#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 

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, Thinking differently

How to Lead a Quest (book review)

The ‘Future of Work’ is very quickly becoming one of those phrases that when I hear I immediately start thinking about what I’m having for dinner.

Not because it’s a dull topic – quite the opposite! As a card-carrying HR nerd I find it fascinating – my aversion comes from some incredibly dishwater-dull speakers at conferences and ‘must read’ LinkedIn articles which espouse the importance of innovation without ever articulating what that means if you’re not a sexy tech millennial start up.

If you get excited by the idea of avoiding obsolescence (which I hope you do), pioneering into new ways of doing things and detest formulaic business books then what you need to be doing is picking up a copy of ‘How to Lead a Quest’ from Dr Jason Fox.

I don’t think I’ve ever described a business/strategy/change book as an ‘exciting read’ but here I am breaking tradition and loudly exclaiming that this book is a must read – especially, if like me, you benefit greatly from someone taking incredibly complex ideas and making them much easier to understand. #ImNotThatSmart

The added benefit of this book is the author actually manages to not only explain those complex ideas well, but make you feel like you’re now one of the smart people in the room for having read it. (I do love feeling like I’m part of a smart people’s club!)

Highlights for me (aside from Dangerlam’s awesome artwork throughout the book which greatly added to my understanding of some pretty imaginative concepts) was the blend of research-based thinking with application to many things that you run into in business when you’re intent on doing things differently.

‘Planning to Fail’ (and navigating the 9 layers of ‘Fell’/Failure Hell) is absolute gold in helping explain the failure you should celebrate (failed experiments), the failure you need to change (process inadequacy), and the failure you shouldn’t celebrate at all (apathy).

I want to provide an insightful critique here (because how else would I feel smart?) but I can’t. This book is perfection right down to the footnotes that appear at nearly the end of every page. For example, when discussing ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ and that your strategy shouldn’t be hiding behind layers of hierarchy or deep within documents on the intranet, Jason notes “[1] If this is the case, if people can’t find a good breakfast – they’ll default to whatever is easily available – like sticking a teaspoon into that dubious jar of peanut butter. Or that old set of performance metrics that is familiar and yet no longer aligned to the new strategy.”

How often has ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ been written about (so many times it is bordering on becoming a work wank word) and yet suddenly it feels relevant. Contextualizing ideas in ways that leads to intelligent conversation is a fine art and one that this book repeats again, again and again.

 

Originally published on LinkedIn

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

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.

Slow Thinking

Genuine Space to Think Big

This past couple of months has been pretty standard of any new year – I, like many others, get all excited and motivated at the seemingly limitless prospects of a new year – the projects, the cultural change, the lofty goal of happier, more productive people.

No matter the quality of planning somehow we always have the same problem, there just aren’t enough hours in the day, week, month, year, to accomplish all that we want to.

It’s easy at this stage to step back and disengage, or step forward and attempt to drown myself in endless tasks – neither of which will ever help me achieve my goals.

Ensuring I have the time and space to do the slow thinking necessary to really make a difference – to me, my organisation, my colleagues and my stakeholders – is exactly the thing that facilitates success. But it can be the hardest thing to accomplish and unfortunately is the easiest time to ‘borrow’ from when things get hectic.

It’s for this reason that I’m so looking forward to the 2015 AHRI National Conference. Not only do I get to hear some incredible speakers (The Honourable Julia Gillard anybody?…) but I get to meet hundreds of people facing similar issues to me, find out how they’re dealing with them, learn from them – not to mention the incredible group of speakers who are guaranteed to get me thinking differently.

I’m always signing up for formal learning (uni papers are verging on an addiction) and breakfast seminars (a combo of free food, networking and learning something new?! I’m there!), I love learning socially through blogging, twitter and trying out new technology. But I’ve never found anything that replaces the incredible lineups, networking opportunities and genuine space to think big than conferences on the scale of the AHRI National Convention.

Being in the same room as the thought leaders whose theories and passion are constantly used as inspiration, their lessons learned being discussed, hearing their unique point of view and maybe having the opportunity to talk to them? Nothing beats that and it can’t be replicated through technology or via a book no matter the expertise of those telling the story.

Being exposed to, and having the opportunity to learn about issues, trends and new information in my field that I’m not across is invaluable. I don’t know what I don’t know and one of the benefits of being in an industry which recognises the importance and necessity of ongoing professional development is not lost on me. While I try to keep up with general industry changes, case studies and new research, I rarely venture past my bread and butter – generalist business partnering, learning & development and organisational development – and with these areas being so broad I know I’m constantly missing information. I’m looking forward to hearing from experts in other specialties, not just for curiosities sake, but to help me deliver better solutions to my stakeholders.

What I’m excited about most of all? Dedicating time to having more big picture conversations with people who I don’t yet know. Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the issues that dominate your working week – and taking time to learn from others who are accomplishing incredible things is a pretty great way to help you do the same.

The author will be a guest of the AHRI National Convention and has been asked to write up their thoughts on the event.

This article was originally published on the Australian Institute of Human Resources (AHRI) website.