Reflections, Questions and Challenges from CIPD13

Last week, I attended the annual CIPD conference. I’ve been reflecting on what I have seen and heard, what I have taken away.

There are a lot of people who work in HR that are hugely passionate about what they do, engage and connect with other like minded individuals, and want to do more to improve our profession.
At the same time, there are a lot of people who moan without seeking to change, are stuck in the past, and are doing the reputation of HR no favours.

There are HR practitioners doing really interesting and innovative stuff in the people space.
At the same time, there are a lot of people peddling the same old, same old, or are bottling new wine in very old bottles.

There are people that will do stuff, attend stuff, blog and tweet about stuff, just for the love of it, not for the reward of it.
At the same time, there are people that are quick to criticise, or find reasons to look on the gloomy side.

Overall, there is great progress being made.
At the same time, there is much to be done.

Questions remain.

2000 people attended the conference, but not everyone can afford a full conference ticket, or afford to come at all. There are plenty of HR types blogging and tweeting, but many aren’t engaging in this space. There are great conversations going on about making work better, making HR better, but it feels like it is too small a crowd having the conversation. So how do we engage more HR professionals with the exciting work that is going on, in creating the future of HR, making work and organisations better, making the changes we need to make? I pose the questions, but don’t pretend to have all the answers.

Although questions and challenges clearly remain, my main takeaway from last week is this. I am lucky. Lucky to do a job that I love, lucky to know and work with some of the amazing people I spent time with at the conference (you know who you are), lucky I get to call this work.

I get to do what Confucius recommended: choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Creating the best workplace on earth

I’m listening to the opening keynote at CIPD13 by Gareth Jones and Rob Goffee, who are talking about creating great places to work.

They argue that effective leadership excites people to exceptional performance, and exceptional performance is not a luxury for organisations, but a necessity for survival.

People want effective leaders, and they want those leaders to be authentic. But authentic leadership needs authentic organisations. The new task of leadership is to create organisations in which employees can find their authentic selves, and follow their dreams. People spend most of their lives at work – so employees need to be able to be themselves there.

Leaders must be able to answer the question: ‘why would anyone want to work here?’

Goffee and Jones believe that employees want these things, in their dreams.

– Difference. Not just diversity, but a chance to be different, to celebrate difference. Cohesion without homogenisation.

– Radical honesty. To know what is really going on. No spin. No sanitisation. Share information, don’t hoard it. Tell the truth before someone else does.

– Extra value. To be able to work in an organisation in which your strengths are magnified. Employers and employees adding value to each other. Letting people grow through what they do.

– Authenticity. To know what the organisation stands for. Not a wordy mission statement sitting unread on the corporate intranet but a real sense of where the company has come from and where it is going.

– Meaning. To do work that really means something. Meaning comes from many sources; connections, community, cause.

– Simple rules. To work somewhere free from stupid rules. Have good rules. Simple and agreed ones that make sense to people, and feel fair.

So, could you answer the first question: why would someone want to work in your organisation? And if you are a leader, why would anyone want to work for you.

How does the organisation you work stack up against these criteria?

Can we DREAM of creating a great place to work?

Let HR lead the way.