Episode 4: Liz Lovell from Osborne Clarke

Liz Lovell from Osborne Clarke



J: In terms of HR resources and education I guess is your like do you have some educational background like certifications in HR?

L: So I don't, but a lot of people do so. So now my background, I studied history at degree level and travelled and did all that great stuff after university and then I started like my graduate career as a PR consultant, in a PR agency as a lot of people did back then it was kind of a burgeoning thing, as lots of young people going into PR. Did that for a few years, kind of got to sort of, a manner that you, know sort of, a manager sort of status in a few years but realized that I'm much more interested in some more of the fundamental bits around running the business rather than actually being the person who was kind of earning fees, dealing with the clients, dealing with the media and stuff so I transitioned, I was very, I was very lucky in sense because I had really good relationships at the place I was working so they wanted an interim HR manager to look after things during a maternity cover and they asked me whether I would do that because I knew I had an interest and I had knowledge of the business and relationships within the business so my route into HR wasn't kind of traditional. In that I went in with no experience at manager level and it was a very small business so I was kind of stand-alone had like one other person that I could work with. And then when I kind of moved on sort of further in my career, you, I think you get to a point where some of those qualifications are kind of eclipsed by your experience so I kind of amassed experience more than I did kind of a textbook education and there's lots of things that, lots of course is out there that are really great, so the CIPD is one you'll be I'm sure aware of and you can do that, you know, from having absolutely no knowledge of HR whatsoever and a lot of people now if they want to go into HR that's that's what they do they kind of go out do their certain grades in their CIPD. There's also degrees you can do in masters but you can doing in HR management, but I've sort of never really got around to it and then you get to a certain position where, you know, I would actually got I've got enough experience now that I'm not really sure what that's going to give me so my attention and moves on so kind of how do I develop myself in other areas like, you know, diversity and inclusion these part of my remit and something I'm really interested in so actually what can I do in that space rather than having any actual solid HR experience, you'll probably find the majority of HR people have studied something whether that's something in degree or whether they've done CiPD

H: Have you done your CIPD?

L: Nope.

H: So were there any initial resources that you used when you started out in your first HR role or you had someone that you worked with, did you use anything else to sort of, learn the ropes to build HR strategy?

L: So, not a huge amount, but there's, there's a lot out there like Google becomes your friend massively doesn't it when you're in a position that you and… I think I know what to do and things I need to think about, I know I'm going to ask people and that's what bombards you with, okay the quality might be varying but it sort of stimulates the mind doesn't it. So I I think, you know, I remember having to do a redundancy consultation, you know, at this place where I was, you know, I'm tested as an HR manager, so it's just an awful lot of desk based research of, you know, kind of going a case of what what does the law say, what does what other sources of information can I find that will help me to design something that is both legally sound and will work for the business. I went into HR a long time ago now I mean, 15 years so... but yes so, you know, that actually there wasn't a huge amount of software out there there wasn't a huge amount of resources it was, you know, there was a CIPD and there were other organizations that you could look and the media, so HR magazines and stuff like that was also a good source of stimulation but now this, you know, there's so many more things on offer that you can develop your knowledge and all that knowledge in as well .

H: Would you say that your experience is, that in, some cases such as yourself, like, experience is valued over getting the CIPD qualification?

L: I think it's a personal opinion and the reason I've not gone for the CIPD is because I personally don't see the value in it, that's not to devalue it. I think if I if I've done it 10 years ago, you know, maybe earlier than that, then that would have been really helpful I didn't and I don't think. So for me I would always value, so I would never actually put in a job ad for someone working for me that they need to be CIPD qualified because hypocrisy is one thing, and but also I would much rather speak to somebody understand how they think, what they're interested in and what experience they've got, what skills they have, because HR is not rocket science, you know, how do you become a good HR person and you become a good HR person by knowing your business really well and being else have great relationships and yes of course you need to understand the law, you need to understand, you know, kind of business as a whole very more first thing to say but, you know, you need to have a commercial mindset. Do you need to be,., you know, do you need to have come through an academic HR background? That's a personal opinion you can be fine plenty of others who'd say yes… you know, absolutely want to see somebody with it.

J: Thanks, thanks for sharing it because I think it looks like I've been doing research I think I've been seeing a lot of like mirrors like what you're saying where it's like the qualification is more or less like secondary but especially, I guess like, the two kind of sides of HR, with a psychological base where it’s like, what's can we do here to improve here and thats an area where your experience, like what you’ve done in the past, how you can bring more ideas to the table are more important than ‘have you studied for this test?’.

L: I think I've always had a little bit of them I'm cautious around something like the CIPD, you know, they're kind of it's a trade body and it does have a good purpose but, you know, are they at the cutting edge of, of innovation… probably not and so they're useful resources but, you know, how innovative are they in fact. And I think it's they are they are useful pillars, I've used things like they've got and that the profession that the CIPD profession that, you know, when I've been talking to teens about how we develop and, you know, how we kind of, you know, develop ourselves our skills and how we make sure we're all working at the highest level our ability it's useful to have those things to refer to. But they're not, not changing of their backing up things you already think if you don't mean they're not worth changing a little perspective very much.

J: So in that respect and you don't have to show any bias as we are a software vendor but so if like bodies like the CIPD are like not necessarily the cutting edge do you see a group, or a company, or like another body that like is pushing or advancing HR to like what's next?

L: I don't see necessarily a body or a group, I think where have I seen most innovative stuff kind of most recently, and it will tend to come out of the broader business press like things like a Harvard Business Review or Forbes or, you know, like it's something that is business focused, but it has a people angle to it because, you know, that's all HR is. How do you how do you succeed as a business using your your people, you know, that you have? So I've seen so I think that that could be quite influential and and what you'll normally find there is cues on other things to look at within the the press so, you know, they will highlight other organizations that are doing exciting things like, you know, often big organizations with very deep here that will be able to kind of innovate in a way that perhaps smaller organizations wouldn't. And there's some individuals that I really like as well so there's there's a lady called Lucy Adams, I’ve got a complete mind blank now, but I think it's Lucy Adams, who she was a former HR director for the BBC you wouldn't necessarily think that's a particularly innovative organization but she, she wrote a book ‘HR Disrupted’ and she does podcasts and blogging, and her approach is that it's not about this is HR that we're creating an HR profession it's about like what's HR here to do, and, you know, she takes it from a very business perspective it and often just asks some of those big questions that we can get quite caught up in your own kind of minutia of the job that you do and then sort of release the perspective on actually what is it we're trying to do here.

H: Is that part of the disrupt HR seminar series with the meetups, does she set those up, that sort of a byproduct…do you go to those?

L: Do, you know, what I don't much no and but, you know, probably should do more. But it's stuff like that I think things that can just stimulate your mind on broader issues and rather than thinking about the day-to-day issues are more valuable to me but there's a good network here of HR professionals that get together a lot there's a an organization called a ‘HR in law’ and again that's not going to be necessarily innovative body but what it does do is it enables you to just learn from other people and so those were always quite valuable. Well she just meets up sort of month or whatever they tend to have probably every other month and it's going to be topics and then, you know, each law firm will host and we'll try and do something that kind of gets the creative juices going any people thinking differently but it's good stuff, good opportunity so that if you're if you've got a challenge you've got somebody else who works in the same sector they you go, have you come across this like what did you do to approach what's worked with you, what hasn't worked, so those things are more like about road testing I guess innovating. I'm not sure if that I don't see a body as such that I'll kind of go ‘oh ’, but there are a few places where I look.

H: And as for you're 15 years experience within the HR industry what sort of like major changes have you seen over that period?

L: So I think everything's kind of cyclical is the thing that you pick up like, and HR a kind of a good place for fads as well so, you know, everyone, we've seen a cycle of people kind of go appraisals and performance grading yes what we must do, and then no we're not going to do that anymore at all. cyclical in the things that are important and on the radar, I think some really interesting trends most recently are much more around remembering that this is a people profession and I kind of talk about is like always re-humanizing things up a little bit so things that are driving HR agendas and business agendas now that weren't, you know, five, six years ago will be diversity, inclusion well-being, things that are focused on people and experience and, you know, recognizing diverse talent that we've got access to the business. I think those are really positive trends, I think other trends are driven by kind of technology the way in which we're working, like we're all working for sure we're working I would say probably at a higher pace, but I think we're less productive so I don't I think that's borne out by kind of be the economics are productivity is pretty low in the UK, yet we work for longest hours, so I do feel that was that's only been a trend that's the case 15 years ago, but I think that's something that, but and therefore probably why we're countering it with focus on things like well-being, mental health but being always on who's got

H: And what sort of, what sort of measures have Osborne Clark put in place for this sort of less productivity that's come?

L: We take or do small hours and I think the first reform is for us we've got a really strong culture about that, like we, culture is absolutely king here and so we don't operate in a way that that forces people to work very hard as well but they're doing that in a supportive environment. So the environment in which people operate and making sure the people who work here, you know, have sort of shared values is really, really important. But also practical things like so we've recently signed up to the ‘mindful business charter’ which is a something that Barclays and their legal teams came up with but recognizing that as a law firm it's a client and and advisor type relationship, there's a power dynamic there so Barclays realized that there's they have a role to play in preserving the well-being and the people working in their law firms. And actually it's beneficial for the Barclays they'll get a better product at the end of it they'll be better at legal advice if the people that are working in not burning out. Basically so there's, there's practical things like that that they're kind of help us think about how do we and it is really practical that it's it's things like, you know, thinking about if you all having to work out of hours how you make sure that you're not creating a culture that other people with more duty than you were thinking all they're doing that so it's about kind of just really cutting on that unnecessary level of stress because there must be at a certain level in any work and yes it's a culturally important really practical things that we can do. And we also have lots of sort of interventions that help people to take time out so we offer, you know, yoga and pilates in here that people come in and do that mindfulness sessions as well so I think it's about creating a culture that says, you know, we value well, you know, health matters to yes rather than just your time.

H: Have you implemented any technology to help you as part of that process?

L: We've been looking at, we've been looking at lots actually, and there's a lot of people working in this space. We haven't implemented technology at the moment and will we in the future... not sure we're about to revisit our well-being strategy and as part of that as we define kind of what the strategy will look like for the next few years. There's a question there to kind of go or actually what tools do we need to help people so at the moment because we do things like annual health check so we have data and for people who have those health checks we also have a usage data on things like, you know, gyms and the yoga and pilates and all that sort of stuff and but we don't have anything more sophisticated. We've looked at, you know, working with headspace for example to do that there's other apps out there that will help people to live kind of healthier lifestyles. To be honest I don’t think any of them feel quite right, and I think it's much more behavioral than it is technology, you've got to have your behaviors right to then get the right tool, you know, I think you just put a tool in they're not going to work.

H: Are there any specific areas which you are sort of like, researching what tools could be used to tackle those areas?

L: So we've had a few meetings with providers of I guess platforms where you can put all of that stuff in and you can encourage people to set goals and things as an individual not really as a firm saying people help the goals but, you know, they can do it themselves they can track their progress so like, you know, you've got it but, you know, into a whole heap of other data that can help give you a view of what we'll actually, what changes could you make during the working day to improve your health and well-being or highlight some things that perhaps are causing you problems you might not be aware of. So we've been looking at some of that, as I say headspace looking at, you know, just just happy about what people can, you know, have membership so you can go and did that mindfulness, you know, themselves. But there's so much on the market, we will always start with human first to think about what we need rather than what's…

H: The one I came across is the business, but I was speaking to this guy he was a business coach and one of these things is get teams to do this system called a team tuning, which you can use it without an app, which I personally love is way you just like…. you have a team at the start of the day, you just each have I don't know like a pen on the table and you just start tapping and everyone one by one people were just like join in and by the end, you know, someone's singing like they're like mini orchestra for the first five minutes of the day to get everyone in tune

L: I know a few people in my team that would love that and a few people who would absolutely hate it. We had in previous places I've worked, and, you know, like always making sure you start our meeting with an emoji. How are you feeling today, what's your emoji, things like that just help people to be themselves.

H: Something about the British culture, how you feeling at the start… fine. How are you feeling at the end… I'm still fine.

L: We've been doing more of that kind of and not specifically within the HR space but more I guess internal comms space been doing more of that kind of instant feedback stuff. So in firm meetings, you know, kind of big people being able to submit their questions in real time, you know, through an app and stuff, all being able to vote instantly to give you a happy face or whatever r it might be, you know. We're just doing and just launching again and engagement so they haven't done one appeared for that for four years apparently and I've been here just under a year. So we're doing that again and that'll be quite nice again, it's just a, it's a standard interaction on an online survey as you'd imagine but with instant dashboards for management so, you know, essentially as soon as that survey closes bang, you know, there's this information of their fingertips.

J: So can, can we delve a little bit more into that in terms of the data and reporting side of HR and I guess, if you see any cons of that and we can start with the pros, like, how that's like helpful useful and if there's any from your side or like perceived like cons?

L: So I'm, I'm quite like data, I’m a little bit of a geek I suppose and I really love that and in places that I've worked I've tried really hard to make sure that we get the right data, because most places I'd like to have not been particularly data me and this has been a big in terms of trends actually that's what I've been, been one of the biggest trends in recent years is people analytics is, you know, kind of and whether that came from, you know, the right place or whether it was about, you know, what we need to compete with finance we need to have proof return on investment I'm not entirely sure but I think it's a positive thing and we're working here at the moment on our dashboards because at moment we don't have very much kind of really good usable data, we've got a lot of data but it's not presented in the format that you can really tell a story. The impact that we kind of need the data to have. So I think it's really beneficial in the sense of it's, you know, it's spots issues that you don't know, you wouldn't spot with kind of a naked eye I suppose and I think everything that we do should be evidence-based and, you know, therefore we should be asking questions and using data to kind of say well actually this is this, these are the problems we're trying to solve what these are the opportunities we can take, you know, so I'm big fan of using data but it's how you use it and I guess I get more cautious when I start talking to people about AI and automatic decision making and stuff which we don't use here at all. So I think there's a place for AI in terms of taking routine tasks and automating routine tasks and enriching people's jobs as a result of it know people who are they're doing that kind of thing kind of actually how can we take that away and how to enrich people's jobs that they've got more variety. I think you're always going to want a human eye over the data to interpret the data to tell the story and so that's the con, you know, that I guess not not cause it's a it's a potential watch out for data in that I think data is only one part of the story often when you get some data back it's answered half a question for you. So like engagement all the stuff that we're about to do we'll get this back and it will show us some really interesting things it will show us, and really positives, it will show some things that we're surprised that they're negative but we won't know why and we need to know why to them to kind of, you know, just knowing what the problem is doesn't help you solve it so right that's why I think you need those kind of human interactions as well so the data can set up tell you what sort of questions you should be asking, what sort of things you should be focusing your time on certainly the level of sophistication I put in my data that's that's where I'm at but it's no substitute for then having the conversation with me or say well why did why do people feel that way, what do we think is the solution because there are usually multiple reasons why a bit of data is showing you and we can make data to make assumptions.

J: I think that was a perfect answer, that not necessarily like a con in terms of like why we shouldn't be doing it, but why there is occasionally some caution and like maybe even like some apprehension from an employee standpoint in terms of monitoring or like how how's information about me being used sure?

L: Exactly I'm not highly tech savvy at all I'm not one of these people that will be at the, you know, early adopter but I see the benefits but I'm cautious in the sense of I think you lose, you know, if you lose the human from it then you're losing it in a more nuanced way. I'm sure the computers will get there they would definitely get there.

J: I was like think about how it's like for example caring about a tool I'm not even sure like where where it's like from now but it's basically using even like your home address it's like plug into a formula that would basically spit out, you know, if you're living X miles away that factors into your like potential like leave or stayover like the long term. It's like using using like all kinds of like information it's like gathered on employee to say like like maybe we should like to watch out for this person or maybe we should like do this to do that I think that's an area where could be it I guess like a bit scary perspective .

L: It feels really big brothery for some people doesn't it and I think we're in that really interesting time where we happily given our data to people and it's now all gosh should we have given our data like while they're going to do with it, you know, I think, I think the, you know, that that's that's quite enlightening for a lot of people now isn't it that people are thinking ‘oh god should I be quite willingly sharing my data with these organizations?’. And I think so it's not that example they're, you know, absolutely like you could get, you know, you've got an algorithm that says, you know, people who live X number of miles away from the office or their commute it's going to take this amount of time, you know, they might be more prone to leaving us after a certain period of time or whatever, you know, you could do all that with you stuff what are you going to do with that information because the information is only needful if you're going to do something with it and actually whilst you could say to a manager, you know, actually like that managers job is to engage with Pete, know whether the commune's getting him down or not to be able to have that kind of, you know, conversation that says well actually the computer doesn't need to tell me either Pete's commute a bit crap because I know that Pete's not great and I know it's getting him down and actually I've arranged for him to work from home a bit and, you know, or whatever it might be. Good management is what we need in that situation not an algorithm anything that tells you these people are at risk, you know, everyone's got a manager. There's loads that data can give us and technology will, you know, become ever more important in what we do of course it will and but we're a people profession and that's so actually more and more we come back to basics of, you know, why do people leave organizations all the others multiple factors often it's got a lot to do with their manager, you know, you like the stats show that actually most people that I like the job and I think so, you know, the interactions you have with people are so fundamental to how much you how much you enjoy your job I think that's, that's where we would put our focus first.

J: I think it seems like a lot about proximity to so, you know, as an employee I'm having these direct conversation with my manager I'm not talking to HR like every day, so in some respects that that manager becomes like the face of the company and like your impression and that how do you feel that as a whole even though obviously there's a lot more people like working and like, you know, tough question then the relationship between human resources and I guess, management as a whole so like whether it's like, maybe line managers are like any like influence or like strategies like make sure that, you know, the individual managers working with people out there are I guess supporting and like promoting like the culture that you have, or like being good good advocates of, you know, management as a whole?

L: So I've never worked in an organization that hasn't struggled with this because like people are people and they have varying levels of ability, you know, and no matter where I've worked it's been one of our key kind of objectives as HR is how do we improve the manager capability to make sure that the people experiences really good so have I, could I put my hand on my heart and say this is what works…no. Because there are a lot of people are people and, you know, you will still have a varying level of ability of management but there are some really key things one you've got to take it seriously you've got to see that management is absolutely fundamental part of job it's not an add-on that you get because you're better, you know, I believe that lore is an example so you get promoted you progress through your because you're a great lawyer you're great with your clients you don't necessarily progress because you're a great team leader and that's the case in a lot of organizations. You'll be promoted because you become an expert at these things rather than having the skills to be a great leader so you have to value leadership skills in order to really encourage people to grow them. So what I've seen it's sort of done best, we were very clear on our kind of the importance of kind of people leadership and people management skills we were very clear and what our expectations were but it wasn't an add-on to your day job something you do when you've got a bit of time, this is you are employed to do this job and it's a fundamental part of your job and then really great support in terms of developing people to management is one of those things that it's not something you can really be many can be trained on of course you can be trained on but and you don't just turn up to a course and someone tells you this is how you manage people and you go away don't you ever know how to do that now it's not like a coding machine is it, you know, like it takes judgment and actually what you need to do with with managers you need to constantly work with them and help them to refine and hone their judgment because ultimately we are just talking about two human beings a manager and a director interacting, you know, and why should that be any more complicated than it would be out on the street when it's in an employment scenario, well actually there's lots of reasons why it's more complicated, but actually if you boil it down you need to give people the confidence to just manage human beings in a really human way. So giving people lots of support and development and getting them to think about management in, you know, in a very human way as well of the things that I've seen I think there's lots of, you know, there's lots of tools that have been trailed in that, you know, we've had sort of instant feedback things in previous walks of life, you know, and they're quite interesting but fundamentally, you've got to build the culture that supports feedback so to help work. Because if you if you just chuck a solution in without working on the behaviours going to people actually this isn't this is an environment where we thrive on feedback and make that part of if we day life then people won't engage with it.

H: And when it comes to communication what's sort of forms of communication do you use?

L: We're really relying on email here and it's a constant sort of bugbear of people here, you know, we are drowning in emails and yet what's the best way of hitting people with a message. So in terms of our internal communications we've got a number of different strands and email is definitely one but if we sort of take things from the top so we have, we have an intranet as you'd imagine obviously, and then information goes up there but also one of the main bits of our intranet is a social feed so it's not sort of a broadcast competence it's an engagement and actually I found that quite difficult to work with when I first got here, but it's pretty good in that it enables people to interact and share ideas and for everyone to see that I'm able to follow particular people that you're interested in what they've got to say on our exchange. So when you open up Internet Explorer that's what you see so you get kind of news and specific things but you also get this kind of social feed and it gets used, you know, if you follow a lot of people you get me fresh food a lot and be quite stimulating but often it's the same people using it and we do try and do a fair bit of face to face kind of communications they're getting leadership out in front of people so there's, you know, for meetings partner meetings and making sure that there is that sort of eye to eye contact and we're using more video than ever before as well in an attempt to get people to engage in stuff that needs to be broadcast in a different way. So one thing we did recently which was really powerful don't if you've heard of this is me campaign it's around mental health, so it's about kind of breaking down the stigma around mental health kind of saying okay this can happen to anybody and it doesn't change who I am sort of thing so it's just part of, part of who I am. So we did some video with a number of people here who shared, you know, really deeply, personal stories about their own mental health and, you know, again because of the nature of that video, you know, lots of people engage with that and we do find the people if you use video in the right way. It can be really impactful in terms of getting people to engage with a content with content that if you just have a link in an email to go in a good document they're probably not on a click through but it's not right for everything so it's a variety of channels that we use we've done some trials with things like Yammer, Workplace, no haven't tried workplace I think we've just been talking to clients about workplace and about, you know, how can we increase kind of collaboration and sort of communication across teams offices etc. But we've just been doing small trials at the moment.

H: We don't know that much about communication technology so to speak, we just use Slack…

L: When I worked at Dyson before here and a lot of those used Slack and it seemed very positive about it. Slack and Yammer were the two there that were being used the most.

J: I mean also like kind of tying back to like, I’m interested to see how the Facebook workplace goes,if people start adopting that because I think that's like relatively new, I guess like they're like total communication like team tool and I guess I envisioned some issues with people, maybe they want to keep work and personal life a little bit more in separately. And so it's like oh it's like a cool idea and like I'm they're obviously good at like communication and broadcasting but this is something that people are going to want to join it might be a part of and like have their work and like maybe their personal on the same kind of platform?

L: I think that some people will really struggle with that and I can see why, you know, I wouldn't, I’m not two different people, so I can see some real challenges with that so if one of my clients has been using it to be talking to them about using and they're very positive. But I think trust issues will be huge particularly now.

H: I don't know whether this is a thing with you focus new 15 years but I've recently I've been noticing just my friend was hired as one, but more companies are sort of bringing in create positions like team leaders and project leaders simply just to come in and lead a team. Has that always been around?

L: I think it's kind of an interesting one and because I think if you were to go back into like the 70s and the 80s but, you know, when people working in that sort of more industrial type of way you would have it is more of a sort of a manufacturing type of approach right, you know, you would have people doing the job, then you have someone overseeing the job and then you'd have the big boss, you know, at the top and I worked at the Financial Ombudsman Service for many years and that's aN interesting organization it's quite a public sector organization but grew massively because of PPI mis-selling so kind of exploded and we had because of, you know, not just because of that because of that massive expansion we're recruiting like thousands of people a year so we needed people to come in and manage those teams we were recruiting people that were doing one thing they were taking cases it was it was a detailed job, you know, but like they're doing one thing they took cases, they analyzed all the evidence, they gave a response to them to the case and we needed people who could manage the weight of the work so in that scenario we had, we had like team team managers and we had heads of casework who were very much just operational leaders, they were there to manage the work make sure we hit budgets and, you know, essentially manage the people very well. And that did work well given the challenge that that organization had with such a huge volume of work that was totally unexpected matter kind of triple in size over a number of about five years so ridiculous growth, but we also just before I was leaving we changed that approach so we then brought the operational management back into the technical management as well. Because what you had were people who were just operational managers and then you have the kind of the experts, the Ombudsman, who has the kind of technical knowledge and really in that business it wasn't because that model wasn't working it was because it was unsustainable in the future, so once the PPI mis-selling drops off we'll be able to afford to operate in that way and it wasn't sustainable so we have to bring the kind of technical expertise and the people and operational expertise back together in the one role. I think there's definitely a trend of needing more in the way of things like project management and people that come in and oversee big projects and the resources and it turns out, you know, absolutely I think if you're particularly in the legal sector that's going to be one of the big changes that we're all seeing but, you know, one that will continue for a number of years I think it better be we're not going to be just hiring loads of lawyers hiring in lots of very different skills. Whether or not you would hiring people just to manage people, you know, you've got to have a significantly big sort of span of control it's about the cost but, you know, are lawyers going to be always great to managing people if you could hiring people that were just great at managing people that's great but you then also got to balance in the fact that he put somebody he's just a great operational need without the technical excellence how do they help develop. There's not a perfect answer, I think we were saying to you that the definitely in terms of project management yes because most businesses are looking at that transformational change projects all the time there's just a constant, constant cycle of transformational change projects.

J: I think that's a great insight in like kind of like how there's always like them like a need for that I was going to say, I think I've seen it's like a lot of people just kind of like switching their names around a little bit maybe it's like a Silicon Valley thing but it's like you don't call your manager your manager. It’s the same thing we've always needed people to manage people, but it's like what are we calling them and like what capacity or they like working in.

L: I think that like as I said we're quite faddy and cyclical, you know, in the 70s and 80s 15h I was called personnel, in the 90s it made to be called HR in the naughties we’re the people team, you know.

H: That’s been a major trend in 2019 when it comes to HR is the employee experience platform so that’s been the buzz word recently.

J: I was always open to feedback I mean I think there's a lot of, you know, like research and like without, you know, knowing everything back to like when it was the personnel office. A relatively like recent take unlike this I think it's been like popping up and like more and more about the employee experience.

L: And every say, the last three jobs that I've had, and so that takes us back to probably about 20 - well say out seven years like that's been a main focus of, you know, what we talked about is obviously getting the job done it's like how we improve the people experience because, you know, that, you know, happy and engaged in their work and actually more and more businesses and being more altruistic as well just think that's the right thing to do. Not that kind of sense of what will do it because you'll give us more effort and it's great for us in our pockets, you know, there's obviously still a lot of organizations and absolutely I would say this wouldn't I've absolutely here, you know, that, you know, Ray our managing partner his mantra is I just want people to be happy. Which is why the culture is so great?

H: Do you guys still do hot desking here?

L: So, we, we do it's because this is quite an old building now it's not really set up for and for hot-desking particular so certain teams hop desk, but all are offices which in newer your buildings all have been recently refurbed.

H: One question we haven’t asked is one of our icebreakers… how many clones of yourself would it take to take down a lion?

L: So being an avid vegetarian from the time of being 10 and very much caring about animal welfare, I'm going to just I'm just going for one and hopefully get submission or just die. So I would never be able to take a lion down. I can't squash a fly or a mosquito.

J: You can you can take it down via hugs it doesn't have to be might.

L: If it was through hugs I think you need you'd probably need a good sort of 10 more of me. I was interviewed for innocent, you know, the smoothly like way back when, when they were quite small and I'd met them and had asked me to come in and I didn't get the job, so clearly it didn't go brilliantly but the weirdest question so one of the questions was can you tell me how many people you think travel through Heathrow Airport a day? But they just wanted to see how you think and what your head does.

J: Another question just quickly we don't have to talk about it but in terms of like cycles and like trends, do you see that is something that is like done in HR because I feel like for example like Google, I think they're like well known for having like a set of questions like… if you were the size of an ant and you're in a blender how do you get out that kind of thing? Because I do think there's a trend where we like oh like we want someone who can do XYZ versus you want someone who can like think particularly.

L: I think you see that in things like they like the gamification of interview processes as well, you know, I think people are, you know, rather than kind of can you totally things and they can you prove that you've done all the things that I need you to do in this job. I think there is much more of a trend of looking at potential, looking at the ways in which you approach that and tasks too and also, you know, using even psychometrics as well not as necessary selection tools we don't use them as selection tools here but, you know, thinking about okay if we have to point at this person what, what might we need to school them with all, you know, so there is there is a trend in terms of either trying to make the hiring process more scientific or to appreciate different things about the person other than what's written on their CV.

J: I guess that in some ways that maybe even ties into the diversity and like inclusiveness that we were talking about earlier where potentially… we have like certain questions that are maybe like easier like here and towards like, you know, certain people and if we can open up and say like, you know, we think this person can do this job even though they don't have a certain background to potentially get a real benefit from like having a more diverse workforce.

L: Absolutely and that's something we're really so at the moment we're still in that stage because the legal sector is still quite a unlevel playing field, you know, we're still at the stage where we're leveling the playing field rather than, you know, necessarily kind of seeing… because we're all different aren't we does it matter whether women, man, you know, whatever it might be we're all different we will have different perspectives different things we can bring to and that's what true diversity is is about kind of going well actually got identify the talents that we've all got individuals. And there's, there's really interesting things about saying that you using algorithms to identify people for roles so getting people to do a task using a particular algorithm to do identify who do you think is going to be best suited to the role. You’ve got to marry that we'll say with the pet that we've got, you know, to be mindful about people's neurodiversity so, you know, how does that work in terms of it might make it much more blind in terms of, you know, what somebody looks like but doesn't necessarily make it all blind in terms what they think like. We're still working all of that stuff aren’t we don't know.

J: One more thing and if you have to run them that's that's fine. But in terms of like trends and like things changing and like the workforce being different and no offense taken any, any answer is great, I saw like a great like image that was like stitched together of headline articles from newspapers about different things that Millennials are ruining and it was just a massive image and like the I mean the conclusions like ‘Millennials are ruining everything’ if you believe like, you know, newspaper headlines. So I understand that the people that you might be bringing in like maybe they have like a little more schooling especially in terms of like lawyers but, do you see any positive negative trends from like a younger workforce?

L: Yes, I think don't believe what you read in the newspapers first that's reform I think there's loads of positive trends from it so-called Millennials, you know. Because I think Millennials are more values-driven in their, in their careers at the moment like I think, you know, you're a generation that has grown up with equality legislation as the norm like that's the basis that's a given isn't it, you know. So whereas for other generations they've not they've had to go on that journey I suppose so I think I think some of the really positive influences of Millennials making up the majority of the workforces it kind of probably are now or it's very soon to is that it's forcing organizations to think about, you know, kind of how do we how to haves or business aligned with our peoples values as well because people will make choices about who they work for on the basis of the values of the top talent, you know, will be able to pick from a real multitude of brilliant organizations and they won't necessarily be chasing the top package. And I think you guys are definitely not like career, you know, there's no such thing as a job for life anymore so, you know, that that's gone. So people are not motivated in the same way the motivated by different things that may be thinking right well I'm going to have I'm going to have numerous careers during my working life and so we as a law firm, you know, always kind of a lot being a partner the law firm is obviously what everyone's aiming for and probably the majority of people who join but actually, you know, people are much, more nuanced than just one goal aren't they multiple goals, and actually I think Millennials demand their whole selves to be taken into account in work. And that's why I love the older generation think its entitlement. I see that as like a really positive thing in sort of bringing the human back into work and, you know, yes there are some things that you've seen where you kind of go never have gone into a workplace and behave like that, you know, because of that sort of sense of entitlement that you get. There are some drawbacks on that of course but actually I think I think it's really positive generally that the younger, younger people coming into work have got different expectations of what they're working life will look like, so I think that's great.

J: Everyone is like kind of like maybe like wanted, you know, it's like oh like we're like moving towards being able to like work from home and things like that it's like I think like my parents like my grandparents would have been like fine.

L: If we take a really macro view on this, you know, human beings haven't been operating in this way like we got the Industrial Revolution and then you've got the technological revolution like if you think of how we operate as humans, how it's changed over the last 250 years it's like seismic and, you know, so to kind of to have older generation going it’s wrong don't mean, you know, it's a flash in the pan, you know, it's like we we've, we've changed so much and so quickly and because of everything, you know, the industrialization technology, you know, the we all struggling to keep up I think. So I think there's a, there's a much bigger lens that we should be applying to change it in the workplace rather than just what we would have done this ten years ago.

J: Thanks very much. Very insightful.

L: I mean hopefully that’s sort of interesting and kind of fun to have those sorts of conversations.

H: Absolutely, thank you so much!

Episode 4: Liz Lovell from Osborne ClarkeLiz Lovell

Liz Lovell

Head of HR, Osborne Clarke

Ready to learn more?