over their peers.

Our sincere thanks to Sylvia Doyle and the participants of the seminar for making this an interactive and valuable insight to where we are with Reward and Talent integration. You can find Sylvia’s full presentation here and the survey she references here.

Global Top Five Total Rewards Priorities

on Monday, 19 May 2014.

rewprior        Reward Priorities 

This is a really interesting survey from Deloitte looking into the top five priorities for Total Reward globally.

- Aligning Total Rewards  with business strategy by attracting, motivating and retailing employees

- Healthcare costs and other non-cash benefits

- Motivating staff when pay is under pressure

- Demonstarting ROI on reward expenditures

- Creating reward structures that reflect the culture and goals of the organisation

Read the full report 

Problems Attracting & Retaining Key Critical Skills?

on Tuesday, 25 March 2014.

Balancing employer and employee priorities

critskill    Attracting Key Critical Skills

This is an interesting article on the global talent management and rewards study 2012-13. It is produced jointly by the World at Work (professional body for reward in the US) and Towers Watson.

Despite the 2012-13 timing of low growth in some parts of the world then it found that companies are:

$1·         Experiencing difficulty attracting and retaining the high potential and critical-skill employees necessary to increase their global competitiveness

$1·         Almost three in four organizations report difficulties attracting critical-skill employees, and more than half report difficulties retaining them


HR - The Corporate Chameleon - second in series of articles by Nigel Murray

on Wednesday, 19 March 2014.

    HR – the Corporate Chameleon

It’s a complex role HR. Ask almost any senior executive what challenges them more consistently than anything else and I bet they will say “people”.

That’s good in that it should put HR right at the centre of those conversations and as a result in a position of influence. But it is a heck of an undertaking when you consider the range of circumstances, behaviours, personalities, emotions, cultures and geographical locations that can be involved, sometimes in the same week, sometimes even in the same day. Some of the issues or situations may be on the agenda and planned for, some may erupt in the moment, others may be completely left field. Each one will need to be managed and that’s where I think it gets interesting – and skilful – in the reaction.

So does that make HR a Jack of all Trades, all things to all people? Not a bit of it.

As a senior HR executive, there is an expectation that not only will you get things right but also in the right way. You are, after all, the people person, the rule maker, the face of the business, the custodian of its values and the ambassador for the leadership team, so if you don’t get it right it’s almost certainly your fault!

But that is already a lot of parts to play (to some extent beyond the day job) requiring many skills and often with no time for rehearsal. My point is that good HR people get their reaction right lots of the time, but it is yet another example of how culture fit is so fundamental to great HR. Your chances of finding the right reaction and being both authentic and credible are in direct proportion to the depth to which you identify with the mission and values of the business and of the leadership team. If you do, your responses can be natural. How empty it can sound without that belief; a bit part player merely reciting lines.

If you compare HR with the other professional functions, it is quite clear that the complexity quotient is much higher in HR and as a result demanding of a wider range of skills, some of which are not even clearly identifiable. Any role that requires you to be subtle but also direct, facilitative but also directive, gentle but also assertive, empathetic but also hard nosed, supportive but also challenging and demanding could leave you feeling dizzy. So hats off to those who demonstrate these skills week in week out and why would you want to be a Chief Exec when you already have such a stage on which to perform.

Finally, to my recurring theme. Hiring great HR people requires an understanding of what great HR people do; what skills they have and how they apply them. Then you have a chance of assessing the impact they will have on your client’s business performance.

Nigel Murray is one of the founding partners of Consult HR and leads the Consult HR Executive practice. Over the last 10 years he has a 100% track record of delivering assignments, 97% of those he has helped to hire have spent at least 2 years in role and over 60% of them are still with the businesses that hired them.

What Makes a Great HR Director? - first in a series of articles by Nigel Murray

on Thursday, 09 January 2014.

Independence Rules!

   Great HR Directors – Independence Rules

So what makes a great HR Director?

Talk to most people about HR and they’ll rattle off a list of functions that HR has to fulfil; recruitment, training, union negotiations, pay, policy. The more knowledgeable might add talent management, reward, organisational development or employee engagement.

Depending on the scale of the organisation, many or all of these functions are critically important, but how many of them are essential to being a great HR Director?

In the core strategic areas of HR, ie reward, talent and succession, leadership development, organisational development and increasingly change management, most HR Directors will have some specialist help, perhaps from Group, perhaps from Shared Services, perhaps from one of their direct team or failing all else from external consultants. Whilst there is no doubt that each of these areas is an important part of the HR agenda, it could be argued that the crucial role for the HR Director is to have identified the need for an intervention or programme, scoped with and briefed the specialist, gained agreement on an outline plan with the leadership team and set the budget.

Lots of HR Directors would want to be much more involved, but it does give some credence to the concept that HR Directors don’t have to be HR people.

So what is it, if you strip away the functional competencies, that great HR Directors do?

First and foremost, if you are going to sit on a leadership team, you must be business savvy, a strategic thinker with vision and able to assess risk.

You cannot be a great HR Director without being a (or even the) trusted adviser to the CEO, a relationship that puts HR at the heart of the business agenda and gives the HR Director influence and licence to make a difference. The CEO benefits from an objective sounding board and the knowledge that only important issues will get on radar.

Next comes the tricky bit, because the HR Director is also the glue that holds together the leadership team, often as Coach to other members and sometimes their conduit to the CEO. That close relationship with the CEO doesn’t necessarily foster openness and trust with fellow direct reports and this is where the independence kicks in; great HR Directors are seen to put personal power aside, do what is right for the business and stand up against vested interest. There can be no doubt that a fully functioning, cohesive leadership team is a prerequisite for optimum business performance.

Having nailed the relationships with the CEO and the rest of the leadership team, the great HR Director also provides inspirational leadership to the HR team so that other HR people create relationships of the same nature at different levels throughout the organisation.

So there we have it; trusted adviser to the CEO, coach to peers, inspiration to reports and enabler of the business mission and vision. I’d call that organisational effectiveness, making the business hum, getting the best out of people, teams and departments.

It is a complex role, enabling people above, beside and below in the organisational structure to succeed in managing their part of the organisation well. Truly a “corporate chameleon”. Is this why so few HR leaders become business leaders? Rather than a generic lack of leadership capability in HR, does an accomplished HR leader just have different skills from a business leader and one does not easily lead to the other? 

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