Wednesday, 16 November 2016

#cipdace16 - Reflections...

This time last week I was at #cipdACE16 covering the event as part of the Blogsquad. And my, how quickly a week has gone.

Now that a week HAS passed though, its given me time to reflect on what was a superb event and learning experience.

The event, as mentioned, was superb. Each year the Annual Conference and Exhibition seems to surpass itself and deliver something unique and special, and this year was no exception.

The choice of keynote speakers and the choice of conference session speakers was very good, with my only complaint being that it was genuinely very difficult to choose which session to go to as often, with four options, at least three were things I really wanted to go to. I don’t know if its possible to do anything about this but I had a feeling that I missed out on as much as I got to.

The exhibition was lively this year and the use of space continues to improve. I like the informal networking area at the end which works very well. The free sessions all seemed well-attended but because I was in the Conference itself it made it impossible to get to any of these, and I did want to. Again I’m not sure what can be done but perhaps the sequencing and overlaps could be looked at.

I was disappointed by the lack of engagement by many of the exhibitors, who had presumably paid a lot of money to exhibit. As already pointed-out in THIS POST by Inji Duducu and in the comments on that post by Gemma Dale, most of the exhibitors were not active on social media and missed a trick in terms of sales and overall engagement with attendees. Hardly any really tried to sell me anything (not that that’s easy) and many had no interest in me once they saw my Blogsquad/Press badge, which was a shame because I could have done stuff for/with them.

And the swag haul was a bit same-y too – pens, chocolates, stress toys. Where were the standout offerings to get people to come along? Its more than just a box of Celebrations surely?

There were a LOT more fringe and social activities this year and that was a very good thing, and some took place the night before avoiding EVERYTHING happening on the Wednesday night, but even then there were far too many things happening at the same time on the Wednesday evening and it was impossible to get to more than 1 or 2 of them. Again, sequencing and overlap could be looked at to enable people to make the most of the social aspect of the Conference. Those that I did go to, and those that other people told me about, really seemed to go down well.

To be honest though I’ve lost track of the number of conferences where delegates have told me they get as much from the breaks as they do from the conference sessions, and this was also true at #cipdACE16. A slight criticism is that there weren’t enough long breaks to really get around the exhibition inbetween conference sessions, attend some of the free learning sessions, grab a drink, nip to the toilet, check your phone and do all of those things before heading back into the conference. Not to mention actually talking to people you want to talk to (and exhibitors). From a timings perspective I wonder whether its worth looking at the conference going back to THREE days again like it used to – that way things could be more spread out and you’d not feel like you were sacrificing one thing to get to another all the time. If that’s not possible, I’d look to extend the two days – no reason why the Exhibition couldn’t open at 08.30 and close at 17.30 both days, giving a clear hour either side of the conference to get stuff done.

Manchester itself remains a top location, and the event is really starting to grow into Manchester after 7 years there. This year it felt like we had almost taken over the city in the same way we used to pretty much rule Harrogate back in the day. It gave the whole experience a really nice feel (helped by the Xmas markets starting too).

I enjoyed being part of the Blogsquad again and feel lucky to have been asked. It gives me a very different perspective on the event that few get to experience, and enables me to share my own learning to a wider audience aswell as promote the event.

I enjoy blogging (yes, really) and particularly live blogging from events because it’s the best way for me to ensure the learning is recorded and sinks in.

I also managed to put out 120 tweets of my own across the 2 days along with numerous retweets, and this year added Instagram into my social media output. I ALMOST got Periscope up and running but a medical emergency in one session as I was about to go live distracted me, and I never got chance again.

But, by crikey, being part of the Blogsquad is tiring – with very long days and constantly being “on” even late into the evening. I am not sure I’ve recovered since, although my 2 year old daughter is not one to let me rest or recuperate.

From a personal perspective I learnt loads, as you can see from my blogs, which to be honest only capture perhaps half of what I will take away from the event:

Blog 1 – covering Peter Cheese’s introduction and Margaret Heffernans’ keynote KN1 speech

Blog 2 – covering Steve Head and Matt King’s motivation speeches A1

Blog 3 – covering Neil Morrison, Sukh Pabial and Claire Thomas on recruitment rebooting B2 and a Panel Debate on the Future of Work C4

Blog 4 – covering Lynne Weedall and Valerie Hughes-D’Aeths’ speeches on organisational transformation D3

Blog 5 – covering CJ Green and Amanda Oates’ speeches on rethinking performance management E3

Blog 6 – covering Gianluca Petriglieri’s keynote KN2 speech (partly)

I met so many nice people, many of whom I’d met before, and many of whom I hadn’t seen for ages or was meeting for the first time. In particular it was nice to put a face to the name that is Mark Hendy, to finally meet my mentee Lisa Snell in person, and to spend time chatting with Rachel White, who I’ve known on a personal level for many years but never bumped into at an HR event before. All the rest of the Blogsquad were superb company and did a great job throughout the two days, and the staff at CIPD events/comms were both hard working and very friendly too – thanks to them for getting me involved.

I also enjoyed catching up with, separately, no less than five people who have worked for me in a previous organisation. It was genuinely nice to see them still progressing their HR careers and to see how they are doing now that we no longer work together.

I’ll end by telling you about my most bizarre experience of #cipdACE16, which still doesn’t rival being chatted up by a CIPD Researcher on their stand about 5 years ago, but is still bizarre.

I was in one of the conference sessions and sat on a table with a group of 7-8 others. The woman next to me glanced at my badge partway through, and I later noticed her tapping away on her iPad. I figured at the time that she noticed I was part of the Blogsquad and was looking up my Twitter feed, so I was pleased.

At the end of the session she turned to me and apologised for staring at my badge but explained that she recognised my name and thought she knew me. She further went on to say that she did indeed know a Gary Cookson, and was friends with said person on Facebook, but having looked at their profile during the session and then looked back at me, she realised we looked COMPLETELY different (eg he had hair) and therefore I was not the person she knew.

And not once did she say she knew me from Twitter, or this blog.

I wasn’t sure what to say and said as much. At that, she smiled and left.

Till next time…


PS in other news, we’re approaching a point in our house where we’ve been there just over 2 years and it needs a fair bit of work doing to it. We have a choice whether to do this and commit to staying there for the long-term, or move. It’s a tough choice!

Thursday, 10 November 2016

#cipdace16 blog 6 - KN2

And here we are in the final keynote speech. I shamelessly ducked out of the penultimate session so that I could spend enough time giving attention to the Exhibition, both talking to suppliers and filling my swag bag. I also spent time talking to old and new contacts and had a blast. 

But boy am I tired now. 

And no one was giving neck and shoulder massages. Time was when you could get 3/4 in one afternoon at this conference. Now there's none. 

Bad times. 

In general though the Exhibition had a good vibe about it this year. There was a lot of variety in providers and not so many pushy ones as last year, with many being happy to chat in general terms without necessarily trying to sell. The breakout spaces around the hall were well used and there was a nice, relaxed atmosphere. 

I wonder though when suppliers will start to realise that pens are not a good, modern gift. I hardly use one nowadays. And when they'll find a more modern way of entering their prize draws than leaving a business card? I've not had a business card for six or seven years as social media and other electronic media have passed them by. 

So I'm in the keynote from Gianluca Petriglieri who came with a huge reputation and didn't disappoint. 

His talk was about competence not being enough, and that's something that has been a bit of a theme in sessions I've attended. He also mirrored some themes explored by Peter Cheese in the opening speech yesterday about a lack of trust in the workplace too. 

He asked us to discuss a time when we were well led. Both Ian Pettigrew and I, when discussing this, talked about people we used to work for who were good leaders but who we only came to fully appreciate after they or we had moved on, when someone less good took over and we experienced poorer leadership styles. 

Gianpiero asked us all how we knew we were being well led and some of the audience struggled to answer this. I know I did. I suppose I didn't know at the time what a good leader they were, but having experienced others since I now know how good that person was. And I do struggle to really define what he did that was different. 

His point was that we struggle to really know whether leadership exists, in the same way we can't say for certain that love exists. 

Someone pointed out that they do exist in how they make us feel and act, even though they are not tangible things. Gianpiero agreed with that, and added that you see it (both leadership and love) when someone does something to benefit you without any obvious gain for themselves. 

He said that leadership is a cocktail of skills that get another person to do something that they wouldn't do of their own volition. Therefore leadership is the exercise of influence. 

At this point I needed to run for a train but I was enjoying this speech and would encourage you to catch up with the rest of it via Ian Pettigrew's blog and storify. 

I'll do a summary blog post on #cipdace16 in a few days time when I've had chance to reflect properly, but right now I'm shattered and missing my family. 

Till next time...


#cipdace16 blog 5 - session E3

I've finally been round the Exhibition, or at least two thirds of it. My bag is steadily filling up with swag, so my family may be happier tonight when I get back. 

And now I'm in session E3 about rethinking performance management, something I'm currently giving a lot of thought to in my day job. 

CJ Green from Servest opened up, highlighting their huge growth over the last seven years, with rapid change. When she came into Servest she had an efficient appraisal process but it was cumbersome at times and her success was measured on how many appraisals she could get done. 

She asserted, and I agree, that it's the quality of the conversation that matters, not the process. In her review of the appraisal process with a mixed group of staff, trying to move to a more continuous improvement culture, there was a split room and no consensus amongst them. 

She noted that much of her desire for replacing the appraisal process with something else was her own view that she disliked appraisals and wanted something else, irrespective of anyone else's preferences, so this was a wake up call for her. 

I think I'm guilty of this too. 

She talked about people being uncomfortable with the removal of the appraisal process, but if that's people's belief then let them keep it as long as they can show the performance data that highlights their performance management processes Inc appraisals are working. 

This is a good idea. But it's also about relinquishing control and trusting managers to manage performance in a way that works. There are worries that managers may do nothing, but they found that this worry was unfounded. If you have adult-adult conversations then people will work out a process that works for them, it doesn't need to be driven by HR. 

Amanda Oates from Merseycare NHS Foundation Trust then took over. She explained some of the cultural and service delivery challenges that the trust faces. All the trusts main challenges were workforce related, and required organisational transformation beyond a mere restructure. 

Much of her barriers stemmed from within the HR team, in that the systems didn't help, the skills weren't right, the reputation was poor, data was non existent and more. And she used these as themes to redevelop the HR function and by extension the organisation. 

This talk was very good and I haven't been able to capture all the detail of it. Amanda did ensure that what she did had a direct link to service improvement and listed a fair list of HR and organisational measures that improved as a result of her retooling of the HR functions. 

My main observation though was that the two talks didn't really fit with each other. Both talks were very good and probably deserved a longer session each, but this session had the feel of two talks bolted together without a great deal of thought. 

But right now, my thoughts are turning to lunch, and a full wander round the Exhibition. 

Till next time...


#cipdace16 blog 4 - session D3

Here we go again. Day two of #cipdace16

Last night was good, although there were perhaps too many things all happening at the same time which spread me pretty thinly. 

I also live too close to Manchester to justify staying over so I got the train home, only to find it diverted because of a fallen tree, so I got home very late. Daughter then decided to get up minutes after I fell asleep, and two further times in the night before getting up just five minutes before my early start alarm. 

So I'm knackered and about as much use as an out of date chicken goujon (see Inji, I did it). 

My first session today is D3 about organisational transformation, headed by Lynne Weedall and Valerie Hughes D'Aeth, both of whom I've heard speak separately before so it was interesting to see them interact with each other. 

Lynne was integration lead in the Dixons/Carphone merger and talked about the need to recognise emotion in any change process. I've been through an M&A process in recent years and will be going through another in the near future so it's a topic I've reflected a lot on and I can understand the emotion involved in the process. 

Lots of merger type processes involve loss, and so people go through the usual cycle of reactions to any loss. People willl struggle to let go of issues and emotions whilst they are still dealing with their loss and organisations often fail to address this. 

I suffered and saw a lot of loss in my most recent merger type experience and I struggled to let it go, and it wasn't helpful that there were multiple losses and I was expected, and told to, just get on with it and somehow expected to be an ambassador and advocate for the new organisation despite all that loss and emotion. It's hard. I couldn't do it. 

Lynne then talked a lot about the comparisons between mergers and marriages. I've written and spoken a lot about this and it was nice to see some of my own ideas coming out on stage, reassuring that some of the big hitters in HR think the same as me!

She talked about the need to do cultural due diligence before the merger, and build change capability by looking at culture and looking at desired post merger culture before the merger happens. Let frontline staff work together delivering services rather than sending them on change and transformation workshops. 

Lynne finished by saying that whatever your role in a merger or integration you will learn from it, emerge stronger and with greater skills. This is very true and apt for my own situation. Whilst I enjoyed the pre integration stuff and was totally on board with everything, something happened at the point of merger and switched me off completely so that the trust was gone and I hated my post merger experience, but what I can't deny is that I emerged stronger and with a greater skill set and range of knowledge that has served me well since and will do in the future. 

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, quoted Lynne from Victoria Beckham of all people. 

Valerie, from the BBC, then took over, looking at the transformation that has taken place to develop a leaner BBC. She outlined the challenges facing the BBC from a financial and service delivery perspective, which are vast. 

She set out some organisational design principles that have helped them transform. In an organisation of 21,000 people they have only 7 layers of management and a maximum span of control of 1:10. I wonder how many organisational restructures begin with and hold true to these kinds of design principles?

The BBC also did a professional services review with the aim of minimising back office services, which is something many public sector organisations have had to do, and they had an aim of reducing spend on back office services from 10% to 6%, which considering the BBCs budget is a big reduction in spend. 

She talked about the need to manage stakeholders, both internal and external, in managing change and transformation. The BBC have a range of mechanisms to help them handle this, which were sensible options covering a range of media and channels. 

Interestingly, Valerie talked about the HR transformation that was part of the wider change. More areas came into HR such as internal Comms and apprenticeships. The HR budget had to reduce by £60m and also the entire team had to move from West London to Birmingham. 

And 60% of the team left and were replaced by new HR staff, which is a very high percentage and suggests that some of the change either wasn't understood by the original HR team or impacted them too negatively. I think this is inevitable and doesn't mean the change is wrong, but it needs careful handling to ensure people are bought in and, if they're not, that they know that that's ok and they can opt out and leave the organisation with their heads held high. 

That wasn't always the case in my own personal experience but it's good advice nonetheless. 

This was an interesting talk about lessons learnt from organisational transformation and it would be interesting to learn more about the detail involved. 

Coffee beckons. 

Till next time...


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

#cipdace16 blog 3 - sessions B2 and C4

Lunch came and went in a blur and I've not managed to get round the Exhibition yet except to one or two stands. I had fun doing the quiz and some filming on the DPG stand, and looked enviously at some cupcakes on other stands that I will seek out later if I get chance. 

I'm now in session B2 with HR superstar Neil Morrison and one of my fellow Blogsquad Members from last year, Claire Thomas. They talked about how they had reimagined the recruitment experience at Penguin Random House. 

I liked the ideas expressed here. Neil's take on it was to imagine the experience as akin to a customer experience in a retail transaction, and just as companies seek to retain customers through engaging with them through the purchasing process, so companies should seek to retain talent by engaging with them through the recruitment process. 

They asked us What if...we could each reimagine our own recruitment processes. Discussion on my table started off by someone suggesting scrapping the face to face interview and replacing it with realistic job simulations. There seemed to be consensus that there is something wrong with the interview process. So why do so many organisations hold dearly to it?

Another discussion centred around whether knowledge based or behaviourally based interview questions work best. Most organisations seemed to be having a mix of these despite an acknowledgement that there is little insight gained from knowledge based questions. 

My recent experience has seen some appointed candidates withdraw post offer but pre start, often when they are in for a day finding out a bit more about the job in readiness for their imminent start. I am wondering what happens at that point that we couldn't show them during the selection phase? Withdrawing from a process is fine if you don't think a job is for you, but doing so post offer is frustrating for any employer. 

Ultimately many organisations simply don't look at the recruitment process from the perspective of the candidate, and they should. The candidate is "buying" the organisation as much as the organisation is "buying" the candidate, so both sides need that opportunity to fully disclose what each will bring to the dance. Lots of organisations on my table discussions seemed to agree with this but were struggling with how to do it and how to resource it adequately. 

I loved the concept of a soft microphone thrown around the room to facilitate open discussion here. 

After a manic break and sugar intake I'm in session C4 debating the future of work via a panel debate. I haven't managed to get round even 20% of the Exhibition and my swag haul is almost non existent, something I have to work on tomorrow. 

Richard McKinnon started us off with an insight into how, even if the world and its technology changes around us, the psychology of human beings doesn't and we need to continue to be sceptical, continue to be awkward and continue to ask lots of questions. I'm fairly certain my three children have this down to a fine art. 

The second speaker, Valerie Todd, said we need to use technology to break down barriers to inclusion and engagement in workplaces, not sue technology to erect or reinforce barriers. 

The third speaker, Neil Carberry, drew on historical examples for us to learn from but set us challenges on how to deal with increased automation. We've been through this before, historically. He suggested we need to get close to the leaders of our businesses so that we can influence the change. We need to reclaim technology and ensure it enables people not shuts them down. And we need to constantly work on trust in the workplace, something reinforced by recent referendum and election results. 

The fourth speaker, Laura Harrison, talked about the need to ensure the capabilities of HR professionals are up to speed with what's facing us. It's not so much about working with people's skills and knowledge, but instead working with people's hearts and minds. We need people to bring their whole self into work and engage with what we are doing. She advocated HR going back to its roots in terms of finding a place for people in organisations whilst the world changes. Think about the ways in which we can create environments and cultures of innovation and collaboration. 

Jo Swinson then chaired a discussion about the key themes explored here. The panel discussed how HR needs to adapt in the future, and the speakers talked about helping people to interact with and use technology. A lot of focus was about how HR can deal with increased automation and use of drones, and that's something I may blog separately on in the future because I wonder whether we worry because it's new for us, and our children aren't worried at all. 

It's the end of a long conference day for me and blogging can be draining. I am now in need of a Lucozade before heading out to some of the social events this evening. If you see me looking drained tonight, come and say hello and I promise I'll liven up. 

More blogs and social media output to follow from me tomorrow. 

Till next time...


#cipdace16 blog 2 - session A1

After an all too quick networking coffee break and catching up with people I've not seen for ages, I'm back in a session, this time A1 and unlocking performance. 

Steve Head was talking about making the 1% performance difference. This is similar to the concept of marginal gains as espoused by Matthew Syed and Clive Woodward last year and its because of my personal and professional interest in this concept and it's links to sports and coaching that I went to those and this session. 

Steve talked about why coaching gives him energy, and I agree. It's about helping people to improve themselves. He showed a slide with some equations and one was wrong. He didn't point this out but asked people to give feedback on the slide, and lots of people pointed out the error rather than pointing out that 3/4 of the equations were right. His point was that we need to focus on the good stuff. You need to notice the bad stuff and do something about it, but focus on the good stuff. People who focus on the bad stuff are mood hoovers. 

To be honest I found this talk hard to blog because he was so fast and funny and it was hard to keep up. 

He gave us all a challenge called the Four Minute Rule. For the first four minutes of being with someone each day, whether at home or at work, you're not allowed to say or do anything negative or critical. This builds the habit of focusing on the good stuff, and builds engagement. 

Can you manage this?

Steve talked about The Curse of the Strong. Essentially talking about mental breakdowns, and how it is often the strong people who break down, not those who are generally weaker. He says there are some things that predispose people to mental stresses, and he listed nine things that I couldn't capture whilst typing, but they were pretty general statements that most people could recognise in themselves. He recommended creating your own Gob (Glimpse Of Brilliance) File where you collate all the compliments you gather for anything you do. I used to do this and called it my Trumpet File, and it was great to every now and again flick through it, and it was a massive boost to my confidence, ego and overall mental wellbeing. 

I'm not sure why I stopped, but it was never hard to keep going. 

I may restart this. 

Steve's talk was helpful in sharing some easy to do tips and techniques to improve the culture of performance and success.

He then introduced Matt King OBE. 

Matt shared his own story, starting with a horrific rugby accident in 2004 which broke his neck and left him paraplegic. His story was heartbreaking and I can't imagine how he must have felt in his own mind, but his descriptions were powerful and emotional. 

This too was hard to cover because of the power of the talk and because of an unfortunate incident where an audience member fainted and this distracted people. 

But Matt talked about identifying what your Everest is. For him it was getting his life back and he knew, just like climbing Everest, that it could not be achieved in one go or in the short term. He encouraged each one of us to identify what our personal Everest was, and to break it down into small, manageable, daily goals. 

Matt's journey was inspirational. He showed unlimited drive and determination and it was truly humbling to listen to his story. He linked back to Steve's opening speech and the 149 effect. Focus on the good things - his drive and desire, his support network and the parts of him (his brain) that were still working, rather than the bad stuff and the things that were broken. 


Apologies for the poor quality of this blog because the talks were so good I got pulled into the emotion in the room. 

Till next time...


#cipdace16 blog 1

So here we go again. First blog from #cipdace16. I'm lucky and pleased to be part of the Blogsquad again which is a great honour but also a very tiring one. Blogging, tweeting and frequently posting on other social media all day long, coupled with an early start, lots of networking and a late finish due to the press dinner and other social activities mean I'll be absolutely knackered later and probably grumpy tomorrow. 


I'm here both days and intend summarising my views on most of the sessions I get to along with other conference and exhibition happenings. Im also likely to be lurking around the Press Office and through the Exhibition regularly so if you see me, stop me and say hello. 

I'll also be tweeting, posting on Instagram and maybe even doing face swaps on Snapchat.

I'll also repeat my bargain from last year (unsuccessful I may add) that if any exhibitors will offer me a neck and shoulder massage (either from a qualified therapist or not, I'm not fussy) then I will frequent your stand and promote it heavily via said social media outlets.

I have NO shame. 

To the conference itself. 

Opening speech is Peter Cheese as usual. 

Peter started off by referencing the US election results and comparing the impact to that felt after the Brexit vote. His take on this is that we are not all in the same place, and not everyone's voice is being heard, and that gives us new challenges but also new opportunities in the future world of work.


Peter talked about the future of work needing to be good for people, and the challenges posed by all of the world changing around us, making it difficult to achieve our goals.


Peter asserted that the future of work is about fairness, opportunity and transparency. It's about productivity and skills, about diversity and inclusion, and about wellbeing and engagement. He's right, and he's also right that HR and the CIPD have a key role to play in shaping these agendas.


He talked about how the HR profession is evolving and how it needs to further evolve, topics I have very recently blogged on. He says we have to become experts on people and organisational behaviour, and stay strong to our principles and professional identity.


He then handed over to Margaret Heffernan for her keynote opening speech.


Margaret's talk covered some of the same ground on the future of work. Her opening analogy on productivity was interesting in that it drew on a lot of evolutionary theory, citing Darwin that it's not survival of the strongest or fittest, it's survival of the most adaptable. She claimed that many people have this theory the other way around but I'm not sure they do. She's making a good point though that the key to survival and productivity has been with us for a long long time.


She talked about teams being successful, where the most successful teams get the best from each team member and are well balanced in terms of gender. She noted that research showed that the better teams have more women in them.


She also noted that organisations and teams across the world excel when their team members display helpful behaviours and are helpful to other people in the team.


Does your team and its members display this trait? Can you measure it? If so, how?


Much of the trait of helpfulness made me think of the oft referred to term of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) - in essence a very loose team but I find my own PLN exceptionally helpful and am pleased to be helpful in return. I'd characterise my PLN as exceptionally successful in achieving my own learning goals, but much of this is based on my ability to select it's members and to quietly dispose of them if I don't find them helpful.


Of course, as a manager I have this power, but it's not as easy as that, particularly if you're one senior leader amongst many and the team in question is that senior team you are part of.


Heffernan talked about nodes, people in organisations who know everyone and everything. I call these people hubs in my own thinking, but she talked about maximising the potential of these hubs or nodes and has found that by encouraging these people to take regular coffee and networking breaks raises the productivity of both the hub person and those they come into contact with.


As network theory goes, that's good stuff.


So, taking time away from work makes you more productive when you get back to it.


I've found that too but it's refreshing to see someone else mention it. Although the concept of FIKA has been well researched and it's something I've yet to implement in my own workplace, but maybe I should.


She built on this by saying you can measure the success of an organisation by looking at how long it takes for important information to get around that organisation.


That's an interesting measure of success. When I examine culture in an organisation I encourage people to look at HOW information moves around the organisation, but not necessarily how FAST. So that's an interesting perspective.


The nodes or hubs are critical in this dissemination of information, and I'd urge you to remember that these people can spread bad news and harmful gossip just as quickly as they can spread good news. So be careful who you use as nodes and for what purpose.


She also talked about the nature of the world now and the pace of change being such that business can only safely plan perhaps two years ahead. I once spoke to someone who worked in the nuclear decommissioning industry who was able to work on plans of 100+ years, so this will be a blow to her.


She's right though. Just look at what has happened in America overnight. Many organisations long term plans are now in disarray. It will be interesting to see how other speakers address similar issues in their workshops over the next two days. 

Heffernan also talked about how Microsoft have survived despite missing out on a number of key technological developments over the decades. She asserted that it's by having a growth mindset, in recent years at least, where every person feels they are there to learn and to grow, and look around the organisation to share mistakes and help each other learn from mistakes. She gave an excellent example of how the new Microsoft CEO made a public mistake and often cites this in his own learning journey, and will talk regularly to all employees about it in order to encourage greater learning from mistakes. 

She said one question we can ask people is who helped them get to where they are today. If they can cite a long list of people, great. If they refer to themselves, then we don't want them around. The former group of people are those who will help to build a more successful organisation, because you're acquiring their social capital which will impound your own. 

This puts managers in the role of casting actors in a play. If you can cast the best actors, you'll deliver the best play. 

Who would you cast? And who would you never cast again?

Food for thought. 

Till next time. 


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Bazuka that VUCA...part 2 of 2

In the first part of this blog post, I discussed what types of roles I see emerging in the future of HR where we need, as Margaret Heffernan pointed out, fuse people, technology and innovation.  I also talked about what pressures and factors are causing this.

In this second and final part I'm going to talk about how this impacts on the DNA of HR and how we structure HR teams, aswell as how we can make practical choices about service delivery in the future.

I think the need to engage with multiple stakeholders, as I hinted about in the first part, changes the DNA of HR.

Its no longer enough to know about HR if you work in HR.  You will need to know and understand at least the basics of Finance, Marketing, IT etc and most importantly, you're going to need to know how people work and how they fit into organisational systems and networks both in and outside the company.

In many firms, particularly smaller ones, the most common HR delivery model is: traditional HR support; and everything else.

But its the everything else that I see as the growing and more important area.

Ulrich hints at what I think is the right model for many organisations with this quote: "HR outcomes are owned by the line, with HR professionals being architects of how to deliver these outcomes".  I think if you take this line of thinking to its natural conclusion, then HR is no longer a function but an area of practice - because at least every manager, if not every employee, plays a part in delivering what we currently look at as the traditional HR model.

This line hints at what I think HR needs to be - the ultimate generalist, not in an HR sense but in a business sense, working with all stakeholders in the business.

So how do we adapt what we do?

Mostly through a technological solution I think.

In many smaller organisations, HR system amount to just a Payroll system maybe with a few bolt-ons.  But even these are now evolving - many Payroll software companies are being left behind by the market and the rise of new and easily-accessible apps allow employees direct access to systems and platforms which changes what HR need to do.

We can now truly devolve transactional activities to the line using technology - give the line data, and information, to make decisions.  We can give the workforce the technology to make choices and manage/tailor their employment experience.

The success of companies like Uber and Airbnb show that it works when you give people direct access to service providers.  We are also used to sites like Facebook and Amazon customising our own user experience and using our data and activity to change what we see and do - so we could and should do the same for employees.

Taking this to a logical conclusion, I wonder if HR professionals, as knowledge workers, have a role delivering traditional HR any more - if an employee could simply Google or ask Siri to get them the information instead.

And for this reason I think the role of traditional HR is on the decline.

In HR, we need to grasp technology and use it - there are a lot of good examples of businesses doing good work here - I often cite Halton Housing Trust as one who is moving to a majority digital approach to service delivery with some good results (see HERE) - and if an organisation like HHT can do this for customers, can they / we do it for employees?

Yes we can.

In fact, we have to.

So, summing up...

  • There are blurred lines in our future.  HR in the future isn't going to be defined by how much HR you do, but by how much HR you don't do and how much non-HR work you have knowledge and experience of
  • Bye bye best practice. If we go down the route of individualising the employee experience then we can't say for certain that standardisation and consistency is a good thing.  Everyone will be and should be experiencing things differently.
  • The key HR role will be to help people develop the ability to cope and thrive under pressure - to perform.  By looking at individual needs and using the available technology to customise the employee experience, we can do that
My middle child, when she was aged 3, once asked me what I did at work.  I don't know if you've ever tried explaining HR to an adult, let alone a 3 year old child, but I struggled with this and eventually settled on:

"My job is to make people happy at work"

She thought about this and toddled off, coming back a few minutes later with some paints and brushes.  Her rationale was that painting was what made her happy, so she assumed my job similarly involved painting.

But ultimately, she was right.  HR in the future is about unlocking what individuals want in order to make them feel happy and perform.

Its about painting a picture for an employee of how they can contribute and how we can help.

Do you paint?

Till next time...


PS in other news, its #CIPDACE16 next week and I'm very pleased to be part of the Blogsquad.  Watch out for social media output from me on various platforms on 9 & 10 November.