Career, Social Media & Learning, Working in People & Culture

From Melbourne Australia to Washington D.C. for #SHRM16

If you cannot feel it radiating through your screen, let me tell you, I’m pretty excited!  In a matter of weeks, I’ll be arriving to Washington, D.C. with possibly the best cohort of people you could ever want to conference with. No sarcasm: HR people are the best – we make a difference in people’s lives, we get to work in every industry, and we get to contribute to easily the most interesting part of work – the people! We share, we get energized by improving things, we challenge each other and we’re open to doing things differently.
Whether you hail from the U.S. or not, you need to know that those of us that don’t hear a lot about HR in America. Google any hot topic employment issue, and there’s a company in Silicon Valley dealing with it in a gobsmackingly creative way. Google the ‘death of HR’, and you’ll find a plethora of passionate HR bloggers who, mostly from the USA, are debating how we continue to evolve and shape the world around us. What about Twitter? Where are the best tweetchats happening? Well SHRM are running them! Google paid maternity leave… ok… maybe not a good example?

Obviously the impressive line-up of speakers is a big draw card for the conference.  And because of this, one of my most challenging tasks is going to be deciding what I must attend versus what I really, really, really want to attend. If I start sharing my list at this stage, it’s actually just a transcript of the whole line up – proving for once and all that I still need to do some serious reviewing of the seemingly thousands of sessions on offer before my arrival.

This will be my first SHRM Conference this year, and the anticipating is killing me – meeting the other bloggers and SHRM-ers will be excellent! The amount of collaboration and sharing that happens within the HR community on social media is true warm-fuzzy material. A few of the bloggers are even doing a fantastic seminar on social media strategies for HR and business goals (it’s an additional session on the Saturday run by Sharlyn Lauby, Jonathan A. Segal, Craig Fisher, and Aliah D. Wright). I highly recommend this one if you’re thinking about dipping your toe in the water on social media or just want to learn from the best.

The SHRM community and its international impact have been highlighted for me through Steve Browne who has connected many of us internationals with the great minds at SHRM (a big hi to Andrew, Mary, John & team!). The global network this event enables is mind-blowing – the opportunity to interact with other attendees is fantastic. HR is so broad! We work in so many places and industries, have different approaches to strategy and delivery.  And yet the common experience means that when you meet anyone in our industry, you instantly have 10 similar issues and opportunities – and the great thing about HR people is they’re willing to share and help each other out.

Along these lines – please do approach me and other bloggers at the conference – we’ll be furiously mashing a keyboard with one hand, having a phone in the other (possibly also pockets full of chocolate), while manically sharing and interacting with others on social media. But if you want to discuss how to engage and better access this wonderful online community, I’m sure every single one of us would love to share our passion with you.

I’m looking forward to meeting you in June – now just to prepare my cork hat, my pet kangaroo and pack the bags! (Just kidding. I’m actually a Kiwi living in Australia, so it will be bringing a rugby ball and hobbit slippers.)

Happy conferencing!

 

—-

 

For more information and to attend SHRM 2016 Annual Conference & Exposition, visit www.annual.shrm.org.

This article was first published at SHRM

 

Leadership, Working in People & Culture

A Conversation With #SHRM16 Speaker Craig Briscoe

HR’s ‘seat at the table’ is something that is often waxed lyrical about, again, and again, and again. We’re given 10,000 reasons why we should already be there, why we’ll never get there, what you’re doing wrong, what your CEO is doing wrong and why we need a HR revolution to get there.

Quietly though, some organisations are evolving towards the Holy Grail of HR bloggers: a genuine seat at the table. If you’re heading to #SHRM16 you’ll be lucky enough to hear from one organisation where HR can confidently say that they’re ahead of the curve. They wouldn’t though, the lovely Craig Briscoe (VP, Human Resources – Commercial Sales and Enterprise Solutions at Dell) is delightfully humble when discussing the Dell HR team’s critical role in strategic partnership at the 110,000 strong company, emphasizing that the journey to real strategic partner is always evolving.

Craig is speaking with David Cabrera (Regional HR Director and HR Business partner at the ‘Role of HR in Dell’s Multiple Business Transformations’ session at the annual SHRM conference.

Craig describes himself as “more of a business leader with an HR bent” which I believe is exactly why he has been in a position to play such a key role in the multiple business transformations at Dell over the past 15 years. Dell itself has undergone a huge amount of change during that time – from a US centric company of around 25,000, through an IPO, privatisation and now through the biggest tech merger in history (changing its name to Dell Technologies) with the acquisition of EMC.

The process of going through multiple acquisitions, considering cultural change, determining what is important (ethics, says Craig) and what isn’t (you can keep the BBQ in your staff room) has meant that Dell is continuously learning from their experiences. These acquisitions have also meant that the HR team has fine-tuned their ability to accurately assess talent as it walks in the door. Craig says there’s been “no shortage of learning opportunities” from these experiences and the team has been able to constantly improve their approach.

Perhaps the thing that resonated with me most when hearing Craig speak about his experiences at Dell, is the fact that he doesn’t see ‘having a seat at the table’ being a choice we have to make in sacrificing great traditional HR. Rather it’s something that the HR team gets to add on top of fantastic HR consulting, generalist and specialist support. Craig describes with real respect an excellent HR leader that he works with who can strategize with the best of them, but is as equally comfortable working in the detail when required. This ability to balance between specialist/traditional HR and strategic insight results in well-rounded HR experts who have the respect of their peers and stakeholders. Craig emphasises the value of giving HR Generalists opportunities to develop in the strategic space, he says that many of our best and brightest excel in this space but are never given the opportunity to because they’re swamped with administration and the policy/procedure aspects of the role.

It is because of this that Dell have placed huge value on getting the HR structure right, being one of the first to implement a BP model with specialist centres of excellence. Craig is quick to emphasise that this is about the liberation of talented people from the transactional and it has resulted in real dividends for the business in allowing Business Partners to focus on value adds. Business Partners are often the first in the room when big decisions are being discussed, well prior to when the people implications are being sorted through. Craig takes time to keep coming back to the fact that there is no position on the HR team where it’s just thinking and being brilliant – it’s not an either or. He and other senior HR team members are in and out of spreadsheets every day, it’s a key part of their role to know the business inside out and it’s important for the team to never get too far from their roots.

Dell’s emphasis on being a great business partner to their clients has influenced its ability to harness the strategic potential of HR. In transitioning to becoming a business partner (rather than the company you just buy your server from) emphasis has been focused on the transition being in their people – because 90% of this change is in hiring and developing the right ones. This change has resulted in Dell changing how it screens for leaders differently – and Craig emphasises that HR is continually learning and evolving in this space. This has been particularly felt in high level recruitment in their worldwide operations – Dell has moved towards hiring and developing experts in the market rather than relying on expats with the technical skill set having to acclimatise to the market.

I’m so excited to hear Craig speak about these (and more) lessons he’s learned in his time at Dell. The lessons of a team who are successfully rationalizing their ‘seat at the table’ fills me with confidence that we don’t have to choose between ‘new’ and ‘old’ HR, we just have to keep learning, growing and evolving so we can make sure that we offer the best service we possibly can to the organisations we work with.

 

Originally published at the 2016 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition site: http://blog.shrm.org/blog/a-conversation-with-shrm16-speaker-craig-briscoe

Career, Thinking differently, Working in People & Culture

How I Got My Dream Job

This is going to come across as a complete humblebrag but bear with me (interestingly this is spelled ‘bear’ rather than ‘bare’ – Google it – makes for a good read)…

How many of you genuinely work somewhere (or for those of you that consult, with clients) that really align to your values?

Not just corporate speak “oh honesty and excellence, well yeah I totally agree with those in theory” – but, right in your bones, you get to work somewhere that you’re genuinely proud of?

I get to. It wasn’t an accident. I’ve worked a few places where that wasn’t true (and one where is was the polar opposite of true). I purposefully sought somewhere where I could hand-on-heart say that I believe in what we do, why we do it and how we do it. It was a bit scary at first.

The role I began at my current organisation (OK – YMCA Victoria – it’s all over my LinkedIn and Twitter anyway :)) could have been seen as a ‘step down’ career wise. I took a role with less pay and a less impressive sounding job title – but it felt 100% right.

Why?

  • When I met with the manager of the team where I’d work I genuinely felt like he was there for the right reasons and I’d be able to learn from him.
  • When I looked into the work that YMCA Victoria do, I realised they are an organisation of action (impressively so and across a huge range of areas).
  • When I interviewed the team interviewing me where really passionate about their work. It came across really clearly and I also had a sense from both my key stakeholders (that were involved in all stages of the interview process) that they loved what they do.
  • I felt that there was potential with this organisation for future opportunities and growth.

I was hugely nervous about this decision. Actually ‘hugely nervous’ doesn’t even begin to convey just how terrified I was about the decision to leave a great job. But the payoff was worth it.

Very quickly I had confirmation that I’d made the right decision. The team I worked with was great, I was mentored by some really talented people and my primary operational stakeholder group consistently gave me extra time (while never making me feel like I was imposing) to really help me understand their world.

When I attend events or talk with my peers at other organisations I regularly feel out of place for loving what I do and where I work so much. But I shouldn’t.

I realise the economic realities and the hugely privileged position I was in to take my time in finding the right role – and being educated and skilled in an area where I can find my dream job. In saying that, I did take my time. My husband and I moved to Australia with 3 suitcases and I’ve had some shocking work experiences along the way, in both Australia and New Zealand. But being purposeful and taking a long term view has meant that I now work with people that I genuinely hope I continue to work with for 5 (or, gasp, even 10,) years.

Can everyone work in their dream job? Probably not. The way the world works means for many that holding on to a job, any job, that puts food on the table may be the driving objective.

But if you can, if there’s any way you can chase your dream job, or dream company. Do it. I cannot tell you how much my life has changed since taking a role somewhere where I’m proud to work.

 

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, Working in People & Culture

It’s February?!

It’s February!! (?) I don’t know how this has happened.

I returned to work last Wednesday after 10 days holidaying in New Zealand, which consisted of visiting family and friends, threatening to kidnap my nephew and bring him to Australia as carry-on luggage. Normal family stuff.

It was wonderful to reset myself – I didn’t take a real break over Christmas/New Year’s and by January 16 my brain was crying out for some holiday time. There was a couple of times that I realised I was near to stabbing an innocent colleague with a fork (and not a particularly sharp one) just because I needed some downtime so bad. (No need to worry, really the worst it would have gotten was a passive-aggressive sulk in my office while I stewed on a transgression like stapling a document in the wrong place, serious stuff.)

I, like many People & Culture people, am really excellent at reminding others they need a break from work. Some reset time with family and friends to give your mind a chance to recalibrate. I, also like most People & Culture people, am terrible at taking my own advice.

This time I did it and while it did take me 3 good days to get my brain back in the game I feel like a whole new person.

As much as it feels like you can just keep going because you love your job (I know the feeling). Don’t. It’s not until you have a real break that you realise how much you needed it.

During my time off I also made some life decisions – I’m going to re-enter the world of studentdom to complete my Masters – I only have one double semester paper to go, but I can’t figure out yet if this is an incredibly silly or brave move on my part when I’m only 4 months into my new role.

But it’s the year of the rocket! And I’m defining it with being kinder to myself (I have two lots of leave booked before July. TWO!) and getting back on the study bus. Clearly I’m not defining it with excellent English (study bus?) – but perhaps 2017 will be the year of expanding my vocabulary.

image

The picture is taken from the Taranaki coast in the North Island of NZ

#humblebrag #proudkiwi

#SoMe, Brand, Uncategorized

Accepting (Or Rejecting) LinkedIn Invites

I love connecting with new people online. I often make connections through Twitter (especially Tweet Chats), conversations in groups on LinkedIn, via comments sections on websites/blogs, I’ve met people via Periscope and Blab and recently discovered HipChat (how cool is that!? Thanks Melissa!).

However one thing I don’t generally do is accept LinkedIn invites from people I don’t know or haven’t had a conversation with previously. There have been a couple of exceptions – when the request has come with a short message about why the person wants to connect I’ve accepted and then had some great conversations, both online and in real life (or IRL for those of you that remember MS Messenger).

My main reason for this is that I like my LinkedIn feed being relevant to me. I get a huge amount of my own professional development from seeing what my connections and groups share and I believe the platform would lose relevance to me if it became a feed of 1001 different irrelevant posts.

When I receive an invite from someone I know I always accept, and if I don’t know them I will go through a couple of steps before declining:

  1. Have they written a message about why they want to connect? If they have and it makes sense to me I’ll accept and send them a message to start a conversation.
  2. If there is no message I check out their LinkedIn profile – have I met them somewhere/worked with them in a past life? It can be easy to dismiss people too quickly, especially if they’ve change their surname or it’s been a few years.
  3. I also do a quick Twitter search – have I interacted with them on that platform?
  4. If something about their profile intrigues me I will send them a message (thanks Helen Blunden for this great LinkedIn email responses article, I’ve adapted the suggested messages and used these myself) asking what they’re looking to achieve out of the connection.
  5. If none of these things are true I will decline the invite.

LinkedIn is a professional network, not a popularity contest. LinkedIn groups (which have gone through a great facelift recently) provide an opportunity for open networking – my personal connections do not need to be that open network.

How do you judge who you accept connection requests from? I don’t believe there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to use this platform – just the way that works best for you.

 

First published on LinkedIn

Leadership, Personal brand, PKM, Uncategorized

2016: Year of the Rocket

Well, I’ve been slack – at least when it comes to posting regularly here. But now it’s officially 2016 I guess it’s time to make a whole lot of resolutions I’ve got no intention of keeping and kick off on an unsustainable eating/excercise regime?
In all seriousness though, I am going to take the bull by the horns (or should that be red monkey?) when it comes to 2016. Oh yeah, 2015 was pretty great – in fact the reason I was so slack on the blogging front was because I started a new job (with the same awesome people). But 2016 is going to be even better!
Last year I was inundated with opportunity – so much so that I really had to take stock of what I value and want my life to be full with. I decided that a new job with the same organisation was where it was at, the #PeoplePeopleCU was a great way to connect with likeminded people in Melbourne, I was more active and sought out more professional development both in person and online and I also was lucky enough to meet some really great people along the way.
So how do I improve on 2015?
I’m going to take Dr Jason Fox’s advice and pick a word for the year, last year I picked ‘Build’ and didn’t really tell anyone about it. This year I’m going to go with ‘Rocket’.
Rocket (for me at least) = the year of launching some amazing things and seeing them fly. (Side note: if you don’t know of Dr Jason Fox and his writing/speaking you need to google him. Now.)
I’m really exciting about 2016 and what it holds. This year I’m off to the SHRM Conference in Washington D.C., there are some massive projects at work that are going to require a lot of time and energy and I’m looking forward to more People People Catch Ups and learning from some cool people.
Just before I sign out on my first (hopefully of many) blogs for the year I’d like to say a big thanks to all the amazing people that made my world better last year – there are just too many to mention but I’m so grateful for all of your sharing, caring and general excellence.

Leadership, Personal brand

Mentoring is AWESOME!

I woke up this morning and felt incredibly… lucky. Lucky that I am excited to go to work. Lucky that I enjoy my career and I get to work for an organisation I believe in. Lucky that I have been fortunate enough to have some incredible mentors throughout my career.

(In case you can’t tell, I quite like my job)

In retrospect, the availability of a mentor (which has quite often been a manager for me – but not always) who is invested in my career and development has been the key factor in whether I’ve loved where I work or not. It’s not always about the sexiness of the company – one of the most enjoyable places I ever worked was the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department. This wasn’t because of the focus on tax, but due to the excellent group of people I worked with and the incredible managers I had while I was there.

mentoring is awesome

As well as having benefited a huge amount from some mentors who have been very generous with their time, I’ve also been engaged as a mentor myself – it is an incredibly rewarding thing to do. The success of the relationship (whether it’s an informal or formal relationship) is very dependent on the mentee being proactive, understanding what they want out of the relationship and giving adequate thought to the ask that is placed on the mentor. When I’ve seen formal mentorships break down it is almost always linked to a mismatch of expectations. In saying this – the right attitude of the mentor is also critical: you aren’t creating a mini-me or giving all the answers, you’re giving someone the benefit of your perspective and helping them figure out the journey for themselves.

Acknowledging what both parties can learn from each other is also key – this isn’t a one-way relationship. Many organisations now are seeing the value in setting up ‘reverse mentoring’ programs where executives are mentored by younger employees – often with a particular focus on technology or emerging fields.

Forbes had a great article from 2011 (which is still just as relevant today) which detailed how becoming a mentor can develop your own career. This article references research from Sun Microsystems who found that mentors were 6x more likely to be promoted to a bigger job.

Six times!!!

Mentoring isn’t just great for individuals; MicroMentor cites research which states that mentored businesses increased their income during their programs of up to 83% (compared to non-mentored businesses that increased revenue by 16%).

Your Challenge:

My challenge to you? Commit to becoming a mentor, or being a mentee in the coming year. Whichever path you take commit to reflecting on your journey as you go, whether it’s through a journal, your Outlook or another method, and come back to it at the end of the year. I guarantee that if you have an open mind the amount you can learn through this process is almost limitless.

Thinking differently, Working in People & Culture

Mediocracy? Or Disruption?

Let’s be honest. Nearly all of us in the ‘people’ space (whether that’s HR, recruitment, learning or management) like to think we can effect some real change.
No one wants to go to work day after day and feel like they haven’t accomplished anything.
But lots of us do just that.
We like to think that we think like disruptors, but actually we are a bit more like lemmings… we think about big change but then when it comes down to it and it all gets too hard we just follow the pack.
For this reason, the people and organisations that actually do disrupt make noise! There’s a reason why tech start ups get so much press in the employment space – the ones we hear about are doing big things, disrupting industries and changing the game both in their field and in the employment space.
You have to have heard of Zappos & it’s holacracy, Google & its benefits, Virgin & their unlimited leave… it’s forward thinking companies like these that are changing the norm, and the expectations of potential employees.
But for more organisations to move in this direction – where the ‘norm’ doesn’t dictate expectations? More disruptors are needed.
You don’t have to be working at Google to be a disruptor. But you do need to be motivated, reflective (and self-aware) and have the ability to think outside the box.
Recently I attended a 99U Local event in Melbourne hosted by Dr Jason Fox & the Centre for Workplace Leadership – it was pretty amazing. And it was filled with disruptors who were looking to activate in the creative space.
I picked up some great tips for how I might become more effective at what I do, the highlights for me were:
  • Get up early – my brain is in the best space then
  • Make my important decisions in the morning, the sooner the better
  • Get out and do it. Commit. Be prepared to back myself.
My challenge to you is: How do you want to effect change? What will make you a better disruptor to create that change? Write it down, key in a buddy who has their own goals and will help you stay accountable to yours.
What have we got to loose? Mediocracy? lemmings
Leadership, Personal brand, PKM, Thinking differently

Psych Assessments and Personality Profiles: Worth It?


This week’s post is a result of a question submitted through Engage Learn Build. It’s a question I get asked frequently in various forms – from executives looking to evaluate their team or a new hire, managers who feel they should be using psych assessments but don’t know where to start, right through to friends who are wondering what on earth the correlation is between a seemingly random request for a psych assessment midway through the recruitment process.

My response to these questions varies greatly on the why:

  • Why is the decision maker wanting to engage in a psychological assessment or personality profile?
  • Will the tool that is being suggested actually help answer that question? (Quite often the answer is no…)
  • And finally, does the decision maker actually know how to interpret the results, or do they have someone on hand to walk them through the process? (Again, quite often the answer is no).

Question:

Hey Renée, as a leader, the most valuable learning I’ve done has been about myself. Tools like MBTI,  360 feedback mechanisms and TMI profiles (IE creator / innovator, concluder / producer etc) have all made me much more aware about how to get the best out of others, but most importantly made me much more self aware of my own strengths and weaknesses and helped me out plans in place to compensate.

How do you rate the different tools out there for leaders looking to be more mature and self aware in their approach to leading others and what traps and pitfalls should they look out for using those tools?

– Damo

Answer:

I totally agree, I think there is a time and place for these tools (which I geekily love) and I get heaps out of them too. I think for me the key is context. If you’re someone who can go out and take what they need from these types of tools, apply it etc. then it is less important, but I often see people engaging with tools (either themselves or with their teams/organisations) and then not contextualizing it and making it mean something for the individual/group.

Most people don’t naturally do this (it is a skill highly related to EQ) – but as a leader, when engaging others in this space, the context is everything. Ideally these tools should help inform a broader plan rather than be the plan. As for preference I personally have gotten the most out of 360’s, especially when it is a goodie. The Human Synergistics LSI tool is pretty decent and I really like Facet5. Although if you’re looking at team dynamics rather than individual development I’d lean more towards personality trait profiles (MBTI, DISC are all much of a muchness in my opinion) because they’re easy to understand and focus people on understanding how they relate to others – and others relate to them, which when you’re trying to get a team to work together is pretty critical.

The big trap is the idea that any one tool (or often, consultant selling that tool) has all the answers. While most tools are supported by good theory there is a lot of room for error and an element of subjectivity in analyzing results. Some assessments have been developed with sales people in mind for example, where extroversion is an asset – where someone who is trying to cultivate a collaborative leadership style might rate badly but actually still be really effective in their substantive.

My readers might have differences of opinion when it comes to some of the psych and personality tools I’ve listed. But I maintain the most critical part of the equation is the ‘why’, and if the organisation or the manager concerned hasn’t got that figured out then I’d suggest that any of these tools are next to useless.