Wednesday, 16 November 2016
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
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
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.
Wednesday, 2 November 2016
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.
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
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.