In the third of our series of OrgDev Institute (ODi) interviews with leading Human Resource and OrgDev professionals, we asked Lee Carney seven questions.
Seven Questions With Lee Carney
Q1: ODi’s goal that drives everything we do is to ‘make the world a better place with happier, more productive people’. What are you most passionate about in your career and why?
Lee Carney: How we can create better synergies between our personal and professional lives that create benefits in both spaces. We spend such a significant amount of our lives dedicated to building and developing our professional selves that often times, it’s at the cost of our own personal development. If we could find a better equilibrium between home and work life, and industry has an important role to play here, then the benefits to our people in both facets, will be evident. A potential solution (which is not new but rarely utilised) is true workplace flexibility. Its not just about being flexible with hours (start early, finish early) but also giving people the power to choose when they work, where they work and how they work. For some, its autonomy and remoteness, for others, it’s a highly collaborative space with easy access to people, for some its late night, for others early mornings. The traditional 9am to 5pm simply doesn’t exist anymore yet our expectations on when people are expected to be the most productive is during these hours. It’s time we evolved our thinking on this.
Q2: What do you believe will have the biggest impact on HR in your industry in the next two years and why?
Your Industry Changes: Sustainable Food Sourcing
Lee Carney: Fostering true sustainable and ethical thinking and ensuring our company’s ways of working mirror this. Our parent company has created a vision where sustainable food sourcing is at the core and so the challenge to us is to ensure we can realistically and authentically replicate that across all levels of our business.
Impacts for OrgDev / HR: Bringing our people on this journey with us.
Lee Carney: challenging long established ways of working and ways of thinking can be extremely challenging and is not a quick process. People need to believe in the ‘why’ and the ‘what’s in it for them’ before they’ll not necessarily be convinced, but at least willing to hop in the car with us. ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Ethical’ are all buzz words that some of the early adopters rely on to market their business however for us, I see it slightly different. It really is about small sustainable changes that seek us to stop and reflect on what impacts these changes can have in a positive way, to our people and our planet.
Q3: What product / service would you most like to see available to help HR/OrgDev professionals?
Lee Carney: I think the HR market is pretty well covered and as such there is no one particular product or service that isn’t readily available however I am such a big advocate for opportunities to network amongst peers as a means of sharing knowledge, key learnings, experiences and improvements in the way in HR can continue to add value to business.
Q4: Many of us have similar challenges, what major challenge do you have that you would like to hear someone else’s experience in a similar situation, and how it unfolded.
Lee Carney: The challenge of continuing to add value as a business partner in a flat, lean environment. The weird dichotomy between being ‘strategists’ but also ‘operational’ becomes really challenging in a lean environment. For the most part, our teams get locked in the trenches with few opportunities (read, time!) to contribute to important management decisions, particularly when it comes to people.
Q5: What experience have you had recently that was a great learning for you (positive or difficult) that you would be prepared to share with peers?
Lee Carney: Oh, I am always learning! To be honest, the greatest learning for me over the last few months has been the very intentional and deliberate ‘slowing’ down to really hear our people and what their needs are. I learn most from those who sit outside of the executive team and mostly from my HRBP’s. They are at the forefront of ER issues in our business (good and bad) and are the best barometer on where the greatest need for us is. They are also the litmus test of how well (or not) our service delivery is to our business.
Q6: What’s the biggest challenge you’d like our audience to share their experiences of with you and why?
Lee Carney: Creating a practical learning framework in a business that has a geographically dispersed workforce.
Q7: What’s the best piece of wisdom you’d like to gift?
Lee Carney: It’s a bit of a cliché but to be honest, when I’ve had a hard day at work, I do remind myself “…and this too shall pass.” Great little boost when I cringe after saying the wrong thing, or messing something up. Life goes on, so just pick up the pieces, dust yourself off and keep going.