Since becoming the Head of L&D for RSG 10 months ago, I’ve been involved in some significant projects and faced a number of challenges, some that I foresaw and many that came right out of the blue.

I hope my experience so far can help those who are moving in to a HR or L&D leadership role for the first time be aware of some of these challenges.

1 – Creating change, any change, is a journey that’s much longer than you think

I entered my role adamant I would create lasting change within the first 12 weeks. Ten months in and I’m still working toward that! The change I’m particularly focused on is cultural and concerns existing attitudes to L&D across the organisation. I’d like to think I’m getting somewhere now as all directors and senior managers recognise the value an effective L&D function can bring. This message from the top is powerful and now I have to continue building a coherent message from the bottom to, hopefully, meet somewhere in the middle.

2 – Leadership comes in a variety of forms – and it can surprise you

Spotting potential future leaders and nurturing that ability has become a very defined part of my role and I’ve been lucky enough to have found this in a variety of people from all different backgrounds and personalities. The common perception of a leader is someone who takes charge and communicates in a direct manner. But. I’m incredibly pleased to have helped identify and support people who are amiable, analytical and expressive. All get the job done, just in a different way.

3 – The importance of having the right person in the right role and at the right time

Einstein has been quoted as saying: “If you were to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will go its whole life thinking it is an idiot.” (I might be paraphrasing here). I have found this holds true. Part of my role is to enhance organisational effectiveness specifically in relation to our people. Going through this process we found a number of individuals who showcased high potential but average performance. This is a great example of having the right person in the wrong place. Through conducting a KSA interview with them it’s simple to see where in the business they would be best suited. Take care of this and the performance follows seamlessly.

4 – Everyone wants L&D when you have L&D

Prior to taking on this role, I think there were significant question marks over how formal an L&D function needed to be. Was it the responsibility of HR, management or directors? Was there enough scope to make it a full time role? For me, the answers to these two questions were obvious. It is the responsibility of everyone and, of course, there was scope as no business is perfect. Upon taking over the role I was amazed at the amount of interest from all levels in what L&D could offer their team, employees and even clients. Since then, I’ve developed working relationships with every function and team within the business and even external customers and voluntary organisations – so much so that extra administration support was required. So, what I’m really trying to say is be prepared to be bombarded!

5 – There are many similarities between an L&D job and parenting a toddler!

You might be thinking that the experiences faced in these two roles are vastly different to one another. Of course, this is true – because small children are often easier to reason with than a board of directors!

Whether I’m at home with my two-year-old son covered in paint and glue or at work in my suit, there are now and again areas of behaviour between my toddler and my internal stakeholders that are strikingly similar.

It must, of course, be said that I have nothing but respect for my colleagues and stakeholders – and I love my job – but in the interest of comedy and sharing the following list of common traits rings true.

Have you had similar experiences? Or have they been different to those that I have come across? I would love to hear some of the experiences you have had be it your first or 10th leadership role.