Interview with Lyn Goodear – CEO @ Australian HR Institute

Podcast Thumbnail for Interview with Lyn Goodear

Blake: So welcome to this week’s podcast and I’m here with Lyn Goodear, who is the CEO of the Australian Human Resource Institute, we’re currently at the State Conference for the NT and you might be able to hear some of the background noise, but we are poolside at the Hilton so of course, it’s a tough job for you to come to Darwin and enjoy this nice weather we’re having but thank you Lyn for joining us on this podcast and I would like to interview you a bit, just to tell us a little bit about yourself, introduce yourself.

Lyn: Thank you Blake, it’s my pleasure to be here, one of the privileges of being CEO of the Australian HR Institute is that I get to travel around Australia so it’s fantastic to be in warm sunny Darwin today, and we’ve had a fantastic conference and a great opportunity to bring the Northern Territory HR community together.

Blake: Oh, definitely it’s a really good turnout I saw and so actually I had the pleasure and honour of speaking today as well, and I believe it’s just over 100 attendees, is that right?

Lyn:……. It started low but we still had people registering this morning and it’s great.

Blake: it’s really good, so great turn out, good to see you and women in support for the profession.

Lyn: I think so, I think and again the opportunity to re-energize and reconnect, it can be difficult times changing the government, changing the economy, economic circumstances and the like.

Blake: Moving off from that just in regards to AHRI and its importance in Australia, so how do you see AHRI being important as far as professionalising human resources industry?

Lyn: We are a professional body so we perform a number of roles, we help build community, networking, and the like we put on fantastic events like the NT council has done in Darwin today, but equally we have a responsibility as the professional body to set standards of  practice and I think the reality is that there is a disparity both between the profession today, those wearing the labels but equally that has caused confusion within the market place and with employers as to what good HR looks like. 

So our responsibility is to articulate what good HR looks like, enable and develop tools and resources to help build that capability and recognise it, isn’t just skills and knowledge, it’s actually professional behaviour it is clearly distinguished in nature and then go confidently to the market and communicate about what the role is that HR can play, I think we have to get our own house in order first as a profession before we can make sure we can do that with confidence and we had a really interesting tipping contacting in terms of what we’ve achieved in the last 4 or 5 years.

Blake: Yeah, definitely we’ve seen quite a bit of freshness happening within HR industry being led by AHRI and that’s what brings me to your organisation. So do you see the certifications and I guess levels of commitment similar to what might see or what might be coming in the industry, for example with a chartered accountants and CPA and those professional qualifications, do you see these are really being on the same high standard?

Lyn: Yeah and I can share a personal story, my original study was in accounting and I wore the label “accountant” and I worked on nuclear science back in the US, like for a period of time, and so I called myself an accountant. Today, I… 23 years later I couldn’t put that label back on because there’s both a professional aspiration within the ranks of those that study accounting, equally employer expectation and I think finance is a great skill and I think the knowledge that I gained is very valuable and I greatly value the contribution that accountants and finance makes to my business every day. 

However, when I think about what the most valuable and most vulnerable, and most dynamic asset within the organisation, it is the people. Yet for some reason today, we have a scenario where anyone can call themselves an HR practitioner. So if I was to jump to the end of the journey that we are on, I would say that I hope we look back not to decent future and actually with quite shock say you know there was a time when anyone could call themselves an HR practitioner because it is a skill, it is…does have a strong knowledge base but most importantly it has a set of professional behaviours to allow you to partner with organisations and leaders in order to deliver sustainable value into the business.

Blake: That’s great, and speaking of skills you actually mentioned earlier on in the conference this morning, courage, and courage that really is a skill. Can you unpack that a little, just tell us about that?

Lyn: Yes, so when we …we didn’t just decide to set a certification standard just for the sake of it. Create a course or create something that members have to do, we absolutely did our research and we worked with international bodies as well and so we got quite a synergy with a number of large international groups in this area. And we actually asked the profession but most importantly we asked the employers what was it that they wanted from organisations and I think I alluded to the fact that they valued the knowledge but they sort of presumed to what is your trade you should know your staff in terms of knowledge, but what they articulated as it is a combination of professional behaviours that ability at times to be courageous but there’s no point being courageous on a newly founded premise, so you do need to know your staff.

Blake: laughter

Lyn: One of the professional behaviours is to understand the care and there was a little bit of reaction to what the research was saying because people said: “Oh that would make…that would give HR that sort of inappropriate level of being soft and fluffy”. Yet in fact when we’re dealing with human beings and we are wanting to harness people to gather around a common purpose, we need to understand not only the organisational drivers, but we absolutely need to understand those individual drivers so that we can bring them together. And sometimes they misalign and you do need to care about how you manage that misalignment and either seek to realign it or in some cases separate it. So those professional behaviours are a real very way in distinguishing good HR.

Blake: That’s great, and I think the importance of the certification process is that it really brings a lot of value to organisations as well, and I’ve actually seen that and I think…I kind of have an insider’s view, of course, being a member of IRN……. and I know what certification involves and in the level of how it develops our staff so and I currently have a current staff members who are in their final phase, they’re doing their project and we’ve actually developed that project into an organisational level of …. I guess she’s supported from the top of the organisation or developing a wellness program for the organisation but understanding how that not only helps our staff member achieve reaching that certification, also works to develop them, but also brings value back to the organisation as well and definitely every employee will benefit from this, so that being said that typically wouldn’t happen outside of an executive team that doesn’t know that we have that capability and that’s available to us. So all we’re looking at are areas of professional relations, looking at engaging other executives outside of the HR round I guess you can say?

Lyn: we have a long term strategy associated with this change, so we know different many organisations that look to effect change just that we’ve been around for 75 years and this is been the most substantial piece of change we’ve ever tried to instigate. Our first priority in terms of communication because when you’re looking at change the best thing is to communicate and absolutely communicate to the stakeholders that you’re looking to have the change impact on. 

So we’ve spent two years talking to our members about the why and how we…took…you know…I was looking at two years but the fundamental message was that right now anyone can call themselves HR practitioners, is that right? Is that fair to those that have invested in their professional capability developing? And universally the answer was NO, it’s not right, this is a really valuable contribution (Blake intercepts…yeah) so we took that time because there was a little bit…whenever you’re making a change, there are always endless stories. There’s always gossip in the car doors (Blake laughs) and in this case around the country so, there were some who said this a membership drive and that’s all it is and my response quite clearly was that if I’ve was looking, if I’ve been tasked with growing our membership, I would not be putting the hurdle that is the commitment to undertake certification in front of people Blake intercepts: yeah) in order to get them. 

And equally to not be offensive to those who have actually abided by the framework that we set in place. And the framework previously was really a time spent-things-studied framework. So effectively, if you could imagine it was like looking at a survey and very few of us would hire people based on just a survey, so we knew we had to elevate that to a behaviour level, to an impact level. 

We then spent another eighteen months (2 years) talking about the impacts certification has had on individuals careers and when you ever undertake change it is always great to get a baseline so we had done research with our members, we had done research with employers so we understood what the baseline was, we understood what the gaps were and what’s been fantastic in that early period was to say that the acceleration to people, individuals, practitioners careers and that’s fantastic that means we were actually delivering to our members through the strategy. 

But at the end of the day if we don’t deliver to organisations and we don’t communicate and expose the benefits of an HR partner to organisations then we’ve done nothing for our members’ careers but we can’t go there until we have the evidence. So we are at a wonderful position now where organisations are in fact embracing it holistically because they see the value, they get the value, and they are on-board. And you describe our methodology and I think it’s a real credit to the Australian Education System that we have a really strong vocational framework and we have within that framework not only how you build skills but how you access behaviours and vocational expertise. 

So we’ve leveraged that and we are able to have really strong workplace-based programs so, the people who participate in the program if they take the study pathway are certainly going off to the next year and studying and then coming back and this whole reality check back at work, they are incrementally building and developing really the cast stone unit which is a battle for organisational change and then I have to evidence it, I have to demonstrate the matrix, to demonstrate the relationships and triangulate it in terms of the refereeing of the impacts it had, so we are shifting both sides of the …………at the same time, that’s the account coming (Blake laughs) out in terms of the practitioner benefit but also the organisational impact and in the end you end up with a win-win.

Blake: Definitely. Going one step More beyond that, so a lot of the conversation these days has been around culture and things like that recently in the media, regulatory about so looking more on culture and organisations and how do we regulate that and others how do boards monitor. And typically in the past you see organisations similar to AHRI to getting involved with regulatory bodies, and advising them on how as an industry we should regulate or actually assess these things, is AHRI getting involved in things like this already, or they plan on it or do you see that role evolving or this has an industry battle?

Lyn: The final phase about communications is talking with employers but equally, stakeholders to do HR, good HR. culture, people, harnessing the talents of people is highly relevant. I’ll step back just slightly, there’s a number of people who said “why didn’t you just go down the strategy”, let’s say the financial advisors whereby it’s now a regulation and in order to accelerate your agenda at guess from our perspective the dynamics of work and workplaces particularly the unique aspects of individuals and business drivers and contestable organisations is such…that if you could put regulation ahead of your strategy then you would lose that opportunity to be  a job to be adaptive and I look at what the learning has been and the layering up of what we’ve been able to build over time is because we’ve had that agility to be responsive. 

So to take it away with the regulation or regulatory body would be most unfortunate. So we’ve absolutely grown about driving our own strategy and evidence placed in that way. I think in terms of our ability to influence you could say that a strategy like we brought, we should be going out the market without a quorum, a massive number of our members who are certified and yes, that probably that a safe bit and while we have a good number that are certified, and a good number who are on the pathway, we have a wonderful window that’s open that alights to commissions while commissions and the findings we need to step into, we need to step into it very boldly. And for that reason are now turning our voice that way, we regularly through our research we’ve just done another culture research which again is a baseline for us but it’s stepping into these issues that initially first and foremost on the minds of directors, and minds of leaders and regulators are massively interested now, and I think more also than ever, as consumers and customers were very interested as well and these are difficult and complex things, they are multidimensional and they are not constant.

I was thinking through your presentation comparing sort of my two careers and when we look at accounting concepts we always associate with timeframes, either for the “period of” or “as at” {Blake intercepts: yeah} which is used in reports, culture is a continuous evolving pace because the individuals are always different, the environment is different, the drivers, the economic drivers, social drivers are always different. So culture is a continuous working progress and it will form even if we don’t seek to form it, so the task associated with that is huge and out of the commission you might reference to I think Ken…….once said at one point that: “organisations and individuals did what they did because they could” (Blake intercepts: yeah) and when we think about how we construct our workplaces it’s not about placing but it’s creating an environment that is emphasising and focused on the right values and the right leadership frameworks and the confidence to call it out when it’s wrong.

Blake: Oh definitely, and that’s…this is, as usual, business, as usual, be either good or bad, it is what it is.

Lyn: And we’ve got a lot of, throughout 20,000 members, we’ve got members who worked in the finance sector and are outstanding practitioners, some had the courage to leave and others are courageously staying in there and I guess what we hope in this period now is that embracing of the long process that is culture development and culture sustaining will the business place will say well this isn’t just about popup one day workshop right here, it’s actually a long term investment and it’s where we need to be focused and we need partners in this. The financial matrix comparison pretty easy, non-financial matrixes are a bigger challenge.

Blake: I can imagine.

Blake: Thank you very much for coming to Darwin and definitely having a great time at the conference and I believe that everybody here is having a wonderful time, and I hope that you enjoy the rest of your time here and enjoy our sunny weather and have a safe trip back to Melbourne, thank you very much.

Lyn: Thanks so much.

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About Me

Hello There! I’m Blake Repine, an experienced Executive Director with a passion for leadership, inspiration and results.

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