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Guy Pink


HR Director

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“One of my biggest bugbears in HR is the continual reference to having a seat at the top table.”


Guy Pink is HR Director at UK drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction. He has over 20 years' experience in HR in the not-for-profit sector and is experienced in a wide range of HR issues including TUPE, change management, reward and strategic leadership. Guy will be speaking at the CIPD's L&D Show which takes place on May 11th and 12th. Guy will be speaking on the 12th, just after lunch.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, TrainingZone: You established the L&D team at Addaction. How did you approach this in terms of strategy and implementation? What were the priorities?

Guy Pink, HR Director, Addaction: The first thing was to get L&D into the HR Directorate. At the time it was sitting in our quality department and when the director left I was able to make the case for bringing this under HR.

This then allowed me to start the conversations with our Board and Executive team about what their vision was for L&D. Starting this enabled my Head of L&D to then undertake a training needs analysis of about 10% of the organisation.

Support the business in delivering across all of its objectives and don’t keep HR too narrow.

This gave us the material to then go back to the Board and Executive and say "this is your vision, this is what the staff want, now how do we make this a reality and deliver with the resources we need?"

What we got back was that staff loved the face-to-face element and they understood how e-learning fitted into the delivery but wanted a blended approach. And managers wanted accredited learning with a recognised qualification. 

I was then able to recruit the team – half of them were internal and knew the organisation well. The priorities had already been determined by the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) so the team were then able to design the courses, pilot the learning and then deliver.

We were also clear that online learning was a core part of the programme and recruited a graphic designer to the role of eLearning Developer. Finally we decided that ILM was the organisation best placed to provide accredited qualifications for our management development programme.

So it was getting this designed and becoming an Approved Centre.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, TrainingZone: You also introduced an HR strategy into Addaction. What defined this strategy and why did you approach it in the way you did?

Guy Pink, HR Director, Addaction: The HR strategy was core to supporting on the delivery of Addaction’s overall strategy. The two must be complimentary.

Having set the vision for L&D and then getting the resources needed to deliver this we then had to produce the results. This gave us the credence to talk with confidence about what we were delivering, the cost benefit of delivering in house and the value being added by both the L&D and the HR interventions.

My conversations with HRDs in the commercial sector are now very similar.

So when Addaction was looking at its most recent strategy – 2013-16 – one core part of the three elements of this strategy was about workforce development.

And having this as a core part of the three-year organisational strategy enabled us to deliver what the organisation wanted. The fact we also managed to win a number of L&D awards during this time was the icing on the cake and certainly helped our case when bidding for additional resources.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, TrainingZone: What annoys you most about HR at the moment? What would you change?

Guy Pink, HR Director, Addaction: One of my biggest bugbears in HR is the continual reference to having a seat at the top table. Having worked in two organisations, one where I am at the table and one where I was not, does not fundamentally change what HR delivers.

Align what you do to the business, deliver staff to the right place at the right time and pay correctly, exit people quickly but well and keep the organisation out of the courts and above all deliver on what you promise.

Support the business in delivering across all of its objectives and don’t keep HR too narrow (I have the role of Company Secretary reporting into me – so all risk, corporate governance and property management sits within HR).

Do all of these things well and you will have earned your right to belong in the decision-making forums.

Align what you do to the business, deliver staff to the right place at the right time and pay correctly.

My other biggest bugbear is the management speak that HR has moved to – we are having a drive in Addaction to simplify what we say and how we say it – so a removal on all management speak and the business jargon, a simplification of all our required policies and the way we communicate internally and externally.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, TrainingZone: You've worked in HR in the third sector for a long time. How has it developed and how does the conversation go when talking to colleagues in the private sector? Are there major differences in HR approach?

Guy Pink, HR Director, Addaction: Yes for the last 23 years! It has had to become more professional (a good thing) but at the same time keeping what it does best which is providing services by a workforce that absolutely understands what we are about.

Over the last 10 years Addaction has been taking business away from the statutory sector through competition that has resulted in us having to be better and evidence we have achieved.

So my conversations with HRDs in the commercial sector are now very similar. We are talking about bidding for new business, making our offering as lean as possible but delivering quality services, and doing this within organisations where we want our staff to be the very best , to be managed effectively and where they have scope for personal and professional development.

We talk about talent management and employee engagement in the same way as our private sector colleagues and sometimes it is hard to tell who works where. What does differ is we don’t work for a sole owner or shareholders. Any surplus we make is ploughed back into our front line services.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, TrainingZone: What's on your HR priority list for 2016?

Guy Pink, HR Director, Addaction: 

  • A new leadership development programme targeted at our 200 first and second line managers that has Emotional Intelligence at its core
  • Embedding in our new HR system and making sure this is delivering what we want
  • Developing a new learning and performance management system that will enable us to evolve how we deliver our L&D interventions through real time information and utilising existing technology
  • Creating a new HR team following a successful merger and restructure in 2015
  • Developing a consistent volunteering programme and embedding this into all new bids and continual growth through service acquisitions and mergers. another quiet and uneventful year!

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Guy Pink

HR Director

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