how to learn, Reflective practice, Thinking differently, Uncategorized

How to learn when: Confronted with people who have passionately different views to your own

Learning isn’t something that necesarily happens magically as an adult. You have to work at it.

Approaching a potentially uncomfortable, or emotive topic from a place of learning is your best chance of both finding common ground, having constructive conversations and evoling and learning something new.

As I see my friends and people I admire and respect shout loudly that black lives matter (because they do) I similtaniously see others retreat. Speaking with them, their reasons are varied. Concerned about saying the wrong thing. Concerned about entering into a conversation that they don’t feel equipped to undertake. Afraid of conflict, afraid of being labelled, afraid of accidently offending.

If this sounds like you, I challenge you take some time to learn more about others’ perspectives that challenge your view of the world. Come at it from a place of learning, and try to understand where others are coming from. Not to argue, not to ‘win’ a debate or force someone to hear your opinion. Just to learn.

The goal isn’t to change someone else’s mind. The goal is to grow your own.

Places you can start:

  • Have you ever tested yourself for your unconsious biases? You can do that online in a tool developed by Harvard University.
  • Understand that different country’s histories mean that the context for #blacklivesmatter may be different where you live. I grew up in New Zealand, live in Australia and many of my friends and family live in the United States. These countries are not the same, nor are their histories of colonisation. Learn your history. Not the highlights, not the easy-to-digest stuff. The stuff that makes you uncomfortable. The fact that genocide occured in Australia up until the 1950s/60s. That while Maori in New Zealand make up 14% of the population, they make up 53% of the prison population.
  • The conversation about racism is not inherently political – it’s not about who you vote for. Yes – some politicians are more/less racist/antiracist than others. That doesn’t mean that your politics define your attitude on human rights.
  • Read read read! Here are some starting points:
    • SWAAY resources
    • Learn about the movement from people involved – not just the news channel or newspaper you normally get your news from. #blacklivesmatter
    • And a personal favourite? Trevor Noah, he’s is absolute gold. His instragram account is well worth looking at.

Finally – and this is probably the most important: remember that not everyone has the bandwidth to help you learn.

It’s not fair to assume that anyone wants to discuss this with you, or has the emotional reserves to do so. Think of it like asking a random woman invasive questions about rape – chances are she, or someone close to her has been raped. She may not want to discuss rape in depth with you at all. She may just not want to discuss it with you today.

So at the point someone raises this with you? It’s ok to ask questions and learn – as long as its ok with them. Again – like any other situation where you want to learn – ask questions, dont’ disagree or argue – just learn.

This post isn’t meant to lecture – I acknowledge that everyone comes from a different background, has different experiences and I think it’s important not to presume you know why someone has the opinion that they do.

There’s nothing wrong with learning and growing and changing your opinion about big subjects.

Difficult Conversations, Ethics, Leadership, Reflective practice, Thinking differently

Your Organisation is Drifting. And You’ve Got No Idea.

New year new you!

Or something similar.

It’s natural to strive for better. You look at the previous year, note your accomplishments (high engagement score ranking – tick!) and want to build on that momentum.

What you often don’t see when you’re constantly engaging with the people within your organisation that are high performers and those that are close to you, is the organisational drift happening under the surface. You’re focusing on big changes, becoming bigger and better than the year before, all the while not realising that something insidious is eating away at the fabric of your organisation.

People may have brought individual issues up before. Some big. Some not so much. Isolated they don’t look like a pattern. Because you’re surrounded with those who are super engaged and likely are very focused on their own areas of expertise they also don’t see the cumulative nature of what’s happening.

But I guarantee your employees do.

They notice the few instances of people ‘moving on’ under cloudy circumstances with unclear communications.

They notice the difference between decisions made by management and the values of your organisation.

They notice their friends and high performers choosing to opt out after having realised that this isn’t the place with the great culture/opportunity/leadership it once was.

They see people being appointed to roles who don’t care about their teams.

They see snarky emails/veiled threats being thrown about with no consequence.

Do they bring it to you?

Probably not.

They’ve probably already made their decision. They’re out. They’re still smiling and saying the right things when you ask them, but they’re scouring LinkedIn and job boards looking for their next opportunity. They’re responding honestly when someone asks what it’s like to work for you. They’re moving to your competitors.

All of a sudden it happens. You realise that you’re no longer ahead of the game. You ignored too many warning signs. Conveniently chose to listen to those who told you what you wanted to hear, not those who would challenge you and tell you what you needed to hear.

Many organisations go down this path. Some parts of it are beyond your control. Some are well within it.

So instead of thinking of the new year as one to build on the previous – maybe take some time to reflect, engage in continuous learning practices and ‘get under the hood’. You may not like what you find, but at least you have an opportunity to fix it if you do come across something.

Career, Human Resources, Leadership, Reflective practice, SHRM, SHRM18, Uncategorized

The Disruption of HR

Disruption doesn’t happen from the inside.

The founders of Invisalign weren’t dentists. Uber wasn’t created by Taxi drivers. Airbnb wasn’t created by hoteliers. And yet now they dominate their industries after completely upending them.

The digital disruption means that everyone’s specialty is at risk of being toppled by someone else. Someone that doesn’t know your business and industry as well as they did. But it turns out that’s an advantage. Because they’re not constrained by the same limitations you place on yourself.

I’m fascinated by speakers in the disruption of HR, of how we treat people within business.

Over the past month I’ve been soaking up some gems from a few people who are the very thought leaders (without making you sick with an over-used term) who I believe will take HR where it needs to go to deliver on what the world of work needs in the future.

The futurist

I am lucky enough to know the fantastic Alex Hagan – Alex is the founder & CEO of Kienco, a workforce strategy consultancy based in Melbourne who works all over the world and as well as being generally excellent at what he does, is a lovely human. We got talking about the future of HR the other day.

The discussion centred around the ‘old guard’ (AKA those who live for policies, procedures, control and to say ‘no’), and the opportunity and responsibility of nurturing those who see the real value-add: to provide strategic people counsel and guidance to help organisations flourish along with the people within them. The ones who will guide the HR profession into the future, when the ‘no’ crowd’s value is superseded by apps and automation.

The Dr of Change

I went to a fascinating breakfast learning session the other week (often an oxymoron) where Dr Josephine Palermo spoke on the cultural disruption an exceptionally large telecommunications company in Australia – Telstra – is facing as it expands over borders and moves into becoming a technology company – rooting it’s change in the customer experience. I know. Customer experience. It’s so overdone. But what got me excited about hearing Josephine speak was this was real.

The key takeaway for me? That we need to move away from ‘best practice’ – there’s no such thing when you’re looking at such new concepts and changes. What you should be aiming for is ‘emerging practice’ and knowing your business well enough to create a fail fast safe environment.

This really resonated with me – it speaks to the core of what HR needs to understand, live and breathe and then teach others to do. If we’re all about people – then we should be modelling great change, understanding the people in our organisation (and by extension, our customers), and helping the business deliver on what’s required to meet our goals.

The Social Movement

I’m so fortunate to be a part of the #SHRM18 blogging crew – but what’s cooler about this than me being stoked to be a part of it is the company I get to keep. HR is a social beast and to continually improve we need to surround ourselves with people that do it differently, people that do it better, and learn and adapt and share what we know to help make work better – because isn’t that what we all want?

To be a part of the social movement making HR better I’ve got some brilliant recommendations of where to go:

  • (self promotion alert) check out the phenomenal crew of #SHRM18 bloggers – they’re all on Twitter and there’s also some great individual blogs that you can follow. It’s easy to set up a feed rather than subscribe to them all if that’s your thing? Feedly is a great resource to get all your blog/article/website articles in an easy-to-read magazine style one stop shop.
  • Definitely get onto HR Open Source. They are freaking awesome. What could be better than a community of people just like you (if you are also fantastic) who want to make HR and work better for everyone? There’s a tonne of crowd-sourcing of HR challenges, sharing of resources and just a great sense of community.
  • Soak up some podcasts. On your way to work? You can totally learn while you’re doing that. Check out:
    • Drive Thru HR (so good – and heaps of content!) hosted by @MikeVanDervort it is seriously good stuff.
    • HR Happy Hour – hosted by some of the best in the business @SteveBoese & @TrishMcFarlane.
    • Impact Makers from @JenniferMcClure – this is a new one but Jennifer is AWESOME and you should definitely check it out.
    • We’re Only Human – HR is about people, and Ben (@BenEubanks) is a phenomenal interviewer who has one of the longest histories in HR/work podcasting out there. Highly recommend.
    • Business, Life & Coffee @joeyvpriceHR, the CEO of Jumpstart:HR is an excellent interviewer and really expands your horizons with some really interesting business leaders and a wide variety of experts.
    • Talking People & Tech from @DaveGass & Jared Cameron looking at the intersection of HR & Technology.

(There are so many more I could go on about – but often I find out about a really good one from listening to another – it does become a bit of an addiction).

  • Get into the HR Book Club – it’s not too late! From the HR-famous (yeah, that’s a thing) @LRuettimann herself. Laurie also has an excellent Vlog series that you can access on her website.

So what do we need to do? Keep asking questions, soak up all the knowledge you can, and as you’re figuring it out make sure you share so we can all learn from you too!

Reflective practice, Social Media & Learning

#50messagesofholidaythanks

This year has been nuts. There, I’ve said it. 2017 was full of almonds and pistachios (figuratively).

I have had a great year – working at YMCA Victoria with some of the best people I know, I got to enjoy some maternity leave, meet a very cool new little human, and a few more things have fallen into place, hinting that 2018 will be even better yet.

But sometimes it can take a little effort to appreciate how good life can be. A practise I like to try to adhere to is showing gratitude to those around me, who, knowingly, or completely obliviously, made my life better, or richer in some way.

This year I decided to take some time out and thank some friends/colleagues/groups through Twitter. So #50messagesofholidaythanks was born, a small way to let the people at the other end of the @handle know they’re appreciated.

I encourage you to jump on Twitter, search the hashtag, and perhaps add a few messages of gratitude to #50messagesofholidaythanks.

Happy holidays and I hope your break is safe, enjoyable and filled with good people.

#SHRM16, Career, Reflective practice

My 2016: The oh-darn-it’s-already-December Edition

2016-blog-december

Well well well….

It’s December tomorrow, I’m about to get the Christmas tree up and I’ve only just stopped to take a breath and I’ve realised that the year has gone so fast™ (I used to think that only old people said this and I’m now one of them).

2016 was a huge year for me – I bit the bullet and completed my Masters in Management while working full time, travelled to #SHRM16 in Washington D.C. (career highlight!) and had my first full year in my role as Learning and Organisational Development Manager at YMCA Victoria. In all the insanity my blogging dropped off considerably, I have an enormous pile of books next to my bed half read and many incomplete book reviews and articles waiting their turn to be completed. In short, my own personal learning journey has been usurped by the busyness of life.

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a gratitude study, which measured gratitude practices and their impact on self-esteem. That week I added to my morning ritual a journal entry of what I’m grateful for and it was an eye-opening exercise. In the spirit of sharing a few of the highlights for me were:

  • My family and friends – who are spread very much across the world but thanks to technology I’m able to be connected with constantly.
  • My dog. This might seem a bit trite but he makes me incredibly happy and forces me to do more exercise (good for the brain, body and soul) and his positive world view is pretty infectious!
  • My career, colleagues and workplace. I am very aware how fortunate I am to work for an organisation (shoutout to YMCA Victoria!) that I truly believe in that has given me huge opportunity. Add to that working with some of the loveliest people on the planet who all care deeply about their work and getting to focus my career on developing people and organisations to increase their potential I’m stoked!
  • I’m incredibly thankful for the many people who I’ve learned and grow with locally and the globe over – the fantastic #PeoplePeopleCU crew in Melbourne, the incredible bloggers and SHRM community, and my online & IRL networks who provide support and learning opportunities constantly.
  • Living in Australia – my husband and I (and our dog Vito) moved to Australia in 2013 from New Zealand. While we love our country and going back for time with family and friends the lifestyle and opportunities offered to us in Australia remind us how fortunate we are.

2016 has been an interesting year in some respects #JohnOliver….

2016-john-oliver

… But for me it has been incredible – so now I’m going to take my last month and try and correct the neglect some of my own personal learning habits suffered earlier in the year.

Career, PKM, Reflective practice

I’m a hypocritical so-and-so…

Because I’m always going on to others about the importance of self-reflection and have seen huge benefit in using the practice myself.

Usually my morning ritual looks like:

  1. Wake up earlier than my alarm (99% due to my child-like bedtime on weeknights).
  2. Reflect on my learning in a journal. Possibly translate some of these into a blog post – some for sharing, some not.
  3. Catch up on business news. Schedule my Buffer account to share my top finds on Twitter.
  4. Wake my evening-owl partner up so we take take the dog for his morning walk. This is both good for our health and helps ensure there are no tantrums during the day resulting in suspiciously wet ripped up cardboard on our return from work.
  5. Get ready for said work.

Lately though I’ve been slack. Oh I’m full of excuses (“It’s cold this winter!” “We’ve just moved” “It’s hard acclimatising on return from holidays”… whine whine whine) but I don’t have any excuses that stick.

Along with the demise of my morning routine I’ve noticed:

  • It takes me longer for my brain to ‘switch on’ once I’m at work, and a lot more caffeine.
  • My lack of exercise is meaning I’m more sluggish  and far more inclined to pig out on junk food during the day.
  • I’m finding excuses to get out of other good habits – mainly exercise related although my study schedule is also suffering.

What to do? Well I could continue to whine about it and be a hypocrite when stressing to others the importance of self-led learning. Or I could reflect on a conversation I had with a skateboard-riding pirate last week and not ignore the importance of my own learning journey.

Challenge accepted.

#SHRM16, #SoMe, Reflective practice, Social Media & Learning, Working in People & Culture

The HR World is Becoming More Connected

I have LOVED the #SHRM16 conference and it has really forced me to get out and meet some fantastic people – both ones that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with online and also some completely new friends.

That’s the amazing thing about our HR world becoming more and more connected. Having worked across Australia and New Zealand it was the advent of social media allowing professionals to share and collaborate that really changed the game for me. All of a sudden, it wasn’t just the few having access to information about HR in other organisations and countries through printed journals, conferences and site visits. The many can now collaborate, share and create together, coming together on Twitter, LinkedIn, through blogs and vertical platforms (and many other ways) to work across industries and oceans.

The effect this is having on HR is massive. Our employees were already globalising through migration – but now our HR approach is globalising. We’re being able to access information about state of the art employee attraction schemes happening in the USA, learning and development taking a front seat in the UK and I’m able to talk to the creators of such things through Twitter, Skype and a host of other social platforms. People, and companies, are sharing more: the session from Craig Briscoe and Jenn Saavedra from Dell was a testament to that, an excellent example of a large company inviting others to learn from their journey.

It is through social media that I connected with the good folks at SHRM and had the opportunity to get closer to a whole new world of ways to approach people at work. I had initially used social media professionally as tool to observe – I began to follow some prolific HR and learning experts on Twitter and the more they shared the more engaged in this community I became. I began to share content that was relevant to me and then began to blog myself, I also engaged in tweetchats, LinkedIn groups, discovered more great resources and authors and also began to share this knowledge and my own journey in real life.

Often the ‘social media role’ is, by default, given to a millennial. What is critical to remember is that while these technological changes may be most associated with millennials it does not mean they’re the most expert in the subject, nor that those changes aren’t impacting other generations just as much. In fact, one of the most prolific tweeters I know in Australia is a baby boomer L&D professional who has taught me a huge amount about the value of social media in learning.

My breakthrough HR moment from SHRM16? It, without a doubt, has been that technology has the power to change the world for the positive. Sal Kahn moved every single person present in the closing keynote describing the impact that Kahn Academy has had on people the world over. I was very misty eyed (OK, I was tearing up) when Kahn described the emailed letters of impact from his students from children and their parents around the word. This man has changed the world with his “delusional optimism” and I’m so happy that the world has embraced his message.

Don’t be scared of technology. Don’t think it is something that you can’t learn because you’re of a certain generation or the couple of times you’ve dipped your toe in the water you’ve found it confusing. The power to connect is incredibly powerful and technology is a great way for you to access a world of people who are willing to help you, your organisation and your employees develop.

Just try it.

SHRM connected.png

 

This article was first published at https://blog.shrm.org/blog/the-hr-world-is-becoming-more-connected-shrm16 

Reflective practice, Slow Thinking, Uncategorized

Learning from your mistakes as a manager

“Managers learn from the meaning they give to experience, not from the experience itself, and they give meaning to experience by reflecting”
Sievert & Daudelin 1999

This is a pretty powerful idea – you don’t just learn from your experiences but you learn from reflecting on those experiences. During my career I have seen some leaders make huge mistakes, reflect on them honestly with themselves, learn and grow in to even better leaders because of them.
Likewise, I’ve seen other leaders make similar mistakes, have similar outcomes but due to a lack of real reflection never learn from the experience and thus repeating it many times over.

Alan was a great up and coming manager, he was learning from an excellent people manager who was well respected in the business and eager to take on advice and apply it to his own journey as a leader. A tricky employee issue came up – Steve was a handful in the workplace and with a couple of (minor issues) some mental health issues began to surface.
Alan was eager to do the text book right thing (although maybe was a little overzealous in some discussions) – Steve didn’t take it well and it a long process was entered in to that took a lot of time and effort on the part of Alan’s manager, the business and the HR team.
Heaps of people have been in Alan’s position. Your first few years of management aren’t easy and you will always make mistakes.
Alan’s manager, being a great people manager coached Alan through the process and the aftermath – in a way that set could Alan up for real success with learning opportunities from this difficult situation.

The next point is where the great people leaders and the perpetual managers differ (and I’m sure you’ll be able to recognise people from both camps). What does Alan do next?

A.        Does he think about his role in the outcome, sort through decisions he made and see how they inter played with a mental health and performance issue in the workplace learning how he might deal with a similar issue differently in the future?

B.        Or, does he reflect and critically evaluate, no matter the mitigating factors (the performance issues and mental health concerns) that he had preferences, biases and a limited frame of reference. Does he then take time to reflect on how his responses could have differed at different stages of the process? How may these tendencies play out in other, less similar circumstances? May he learn something from his process, his behaviour that might make a difference with an entirely different situation in the future?

Alan A think’s he’s being reflective and learning from the situation – but his focus is external. What would he change being given a very similar issue in the future?

Alan B is being reflective and will really learn from the situation. His learning and subsequent behaviour change will transcend a very similar issue and will be able to be applied in many future situations.

When you learn a lesson, face a challenge or hit a wall, do you critically reflect? Or do you pay lip service to the process but never really change your behaviour?

Alan A can be called a ‘single loop learner’ – he’s looking at feedback (did something succeed or fail) to help establish what he could try next.

Alan B can be called a ‘double loop learner’ – he’s looking at feedback but he’s asking additional questions which help him get to the root cause, underlying beliefs, values  and assumptions.

If you want to encourage double loop learning in your practise try asking yourself:
Why did I try that in the first place?
What made me think that would work?
When have I experienced similar results?
What has this shown me about myself?

Formal learning, Reflective practice

Reflective Practice

How do you encourage reflection in your work life? Do you actively dedicate time to reflection or is it something you do when you realise you’ve made the same old mistake again?

In learning we know that reflection is the most important part of the process:
“We do not learn from experience… We learn from reflecting on experience” – John Dewey

Despite being someone who is pretty loud and proud of my own love of learning and the amazing things it can do for individuals and groups to help us accomplish great things… I’m surprisingly average about creating time for my own learning reflections.

This blog is one way I’ve tried to develop the habit and I am a bit of a journaler – but these things can quickly become inconvinient, or worse, habits, that have lost their meaning.

Part of my 2016 challenge (and the ‘year of the rocket’) has been to bite the bullet and enrol in my last paper for my Masters of Management. I’m hoping that throwing out that I’m doing this so regularly will help hold me accountable to the amount of work I’m going to have to put in to my research. But also a part of the paper that I really like (go Massey University!) is that 30% of my final mark is determined by a series of reflective journals. I’m interested to see how reintegrating reflective journaling practise in an academic sense impacts on my own process of awareness and learning.

Now I just need to cross my fingers and hope that good reflective practise helps spawn some amazing insights into modern workplace management and organisational development!