At Work: Human resources - My top tips - Clare Smith, director of HR, Leonard Cheshire

The most valuable piece of advice I can pass on is: if you know something is right, don't be bullied or coerced into supporting something that is wrong, even if it means losing your job. Believe me, even one lapse in professional integrity - or, as we call it at Leonard Cheshire, moral courage - will haunt you throughout your career.

My second piece of advice, which is almost in contradiction to my first, is to be flexible and look for solutions. In the human resources profession, and particularly in personnel and health and safety, it is too easy to become restricted in your thinking by the need to comply with legislation.

The really top human resources people are those who come up with creative ways around problems that do not leave the organisation vulnerable. Being creative is the best part of the job.

My last piece of advice is to make allies and never get yourself isolated on an issue. Your two most important allies are the operations and finance departments - of course, these are the two areas where you are likely to have the most difficulty.

Somehow, operations always want to do something that is either illegal, will set a horrible precedent or will trash the pay structure. If you are not careful, the human resources department will end up being the constant barrier to operations achieving its goals. Going back to my previous piece of advice, be flexible, come up with the answers and gain a firm friend.

Making an ally of finance is much harder. Let's face it, people represent costs that finance would like to eliminate if possible. But keep working at it - the rewards are tremendous. With operations and finance alongside, you can achieve amazing things.

I am lucky with Leonard Cheshire: I work with a great team - together, we achieve wonders.

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