HR future leader of the month: Claire Metcalfe

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HR magazine speaks to the future leaders of the industry to discover what makes them tick

I started out as a job evaluation analyst working in local government. To begin with it was just a job I happened to have the right skills for after leaving university. But I quickly realised it was a great opportunity to meet people across a wide variety of roles and get to understand what they did in detail.

My proudest achievement is actually passing my driving test. I learned a lot about myself and how to conquer my anxiety over the course of six tests.

The biggest issue on the horizon for HR is how we can support more generations in the workplace than ever before. It’s a challenge to encourage leaders from one generation to realise what’s motivated them throughout their career isn’t necessarily the same as what’s motivating workers just entering work? Brexit will also make for an interesting 18 months or so as we really begin to understand the impact.

The most challenging thing about my job is the wide variety of subject matter. But it is also the best part of the job too. From recruitment to industrial relations, reward to workforce planning… all in one day sometimes.

The most rewarding thing about my job is seeing people grow in confidence and skills, and ultimately progress in their career. It is great payback, especially when you’ve helped them access the right learning and development opportunity, had a coaching or mentoring session with them, or have supported them through a difficult time.

I wish I’d known that restructuring brings opportunities as well as uncertainty. Earlier in my career I was having sleepless nights about our teams being reorganised. But by the end of the process I realised I would be OK whatever the future brought. It’s easy to jump to a worst-case scenario when usually the outcome will be far better than you expect.

My advice to others just starting out would be to think less about your next promotion and more about the best way to grow your skills. Some of the roles that have helped me most have been those that have been sideways moves – into the operation of a business or into a similar role in another business. Always think about who will be your successor. A good succession plan for your role will often help comfort the business about you moving on.

Claire Metcalfe is senior HR business partner at MTR Crossrail

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