Please welcome Jacqui Woodhouse, our first HR franchisee of 2022!
Jacqui Woodhouse MCIPD has started her role as Area Director at ourHRpeople, based out of Cheshire. She joins ourHRpeople after working with SKA ORGANISATION, which is a project to build the biggest radio telescope in the world. There she delivered on key elements of a strategic HR roadmap to ensure the right capability and resourcing processes are in place to allow the project to grow and transition effectively into a unique intergovernmental entity
Jacqui is a Senior HR professional and ILM Level 7 Executive Coach with 23 years’ HR experience in private and unionised public sector organisations, ranging from international and multi-site organisations to SMEs including British Airways, the British Council, local government, the NHS and professional services including the Co-operative Banking Group and DWF Legal.
Jacqui says: “I have always been drawn towards the freedom and challenge of running my own business. I took on some freelance HR consultancy work when the kids were young and always wanted to work for myself again as I loved the variety of work and feeling that you can really make a difference to the clients you work with. When I spoke with Our HR People it was the missing piece of the jigsaw; a way to work for myself but not by myself.”
Jacqui is open to providing executive coaching for clients as well as HR consultancy.
Steve Wright, managing director of ourHRpeople said: “We were delighted when we made contact with Jacqui. Following a discovery call, the team met with Jacqui at the CIPD ACE in November 2021. It quickly became clear that she undoubtedly has the necessary drive and commitment to make her business a success. Jacqui’s proven skills in senior HR positions and her experience of complex project management is a perfect fit for the client work we regularly get involved with.”
We had a welcome chat with Jacqui:
What are you looking forward to most in your new role?
Being free to use my skills and experience to work on a wide variety of activity with an ever increasing portfolio of clients across the country, and enjoying the back-up of the franchise.
Who would be your ideal clients?
Two main types a) ambitious business leaders who are busy but respect their people and know they need a flexible HR expert to help them achieve their goals and b) HR leaders who need the flexibility to pull in additional HR expertise to sort out issues when new problems or opportunities arise and in-house teams are already overstretched.
Why do you want to work for yourself?
I have always been drawn towards the freedom and challenge of running my own business. I was approached to take on some freelance HR consultancy work when the kids were young and took that on for reasons of work life balance then went back into corporate settings to work on strategic activity in high change environments. Deep down however I always wanted to work for myself again as I loved the variety of work and feeling that you can really make a difference to the clients you work with.
When I qualified as an executive Coach, I started asking myself the questions I asked my clients and took a break after my last interim role to do some coaching and decide what I really wanted. When I spoke with OurHRpeople it was the missing piece of the jigsaw; a way to work for myself but not by myself.
Why did you choose ourHRpeople?
I had previously looked at franchise options but could not find something which felt right. I wanted the back up of a franchise to make sure I can offer a professional and comprehensive offering to clients but flexibility to work with my network across the UK, take on associate and coaching work and provide bespoke solutions rather than fixed models or services. As soon as I started talking to Steve and Alix, I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for.
How will clients benefit from working with you?
One of my greatest satisfactions in my career has been the close working relationships and trust I have built with clients both in house and externally based on delivering results with honesty and humour at times. I respect the skills and achievements of my clients and can be both a sounding board and a truth teller (albeit diplomatic) as required.
What are your best HR success stories? How did you solve problems or improve processes?
I get things done. Give me a problem or challenge and access to key stakeholders, then let me go away, talk to people and come back with pragmatic and bespoke solutions which deliver results required while also making sure people are treated fairly.
Over the years I have enjoyed partnering with leaders, unions, teams and individuals to create flexible work and diversity programmes before they were recognised as critical elements of HR agendas, designed, facilitated and delivered many bespoke training programmes and away days for leaders, teams and individuals, set up and improved people processes of all types ranging from people policies, job profiles, recruitment and retention of scarce talent through to engagement, induction, absence management, talent and performance management right through to working on redesign and embedding of corporate values and restructuring programmes.
I have seen how people can empower people and I thrive on working as an Executive Coach with emerging and existing leaders to help empower them to be the best and play to their strengths. I have guided and supported with numerous sensitive employee relations situations and while always mindful of commercial and legal realities, I always aim to be a ‘human’ HR professional who is approachable, honest and respectful. I have been thanked proactively by people impacted in a redundancy situation I was supporting for making the processes clear and treating people with respect.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Building trust with the clients you work with or people who work for you is the basis of achieving excellence and change. Leaders need to demonstrate credibility while also being honest and real with people. I have seen leaders handle even the most challenging situations relatively smoothly when people trust them.
What aspects of HR do you enjoy most?
Many people I partner with have told me that the HR advice and coaching I have provided has been critical to enable them to do their jobs. I love to see managers grow in confidence and reduce their stress levels with HR support. I managed large teams of people at an early stage of my career without that support and have always been determined that my clients will not feel so exposed. Developing executive coaching skills has opened up another level of enjoyment for me- helping leaders and managers gain the clarity they need to be the best they can be.
What is the biggest issue in HR today?
Workplaces and expectations of flexible work practices have undergone changes at incredible pace due to Covid 19 with HR is at the forefront of the strategic thinking required to deliver the right working environments to balance productivity and wellbeing. Just coping with the changes and staff shortages has left some people exhausted. The next challenge for some employers is the threat of the ‘big resignation’ with associated recruitment pressures.
Why is good HR essential to all businesses?
Good HR professionals understand business objectives and bring expert knowledge and experience based judgement, keeping an eye on the ever changing world of employment law and HR good practice on behalf of the business, with a view to ensuring organisations have the right people, motivated and in the right place to deliver and stay ahead of the game for now and the future.
What is your top tip for employee engagement / retention?
Build trust – engage people with the mission and manage changes with care and compassion, be honest and respectful, support leaders and line managers to be their best and empower their teams, giving them training, time to think and executive coaching support, create environments and channels for people to be themselves and have a voice then really listen, do not rely on hierarchical power, reward people fairly and create empowering environments, recognise good performance and celebrate good management, managing people problems which will inevitably arise quickly and respectfully.
If you didn’t work in HR, what career would you have?
Probably a lecturer with a PhD as I love researching people matters and helping others to learn. I also took night classes in creative writing a few years ago and ended up with articles published by business magazines and my own literary agent, but I really wanted to write fiction – perhaps I would now have enough stories of life to create that best seller!
Get in touch with jacqui at email@example.com and to find out more about becoming a franchisee contact firstname.lastname@example.org.