Values-based decision making

Joel Kirkland recently spoke with Denise Chong. 

Denise has over 25 years' experience in HR working in 5 countries. Her roles have been multi-national in nature, building and managing teams and driving change.  She is presently doing interim work related to cultural change, transformation and employee engagement.


Denise explained how she has never compromised on her values during her career.

She told me that she once flew to Dubai to make someone redundant, “in the right way” and how they appreciated it. The task itself was a difficult one, but communication, empathy and then thoughtful values-based execution, have been the secret to her success.

Denise also described having to rebuild an HR team whilst delivering on the business and operational commitments.  She said: ‘The majority of people are inherently aware that they need to change/develop or if the role is not right for them.  As leaders, it is important to ensure that feedback is given on an ongoing and timely basis. This feedback should be coupled with why the change is important, i.e. the impact, and the potential development plan/mitigation. Of course, in the cases of gross insubordination the consequences may be more punitive, but it is important to communicate, document and follow the company’s internal procedures. These are individuals with their own personal challenges, so one needs to be mindful that we are all human in the end.  Furthermore, other employees watch the ‘elegance’ in which people are managed and then make their own decisions.’

We also discussed her role as an “enabler” for operational effectiveness including how she works closely with the Executive Leadership Team to ensure the organisation meets its objectives.

“I believe there is still a place in HR for discussion, to challenge and to listen to employees, not just to restructure. It is a difficult balance given the operational HR demands and a more stringent legal and compliance environment, but I have seen great value in conversing with employees to understand what they see as the key challenges for the business.  Management shapes and drives the business plans, but the employees deliver and execute on these.  Employees often have great ideas about how to improve the business as they are closer to the action. If our values state employees are our major asset, companies can then deliver on part of this promise by not just listening but actioning based on their feedback.”

At Interim Partners we are guided by our values:

At each performance review we have to demonstrate how we have lived our values by giving specific examples. We know they resonate with our client and interim community because they tell us. 

A good example of living our values is our approach to corporate social responsibility. 

We support Spear and North Yorkshire Youth. As part of our commitment to these great causes I have personally had the opportunity to advise those who are starting out on their career journey on topics such as writing a great CV and carried out mock interviews to help them build their confidence and get them “work ready”. 

In addition to this, Interim Partners organises a fundraising challenge every year, and in June this year myself and my colleagues completed a 26-mile walk to raise money for our charity partners. A tough but rewarding day out! 

We then talked about networking, how it drives business and relationship development and why it’s important to expect nothing in return.

Denise explained that one morning on her normal commute she went to buy a coffee; greeted the server warmly – “good morning, how are you” – the server gave her the coffee for free stating that having served over a hundred people already she was the first person that morning to greet them so cordially. Sometimes, you do get something back! 

Denise is described by her former bosses as being great at building rapport, putting people at ease, and is someone with strong business acumen. “If I had a position I would hire her tomorrow” was the feedback she received. 

Denise has clearly excelled to date by sticking to her core values and this sets her up for her to move to the next stage of her career as an Interim HR Consultant and Executive Coach.

If you subscribe to Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, then it’s clear that people are drawn to individuals and organisations with values that are similar to their own. 

As Jon Stewart said,

“If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values: they're hobbies.”


To discuss Denise’s forward thinking approach to HR and Organisational Development, contact Joel Kirkland  - Senior Consultant for Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices and Technology at Interim Partners on 07768 853744  or



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