February 5, 2014 in Events (live blogging), HR Directors Business Summit 2014

HR in the headlines – Lucy Adams – BBC HR Director

Being introduced with a newspaper headline entitled ‘Lucy Adams has killed HR’, the interview with Lucy Adams commenced!


Lucy Adams introduced the session by saying that the experience was very difficult, and that keeping a sense of perspective was absolutely key to getting through this.


Lucy was then asked ‘what would you have done differently?’ At a personal level, Lucy has reflected on what part she played in this and said that it is really important to take responsibility for your own actions. In a process of trying to balance shareholders and organisational needs (whilst working to save significant levels of money), Lucy now believed that she should have pushed harder to make sure that stakeholder voices were heard throughout this process. Lucy regrets that there wasn’t more space to make reasoned arguments but made a great point that when you are paid good money to do a senior role, you have to make a judgement call and then live with the consequences, accepting that we won’t get every one right).


Lucy suggested that the HR doesn’t have an exclusive role as the conscience of the organisation, suggesting that sits with the head of the organisation, but that HR should challenge and help to make sure that all viewpoints are considered.


Lucy didn’t come across as resentful and said that you take the flack when you need to. The ability to make severance discussions had been devolved, but has now been moved centrally to ensure that there is a healthy level of challenge and shareholder perspective. The BBC had a really bad 12 months, with a whole series of challenges and it was a challenge to keep morale. Senior management visibility was key, and senior leaders went out of their way to be available for any team that wanted their time. Although there was a lot of flack, Lucy had received lots of positive messages and was left with a very positive view of humanity.


What’s next for Lucy Adams? She has 2 months left there and has been fascinated by her own resilience (when it was strong and when it wasn’t).


A really good interview, with some great, honest reflections from Lucy Adams.

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