HR directors have to hit so many targets at work, it’s surprising they have the will to set personal goals as well. Helen Gilbert asked a selection for their favourite New Year resolutions past and present, as well as the resolutions Gordon Brown and David Cameron should make as they prepare for the 2010 general election and beyond.
Graham White, HR director, Westminster City Council
‘Learning to skateboard at 46’
I always make New Year resolutions, and the more exciting the better. I might look like a boring old codger, but life is all about what you put into it. My knees buckle easier than my belt these days, but I still think life is all about living. In 2002, aged 46, I decided I would learn to skateboard while teaching my six-year-old son. I managed it, and I still do it on the occasional Saturday morning, although there are a few extra bruises these days.
A long time ago, my father told me you don’t stop laughing because you grow old – you grow old because you stop laughing. I decided that every day should have something in it to laugh about.
Resolution for the next government: Don’t be afraid to dump the map and pull in and ask for directions.
Jo Taylor, head of learning at 4talent, a part of broadcaster Channel 4 set up to help people get work experience in the media
‘Not being a control freak’
Last year, my resolution was to not be a control freak. I set high expectations for myself. It was just me and one assistant before, so I could be a control freak, but 2009 was the first year I had a full team to manage. If you work on your own you are project managing everything, but managing a team means giving people depth and breadth, and bring everybody’s skills and experience to the fore. I wanted to develop and nurture my team, so I needed to step back and let them grow rather than watching over them too closely. I think my self-awareness has grown as a result of that firm resolution, and I have learnt a lot about both myself and about the team and their needs and wants.
Resolution for the next government: Break down the barriers to entering professions, to enable new voices and fresh perspectives.
Stephen Moir, corporate director people, policy and law, Cambridgeshire County Council
‘Lose weight – but it never works’
My most frequent resolution, made with the best of intentions and never so far achieved, is to lose weight, go to the gym regularly and achieve work-life balance. It usually lasts for a week or two and then fails miserably – although I often forget to cancel the gym membership for a few months after that. Last year, I decided to amend it and challenged myself to not need larger-sized suits – but let’s not go there.
Resolution for the next government: Get the general election over quickly, publish an emergency Budget and be clearer about the impact upon UK public services, so that we can get on and deal with this.
Linda Kennedy, vice-president, people, Orange UK
‘Raise money for charity’
The most successful and unusual resolution I made was to get fit and do something for charity. I wanted to improve my fitness levels and at the same time try to do something worthwhile that would raise money for others, to give something back. In September, I flew to China to take part in a trek. I covered 25km per day for five days, culminating in trekking on the unconverted part of the Great Wall of China for one day. I was really pleased to have done it – it was all worth it to see the money we managed to raise, and we had a great time doing it. I make resolutions every year because it gives me something to aim for.
Resolution for the next government: Improve education for young disadvantaged children in the UK.
Gillian Hibberd, corporate director of people, policy and communications at Buckinghamshire County Council
‘Fix my Facebook addiction’
New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. I always take the time to reflect on what I’ve learnt in the past 12 months. My resolutions for 2010 will reinforce the principles of CHANGE in the way that I operate:
- Communicate with others more readily
- Help those more in need
- Act with integrity at all times
- Negotiate rather than dictate
- Give and take
- Encourage rather discourage.
To bring about even more change in my life, I’m also resolving to fix my addictions to Facebook, celebrity ‘fly-on-the-wall’ programmes, chocolate and high-heeled shoes!
Resolution for the next government: I would like them to pledge to retain the childcare voucher scheme and to deal with the thorny issue of funding of public sector pension schemes.
Sian Thomas, director, NHS Employers
‘Banish the bread’
This year I’m going to start government think-tank Foresight’s Five steps to everyday happiness to improve my mental health. So I’ll be aiming to connect, be active, be curious, learn and give.
A few years ago my resolution was to change my diet and fitness plan for a month and see how it went from there. I stopped drinking coffee and alcohol and gave up bread and other things that aren’t too healthy. I stepped up my running and swam more too. It was quite hard at first, but after a couple of weeks it got very easy to keep going, so I did. I ended up with fantastic energy levels and good sleep. I ran a race that year too, for the first time in quite a while, which was great. Being energetic is a good way to get through the winter months.
Resolution for the next government: Both Brown and Cameron should make plans for a career move.
Alan Warner, lead officer at the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA)
I once decided I would learn to speak German. I thought this would be useful as I travel to Austria a fair bit. I tried to plough through the CDs, but when I arrived for my skiing trip and they told me that it was easier to understand me if I spoke English, I lost heart! It was only about two weeks into the New Year, so perhaps I should have given it a bit longer.
Resolution for the next government: Reduce the bureaucracy in this country by at least 50%. It costs money, seems to get in the way and is by and large non-productive
Misty Reich, vice-president HR, KFC UK & Ireland
‘My resolution is always not to make a resolution’
I have never set New Year’s resolutions. Maybe it’s just avoidance of more goals and objectives to achieve and measure!