This month marks a significant milestone for me personally, and for Parallel HR. On 12th June 2022 Parallel HR turns 10 years old! I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the ups, the downs and downright embarrassing things that have happened to me over the years.
The beginning of Parallel HR
In June 2012, Parallel HR was born. I had no clients and I wasn’t really sure if it would work. My accounts were handwritten into a book from W H Smith. Marketing and social media were completely alien to me. If you had told me then just how many great businesses I would get to work with in the next 10 years, I wouldn’t have believed you.
In search of clients, I started networking. My first networking meeting was horrendous. I won’t name the group I joined but let’s just say there was an annual fee involved. At the meeting, I followed the lead of others and mentioned a training course I was running. I was then told in my one to one that this was not the way they did things there. I was very confused.
My training course, HR Hurdles, had 12 attendees. I was delighted that one of those attendees called me before the course even took place. For the first time I thought, this might just work. I’m hugely proud to say that company is still a client today.
Of course, the biggest low over these 10 years has been the pandemic. The whole point of Parallel HR was that I wanted to work “alongside my clients’ businesses”. I never wanted to be a faceless person at the end of a phone. I wanted to be part of the team. When the lockdowns hit, so were many of my clients’ businesses. Over the last 2 years, I have consoled many people in tears. These people had never imagined having to make staff redundant. Some were fighting to save a business while home-schooling. Let’s be honest, we all had something going on. I vividly remember one well-established business telling me they had £9 in the bank and no idea how they were going to make the next payroll. I could have cried with them.
A personal low for me was supporting 28 companies to make redundancies over a six week period as the first period of furlough wound down. I never forget that each person is an individual and the impact this has on them. I took on the work as I wanted to make sure everyone affected was treated in the most professional way possible. However, I’m not a robot. It took its toll on me.
In the early days, while still questioning my own ability to make this work, I took on a new client. Within three days of signing the contract, I was forwarded a three page letter outlining a potential claim from a lady on maternity leave. This became a huge turning point for me. The company had taken the advice of a previous HR consultant in how they handled the situation and frankly, that advice had been diabolical. I thought if that person can make it as an HR consultant, I certainly could too. I take enormous pride in how we turned the situation. From an awful position, the company kept a valuable member of staff and avoided a damaging employment tribunal.
In 2015 I published my own book via the Endless Bookcase. While no longer available, I have to confess, I still flick through the pages sometimes to remind myself of particular points.
However, by far the thing I am most proud of is that five people have told me they have been inspired by me to take up a career in HR. Wow!
There was the time I tripped over a step while walking through a warehouse before delivering training. The thump as I hit the floor reverberated round as everyone looked up as I did the walk of shame. I then had to deliver the training with blood dripping down my leg. Of course, embarrassment meant I said everything was OK but really, ouch!
Then there was the time I had sciatica. I had to travel to Southend to see a client, stopping four times on the way due to the pain. When I finally got there, I couldn’t sit down. The person I was meeting was really nervous until I bizarrely had to kneel through the meeting.
Working with small employers, I sometimes have to hold formal meetings in unusual spaces. I held a disciplinary hearing in the post room of a high tech company. For the meeting, I was perched on a bar stool. Unfortunately, I have a problem with my back which means I can’t sit straight for long. Crossing my legs for the umpteenth time, I lost my balance and promptly fell off the bar stool. I recall doing this in slow motion, calling out “I’m going, I’m going” throughout. Remember it was a high tech company? The post room was covered by CCTV. Ever since I have dreaded seeing myself on TV on “You’ve Been Framed”, or similar.
Who knows what the next 10 years of Parallel HR will hold, but thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey.