Sue started her role as Human Resources Director at Lincolnshire Police in 2005 with a massive bang. The Personnel Department she inherited was tired, outdated and not really fit for purpose, and so Sue invoked a total transformation – implementing the Ulrich model to turn Personnel into Human Resources (for non-HR peeps, the Ulrich model is a way of shifting the role of HR from administration to strategy and separating out HR policy making, administration and business partner roles).
I also joined the team in 2005, shortly after Sue, after being persuaded by Lily, who’d mentioned the changes afoot. My job was one of only a couple that weren’t affected, as they’d been created with the new structure in mind. Redundancies and people having to reapply for roles caused tension, alarm and friction.
The first year or so was hard for all of us. A bunch of people learning new roles, everything – literally everything – was unfamiliar, with processes being developed on the fly. People in roles that they hadn’t envisaged doing and weren’t sure about. New technology that was implemented with an old structure in mind. The concept of merging training and HR admin in a shared service centre. Keeping transactional HR out of the Business Partner role. Trying to convince the organisation and managers that stuff Personnel used to do for them was actually their job to do.
It wasn’t all set in stone; there were revisions and changes based on feedback, actions and policy. Sue was open to change. Some stuff didn’t work, so it got changed. But some stuff was bloody hard work, and we couldn’t change it.
I was lucky; I went into it with a new role that was mine for the taking, and I made it my own. Sue knew I did the ‘technology stuff’ and left me to it, trusting me (and Lily) to steer it in the right direction and do what was needed for the best of the team and the organisation.
Throughout this time Sue also fought bloody hard for HR to be in the Executive (a.k.a the top brass). Traditionally this was the Chief, Deputy and Assistant Constables and a couple of the Directors (Finance and IT if I remember correctly). HR having a place around the top table meant that people were raised higher on the agenda. That they weren’t the last thing to be thought about. That HR wasn’t just some ‘fluffy, touchy-feely’ department to deal with holidays, recruitment and sick leave. That people strategies and good organisation design mean a high-performing organisation that achieves its goals and objectives.
Oh the things that were put in place over those first few years. Too many to list, way, way, way too many. So, so much. The structure was just the beginning; Sue powered us through with so many initiatives.
The whole team was great; a formidable HR team led strongly. We worked well, we all pulled together and got stuck in. We got to be involved in some pretty cool HR stuff and had fun doing it. You name it, we probably did it. We won awards. We won the hearts and minds of the managers (well, perhaps not quite, but we had some major breakthroughs). We achieved so much.
A lot of that original team have moved on and up, and when I see what they’re all doing now, it’s pretty awesome. I’m not sure how everyone else feels, but when I think back to all that stuff we did, it feels like we were ahead of the game. I’m still seeing stuff being implemented now that we did 10 years ago. It was one of my favourite jobs, I really, honestly loved it; I think anyone I worked with back then could tell that.
What an experience and a gift Sue gave everyone. I’ve no doubt that transformation gave key skills, experiences, interests, growth, knowledge and ambition that’s launched some incredible careers.