SHRM18, Training

How to Build a High Performing Global Workforce: A Q&A Charles Jennings

Charles Jennings

Charles Jennings is a co-founder of the 70:20:10 Institute and is widely renowned as one of the premier experts on building and implementing 70:20:10 and organizational performance strategies.

For those who have heard the ‘70:20:10 model’ referenced, it’s a learning model that describes the optimal sources of learning to be 70% on the job, 20% from interactions with others an 10% from formal education/events – a well understood core component of many learning and development approaches the world over.

I had the pleasure of meeting Charles when we were on a PSK Performance Fishbowl panel together in Melbourne – to have the opportunity to hear him speak on how to build a high-performing global workforce is absolutely unmissable. To see Charles speak in Chicago at SHRM18 is a must for any HR professional who wants to deliver effective, evidence-based people solutions, on a global scale.

After a 40-year career focusing on how to help people “just do their jobs better’, Charles has a wealth of experience and notes that he’s seen a real sea change in how people view organisational learning over the past 15 years.  He says that we’ve have “moved from a world where learning and ‘doing’ were separate. In the past the focus was exclusively on ‘learning to do’ rather than also focusing on ‘learning from doing’… So, one of my key motivators is to help HR and L&D professionals navigate their way out of the straightjacket of formal learning.”

Who has influenced your understanding of learning in the workplace the most?

Many people have influenced me over the years.  To name just a few:

Jay Cross, whose book ‘Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways That Inspire Innovation and Performance’ was a ground-breaking insight into the art of the possible for workplace learning. It should be required reading for every HR and L&D professional.

Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton, whose 1999 book ‘The Knowing-Doing Gap’ exposed the fallacy of knowledge-based training as a universal solution to today’s problems.

Gloria Gery, whose 1991 seminal book ‘Electronic Performance Support Systems’ is another one that should be required reading for every L&D professional when they start out on their career. Gloria opened eyes to the practical ways (which are usually more efficient and effective than training) to help people ‘do their jobs better’.

Additionally, I’ve been influenced by many conversations I’ve had over the years, and many articles and books I’ve read.  Thinkers and practitioners such as Roger Schank, Marcia Conner, Ellen Langer, Charles Handy, Joseph Stiglitz, Harold Jarche, Jos Arets and others have all helped my own understanding that learning is a natural process that occurs mostly in the daily flow of work, and that learning alone is not a destination, but a journey with waypoints to higher performance.

Where have you seen a high performing workforce be most improved?

At the 70:20:10 Institute we have worked with organisations that have demonstrated huge organisational performance improvements.  Friesland Campina, the world’s largest diary co-operative, is one example. By implementing our 70:20:10 methodology, just one project at Friesland Campina delivered a saving of EURO 248,000 for a EURO 1,000 input plus some work from the L&D team. This won the Gold Award at the 2018 Learning Technologies awards. Friesland Campina also reports that more than 90 percent of training demands are now re-directed to other solutions which deliver greater impact.

There are many other examples of improved organisational performance across all types of enterprise – government departments, hi-tech, energy companies and large financial institutions – by re-focusing on learning beyond the classroom and eLearning module.

Do you think what they’ve created is transferable?

Absolutely. They are transferable. No two organisations are identical, which is why I find the cry for ‘best practice’ a futile one, but we can learn ‘good practice’ from other organisations and then mould it for our own needs.

The research analysts Bersin by Deloitte and others have reported that organisations with strong informal (workplace) learning capabilities are 300 percent more likely to excel at global talent development than organisations without those capabilities.

The Corporate Leadership Council (now part of Gartner) reported a study across a number of organisations that showed an increase in employee engagement of more than 250 percent and an increase in employee performance of 300 percent where people engaged in learning activities ‘integrated into manager and employee workflow’.

In other words where people focused on learning from their daily work and sharing their learning with colleagues rather than just relying on training to build capability.

What do you see HR practitioners most often get wrong when it comes to understanding learning in the workplace?

The most common mistake I see HR practitioners maintaining a ‘command and control’ mindset. In the past when we focused almost exclusively on formal training and development, it was possible to control and manage all the activities that we designed to improve learning. In the new world where we also need to support and encourage workplace learning that’s simply not possible.

The question I am asked frequently is “how can we be sure people are learning the ‘right’ things’ if we add support for workplace learning to our job?”.  The answer to this is that adults learn best through experience, practice, conversations and networks and reflection, and that if we try to control those processes we’re likely not only to stifle effective workplace learning, but to create a culture where self-empowerment will shrivel and people will expect learning to be ‘done to them’.  That’s an environment that sounds a death knell for innovation and agility. It’s also a death knell for capturing and sharing exemplary performance across our organisations.

We also often leave measurement metrics until last.

The metrics HR professionals should be looking at are their stakeholder metrics. These are often gathered as a matter of course in the daily business workflow. If you want to understand if some interventions and solutions HR has co-developed with your customer support team, use the CSAT (customer satisfaction) data that your stakeholder will surely be gathering.

What are you hoping to get out of the #SHRM18 conference?

As with all large conferences I have attended over the years, I’m looking to meet new people and learn as much as I can from them.

At SHRM18, I’m looking forward to hearing some great stories about successes and lessons that have been learned.  We learn as much, if not more, from our failures as we do from our successes.

I’m also looking forward to hearing how the wider HR community at SHRM18 is approaching the challenges of helping to build resilient, high performing workforces through exploiting the principles behind the 70:20:10 approach –  supporting learning from working, learning from others and learning from high-quality structured training and development.

 

Human Resources, SHRM, SHRM18, Working in People & Culture

Is Global HR Still Relevant? A Q&A With Brad Boyson

Brad Boyson is the Executive Director of SHRM’s Dubai office and has an impressive career history including the Mitsubishi Corporation, Royal Caribbean International and Hamptons/Emaar. In short? Brad is global HR.

Brad Boyson.jpg

Brad is a self-confessed deep diver… 8 months after being introduced to triathlons and hearing that the gold standard for the sport is the Ironman, he completed his first one in Hawaii. This “jump-and-backfill” approach to learning has stretched him careerwise as well, during the 1990s, he was fascinated by the Japanese way of doing business, so Brad studied Japanese (history, language and culture), moved to Japan and eventually ended up working for the Mitsubishi Corporation. While working in his next job for a ‘dotcom’, he concurrently completed 60% of a bachelor degree in computer science.

So it’s fair to say when Brad gets interested in something, he fully commits. This is why I’m looking forward to hearing Brad speak about whether global HR is still relevant. I’m one of the many international attendees that the SHRM Conference & Exposition attracts each year and it seems more and more that with migration and technology, HR expertise is becoming a more mobile profession.

Where does your passion for HR come from?

My passion for HR comes from my very first job as a teenager when I worked in a unionized supermarket back in Canada. When you are that age you are devoid of workplace politics and other more ‘adult’ issues. Nevertheless, the younger version of me was asking myself:  why was the union and management so fixated on each other while the key stakeholder, in my humble opinion, was the customer who was paying my salary?  I was a strange kid who subscribed to and would read the Harvard Business Review cover to cover even though, at the time, I was just a high school graduate.

What made you decide to join SHRM?

I think like a lot of people, SHRM becomes a part of your bloodstream once you take the red pill and decide that HR is your career not just a job.  I first ‘discovered’ SHRM in 1998 when, as a Canadian living and working in Canada, I decided to look outside the national HR box for career and professional development.  I quickly realized that SHRM was doing the most of any HR association in the world to advance and promote the HR profession. I proceeded to earn my SPHR in 1999.

A few years later I started to actively volunteer with SHRM in 2007 after participating in the SHRM delegation to China. In 2012 there was an opportunity to set up a SHRM office in Dubai and, as you might expect, I jumped at that opportunity.

What do you think of the current commentary in the global HR space?

I don’t want to give too much away about my session at this year’s conference, but the eureka moment seed was planted in my head when I was traveling through Heathrow airport last year and there was a book on display in the bookstore with a title that immediately grabbed my attention: From Global to Local – the making of things and the end of Globalization.  It reminded me of the book by Francis Fukuyama entitled, The End of History and the Last Man.  And I asked myself, are we really at the end of globalization? If so, what’s next, what’s next for HR?

Again, I’m hesitant to give away too much, but let me say I think we’ve made a big mistake by all too often framing HR as having two-worlds: one is an inward looking ‘domestic’ HR, and the other is an outward looking ‘global’ HR. At the highest-strategic level other professions don’t do this. You don’t have US-medicine or Canadian-law or Australian-finance, those are technical or lower order differences which do not define the ‘profession’, they define the local practices. In contrast, the profession is defined as the profession: medicine is medicine, law is law, finance is finance and … HR is HR. If ‘We’ choose to emphasize the technical aspects of HR at the expense of the higher level strategic aspects of HR, then we deserve the outcome we have always gotten: HR perceived as a secondary profession or worse yet, merely a management function.

How has your experience been working in Dubai? Has it shifted your thoughts on global HR?

I live and work in one of the most unique cities in the world – Dubai in the country United Arab Emirates (UAE). And as someone who has travelled most of the world, I’m confident of my assertation that Dubai is a real-world case study in what’s next. Imagine a place where 90% of the workforce is on a temporary work visa (akin to an H1B), imagine how that fact would change the work environment?  It might work a lot like an economy where the vast majority of workers are gig-economy, project to project, dependent-contractors. I think that’s the workplace of the future – a new category of work that fits in between the more traditional notions of employee and self-employed; a bit both.

What are you hoping to get out of the SHRM18 conference?

At the risk of oversimplifying, I always learn something at SHRM’s annual conference I and hope that trend continues.  As an employee of SHRM, most of our hours are allocated to supporting the event and hosting our coveted attendees, but if I can find time to sneak away and catch one or two concurrent sessions, I will be better for having had that experience.  And I really look forward to the international reception and encourage anyone attending from outside the US to mark that event on your daily planner. My experience has been that event is one of the best single opportunities to connect and network with all our international delegates.

Brad is speaking at #SHRM18 in Chicago this June, make sure you get along to see him:

SHRM18 Conference & Exposition

June 17-20

Brad’s session on ‘Is Global HR Still Relevant?’ 4-5.15pm Tuesday 19 June (concurrent)