Five minutes with... Lyndsey Gilbert

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Lyndsey Gilbert is a senior HR advisor at Land Information New Zealand, where she has worked since 1988. She shares her views on what is challenging the profession and where it is heading.

How would you sum up HR professionals in three words?
Committed.  Innovative.  Inquisitive.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
This advice came to me from two amazing women I currently work with. We all know about the monkey on our back. This is about the monkey on our shoulder that we keep feeding with all our negative thinking and self-doubt. So the advice is to stop feeding that monkey.  Make it lose weight until it is small enough that you can knock it off your shoulder and get on with the good stuff.

What are some of the biggest challenges HR deals with?
We have to stop looking for validation from others. How many times do we hear the question, “how do we get a seat at the top table?” If we truly believe in what we are doing then we do what Finance or IT do – we influence. We act as a partner and back it up with a business case. We need to stop creating barriers (some of which are in our own minds) and start enabling the business by creating pathways and possibilities. We don’t need a seat at any table to do that.

How do you see the role of HR changing in the future?
I am reminded that I have worked in HR since it was personnel – and much more about administering policies and being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Next we were Human Resources and it was all about capability and capacity. To be effective in the future I think it has to actually be all about people. We have technology to deal with the systems and processes. We need to deeply understand what people want and need at work and find ways to deliver it in ways that encourage involvement and commitment and humanity in our organisations. People are not units of logic; we are units of emotion.

What’s your favoured style of coffee?
Large trim latte.

If you could invite three people to dinner, dead or alive, and excluding family and friends, who would they be and why?
Firstly, I would ask Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Many years ago I saw a documentary about her work with the terminally ill and the stages they went through knowing their end was coming. It really resonated with me. Through the years I have often recalled her work when working with difficult people or in times of change and used it to both help my own resilience and to better understand those I am working with. Be good to hear more about it direct from her.
Secondly, Richard Burton, the Welsh actor. I could just sit and listen to the sound of his voice for days.  But even better than that was the way he used silence and made it speak.  Using silence (not thinking we have to fill the void) is an incredible tool to use every day in HR – and I would like to know more about it. 
Lastly there is a person out there whose name I do not know.  They own the magic mirror I wish I had so that I could hold it up to those people who have absolutely no idea of the impact their actions have on others.  The people I am talking about can be rude or hostile or just completely unthinking about those they work with – and then wonder why they don’t have a best friend at work. So I would like to be able to talk to the magic mirror owner for insight into how to these un-self aware people to see the positive way things could be. 

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in HR, I would be…
Goddess of the world!

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