Interview #20 Julia Bamberg: "Many employees welcome permanence more than change."
📌 Read the interview with Julia Bamberg to find out why did Julia prefer the HR field to the film industry and what the loss of luggage can lead to before an important event.
The New Year holidays have come to an end and we continue our series of HR interviews.
We hope to conduct interviews with well-known HR personalities, conference speakers and even writers this year. Don't miss our episodes. All the fun is waiting for you.
Today our guest is an HR Development expert from Leuphana University Lüneburg, Julia Bamberg.
Her main areas of work are:
- Coaching and Consulting for employees and executives;
- Team workshops, hosting and moderation of large groups, conflict mediation, employee surveys;
- Evaluation of development needs as well as conceptional work and execution of a general HR development concept.
Leuphana University Lüneburg is a public university in Lüneburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. Leuphana was founded in 1946 as a college of education. Leuphana established a unique university model within the German academic landscape that has received several awards.
Also, Julia Bamberg has freelance experience in Systemic Consulting & Coaching.
Her main areas of work are:
- Supporting different clients with leadership diagnostics & feedback, moderation of workshops and meetings, team and individual coaching;
- Facilitation of mindful leadership pieces of training and coaching;
- Being one of the trainers for a systemic institute, where she teaches in systemic leadership and organizational development;
- In addition, she offers couple & sexual counseling and is a founder of the project VitaminFEM, a blog and podcast about love, sex and female sexuality.
AO: Hello Julia and welcome to AcademyOcean "studio." Let's start our interview with your story about the beginning of your HR path.
Did you work somewhere before becoming an HR professional, why did you decide to become an HR?
J: It was quite a journey up to where I am now. While finishing my master thesis in Speech Communication and Rhetoric, a study that aimed to prepare its students for working in personnel development, I worked in film post-production, where I realized how important it is to create a good workspace for the people working there.
The film industry in the end was not what I wanted, so I applied for a job as an Assessment Specialist for an international project within the automotive industry. I got the job and from there on I worked my way into HR and most of all Human Resource Development.
After the diesel crisis, I worked for a consulting company that gave me the opportunity to get to know different companies and branches. Within that time I realized I want to know more about the psychology of change and how I can help people in times of change. So I followed courses in systemic consulting and therapy. Which broadened my profile and my experiences at the same time and helped me be a better service to the employees.
AO: Quite an unusual story. We have not yet had guests who have worked in the film industry. It is very admirable that you have a desire to help people. Unfortunately, this is rare now.
Julia, can you share your thoughts on why HR is an important function in any organization?
J: HR is one of the most important functions in any organization therefore it is a shame that especially smaller companies do not yet invest more in this field.
One important function for sure is facilitating a good personnel selection process to make sure the new employees fit into the company and the teams.
Other important functions are talent development as well as leadership development, but also outplacement.
HR plays a big role in how much employees want to work for the company, how much they love staying and how they talk about the company in case it did not fit anymore.
AO: You are absolutely right. One of the biggest problems of small companies is that they devote little time and attention to their HR department (or they do not have one at all).
Let's now talk about the future. Where do you see the HR industry in the next 5 years?
J: Depending on the size of the company the role of HR often still seems to be a bit vague. I hope that in the future 5 years the awareness of the importance of HR will still grow. So that also the HR teams will have more (wo)men power and are able to focus more on the different areas of HR.
AO: Julia, like in any other industry, HR is challenging. What difficulties do you usually face working as an HR specialist?
J: I always worked in the corporate industry. For two years I work part-time for a University in Human Resource Development, which means its civil service and closely connected to the academic field of research. This for me was a big change. The employees are very thankful that my colleague and I started working as HR specialists there, but Human Resource Development was totally new to them.
A problem that I often face in my work is that people are not used to changing and sometimes it is not easy to help them welcome changes. Many employees welcome permanence more than change. The civil service is very family-friendly and flexible in working hours, which sometimes means one employee is working for two, maybe more people.
So there is often a question, with whom do I speak for the annual review. And annual reviews are quite new and voluntary since there is no target achievement part involved. The approach in my work at the university needs to be much different than in my freelance work for corporates.
AO: Can you name three areas that you feel need the most improvement, based on your understanding of common HR practices?
J: Leadership development: it should involve more personal development and mindful leadership training.
Recruitment process: how often did I myself hear nothing back from applications I sent to companies. And also the quality and process of job interviews can be improved.
Onboarding: for me onboarding does not start with the first day of working at a company. But especially after having started working, it should be a well thought out process with regularly held retrospectives to also get to know how to improve the onboarding process itself.
AO: Absolutely agree with you! Companies that organize onboarding in advance get more results than those who do it already during the work of newbies.
By the way, Julia, how does the onboarding of new employees go into your company?
J: We have an onboarding event twice a year, where all new employees meet each other and get to know the most important departments. They are invited to a (now online) hall meeting to stay up to date and be involved from the beginning. Depending on the area new employees work in, they have a mentor on their side for the first weeks and we support the managers of the departments in having reviews with their new employees.
AO: And what traditions your company has and what is your favorite one?
J: Within the welcome week for the new students each semester there are many important people invited (from politics to climate activists) for podium discussions and speeches. Employees are invited to join as well when they are interested in attending some of the speeches and discussions.
AO: Great opportunity! Julia, what is the most valuable professional development advice you have ever gotten?
AO: Nice quote! Now I would like to ask you a quite unusual question.
If the company you work on now were a person, what kind of person would it be?
J: It would be an older man slightly looking like Santa Claus but without the cap. He looks a little sluggish from the far, but when you take a closer look you see his fancy, colorful socks and the modern sneakers on his feet that make him move faster than you would expect.
AO: A fascinating and deep comparison. For a second, I managed to imagine this character and now I understand more in which company you work.
Julia, what types of tools do you think every HR should be using in 2021?
J: Online collaboration tools for working on the same projects and well as tools that help spice up meetings.
AO: And what HR trends do you think will emerge in 2021?
J: There will be more focus on how HR can become more sustainable and climate neutral. Employee retention in times of distant leadership and home office.
AO: The last our question, an entertaining one. What was the funniest/most unusual incident during your HR practice?
J: Our assessment team had to facilitate assessments in the US for two weeks. Our project director who was always very strict when it came to dress code stayed in Germany. On the flight, our luggage got lost and the next day we had to run the assessments. The only shop that was open when we arrived was a second-hand shop. We found some blouses but no appropriate pants.
So the pictures that were sent to the project director showed only our upper bodies, lucky enough he did not complain. It was good preparation for the home office zoom meetings nowadays I suppose.
AO: Hahaha, airlines sometimes fail😬 Thanks a lot, Julia for the interview. We wish you all the best in your career. Stay safe!
That's all for today, friends. See you at the next interview!
In case you would like to ask your own questions, write them down in the comments. Also, if you want to read an interview with a particular person, let us know.
Take care 😇