#ChangeForward - Clare Newbold

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Clare Newbold E.ON Next Head of Talent
Finding balance, embracing change: Nurturing positivity in lockdown

Welcome to ChangeForward, our new feature series bringing you progressive discussion and deeper insights from thought leaders within E.ON Next. To kick things off, we caught up with our very own Clare Newbold, who handles all things HR around here.

Specialising in human resources, E.ON Next’s Head of Talent needs to be the ultimate people person. But operating within a national lockdown, starting a new company and hiring a new team poses a real challenge. How do you adapt in business, and still keep positivity up in times like these? Clare shares some of the answers.

In the new normal, what’s the most noticeable change?
Two things for me: Just how quickly we can adapt and find ways to create a different 'normal' and also, the massive absence in human contact.

Like so many people with children, I've got two boys (aged 11 and nine), who until this week have been home schooling. Suddenly, the idea of compartmentalising different aspects of life became impossible, with everything and everyone, everyday, together. So the way I thought about balance had to change.

I'm also a 'better with others' person; I love the fun, motivation and support that comes from being with other people. I've still not mastered this change!

What tactics did you utilise to successfully cope?
I wish I'd figured it out sooner, but the thing that had the most impact for me was acknowledging what worked before, wouldn't now… and that it's okay!

One thing I've done is embrace the blend of work and home; I love that I can completely be myself at work, that's hugely important to me in the culture we have at E.ON Next. For me, that includes the random hugs, or [hearing] 'Mum, I need help' (more common!) from a small boy during a Google Meet.

Embracing the inevitable distractions of life means I don't add extra pressure trying to pretend it doesn't exist – forced fun [in a good way].

It’s old news now, a year into lockdown, but without the ad hoc bumping into people in the office, I knew my mental wellness relied on having time to connect. I make sure the teams and I have enough time to talk and vent and laugh together. Keep talking – I've found it so important to keep sharing and be honest about how things are going and how I'm coping – at work and with family and friends.

What have you found the main obstacle to be?
Less an obstacle, more a need to learn new – and unlearn old – approaches, to be as effective as possible remote working. A personal mindset-change for me. But one that's been easy to make with the ways of working and tools we have in E.ON Next.

I'm so proud of everyone involved when I think about what we've achieved as a business already for our customers – many of us never actually meeting face to face.

Where do you draw inspiration to adapt?
From the brilliant people I have the privilege to know and work with! So many of us have been touched and impacted by lockdown and Covid, some in devastating ways. Almost daily, I'm inspired by an experience of a customer or colleague that reminds me how, even in challenging times, we’re able to adapt and do incredible things.

I'm also motivated by the impact we can have on our future. It matters to me, when my son tells his class his mum is helping save the polar bears. It's a stretch, but he's young!

I'm driven to find ways to adapt and continually change the experience of work.

How do you bring people round to embracing change?
This could be a really long answer, but I'll keep it simple.

I'd love to see us reframe the question, and continue to build a culture where change comes from anywhere and everywhere and is a part of normal; empower people to drive their own change and creativity; try to remove the anxiety of what happens if a change does work and we need to change again. We'll only learn through trying it!

We all know it, but when the world moves at pace, we forget.

It's critical to acknowledge that response to change isn't a formula. We need to truly know people to personalise for them. Let people see the prize, and what's exciting about what's different.

Even lockdown has taught us huge amounts that are positive about how we can operate as business. Pre-empt the support people might need – even difficult change can create a positive experience.

And… your best advice on dealing with unpredictability?
Remember the strengths you have and trust them, and be kind to yourself. It's okay to not have all the answers straight away, so use the people around you who’ll want to help.