Thursday, 22 June 2017

What are you up to on the evening of 13 July?

This blog is about the ongoing review by the CIPD of its Professional Standards Framework, and your opportunity to contribute to this and the future shape of the profession.  Here's a link to the event details on 13 July.

I've blogged twice about professionalism, here on my own blog and on the CIPD site also. I've got strong views on it and had been looking forward to this event taking place so I could contribute in person.

But Sod's law is in full effect and I can't go to it. Any other day or evening that week would be fine, and even during the day would be fine that day but not evening, where I've a prior commitment.

This really frustrates me given the amount of noise I've made about professionalism and the role of HR in this.

I feel like a bit of a hypocrite telling you that you need to go, and having made so much fuss about it all, only to not turn up myself.

The good news is that there are other opportunities to contribute and if you want to do so by emailing to register your interest in other events and via non face to face means if necessary.  I've done that.

But I desperately want to contribute, and want as many people to contribute as can too.

Its important. There's plenty of us in the HR game, and plenty more who need us to get it right for everyone.  We're all workers, employees or in the gig economy - and if we can't rely on HR to be professional and focus on enhancing the employee (etc) experience and creating amazing workplaces, then we may as well all give up and go home.

The importance of understanding what HR is as a profession and how we influence the wider workplace and indeed society through our behaviour, ethics, skills and knowledge cannot be understated.

We're important.  You might not think so, but we are.

So here's a chance to shape what our profession looks like in the future.

For those who say that the current professional qualification isn't fit for purpose - you're right - so come along and help reshape it.

For those who say that the current CIPD is too HR based and doesn't recognise or give equal importance to some of the existing and developing specialisms - you're right - so come along and help sort that out.

For those who say that the CIPD is too London-focused and doesn't do enough around the rest of the country - you're right - so come along and show them that us in the North West have a massive voice and role to play too.

For those who say that there are many hugely talented individuals who operate in the HR sphere who've never felt the need to become CIPD qualified or members - you're right - so come along and help make CIPD attractive and beneficial to those people too.

You're important.  Your views, your opinions, your thoughts and your lovely face.

I'd normally finish by saying See You There, but as I can't make it and am slightly hypocritical I'll finish by asking you to be as open and honest as you can, and to report back to me afterwards.  I'll be contributing in other ways but I'd like to hear your views to help me develop mine.

Till next time...


PS in other news, I've started work dismantling my current shed and that'll be finished in a day or so, so the next job is building the bigger new one.  I've never seen so many woodlice and slugs, but not one spider, not even a dead one.

PPS in other news, far FAR more people have mentioned the shed to me after it appeared in PS in my last blog than have commented on the blog itself. This may say more about what appeals to people than anything else.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

A Perfect Day

Last week I did an Ignite talk at #cipdnap17 on the subject of Work Life Balance and how I go about creating A Perfect Day. Given that it is, by coincidence, Go Home On Time Day on 21 June, the timing seems apt to expand on this. 

I'm grateful to Gemma Dale for publishing her own excellent blog on this subject which made me think about writing this one. 

Read hers, then come straight back here. I'll wait. 

Done? Good. 

My Ignite talk was again delivered as a rhyme, and I really enjoyed doing it. I drew some inspiration not just for the talk but for my whole approach to work life balance from Nigel Marsh's excellent TED talk on the subject some years ago.

My talk was filmed and you can watch it here if you like. 

In it, I'm making, in a fairly haphazard way, a few key points which I'll expand on here. 

1. That there is something that approximates a perfect day for everyone, but it is a rare and unusual thing. Too often we don't make efforts to create it, as we are too busy or (worse) don't realise what we need or (even worse) do realise but do nothing about it. My point was that by making some very small adjustments to your day, and helping others to do the same, our organisations and our families can reap huge rewards. 

2. In HR we could take a leading role in educating managers and employees on the benefits of flexibility. However this doesn't often seem to happen, and even when leading by example I've encountered suspicion and mistrust. But our ability to influence is there and should be used. 

3. The demands of modern family life are often largely incompatible with the demands of the traditional working day and traditional organisation. So one of these sets of demands has to change, and the only one we in HR can realistically influence on behalf of others is the latter. But again by leading by example we can show people how to manage the demands of both. 

4. Organisations who tell their staff how to work, how to dress, when to take lunch and for how long, what hours to work etc are going about it all in the wrong way. They can't unlock the engagement and discretionary effort they want from their staff unless they change. Too many organisations judge people by how many hours they are sat at their desk, and not by the quality of output they deliver. If someone wants to take an hour or so off to do the school run and help their kids with their homework, and then will log on late at night and catch up, does it really matter as long as their work is done?

5. Working in the evening or at weekends is a personal choice and not one that should be encouraged or expected by organisations. Too many see emails sent late at night or at weekends as a sign of being some kind of workplace hero, as working harder or more than someone else. If you want to do it, fine - but set your emails to send first thing in the morning so you don't impose your lifestyle and working patterns on others. 

6. You are never too busy to spend time building working and family relationships and a coffee catch-up with someone is time well spent no matter what else you need to be doing. Telling someone you're too busy to grab a coffee says less about your workload and more about you as a human being.

So if it's Go Home On Time Day, I suppose this will mean different things to different people. 

And that's ok, because everyone's perfect day is different. Everyone's perception of work life balance is also different. 

But in organisations, as HR professionals, we need to be encouraging people to explore what it means for them. To adopt a trial and error approach and, as I've mentioned before, present successive drafts of themselves. 

We shouldn't judge anyone for trying to get themselves balanced. 

Till next time. 


PS in other news, I've recently built a large climbing frame. I am reminded why I hate DIY and also how poor I am at it. I would happily outsource all of this if I could. And I have a new shed to build next…

Friday, 2 June 2017

If you're happy and you know it...

This is the fifth in a series of blogs discussing the concept of motivation and what its sources might be. Its prompted by a conversation I had with Bee Heller, from The Pioneers. Bee asserts that there are seven different sources of motivation, and is writing about each of them on The Pioneers website.

We decided I'd write a commentary piece about each one on my own blog, and look at what's happened in organisations I've worked in and with - whether the source of motivation Bee's blog discussed has been used to good effect or been neglected; what's worked well in terms of creating an environment that enhances that motivation; and what's not worked so well or undermined that motivation for people?

Here's Bee's blog on Happiness. In it, she quotes research that suggest that happy people can be lazy thinkers, too trusting and less persuasive.  She concludes by saying that there is such a thing as being "too happy" in a workplace, and that organisations shouldn't continually seek ways of making people happier, and instead look into a broader range of motivational techniques and tools.


Bee's blog reminded me of this quote from John Lennon.

I have to say I'm more in agreement with Lennon's quote than the quoted research, although I'm no academic and can't quote any contradictory research.  Lennon's quote just feels right.

So what is happiness at work?  How do you know if you are happy, and what happens when you are?

I've been very happy in a number of different organisations and roles.  I can usually tell I'm happy because of a few things.  I'm productive, I find enjoyment in what I am doing, I make jokes and wisecracks, I challenge others to be even better, and more than anything else I find my thoughts drifting to work issues when I'm not at work.  I'd go so far as to say that when I'm happy my performance is sharper than ever.

I do my best work when I'm happy.  And I know many others who do too.  And in fact I'd say that a group of happy workers make for a good team, and can collaborate with each other much better than a group of grumpy workers.


In my Amazing Workplaces talk I say that we don't want a company full of Tiggers, or a company full of Victor Meldrews, we want a happy medium.  And I do hold to that.

So in a sense I do agree that there may be such a thing as being "too happy".  Its acceptable to have and display a wide range of emotions, and I'm conscious that many people will be able to use unhappiness as a motivator too.  Putting such people together with the overbearingly happy is a recipe for disaster.

I've also worked in places and roles where I'm been unhappy, in some cases desperately so.  In a strange way these experiences of being very unhappy both motivate and demotivate me.  In work when unhappy I have definitely been disengaged and not produced my best work, but I've also been able to use my general sense of dissatisfaction to fire me up to do even greater things - even if this is a very limited fuel source.

And unhappy people can be contagious.  Often they will search for someone else to share their unhappiness with, someone they can have a good old moan with about how bad things are.  Neither of these people are too productive when that happens, unless you count moaning as productivity.

But despite all of this I still don't agree with Bee's quoted research that happy people can be less effective in the workplace, or that organisations shouldn't try to make their employees happier.

I often quote the story of when my middle child was aged 3 and she asked me what I do at work.  Its hard to define HR to an adult, let alone a child, so I struggled for a while before settling on this description:

"My job is to make people happy at work"

She went off, satisfied with this, only to come back with her paints and brushes - she told me that painting is what made her happy (and thus, could we do some right now) and she thought - and still thinks to this day - that my job involves getting people to paint in some way.

And I think its still a pretty neat definition of what HR is, and what organisations should aim to be doing.

Make people happy.

From my own experience I know I'm close to giving 100% when I'm happy, but I know that mostly when I'm unhappy I struggle to give even 50%.

By coincidence, on 14 June I'm speaking at the Happy Workplaces Conference in London.  The conference is pretty much what it says on the tin.  I'll be talking about what organisations can do to make their workplace a happy one, whilst still respecting the balance of emotions necessary for an effective workplace.

It will be interesting to hear other attendees views on happiness in the workplace.

Till next time...


PS in other news, I've been clearing out the garage and garden in recent weeks, and am simply amazed at how much stuff I've been able to get rid of. How did we end up with so much stuff?