HR Directors Club: What will you banish to Room 101?

What is your pet hate about the HR profession? What demons would you banish to Room 101, never to be seen again? The troublesome line manager? The IT department? The payroll system?

The Personnel Today HR Directors Club is holding a thought leadership and networking lunch at the annual CIPD conference in Harrogate on the topic of HR Room 101. This is a chance to vent your frustrations and enjoy a light-hearted discussion with other senior HR directors over lunch. We guarantee you will leave the event feeling thoroughly exorcised.

By way of an appetiser, we asked four leading HR directors what they would put in their Room 101.

Carole Harden, HR director, HM Revenue & Customs, says: “I hate reading endless articles predicting the profession’s demise and asking HR to justify its existence. I don’t see much of that with the finance and IT departments. HR professionals must surely be the most accomplished doom and gloom merchants in business today. Why don’t we accept that most HR professionals wear many hats, such as ‘strategist’ or ‘tea and sympathy’ when necessary?”

Jill Tombs, director of HR and governance, Mencap, says: “The term ‘human resources’ is very impersonal and I think lots of staff don’t like or identify with. Also, the use of acronyms and jargon – it’s important that HR is accessible to all staff, and using buzzwords and new jargon works against this. Finally, I would banish managers who don’t talk to their staff, abdicate responsibility and blame HR when they have to address problems like absence or poor performance.”

Dina Knight, HR director, Northgate Information Solutions, says: “One of my pet hates is the theoretical HR practitioner who is completely removed from what HR should focus on – tangibly supporting business strategy. We hear about grand HR strategies that are great in theory but operate in a vacuum completely out of sync with what’s happening in the business and what the business needs. There are some in HR who talk a good story about HR strategy, but demonstrate little practical evidence of what they have done.”

Danny Kalman, HR director, Panasonic Europe, says: “Having worked in HR for more than 25 years, I get frustrated by those in the profession who claim all their decisions and policies have been successful and implemented without problems. We all make mistakes and we often face challenges when trying to introduce new processes. Be open, admit your failures and explain what steps you took to respond accordingly – as a result people will respect you more.”

Join the debate on 19 September at the Hotel du Vin, Harrogate. For more information, go to

Our sponsors

July marked the start of the fifth year of the HR Directors Club. We are delighted to welcome four new sponsors on board, ADP, Grass Roots, Oracle and, and are thrilled to have the continued support of Hammonds. Visit for more details.

Member benefits

The Personnel Today HR Directors Club has negotiated a number of new member benefits for this year. These include money off services from the AA, discounts on suit hire and purchase at Moss Bros, discounted membership of the Institute of Directors, and reduced rates at hundreds of hotels worldwide. Visit www.hrdirectorsclub/discounts for full details.

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