Head of Human Resources, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
For Chris Maile, Head of Human Resources, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the daily routine starts with a walk to his newly built garden office space. Below, Chris gives us an insight into what one of his typical working days looks like, which can consist of anything from looking at applications for Judicial Assistant roles to attending an ‘Afternoon Tea’...
*I start my day with a cup of tea and then help get my youngest son off to school and then head off to work down the path through the garden to my newly built cabin/office space.
I’ll log on to my laptop and usually begin my day around 8:45am and I think it’s true that for most HR professionals no two days are the same. That’s even more so for me in what I like to think of as a specialist, generalist post because, in such a small organisation I am involved in all things HR and people-related; I sit on the management Board and I’m part of the senior leadership team so there’s quite a wide breadth as to what I cover.
A lot of my role is also connected to recruitment. This morning, for example, I’ve been looking at applications for Judicial Assistant roles and preparing the shortlist of candidates to discuss with two of the Justices. Recruitment is something that is ongoing because we recruit top lawyers each year on fixed-term contracts.
My role is there to support all of our managers with advice and guidance and taking forward any HR issues if they need to. I’ve got quite an extensive background – I’ve been working in human resources for nearly 30 years – so I’ve seen quite a lot and worked in the advice and guidance area so I’d probably say that everything I do, my baseline is always going to be grounded in employment law. I’m always weighing up not only the right thing to do, but what the correct thing to do is, in line with reasonable and appropriate responses to different situations.
...I think it’s true that for most HR professionals no two days are the same
Each day I will try and block off time for a lunch break between 1pm to 1:45pm because I like to try and practice what I preach. I’m not always so successful but I will try and ideally go for a walk, often with my wife if she is free, even if that’s half an hour and I think that makes a big difference to clear the head and be ready for the afternoon.
Every day is different depending on what cases might be listed, but we have an all-staff meeting every Wednesday lunchtime with the Chief Executive. What I have been doing since last summer is a ‘Friday Afternoon Tea’ which provides an opportunity for staff to connect. I normally have a different theme each week and we talk about non-work-related things. It’s a way to bring everyone together for half an hour to round off the week. And that replaces quite a lot of the low-key engagement things that I would normally encourage or initiate. So, when we’re back in the court building we would have things like yoga at lunchtime, a choir, our five-a-side football team and we walk around St James’s Park, again just really simple things that can help bring people together. We’ve missed quite a lot of that during the pandemic, but we have replaced it by these other things in our remote space.
The other thing that’s been really important in the last 12 months is our work on diversity and inclusion. And that has led to some really powerful forum events where I’ve had almost the whole organisation attend which is really encouraging – that’s definitely something that I feel quite passionately about. We call this a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Strategy and it’s quite wide and ambitious and involves working with the Justices, finding ways to help increase diversity at all levels of the organisation.
I think I’m quite good at using my calendar for blocking time off for myself and I use quite a lot of the free seminars and webinars that have been available. If something also comes my way, I will consider it and see how relevant it is for me or my team, or any of the other managers that might be involved.
The main thing is we’ve got a workforce that’s dedicated and passionate in what they do. Because we worked in such a fantastic building – it’s a Grade II* Listed Building – everyone is itching to get back to work as it’s a wonderful space/environment to work in. The building certainly does play a factor in people’s enjoyment of their work. We’ve got a plan to start going back in June and we will start having hearings again in person, so I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality later this year.
I do also have a sort of routine after work. I will try and finish by 6pm each evening (that’s my intention). While I don’t always succeed, I try my best and I certainly won’t go beyond 7pm unless there was something that I needed to be working on for the following day. I’m aware of trying to get a good work-life balance. Plus, I’m very aware of trying to have a break from the screen, my laptop and the phone if I can.
Probably the first thing I will do when I go back into the house is make myself a cup of tea and then go and listen to some music for half an hour to unwind. I’d like to say that I am then preparing tea for the family but I regret to say that I don’t do as much as I should. My youngest son plays a lot of football so two nights a week I am taking him to football training, and that will become my priority.
What I have been doing since last summer is a ‘Friday Afternoon Tea’ which provides an opportunity for staff to connect
After we’ve eaten, it’s my hope there will be some time to watch a film or something on TV, but that doesn’t always happen and the window to watch anything seems to get smaller every year. I am also reading Gil Scott Heron’s ‘The Last Holiday’ right now so if I am lucky can take in a chapter before heading to bed.
End of the day
*This interview took place before the lifting of lockdown restrictions.