From resources to human beings #cipdace

John Amaechi believes that HR is increasingly becoming the moral compass of an organisation, with a responsibility to preserve organisational integrity.  I really don’t know how I feel about this. On one hand there have been times during my carer that I’ve been the person in the room arguing from feeling, arguing for the right thing to do.  But should we need a moral compass? What does it say about our organisations if we do?  Should integrity be the role of a department – or everyone’s responsibility?

This talk is about how we humanise our workforce to develop healthy and ethical organisations.  I’ve never liked the ‘resources’ part of HR. It’s not how I think of people, it’s not how I want people to think about me. So I’m listening.


This is what John has to say.

We are custodians of culture.  Senior colleagues often think that our job is to create compliance, procedure, policy, legal frameworks.  We know that stress is everywhere.  People are constantly talking about AI and robotics. These conversations seem to be about making robots who look and behave like humans.  Think about what we already have – Alexa and Siri.  We have gendered AI right from the beginning.  We aren’t asking Alexa to tackle the big problems, just to turn the lights on and off.

We are turning our people into things in our workplace.  We are allowing it to happen.  It is being caused by our environments and our leaders.

All too often we treat our people like vending machines.  Like job descriptions.  We make them feel invisible.  We don’t see them or hear them unless we need something from them.  Do this, do that. We don’t see them as individuals, but we so need to do so.

Go on any company website.  They will all say the same sort of thing about their values. About how they are diverse and inclusive.  That want people to feel engaged. They want innovative thinking.  We have a great working environment at our place.

These are supposed to illustrate what it is like to be in our organisations.  As people who work with people, we have to maintain some congruence between the rhetoric of our statements and the reality.  How many people believe their company values – research suggests about 27%.  For many, the promise and the experience are disparate.

If we are in a relationship with someone and the lie to us, we leave.  If we promise values, experience, but then do not deliver, people will move on.

We have values, but then allow people to behave like jerks and not live them. We allow people to poison these values. If managers allow or create toxic environments, we will remember, we will not forgive them.

HR must be the custodian. We have organisations that are saying the right things, now it is time to make sure we live up to them.

Right now, disruption roars around us.  Leaders that roar should be resisted. It is tempting at times of disruption to look to autocrats, people who a strong, give orders. There are still too many people like this in senior positions.

You are more powerful in HR than you think. People may want to put you in your place. We may think that our actions are inconsequential.  This isn’t so. People will look to us to set the tone and live the values in our organisation.  We have a dual responsibility to not only do our jobs but deliver the promised experience.

Because no one will work for someone that lies to them.  This is how we reverse the trend of low productivity, low engagement.  We have to do this all the time.

We cannot predict and prepare for the important moments.  We cannot always see them coming, we do not even always know when they happen until after they have gone. We must always be vigilant and mindful.

We must always make time to connect with people.  Give them moments of our time.  Human connection is what will make us thrive, not policy and procedure.  Whether we see each other as real people.  We must demand it of ourselves and our colleagues, all the time.

I loved this session.  It was delivered with humour and style, and personal reflection. There were no slides (I love this).  There is nothing to disagree with.

In HR we have a unique position. We can create the culture.  We might not always think that we can, but we do have influence – perhaps in ways we do not always appreciate.  Whatever our context and situation, whatever our organisational power, there is something else that we can do – we can role model.  I know it is a cliché, but we can truly be the change that we want to see – at work if not in the whole world.  Even if the people around us don’t live the values, we can. Even if the people around us don’t uphold an ethical approach, we can.   Whether we realise it or not, people will look to us, will see our shadow.

If I didn’t believe these things, then I wouldn’t do the work that I do.

It is also a cliché to talk about putting the human into human resources.  But after listening to this talk, it doesn’t suddenly feel quite so stale.

This is a live blog post. Please ignore any typos!


Back to Human #CIPDACE

I’m at the CIPD conference listening to author Dan Schawbel. He’s talking about how technology has created the illusion that we are connected at work, but, while useful, virtual communication has contributed to a greater sense of isolation than ever before.

Now as a social media enthusiast I instinctively dislike this suggestion.  Social media is where I met my partner and some of my very favourite people.  It is where I found my tribe, my community of practice, my PLN.  I passionately believe in the power of technology to connect us at work and beyond, regardless of geography, access, timezones.

So…. will I like when he has to say?


Dan argues:

The illusion of connection is that we are forming strong bonds but they are weak ties. Voice is gone, you have to send a text message.  We look at our phones every 12 minutes (Note from me- nah, more than that). Technology and apps and devices are designed to get us addicted. The more we use them, the more we tap our phones, the more money organisations make.

Half of Americans would rather break a bone than their phone. Technology is a double edged sword. We need to know when, where and how to use it.  We need to ensure we aren’t overusing it.  If you are in a meeting or a social event and looking at your phone, you are not present.  You are physically there but not in any other way.  So why did you bother showing up? Do you panic if you have no mobile signal? We miss moments as we are so busy posting pictures on Instagram or Facebook, looking for likes from people who aren’t there, that we might not even like.

Not having your phone is the new vacation.  We are lacking human connection.

Remote working is something that is increasing.  We talk about benefits of it, but not the dark side.  We can save on commuting costs and time.  It is the most desired benefit – but at the same time this privilege to work wherever we want has come with its inbuilt issues.  Remote working can impact team commitment and connection.

We are addicted to email. We would rather send an email than talk to people. (Note from me – yes, I would. Don’t ring me).

You can have a lot of Facebook friends, but are they real friends, or are we lonely?

Work is impacting our life.  We need to recognise people as people and not workers – and this is going to become even more important as the technology in our work and lives increases.

We need to integrate our lives with our work.

Social integration is important, but we are removing it from our society.  Consider self service checkouts.  We don’t have to engage with another human being.

With all the talk about technology taking over jobs, what matters is our humanity – what makes you, you.  Use technology where it appropriate, but stick to being human.

There are four key employee engagement factors that relate to each other.  The first one is trust.  The second is belonging – people want to feel that they belong at work.  Third is purpose – people need a reason to go to work every day.  Finally, happiness.  Without these factors this is not a healthy environment.

People want to bring their full selves into the workplace, and we have to meet them where we are.  We need to get back to human.


I just don’t know how I feel about this whole session……..  I get that we need breaks from work.  I get that technology can be as problematic as it is freeing and positive.  But I have genuinely never felt the need for a digital detox.  My phone is where my friends are, where I connect, learn and engage with people I wish I could see more but can’t.  It is the place where I see my beautiful god-daughter every day, even though she is geographically far away.

For me, it isn’t the technology but how we use it.  We do have agency and choice.  Remote working doesn’t have to mean working from home everyday, not connecting with others.  It can be part of a mix.  Technology doesn’t have to prevent communication and discussion, but facilitate it.  Being in the office can also be isolating, depending on where and how you work.

So much of this is contextual.  What works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone.  not everyone needs or wants work friendships.  Not everyone has a lot of transactional Facebook friends.

For some of us (e.g. me) chatting to my friends in my social spaces, through my phone, makes me happy.

Using technology doesn’t mean we aren’t empathic.  It doesn’t mean we can’t bring our whole self to work.

This stuff is undoubtedly complex.  Late night and weekend emailing can be pressuring, damaging to health, indicative of problematic organisational culture.  It could be that someone is working flexibly at a time that works for them, when they feel most energised.  What we need to do is empower people.  To turn off the tech when they need to.  To work when and how they need to, but at the same time tell others that this doesn’t mean that they need to do the same.  If your phone and the technology isn’t serving you well, put it down.  You have choice.  I don’t want me emails to be automatically deleted because I am on holiday, or my colleagues to be banned from emailing me out of hours – I am an adult.  And that just perpetuates the idea that there are ‘normal’ working hours rather than recognising that a healthy, balanced approach might mean I can work when it works for me.

Connect in person. Connect virtually.  Both, for me, are human.


Put down your phone if you need to. And if you don’t feel that you have a problem, then proceed as you were.

This is a live blog.  Please ignore any typos!



I’ve attended a focus group this afternoon, looking at CPD support for the profession. The focus group asked us what support we would like the CIPD to provide to members.  We talked too about whether any learning should be mandated, what are the barriers to CPD, whether CPD should be recognised and what, if any, consequences should be if people just don’t bother.  All good questions – but one that is being asked to an already engaged audience.

This is a soapbox moment for me.  I get hugely frustrated with HR professionals who don’t seek to develop themselves. Our work, our context, our understanding about people, is constantly evolving.  And so should we be.  This isn’t the sort of profession where you can learn something on a course and it will still be working for you a decade later.

CPD should not be an optional extra. I still meet HR people (I deliberately didn’t use the word ‘professional’) who don’t do any learning.  They almost take pride in the pile of unread magazines on their office table.  To refuse to learn, is a form of arrogance.

I don’t buy ‘I don’t have time’.  We all find time for the things we really want to do.  That is why there are more people in the gym than the pub.

Whilst I am writing this from a conference, you don’t have to do that thing if it’s not your thing. Read books, blogs, journals, articles.  Get on Twitter and follow some thought leaders, join a Twitter chat, lurk and learn.  Listen to a podcast.  Go to an employment law update, a local CIPD event, or just watch a Ted Talk.  Just do something.

We have a responsibility to our profession and our organisations to continually learn, in order to be the best HR professional that we can be.

Opinionated?  Me?

I’m not even sorry.


The Currency of Trust

I’m at the CIPD conference, listening to Rachel Botsman talking about the new era of trust, and why it is key for success.

She argues that the way we engage with each other, they way we do business, has radically changed over the last decade.  Aided by digital platforms we rely on others, often strangers, to help us make decisions.

Do you read product reviews? Check out the star ratings? Visit restaurant or hotel review sites?  Check out employers on Glassdoor?

We don’t know these people.  But we follow the comments of the crowd.

Botsman tells us that this new era of trust means more accountability for businesses- and we need to embed trust in our organisational DNA.

Here are her key points about why trust is any organisation’s most valuable asset.

Trust has become one of those words, like innovation and disruption, that people are using a lot. But what does it mean? How can we think about trust?

Who do you trust? What companies? Which people?

Trust is highly contextual. Trust people to do what? When we think about whether we trust someone or something, what do we really mean?

When we think about trust in companies, trust means different things.  Do we trust that they will deliver a product on time, or that they treat their employees well?

We all use trust signals.  Signs or symbols that help us decide whether someone is trustworthy.  Of course some signals are louder than others.  The trust gap – when we think we have enough information to make a decision, we have an illusion of information.  This can be dangerous.  We make decisions on poor information.  Can technology help us solve this problem, or does it magnify it?

How can we make smarter trust decisions?  Trust is a health issue. If you have experienced a breach of trust, it can be very damaging.  We see this in organisations too – low trust organisations that are also low performing.

Trust is a continuous process.  Organisations say that they have trust as a value.  Can trust ever be a value?  Trust is a human feeling.  A continuous process that happens between people.  It’s not a question of having it and always having it.

Organisations say that they want to build trust.  You can’t.  You have to earn it by continuously demonstrating that you are worthy of it.

We make allsorts of mistakes when it comes to trust.  We live in a culture in which there is trust on speed. We swipe to accept connections, order an Uber, arrange a date.  This is now being baked into the design of services.

In some many parts of our lives we are automating trust.  We give away our trust to technology.  But trust cannot be automated; it is a human process.  Efficiency can be the enemy of trust.  We can mistake convenience for trust.  Trust is the currency of interactions.

A trust leap is a mental model. What are we doing when we ask people to try a new service or product – taking a leap in trust. Leaps are a conduit for new ideas to travel.  When we see that enough people have benefited from a trust leap, others quickly follow.  They pull people from an unknown place to a known one.  We have been taking trust leaps since the beginning of time.  In our jobs and our lives, we are being asked to take leaps all the time.  This can mean we feel exhausted or even anxious.  We are leaping at a speed we have never known before.  We ask people to take trust leaps at work – use a new system, believe a new leader, try a new way of working.  How does this make people feel? Change programme can fail because we fail to recognise that we are asking them to make a trust leap – it is a genuinely scary place to be.

When we ask people to trust us, we assume that other people are in the same trust place that we are.  When we ask people to trust there are two variables.  There is known, and unknown.  The line in between is risk. Risk is exposure to uncertainty with a possibility of loss that matters.

Trust is a confident relationship with the unknown.  When we see it through this lens we can see why it is so important when it comes to change in particular.  To trust we are also vulnerable.  It is a mixture of our highest hopes and deepest fears.  This is why it hurts so much when it breaks down.

Often, people want to build trust through grand gestures.  But it is built in the smallest of moments, every day.  It is not an enormous Christmas present but our on-going actions.

Can you measure trust in an organisations? It’s difficult.  We all have a trust batter – it can be charged or drained.  It is said that you can build trust through transparency.  It is a common narrative – but is it really a common cure?  If we see trust as a confident relationship with the unknown, this isn’t necessarily true.  Trust and transparency are not mutually dependant.  If you need everything to be transparent – you have to some extent given up on trust.  Disclosure and openness are good things – but if everything has to be transparent then you are reducing the need for trust.  We need to think more about this relationship.  More transparency does not create more trust.  (Note from Gem- it sounds a bit like making your OH take a lie detector test on the Jeremy Kyle show to see if you can trust them – you can always rely on me for a highbrow reference). 

So if transparency isn’t the thing, how do we increase trustworthiness.  There are four traits; competence, reliability, integrity, benevolence.  The first two are ‘how’.  The second two are about the why.

When we are in a culture of growth and efficiency, when technology is moving at pace – how do we then achieve integrity at scale. We can all play a critical role. It isn’t about the grand gestures that we make, but our everyday actions.  This is how we will build trust.  Each time we play this role, we are acting to preserve the most precious and valuable asset: trust.


This is a live blog from the CIPD annual conference.  Please excuse any typos! 



The Guide on the Side #CIPDACE

I remember the days before social media. Yes, I am that old.

Back in the day, networking and CPD mostly meant attending an evening or breakfast event, with people who lived not too far away from the venue. Tea and coffee on arrival (a bacon buttie if you were lucky), and then a presentation, an update, a case study.  A space for some Q&A, and then a little mingling.  There are still plenty of these such events, and very good some of them are too.

But they can be limited and limiting. Fixed timings, geographical constraints, speaker and slide driven.  If we apply the 70:20:10 model, this sort of event is firmly in the 10%. Social media has changed how we connect and how we learn.  It has changed events conferences too.  Conferences have the same elements of those traditional methods of imparting learning and information, following the model we know from schools and universities.  Someone, with a particular knowledge or skill set, stands at the front of the room holding the authority.  They share what they know or what they have done.  They are often described as the ‘sage on the stage’.

This is problematic in a number of ways. Setting aside issues such as access, we know this isn’t really how we learn – and nor do we have to.  Technology and digital communication have changed the game.  It’s said that the sage on the stage is giving way to the ‘guide on the side’.  In a classroom environment this is a facilitation style where the guide helps students or delegates discover knowledge, signposts and supports exploration and discussion, steering people to content.  Encouraging independent thought and analysis.


When it comes to conferences and events, this is a role often fulfilled by a blog squad. A team of guides on the side, commenting, sharing, provoking, signposting.  Generating discussion outside of the formal structures.  Creating the back channel, an alternative space for learning.  Not constrained by geography.  Few barriers to entry.  Helping others to learn as we learn in life – on the move, on our devices, in the 70%.

This week, I’ll be a guide on the side for the CIPD annual conference and event.  The hashtag is #CIPDACE.  I’ll be joined in creating and curating by a lovely lot of tweeters and bloggers.  Let’s get together in this virtual place and share.  See you there?


#CIPDNAP17 – it’s all about the experience

This week I am volunteering at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership conference. It’s my favourite event of the year, and it is privilege to be part of the organising committee.

Why do I think the NAP conference is so special?

A few reasons.  First of all, the conference is run entirely by volunteers, for other HR professionals.  The aim behind the very small organising committee is simple: create a great couple of days at a reasonable price.  It isn’t about making a profit, it’s about learning and connecting and sharing.

I love NAP because the delegates love it. Every year people tell us that it’s the best conference they go to.  And that is why we do it.  It is why the speakers give their time, for free.

Of course it also gives me the opportunity to go back to beautiful Yorkshire. And, if I am honest, there is wine and dancing and laughing and friends.

So very early Friday morning you will find me putting up signs and helping exhibitors and handing out name badges and tweeting and running a fringe session and sorting out slide decks and making sure that the sweet stand is full (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it) and any of the other many, many things that need doing before the delegates arrive and the learning begins.

The subject of the conference this year is employee experience. There’s a reason that we picked this subject over employee engagement.  Everyone wants engaged employees. It’s a given.  A look through the theory will tell you the stuff that drives it.  Allegedly, it’s all about having organisational integrity, inspiring leaders, an organisational narrative, strong employee voice.

So far, so good.

There is other stuff too. It’s in the day to day. Engagement can be about big programmes, projects and initiatives.  But it’s all the little things too.  The individual employee experience.

The emails sent to the candidate in the application process.

The welcome on day one.

The food in the canteen.

The thought put into induction.

The office environment people are expected to work in.

The policies and procedures that must be adhered to.

The tools provided to do the job.

The quality of the conversation with the manager.

The training courses.

The internal communications issued.

Every interaction. Every day.

Real stuff.  Stuff that can be worked on.  Every day.


This blog is a thank you to every that is coming this year to speak, to facilitate, to volunteer. To talk about employee experience from a whole range of perspectives. Thank you to everyone that is giving their time to help others learn.

If you can’t make it, follow the hashtag on Twitter for all the commentary and blogs > #cipdnap17 

And if you are coming…. I’ll see you on the dancefloor!


Reflections on #cipdACE16

I’ve spent the last two days at the CIPD annual conference as part of the blogsquad.  The theme this year was ‘Shaping the Future of Work’.

Future was the word of the event.  The future of learning, of technology, of jobs and skills.  The future of work.  Of leadership. The responses and the preparations we need to make.  Making meaning of the trends and the possibilities.

My reflections from the event……

As I’ve already said in an earlier post, and indeed was echoed by some of the speakers, the future isn’t all that easy to predict.  We can try, but as Margaret Heffernan noted in the opening keynote, the lifetime of a business plan now is around two years now.  There is stuff that can be said to be known, and far too much that is unknown to make planning any further out unreliable.

Predictions we can make? There will be more technology.  Much more.  Still increased computing power.  AI.  Automation. Robots. More self employment / gig economy type stuff. Social media will continue to rise and rise.  The consumer experience, the working experience, the way we live our daily lives will continue to change.

And stay the same.

For the technology will be adopted at different paces, for both individuals and organisations alike. You know the curve.  And even with all the technology that we will have available to us, for all the changes we may see in the labour market, work is essentially, and will remain, a human endeavour.  It is people stuff.  It is also, as noted by the closing keynote speaker Gianpiero Petriglieri, it is how we define ourselves.

During the event I was asked by the folks at DPG what HR can do to help shape the future of work.

My answer? Whilst we can and should embrace the technology that is both available right now and will come along in due course, we must remember that first and foremost we are about people. A key role for HR, today and tomorrow, is helping our organisations and people navigate the future, whatever it looks like.  Learn the skills, adapt and respond.  Because we all know what happens to those that cannot.

It is important for us as HR professionals to think about and prepare for the future of work.  This is how we make ourselves and our organisations capable of surviving and thriving, today and tomorrow. But it goes without saying we need to pay attention to the now too.  Because there is much that needs to be done today in the world of work.

One of the sessions I attended during the conference was around the principles that the CIPD are developing for our profession.  During the session we talked about how work should be a force for good – but often it is not.

Our challenge in HR is the future, but it is also the now.

Better work, better working lives.  Today and tomorrow.

Change Stuff #cipdACE16

This morning I attended a session at the CIPD conference where HRD’s shared their experiences of organisational transformation.

One of those terms that sounds more fancy than it needs to.

Change is all it is.

A constant presence in all of the aspects of our lives.

Nothing stays the same.

I’m not going all VUCA on you. This isn’t about the so-called changing world that we live in or the digital world and all that future of work stuff, it is just life stuff.

When I hear people talk about change at work we often start from the premise that change is hard. Challenging.
Filled with emotion.

Well, yes.

Of course.

Emotion is always present. But which one?

My experience tells me that there is no linear path. You can’t map it on a curve, and you certainly can’t predict how people will react when they hear the whatever it is.

We all experience it differently. I have long given up trying to predict what someone will say or do when you sit down with them face to face whilst wearing your HR hat.

What I do know is this: Change is hard.


Sometimes it is other stuff too.

Necessary. Cathartic. Liberating. Exciting. Frightening.

Sometimes it is long overdue. A relief. Something to be thankful for.

An opportunity.

When it comes to organisational change there are no magic wands or silver bullets.  What is needed isn’t all that difficult.

Good and frequent communication. A human approach. Creating the vision of the future. A clear explanation of why and what and when. Ownership and responsibility. Help with the emotional stuff for those that need it. Quickly addressing the hygiene stuff. Answering the questions that are asked with transparency and speed. Honesty about what is known and not known. For HR specifically; the need to be present, visible, available.

We need too a recognition that change doesn’t always mean something negative. If we approach it as such then this is the reality we may create. There will always be emotion to play out, this is just how it is.

But remember that change, whatever it is, might just be the best thing that could have happened, for the individual or for the organisation.


Notes from the keynote #cipdACE16

Well, here I am again. At the CIPD Annual Conference, with the honour of being part of the social media dream team.

It’s keynote time, and we are listening to Dr Margaret Heffernan, award winning author and Ted speaker, on collaboration, innovation and creativity in the new world of work.  What makes modern organisations successful?

 Here’s a little of what she had to say…..

Successful teams aren’t those who are the smartest. Who have the highest IQ – or even one or two members with high IQ. Just having a bunch of smart people won’t lead to organisational success. Neither will having one superman. 

Research into successful teams found that they have three characteristics: people within it score high on empathy, they have contributions from everyone in the team and they had more women within them. This equals collective intelligence. 

What matters is what happens between people. Helpfulness. This is the key, in any type of organisation. Simply, how helpful people within the organisation are to each other. 

Helpfulness has power. It leads to confidence. Fundamental to it is the idea of sharing information. This is what people do when they are helping each other. It plays out by people spending time together and sharing.   

Research shows that work groups that take coffee breaks together become significantly more productive. 

It’s about spending time together. It is internal networking. Relationship building. Building too the collective intelligence of the organisation. 

But sometimes the hierarchy and bureaucracy gets in the way. Structures can impede productivity and problem solving. They block the information.  We have to get round them.  

You can measure the health of an organisation by how quickly important information flows. 

Social capital. The idea that the social network is central. That there is, within the organisation, trust, reciprocity and co-operation. Shared consciousness. This is the key to organisational success. 

People that are successful in complexity? People who listen. Who ask good questions. Can pick up all the weak signals within the organisation. Who get outside their own field of expertise. These are the people that can solve the problems. 

The problem for our organisations is unlocking people’s thinking. Getting them off their particular piece of the chessboard (the job description, the fixed title and place in the organisation chart). We spend so much time thinking about performance management and weeding out the slackers, but that is a 5% problem. Instead we need to focus on the 95%. 

What is important that people feel valued. Where they can make mistakes because that equals learning. And when people understand that they are there to learn. It’s not about HIPOS.  It is seeing talent everywhere. Talent is not fixed. Expertise is not enough.  We need people who are enthused by learning. We need to reframe and re-tackle the issue of diversity. We need to cherish the differences between people. The people that are not like you have. I have to teach you. 

When we recruit people stop digging into their expertise. Ask them who helped them get where they are today. Hire people who share what they learn. Hire their social capital. 

We need curious minds. Well stocked minds. Diverse minds. This way leads to success. 

Organisations will only grow when our people grow. 
Thoughts from me on this stuff……

Margaret quoted all the research that backed up the findings. But even putting that aside, we know this don’t we? As HR professionals? I’ve worked in organisations where people aren’t helpful. Where they put up barriers. Where the answer is no, know what is the question. Where people would rather win or score points than work collaboratively. Where people quote policies or hoard information.  Information does not flow. 

These organisations are not good places to work. And of course there are negative impacts on productivity.  This stuff is circular. If people don’t help each other, there isn’t trust. There isn’t reciprocity or sharing. There is no learning g. So how can there be innovation?  High engagement? Growth – of individuals or EBITDA? 

Social capital is the formal name for something more simple. Relationships. People. Being human. And this is what we do in this profession of ours. This is our opportunity. 
Back to that coffee break thing…. Where I work we are big fans of Fika. Google it, try it, have coffee together. 

This is a live blog. Please excuse any typos! 

10 fun (and free) things to do at #CIPDACE16

It’s nearly that time of year again. When the great and good of the HR world converge on Manchester like employees around the free fruit on wellbeing day.

If you are coming along to join in with all the fun serious learning then here are my top 10 best free bits for your conferencing pleasure!

  1. Head to the People Management drinks on Tuesday evening if you are getting there early.  There is wine. Hopefully.
  2. Check out the IIP exhibition stand. I have no idea what will be on it this year, but it’s usually a good one. And they mostly have cupcakes too.
  3. Check out DPG in the exhibition too. More often or not there is some good conference swag to be had – and usually a handy bag to carry it all in too.
  4. Get yourself some of that conference swag. It’s time to stock up those stationery cupboards people!
  5. On Wednesday night head over to Tribeca Bar in the Northern Quarter. You will find fellow blog squad member Tim Scott showing off his other talents by DJ’ing the night away.
  6. Play ‘blog squad bingo’ and aim for a selfie with the whole gang!
  7. Check out HR Unscrambled breakfast meet up on Thursday morning to discuss all things that matter to you and help shape the future of HR.
  8. Check out the free learning programme for a mahoosive 60+ sessions that are all, well, free.
  9. Network! As well as all the social stuff that will help you meet other HR types, there’s some formal opportunities as well. Start early by getting on all the social feeds in advance.
  10. Tweet. Obvs. Don’t forget the hashtag…..

See you there folks – IRL or via Twitter!


Reflections from #cipd15

When you have been conference blogging, it is customary to write a post a short while after the event, usually sharing a little of your reflections or learning.

Instead, this time, I’m handing over my blog to someone else to do this task.  Amelia joined my company a little under two months ago as an apprentice in all things people stuff.  She has just attended her very first CIPD ACE, and this is what she got up to while she was there and what she thought of it. 

Over to Amelia……

It was better than I expected, even though I wasn’t sure what to expect! I had been looking forward to it in advance, because I’d heard good things from the team, so I didn’t even mind getting a VERY early train.  As soon as we walked in I was handed a bag and a lanyard, which was the first of loads of cool free stuff – I have developed new muscles in my arms from carrying it all home.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d find it interesting or if most of it would go over my head, but I met lots of people who were all happy to chat and were interested in what I had to say too.

I went to some of the free learning sessions – the best was one about the power of thank you and making it personal for the individual and not the same for everyone.  I was introduced to lots of people by their Twitter handles, so I have no idea of their real names. I keep hearing that some people don’t like HR people, but everyone I met was really nice, including the people who let me into the members lounge for a coffee, even though I am not a member – yet!!

The best thing about the conference was winning a goodie bag with a hoody from Oracle, and meeting Peter Cheese and managing not to say anything embarrassing.  I’ve now got a desk full of conference goodies including some silver deely boppers that I stole from Gemma.  Oh, and plenty of emails coming through from people that I met on the day! I will definitely be back next year, and as Peter said he was sure Gemma would turn me into a blogger, I might even blog it next time.

 You can find Amelia on Twitter as @AmeliaTickle_

Amelia’s swag pile!

swag pile


Leadership Culture to Drive Change #CIPD15

How do you develop a leadership culture that can support organisational change?  Some might say this is the million dollar question for most organisations; change is part of the everyday for work and workers.

Here is what Inji Duducu of beneden health and William Hague (not that one) from HMRC have got to say on the subject, based on their own experiences.

William is Chief People Officer at HMRC.  First of all, great HR is an enabler of creating the right leadership culture for successful change.  I’m not going to argue with that.  At HMRC they have had big challenges.  A need to reduce  costs, be more efficient, transform service delivery, and at the same time, increase capability and use of digital services.  They needed leaders up for the challenge, with the ability to reach out last their traditional boundaries and collaborate.  Their starting point – what does good leadership in this context actually look like? Obvious, but important. For them it was three things: inspiring, confident, empowering.  ICE.  Easy to remember but also queues up a Vanilla Ice joke (one for the Gen Xers).

How did they tackle this? They had a leadership change model – building our future.  Went out to every leader face to face.  One narrative about the future to over 100,000 people. Significant investment in upskilling leaders.  A leadership academy is planned with five years of interventions, including virtual learning. Taking a long term approach.  Extensive engagement with their people.  Expected their managers to live this change.  Have used surveys regularly to see where they are.  They are not there yet, but are focused on continuous improvement in everything they do.  They have had many learnings.  Mainly – there is no silver bullet to tackle this stuff.  And finally, be ambitious.

Now over to Inji for her story.  Beneden started life as a mutual society, focused around public sector workers who bad contracted TB. Today, they provide healthcare solutions to enable people to access treatments faster than the NHS might be able to provide.  They were losing members.  It was a difficult product to explain and not enough people had heard of them or what they do.  A new CEO launched a ten year plan. The average length of service at Beneden is 20 years; many employees had simply never experienced any change at all.

Inji’s plan? It is a special place to work with a special culture.  Her aim is that at the end of the ten year plan, this has not changed even if it other things have.  One important focus – leadership visibility. People see where leaders spend their time.  It sends a message about what is considered important by the organisation.  Another quick win was celebration.  Celebrating what is going well, and organisational achievements.  Find stuff to celebrate – what gets recognised gets repeated.  They launched an online appreciation hub for people to send ecards to each other.  It has gone down a storm.  Provided a cultural boost but it is digital, which is the sort of business they want to be.

Inji also saw their values as generic.  They could have applied to anyone.  Needed to discover what their real values are.  Looked at the future and heritage to talk about what is their core – what makes them special.  They distilled down the feedback into four values that really summed up who they are.  They needed to tell a story about their future.  They took their behavioural framework and turned it into a programme for their leaders ‘leading the Beneden way’.  Challenging programme beginning with self awareness and self mastery.

Right now, the organisation is not only coping with that change but thriving. Her learnings – fundamental importance of communication.  Find the good news – give people reasons to be cheerful.  This will give you more capacity for change.

Inji’s story proves that change doesn’t have to be a scary thing that we liken to the emotions more usually prompted by bereavement.  It can be a positive experience for the people within it, if you manage and lead it well, as well reminding us of the fundamental role that HR can play in making it so.

Props to the speakers.

This is a live blog so please excuse any typos!

Organisational Structures. Time for change?

I’m blogging from a session entitled ‘Hierarchical Structures v Organisational Freedoms’. Tim Scott and Andy Swan are presenting their thoughts, Ignite Style.

When it comes to the way we organise organisations, for the most part little has changed in years. The technology looks very different, some of the practical ‘how’ has changed, but the other stuff…. not so much.

Managers, middle managers, top down, bureaucracy. Teams organised by function, sitting in an org chart, focusing on their own stuff.

Occasionally, alternatives are talked about and tried. Take the latest kid on the block; holocracy.   Leading the way with the holocracy movement is Zappos.  The experiment has spawned more articles, blogs, conference sessions and opinion pieces since… well the last big bandwagon.

Leading the way with the holocracy movement is Zappos.  The experiment has spawned more articles, blogs, conference sessions and opinion pieces since… well the last big bandwagon.

So, is it time to throw away the organisational rule book? To change the way we have always done things?  Is it change or become extinct time…. or not?  Over to the debate:

In the blue corner, is Tim. He’s arguing for the traditional organisation.

He wants us to gather around his desk.  He isn’t bothered about being trendy.  There are good things about being in a hierarchy.  It isn’t about defending scientific management or old fashioned practice.  The best of managers can be inspiring within a hierarchy.  You don’t get that within a committee.  A good manager can give you focus.  They give you over head cover and clarity.  Management as a structure is clear.  People know where the buck stops.  How do structures  like holocracy work in the real world, especially the public sector where someone has to be accountable? It is a human trait to like structures.  Just like a book, we are familiar with it and know how it works, traditional or not.  Have you seen a holocracy constitution? Goes on for ever.  Still very few organisations are using it.  Management is flexible.  There are bad management practices – but we don’t need to throw away the baby with the bath water.

In the red corner, is Andy. He had this to say:

Unlocking organisations through trust and freedom.  87% of people are not fully engaged according to Gallup.  Holocracy still has structure, just not a typical one.  He’s not a fan specifically, but he is a fan of setting people free and evolving businesses.  We live in a world of cycles.  Minimum viable product.  So we need constant innovation.  We need to allow people to contribute as this is what engages them. Power in a hierarchy sits at the top. Ideas might be the bottom.  They can’t get from one to the other.  Instagram had 13 people but have survived and flourished when Kodak died.  Ditto Netflix and Blockbuster.   Alternative structures creates equality and encourage information flow.  Fluid. Quick decision making.  Collectively people are powerful.  Every organisation is unique as are the people within it. This isn’t about throwing everything away and creating chaos.  Traditional organisations are based on control, suspicion and secrecy. Approaches like holocracy allow freedom within parameters. Lead by example vs manage by spreadsheet.

I’ll confess. I’m a cynic about holocracy.  So it appears where some of the employees from Zappos itself.  When the experiment was launched, employees were given the opportunity to leave if they didn’t want to work within it.  Some 14% apparently did so.

What is the problem that alterative organisational structures are trying to solve anyway? There is much wrong with work as we know it.  Pregnancy and maternity discrimination is increasing.  We have an abundance of low paid work; workers on zero hours contracts not knowing whether they will get enough work that week to put food on the table.  The wages of the low paid essentially being subsidised by the state.  There remain plenty of workplaces that treat their people poorly.  That are managing

There are things we need to change about how we work. I am just sure that hierarchy is currently top of my list.

What becomes of the Zappos experiment will remain to be seen. My cynicism may prove to be unfounded, or perhaps just a ludditesque rejection of change.

But when it comes to these alternative structures, just maybe the cure for these organisational challenges we are trying to solve, is worse than the disease itself?

As this is a live blog, please excuse any typos!

Talent alone is not enough…

…. is the basis of Sir Clive Woodward’s speech to CIPD15 delegates today.  Woodward is the former head coach of a world cup winning rugby team, England international and Team GB’s director of sport for the British Olympic Association.

The business and sport analogy is nothing new.  Much has been written and said on the subject.  There are plenty of parallels.  The need for effective team work, strategy, leadership for success in both.  The focus on performance, both individual and team.

Woodward is going to share with us today about what he believes is the DNA of a champion.

His first slide simply says: Great teams are made of great individuals.

His view – talent is the starting point. But you also need character, criteria and coaching.  The talent needs the ability to learn – people must have the thirst for learning to be successful. They must be a sponge not a rock.  Make people sponges not rocks. Whatever that means.

People need to take individual responsibility for their own learning, not sit back and wait for HR.  This is what talent does – it constantly keeps on learning.

We then turn to warriors and t-cups.  Warriors can perform under pressure.  A t-cup stands for ‘thinking correctly under pressure’. A champion is a warrior who can cope under excess pressure even when something unexpected happens or in the face of adversity.

Then, it’s attitude.  Woodward’s definition of attitude: punctuality, trust, obsession, responsibility, collaboration, beyond number one, enjoyment.  He firmly believes attitude can be coached.

The chapters in his metaphorical book on talent; capture knowledge, collaborate, cultivate learning, convert to know how.

Woodward argues that you can be very talented but you need other things too if you want to be a champion.  His final requirement for the DNA of a champion? Hard work.

It’s hard to vehemently disagree with some of this….. But some of the labels don’t really work for me. It reminds me too much of the whole high performers thing.  I’ve always been uncomfortable with labelling people as top talent.  Because what about everyone else? What about people who struggle to learn, and so on.  Ditto when companies take the top ten sales people on some fancy foreign holiday as part of an annual recognition scheme.  What about the people who are left behind in the office, or simply those who don’t identify with words like champion or talent?  Over focusing on just talent can exclude.  This is when the sport / business analogy breaks down for me.

Talent, and being a champion, is contextual.

This is a live blog so please excuse any typos!


Mental Capital and Wellbeing at Work #CIPD15

I’m chuffed to be part of the official #CIPD15 blogsquad again this year. This year’s opening keynote is by Professor Gary Cooper.  Today, Professor Cooper is going to address CIPD conference delegates on the issue of mental capital and wellbeing at work; what are the causes and consequences of poor mental health and stress in the workplace and what re the bold HR solutions that will enhance mental capital.

Here is what we already know: mental health absence is a big problem in the workplace. 1 in 4 of us at some point in our lives will suffer from a mental health condition.   Absence surveys, including the CIPD’s own annual version, consistently shows mental health to be one of the top two drivers of absence from work, once you strip out the usual suspects like coughs, colds and stomach upsets.

At the same time, we are increasingly seeing wellbeing making its way onto the corporate agenda. According to the aforementioned CIPD absence survey, 1 in 5 organisations now have a wellbeing programme within their people strategy.  We have increasing interest too in topics like mindfulness and resilience and their application in the workplace.  So what does this all mean for HR?

Here is what Professor Cooper has to say:

Why is this issue so important?

We need an environment in which people want to go to work.  That they aren’t hoping for leaves on the line when they wake up in the morning

Mental health absence is a bottom line issue.  Presenteeism is a bigger issue to the UK economy than absenteeism.  Research shows that only one third of employees are healthy AND happy.

Mental health costs the UK £70bn per annum.  Only 2 in 5 employees working at peak performance. 15.2m sick days per annum due to stress, anxiety and depression.  A cost to employers of mental health absence of £1035 per employee per annum.

Fact.  If you consistently work long hours it will make you ill.  In the uk we work astronomical hours. Flexible working can help – for all, not just parents.  But women still apply much more than men, and men get turned down more than women.  We need to fix this. People are consistently working significantly longer than their contracted hours.  Plenty also don’t take their full holiday entitlement.  People who work more tha 45 hours a week see their children less than one hour a day.  Long hours also don’t make us productive.

Thousands of studies identify what makes you stressed.  Structure, climate, too much work, too little work, job insecurity, poor physical working conditions, time pressures and deadlines, too many decisions…… Relationships  – with boss, colleagues, subordinates.  Conflict

Emails are a huge problem.  People check them on the evenings and the weekends.  We have overload.  We talk about work life integration – but that often means work encroaching on personal time.

At the heart is management.  Do our managers and leaders have the right skills and training to mange people effectively? We select too often on technical skills still.  We need more socially skilled managers.  Relationships at work are fundmental, especially in a knowledge economy.

This is the key.  What can we do about this stuff?

Primary – deal with the stressors. EAPs.  They work.  But they don’t solve the problem or change the culture.

Secondary. Helping people to cope. Resilience training.  Evidence also shows this works.

Tertiary. Picking people back up – wellbeing interventions do work and can save you money.

My take? Of course managers are the key.  Of course we need more socially skilled leaders who understand this stuff.  We need interventions like EAPs and resilience training.  But if we know this and it is common sense why do we still have such an issue?   There is still a stigma around mental health.  There is still reluctance to talk about this stuff, go on resilience training, ring an EAP and ask for help.

Yes, managers are the key… But HR turns it in the lock.  We have to educate them, help them have the conversation, ensure that the dialogue of wellbeing is heard in our organisations.  Create the culture in everything that we do.


As this is a live blog, please excuse any typos!

Reflections #cipdnap15

Last week, I was at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership conference, blogging and tweeting, whilst listening to some inspiring speakers.

Here are some of those ideas, concepts and thought provoking moments, that have resonated for me.

From Ian Pettigrew’s session on Resilience….. Succeed in a way that is authentic to you. And oh so true… We need more compassionate truth.  Not all truth is created equal. 

A question from Sukh Pabial’s session on Positive Psychology……. When did you last feel vibrant? Sukh also introduced me to the concept of the third place.  A place just for you.  No judgement, no rules, a place from which you draw strength and positivity. Do you have a third place?  He also said this: Sometimes life is rubbish.  But it passes, or you find the strength to deal with it.

From Julie Drybrough’s workshop on The Power of Workplace Conversation, several ideas I am still reflecting on.  That within the silence before we begin to speak, anything can happen.  That the spaces in-between talking at people and the typical monologues we engage in, is where there is an opportunity for dialogue to begin.  That how some conversations hold, but others are like a leaky bucket.

From Ryan Cheyne, telling the story of Pets at Home…. How nothing about people stuff is really that complicated.  But perhaps somehow, we make it so.  Simple is just fine.

From Clive Wilson when introducing the concept of the purposeful organisation…. asking the delegates to respond with…. What is your single most powerful thought?

From David Clutterbuck…. We have put too much faith in things that have no evidence.  It is nothing more than HR Bling. 

From Perry Timms…… we are heading to a future most social. 

From Sally Roberts in a session on mindfulness……  In life there will always be waves, but we can learn to surf. 

From Stephanie Davies of Laughology….. Do you know a mood hoover? If you don’t, have you ever considered that it might be you?

From Peter Cheese….. We need to move from control to enablement.

I was reminded of the power of passion; how learning and sharing can be created by people that are committed and care about their profession.

And the final thought goes to Julie again.  Think about joy.  In the midst of change and when things feel difficult, find your joy. 

You can find a curation of more from NAP from Ian Pettigrew here, and even more reflections from Mark Gilroy from the event here.

Building a Profession for the Future #cipdnap15

visual minutes

I’m at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership conference.

Every year, eight branches from the North of England get together and host a two-day event, organised entirely by volunteers.  There is usually a great line up of speakers, a wide range of workshops to choose from and, my own particular conference essential, quality sweets at the exhibition stands.  If that isn’t enough to tempt you to a future CIPD NAP, we also have a gala dinner in which there is wine and dancing.  And wine.

This year, our theme was ‘Creating Amazing Workplaces’.  On Saturday, Peter Cheese is addressing the conference, talking about building a profession for the future.  So here is my live blogged summary of what he had to say:

There are key themes shaping the future of work. Economic change. Technology and digital. Workforce and demographics. Different ideas about work and life and balance. Different ideas about who is a leader and a role model. New norms arising in the world of work.

At the same time, Scientific Management is alive and well.  Low paid work that lacks empowerment and purpose. Jobs that lack meaning. We are still using old models at work like the change curve and dated methods of recruiting.  We still have policies telling everyone what to do like they are children not adults. It is time for change. It is time to challenge our fundamental ideas about what work is about.

Where is the HR role in all of this change? Simply, it is an opportunity for us.  We have to drive value from HR.  In most organisations the cost of HR 1-3% of cost base, but we still find ourselves trying to reduce or justify the cost of HR.

It is time to go back to our roots, the very heart of HR: people. We talk of neuroscience and positive psychology and wellbeing. Understanding human and organisational behaviour.  How we make decisions and judgements. These subjects are gaining more interest and prominence. The truth is we have known some of this stuff for decades – we just haven’t acted upon it.  We certainly have known this stuff in our profession – this is after all where the CIPD began.

This is all the stuff that HR needs to do, think about, prepare for.

We need a profession for the future. This includes a base of knowledge, competencies and capabilities that HR professionals need to have. We need to keep our skills current and invest in ourselves. We need standards, metrics, career growth, learning, qualifications and recognition.  We need to build stronger HR functions.

To be a HR professional, it is all about identity, being socially and ethically responsibility, commitment, and situational judgement. We must continue to build our knowledge and put our imprint on all of these new ideas like neuroscience in order to fulfil our purpose: to champion better work and better working lives. There can be no bigger agenda than that.

Peter then quotes Gandhi. We need to be the change that we want to see.

It is time to go back to our roots.

You can find more blogs from the conference on our dedicated event blog or from event blogger Emma Browes.

If you’d like to come along to the NAP conference next year, follow the twitter account for more details: @CIPD_NAP

Better Working Lives? #CIPD14

My final thoughts following the 2014 CIPD conference.

Better work and better working lives. The purpose of the CIPD.

I spent two days last week blogging and tweeting from the annual conference, and I have been reflecting on what I heard ever since.  What does this mission mean?  And what the role of each of us within it?

The session that had the most impact on me was on day two. A panel session on the labour market with Norman Pickervance, Michael Davies (UKCES), Paul Novak (TUC) and Peter Cheese.  Pickervance struck a chord with me, as much of what he said aligns closely to my own views about HR and our core purpose. He mentioned the ever present search for a seat at the table.  He talked about the unintended consequences of the move from a personnel approach to one of human resources; treating people like they are just a resource on a balance sheet, to be done with as the company sees fit.  He suggested that leaders had divided people up into people who mattered and people who didn’t.  People who mattered include those who are defined as ‘talent’.  In the best boxes of the nine box grid.  And then there are the people who don’t matter.  The ones we have outsourced.  The ones on the zero hours contract.  The invisible agency worker.  The bogus self-employed.  We seem to think it is okay for them to have a different set of rights, be treated in a different way.

I hear lots of talk amongst the HR profession about how work needs to change. About how it is going to change, in the future.  And it does and it will.  We know there is plenty about the modern workplace that doesn’t work.  Heirarchy, meeting culture, effective leadership, skills shortages, disengaged employees. Add to this list as you see fit.  I hear talk about how we need a revolution in the world of work.

I agree that there is plenty wrong with work and working lives.  Try some of these examples:

  •  We live in an economy where a great deal of work is low paid and of low security.
  • 1 in 5 UK employees are considered to be low paid – that is 5 million people.  And once you are in a low paid job, it is difficult to get out of one.
  • The gap between the wages in the boardroom and the wages on the shop floor is growing.
  • More working households live in poverty than households where no one is working.
  • More and more work is disappearing entirely, as it is outsourced or automated.
  • We have structural, serious youth unemployment .
  • There is still a significant pay gap between men and women, 40 years after the Equal Pay Act.
  • Employment rights, and the ability to enforce them when they are breached, are slowly diminishing.
  • Wage growth and pay settlements are still well below the level that they were before the recession.
  • Carers struggling to balance work with care.
  • Low levels of engagement.
  • Thousands of women facing discrimination every year when they become pregnant.
  • A race to the bottom to pay the national minimum wage.
  • Workplaces filled with stress – an epidemic of it according to the panellists.

Michael David from UK Commission for Employment and Skills summarised the problems in the labour market as getting in, getting up, and getting on. Pickervance said that leaders in many organisations have become disconnected from what is happening in the world.  Maybe HR has too?  Maybe we are so busy worrying about whether we are strategic enough that we aren’t doing what we should be doing: making work and working lives better for the people at our place.

Some of the stuff in the list above is undoubtedly big stuff, challenging stuff.  Outside the hands of the individual HR practitioner.  Or is it?  Certainly not all of it. There are things, even if they are just small steps, that we can all do, at our place to tackle these challenges.

Coincidentally, the CIPD conference took place in Living Wage week. A campaign that calls on employers not just for minimum pay but reasonable pay. A campaign that asks employers to recognise that whilst they could get away with paying less, this isn’t the best thing for business, for people, for society.

So here is where my head is at right now. You can keep your holocracies and your unlimited vacation days and your democratised workplaces.  Because whilst I know stuff is changing, at least for some in this future of work, a bad work situation is many people’s everyday reality.  Waiting for pay day. Waiting to see how hours there will be this week on the zero hours contract.  Wondering where the next job is coming from.  Wondering if you are going to get made redundant when you get back from maternity leave.  Wondering if it is really safe to tell someone that you are struggling under the pressure.  Hoping, desperately, for a pay rise.

Talk of the need for revolution at work? This is my revolution. This is what better working lives means to me. This is where HR needs to lead the way.


You can read more about this session from the CIPD conference in this blog post from Tim Scott.

Just one final thing about CIPD14. The CIPD conference was blogged and tweeted by an amazing group of people.  They gave freely of their time, their annual leave, their sleep and their diets to provide all of the social coverage.  Massive appreciation to them all. Ian Pettigrew has collated all of the work in this post for your reading pleasure.  Until next year……

All this behavioural stuff #cipd14

Last week I spent two inspiring days at the CIPD annual conference. There was a whole range of content throughout in the neuroscience and behavioural science space. How the brain works stuff.

PC quote

I blogged from some of the sessions myself; you can find them here and here. Some of my fellow blog squaders also wrote about the sessions they attended.  Try these from Phil Wilcox, Helen Amery and Julie Drybrough.

The content that I saw for myself, and that which I caught online from blogs and tweets was fascinating. But I have a concern or two, all the same.

Firstly, let me say that I have a genuine interest in these topics. I am curious about everything to do with the brain and how it works.  Some of this interest springs from a professional place, and some from a more personal one.  Learning more about these subjects has helped me understand more about myself; decisions that I made in the past, why I did some of the things that I did and how I ended up in the space that I did.

I recognise how  improving understanding of behaviour and neuroscience within HR, applying it to that people stuff that we do, could influence and change our thinking and our approach. And its not just about us HR folk, it has the power to help all leaders in the roles that they hold.  It has the potential to challenge much of that stuff that we accept as best practice, the way we have always done things both in organisations in general and in HR specifically.  It can help us break through the perceived wisdoms.  Take Drive by Daniel Pink.  An evidence based book that told us many of the ways that most organisations traditionally do reward focuses on entirely the wrong things.  These are fundamental challenges.

But there’s the thing. I’ve blogged before about the HR profession’s propensity for jumping on a bandwagon and I don’t want this to be the next one.  That thing that we think is the answer, that thing that will change how the profession is seen, that thing that will the next big thing.

When reflecting on the conference, the thought that occurred was this. Is neuroscience the new employee engagement?  I’ve blogged before, in the employee engagement rant series, about how I feel we jumped on the engagement bandwagon as we were desperate for some sort of proof.  And the so-called proof (noting the lack of actual, you know, evidence) that engagement would lead to improved financial performance gave us something that we could use to prove that the people stuff had a ROI.  That it was our ticket to the often fabled seat at the table. I don’t want behavioural science to go the same way. I don’t want it to be the next employee engagement.  Embraced and then tired of.

I think that we should be developing behavioural science as a key part of HR and leadership practice. But I don’t want to see someone trying to explain cognitive dissonance in an infographic.  I don’t want to read ’10 ways you can get employees to use more than 10% of their brain’ on LinkedIn Pulse.  Behavioural science is not the place for platitudes or fragmented clichés. It is a serious subject and we must treat it as such, rather than devalue it. I’d like to see formal qualifications.  I’d like to see it be taught as part of HR education.

And here’s the next thing. We need to think carefully about how we bring this stuff into our organisations.  I’ve been there and talked to leaders.  About mindfulness, positive psychology, emotional intelligence, resilience.  I’ve been on the receiving end of the ‘what is this fluffy stuff is she on about now?’ look.  And this is anything but.

To take this forward in a constructive way, avoid the bandwagon and aid understanding, we need some common language.  We need to help HR professionals understand this stuff and then how to apply it, how to start the conversation, at their place. Going back to the Daniel Pink example for a moment.  I reckon there are plenty of HR folk who have read his book.  But how many have actually gone back to their place, and changed how they do their reward stuff?  Started to challenge the way its always been done?  It isn’t easy to know where to start.  Conference sessions that raise awareness give us a great start.  Now we need to decide what comes next.

But whatever we do, no infographics.  Pretty please.


Image from @IIPTweets

CIPD MOOC. Working digitally – social media and HR

Today, the CIPD launches its first MOOC.  That’s a Massive, Open, Online Course.  If you have not come across the term before, then you might find this short video helpful.

I’m here at the launch, listening to Perry Timms (you know, the excitable one) talking about MOOCS, their place in learning today, and most importantly, this new offering from the CIPD, a course created to raise the game of the HR profession in using social and digital tools.

Four key areas of content for the learner to journey through.  It will teach you all about putting digital to work.  Digital technology and the changing world of work.  Digital tools for HR professionals. How to put this stuff to work in practice. About coping, creating, collaborating, creating.

You can enrol now. You don’t have to be a member of the CIPD to access this learning. You can do it at your pace, and create your own learning journey. Oh, and the best bit. It’s free.