Interview: Tim Baker on HR, Company Culture and Saturday Night Fever..

Tim Baker is a HR & career services Consultant, coach, leader, mentor, connector, story teller, dad, hockey coach, Editor of Learning at The HR Gazette and, according to his Twitter profile, he even once balanced a lawn chair on his nose! Let’s meet Tim..

Editor: Tell us about your personal career history and what brought you to your current company.

TB: My career path has definitely been far from boring! Lots of twists, turns and curves. But thats what I like about it. I have a diverse professional background and I’m seeing the value in it now. I spend 12+ years in the operations management side of the Hospitality & Entertainment industries. Four Seasons Hotels and Cineplex Entertainment mostly. After that, I spent a couple years as an Account Manager for an EAP (Employee Assistance Program). I met many HR professionals during that time, and I started realizing the common thread through all my jobs was people. I have always been focused on the value of people within an organization.

That’s when I started pursuing Human Resources as a career. I decided to go back to school and formalize my HR education and designation. After working for a local municipality, a small consulting firm and then a start-up company, I decided to start my own consulting practice.

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Editor: Can you tell us a bit about what your company does for HR professionals and Managers?

TB: At the moment, my consulting practice doesn’t work directly with HR professionals. However, if a small or mid-sized company is looking to outsource or supplement their HR department, I work with the HR team as an advisor and consultant . In the same scenario, I also coach managers on performance management and other areas of employment. I also volunteer with my HRPA chapter in their mentoring programs. I enjoy coaching and mentoring young professionals that are beginning their HR careers.

Editor: What is your target market? Please tell us a bit about typical companies which use your services?

TB: I really enjoy working with small businesses that are in their growth stage. It’s an exciting time for the business and the people. However, it’s also the time when change can open gaps which increases exposure to risk. I partner with these companies to create solutions which ensure a solid foundation to support their growth. I also consult with companies outside Canada that are seeking start a business here, or looking to employ people here, without setting up shop. I have worked in the area of cross-border employment and can assist in setting up their plan, and connecting them with the resources they need.

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Editor: How does The HR Gazette fit with your brand’s objectives?

TB: There are a few reasons why the HR Gazette is a great fit for me and my business. The membership base is diverse, and I like that. I’m a big connector, meaning that I enjoy connecting people with people. Kind of like a professional “match-maker” of sorts. I believe in the theory of reciprocity. The membership of the HR Gazette is quite large in the United States, so that aligns well with my business. I am targeting both business owners and other consultants that may have interests in HR and employment on this side of the border. I want to get in front of as many people as I can.

Editor: What’s your role at your company?

TB: I’m self-employed, so my boss is amazing. I worked my way up through the ranks! I’ve received a few promotions in the last 2 years, so I’m doing well!

Joking aside, I enjoy being my own boss. I really enjoy celebrating my own success, and learning from my mistakes. Besides, nobody makes a better cup of coffee than I do!

Editor: Do you prefer teamwork or going solo?

TB: I’ll use the old cliche answer: I work well in both environments. I enjoy collaboration and I also enjoy the solitude. (OK, sounds like I’m in an interview, right?) The truth is that I do enjoy both. A few years ago, our company did an internal workshop. We identified all the introverts and extroverts. Then we plotted ourselves on a graph. I was right at the intersection of both. I was told that people like me are very valuable in an organization because we work well with all personality types. OK, enough of the psychobabble. I need structure to work well. Whether that comes from someone else leading a collaborative group, or from myself…that’s what keeps me focused.

Editor: What are the top three things you think make for a happy and productive work environment?

TB: Everyone says culture, so I’ll say it because it’s true. It encompasses so many things, and the expectations are different for everyone. I think you have to really “gel” with the people in the organization. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone – you don’t even have to have the same personalities. But you do need to have alignment with overall organizational values. Besides that, I believe that you must have reciprocal trust in the workplace. Trust sets the foundation for empowerment, autonomy and fosters creativity and innovation. Lastly, it needs to be fun. People want to enjoy their work and have a fun time doing it. I believe that work is something you do, not a place you go. Therefore, these characteristics have to be present.

Editor: What are the top 3 things you’re working on/developing in 2015?

TB: I have many things in mind for 2015. However, I need to be realistic about what I can accomplish. I don’t want to spend too much time working on my business. I’d rather be working IN my business. My focus is on business development and marketing. Clearly defining my consultation services and developing my business strategy. My other focus is on creating new content. I started blogging a few years ago, but lately, I have not written as much as I’d like.

Editor: Other than The HR Gazette.. what other trade magazines do you read on a regular basis and why?

TB: I read several on and off…nothing cover to cover on a consistent basis. I rely heavily on my network and social media to bring me the headlines and discussion topics. I have a feed of headlines that come to me from Inc, Switch & Shift, TLNT, HRM Online and many HR blogs in my network. The headlines are easy to find and read. I enjoy the discussions. I love to hear people’s perspectives and opinions on topics, especially when the conversations get heated…people get fired up! These conversations are a great opportunity to step in and support, or disrupt. I like to stir the pot sometimes!

Editor: How can people learn more about your services?

TB: My website is still evolving with details about my services, my written content and also resources for businesses. It’s a great place to start. Aside from that, you can find me on many social media streams – Twitter (always been my favourite) and LinkedIn. Facebook has always been more of a personal space for me, but my business page is a great spot for content and discussions.

Editor: Will your company be attending any events/conferences this year? If so, which ones and why?

TB: I’ll be attending, at least, two conferences this year as a participant. The Reinvent Work Summit, organized by Pam Ross, known for her Impact99 events. This is a must-attend event if you want to collaborate with like-minded professionals, and be inspired and motivated to start changing the way your organization views “work”. The other will be Social HR Camp organized by my good friend Jeff Waldman. This is a fantastic event for HR and recruitment professionals that enjoy free-flowing conversations mixed with hands-on learning and collaboration. Aside from that, I’m sure there will be a few other events and professional development workshops I will attend…just haven’t planned that out yet.

Editor: What’s your favorite book?

TB: I wish I had prepared for this question…I’m little behind on my reading. But I would have to say that up to this point, UnMarketing, by Scott Stratten, has been one of my favourites. Now, I’m sure that UnSelling would be my next favourite, but I haven’t read it yet. However, I did hear Scott speak at the 2015 HRPA Conference about Unselling the Employee. His talk drew on both of his books. What resonates with me is the unbelievably straightforward and common sense approach to marketing, branding and customer service. I honestly believe that we over-think and over-complicate many, many things in business these days.

Editor: What’s you favorite movie?

TB: Saturday Night Fever…next question

Editor: If you could be a superhero who would you be and why?

TB: Tough question…I’ll have to go with Superman, and here’s why. Here is a guy that was born on another planet, and there he would have been just another average guy. His powers on Earth are a direct result of his new environment. He doesn’t feel obligated to use them…he simply “wants” to use them. He realizes that he has a gift, and decides to use his abilities for good. But yet he doesn’t want any of the glory. He even disguises himself as a personality that is about as opposite to Superman as you can get. He’s humble. I feel like I can be that “Superman” for clients. A person that has so much to offer and given the right environment can do amazing things. And my reward is seeing my clients, and the people in their organization, thrive and succeed.

Editor: Finally, got anything else to say to our readers?

TB: I love to connect with new people. I enjoy learning about their organization’s, their people and what they do. I welcome the opportunity to support people any way I can in their endeavors. So don’t hesitate to reach out to me via social media and connect. I’d love to find out how we can support each other.

LinkedIn: http://ca.linkedin.com/in/tbakerhr

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TimBakerHR

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TimBakerHRConsulting

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