Clare Babbage has recently joined the growing A-HA team as one of our newest Principals, bringing with her a depth of experience that spans the Government and NGO sectors in Australia, NZ and the UK. A bit of a maverick, she grows organisational capability by using her skills in facilitation and behaviour change to create new norms in Culture, Leadership + Diversity. Read more about Clare in her own words...
"I grow organisational capability by using my skills in facilitation and behaviour change to create new norms in Culture, Leadership + Diversity." - Clare Babbage, Principal
First a little bit of fun, can you describe in six words or less what you do (without using your job title)
I create growth through change.
How did you get started in HR? And what attracted you to the profession?
My first HR experience was as a Manager, HR was a key part of my role and I loved it! I particularly enjoyed recruitment, organising professional development programs and facilitating training as this was a way of connecting with my most valuable resource – our Team. I have also lead some service wide change processes and by the time I had finished my first one I was hooked. I have always been fascinated by why people do what they do and HR became a way of me staying connected to my Psychology background in a Leadership role.
What’s been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
My greatest achievement is a personal one. I had the opportunity to attend a Leadership course in Sydney when I was living in Auckland. Completing this and putting into practice the adaptive leadership strategies I learnt has been my biggest achievement. Shifting my own practice from Management to Leadership, working more collaboratively with others and being able to engage with opposing points of view more productively is something I’m proud of. It has been a huge help to my practice as a facilitator, change agent and general people manager.
What do you think could be done differently within the current HR space?
One of the things that I’m interested in is supporting organisations to embed their values in their HR processes. What does it mean to do that and how does it improve the employee experience? Organisations often look at their values as outward facing but employees engage better when they are also inward facing and act as a framework for everything we do.
Any HR words of wisdom?
Recruitment at all levels of an organisation is a key process to get right. Don’t just roll out the same old advertisements, be specific about the skills and potential you are looking for and research how best to attract the people you are looking for to apply for the role. Then get your onboarding right – that includes setting the expectation that feedback is part of the culture and then make sure you provide it — it will save you a lot of trouble later on. More and more it’s becoming a job seekers market so we have to be creating the right organisational environment to attract the right talent. People are less likely to take any job— they want the right job and we need to be mindful of that.
Why do you believe HR is essential in 2017?
I think HR has a hugely important role in the workplace going forward as it has a unique position of working across existing internal barriers. They can support collaboration by bringing the right people together and facilitating that process. They have a more neutral position and can take on that role where others in an organisation may struggle.
I believe bringing people together to work in new ways is going to be a key element of successful business going forward and HR will be key players in that shift.
What do you think are the key challenges and trends for HR in the Not For Profit space?
There are two that I think are key in the NFP space. One is ensuring that all HR policies and practices are in line with accreditation requirements. Each organisation is different but acquiring the Rainbow Tick or aligning Governance Policies with new requirements can be challenging to long standing values and practice.
The other one is the shift from output to outcome measurement as this requires a new set of skills both on the frontline and in existing teams such as Finance. NFP organisations need research skills and new IT skills to be able to manage and effectively use the data they have for reporting and making changes to service provision. These two changes will bring new recruitment, culture, D&I and leadership challenges for the NFP sector.
What HR trends do you see emerging within Culture, Diversity & Inclusion or Leadership that you see having a big impact for Australian organisations?
I think the impact of the ageing workforce and the integration of Millennials into the workplace is a trend that will impact on the existing challenges we face with Organizational Culture, D&I and Leadership. Organisations are going to have to work out how to spread the Leadership role throughout their organization if they are going to engage Millennials in the workplace and keep them for any length of time. This is a challenge to the status quo and requires significant changes in the allocation of authority, delegation and decision making that are tricky to negotiate. The upside is that done well these changes are going to improve an organisations culture, diversity, inclusion and leadership across the board and have a significant positive impact on the bottom line.
What does the future of HR look like to you?HR in the future will be less about processes and more about people, it’s going to be about creation not firefighting. Organisations are going to realise that their HR department is key in implementing emerging research which positively impacts on their social impact, turnover, reputation and marketshare. Getting this right is going to make all the difference in a future with a predicted labor shortage and highly mobile workforce.
What’s been the strangest thing (workplace practice, conversation, behaviour etc) you’ve encountered so far?
The oddest thing was the disciplinary process which included a potential warning for taking porridge into a meeting. Why that was included is still a mystery to me and the fact that they never actually took the porridge into the meeting just makes it even more puzzling.