#SHRM16, Career, Working in People & Culture

A Kiwi Who Lives in Oz Takes on America!

I’ve had an amazing time in the USA (just like last time) – but there are some things that I just can’t get used to. Nothing negative, but there certainly are some differences between the USA and Australia/New Zealand!

I’m here for the #SHRM16 conference, some work and also holidaying with family – so I’m getting to see a bit of this awesome country.

 

Things that have made me, or those around me, face palm:

  • Where is the coffee I’m used to? I’m now detoxing.
  • Why is everyone so nice? It makes me feel uncomfortable when everyone you meet is so darned helpful!
  • Californians texting/facebooking/on the phone while they drive! (Definitely is a negative for me).
  • Drying everything in a clothes dryer – don’t your clothes shrink? And you miss out on the feeling of air-dried clothes which is the best!
  • Alcohol is so cheap in the USA (scratch that: everything is cheaper).
  • Tipping – it’s a constant struggle for me to math it up.
  • Australian/NZ humour is much drier, I’m constantly tripping myself up saying things I think are clearly jokes but are not translating so well.
  • Kiwi’s earn 42% less (but also spend 63% less on healthcare, 72% less likely to be in prison and experience 19% less of a class divide (CIA World Fact Book).

 

And the things that remind me of home:

  • The beaches in California – mmmm the smell of the sea!
  • Hotel rooms look the same everywhere #corporateart
  • Sometimes in Australia I can’t understand what people say if they’ve got a thick accent, it’s still true in the USA!

 

I have to admit… I was dubious about how I would find the USA – but I love it. The people are lovely, the place is beautiful, and the ultimate seal of approval? I love how many dogs I got to pat, because everyone seems to have one, in California.

 

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.

 

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.

Leadership, Personal brand, Working in People & Culture

The Balancing Act of Work/Life Balance in the World of HR

I wear many hats as a people & culture professional: strategic advisor, problem solver, sounding board, behaviour changer… but I’m also a friend, a partner, a daughter, a sister. There – I said it. I have a life outside of work!

While I love the variety my chosen profession brings sometimes it is really tiring. Tiring because in people & culture you can feel like you’re a million things to a million people, and it’s impossible to meet all of their needs all of the time. Then, at the end of a day filled with 10 urgent matters and 20 incredibly important ones, I roll on home to my family and try and switch my brain to At-Home-Renée (note: she doesn’t get as much done as At-Work-Renée).

I often have this conversation with other people in our industry – just how do you balance the two when it is so easy to prioritise a job you love over everything else? We are the best at preaching the importance of work/life balance but in my experience we are often the worst at balancing the two.

I’ve gone over to the dark side a few times, getting obsessed with checking emails from the time I wake to when I went to sleep, that little ‘ping’ sound sending shivers up my spine. But I came to a realisation that I did not do my best work when thinking about the office all day every day, I didn’t lead by example, insisting on responding to weekend emails the second they arrived, scheduling work travel in the weekends so not to impinge on my ‘productive’ time. I do my best work when I’m happy, when I can dedicate the time required to important projects and be honest with my colleagues about what I can, and cannot, reasonably take on.

I meditate (I know, it sounds terribly new-agey but I swear by it), I exercise, I don’t have my email notifications ‘pop up’ on my phone and I’m getting better about working reasonable hours. And do you know what I’ve noticed? I’m more productive, I produce better results and I’m a nicer person to work with.

It is really hard to fight the urge to ‘just’ do a few extra hours – because as we all know that is a perfectly reasonable, even required, thing to do occasionally – but as soon as it becomes the norm, then I know I’m straying in to dangerous territory.

How can I extol the virtues to the managers I work with of the importance of happy, healthy employees if I myself am not one? How to I promote the idea of encouraging employees to normally work a regular work day if I can’t do it myself?

I don’t believe being overworked is just dangerous to the person (increased risk of cardiovascular disease anyone?) – but it is also dangerous to role model this behaviour, particularly if you’re the guardian of good workplace practice in your organisation.

I’m always looking for ways to both increase my understanding of how I manage this balance and how I can promote this balance within my organisation which is one of the reasons I am looking forward to Dr Adam Fraser’s presentation at the AHRI National Convention on HR: Loving What You Do. Dr Fraser’s presentation promises to give HR professionals practical tools to switch between different roles and environments with less anxiety and friction.
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 Human Resources Institute (AHRI) website.

Personal brand, Thinking differently, Uncategorized

Ugh: Networking!

Ok – so this is how I thought about networking most of my career: “Yuk! Guess I better go… wonder how quickly I’m going to be able to escape out of the door!”

Seriously – I hated it. The forced nature of everything. Meeting people who pressed you for meetings (or worse, work) incessantly. Engaging in awkward getting-to-know-you games after a dull speaker. The fakeness of it all.

But then I discovered I didn’t actually have to hate it. I realised it wasn’t networking I hated – because networking is, at its essence, just meeting people and getting to know them – it was that the events that I was attending were all wrong for me.

Just over 2 years ago I moved to Melbourne Australia from New Zealand. For anyone that has emigrated there is definitely a shift, no matter your industry: job titles don’t exactly translate, organisations you’ve worked with aren’t well known, the ‘nature of work’ can be different. Despite NZ and Australia having many similarities, I was definitely on the back foot when entering the Melbourne job market.

I thought I should just suck it up and get networking, I (luckily) found a role, but all of a sudden my wide network of connections in NZ didn’t count for much. I didn’t have many contacts in Australia who I could drop an email, asking how they were dealing with this law change, or that industry issue. I attending some great events, but I attended many more terrible ones.

I discovered that I have preferences when it comes to industry events and networking just like everyone, the key for me was figuring out what I wanted and who could provide me with that.

Some of my learnings have been:

  • I don’t need one event to do it all
    I love having the opportunity to hear someone speak I would never get the opportunity to otherwise, Commissioners, Head Economists, Politicians. A good breakfast event (because, coincidently, I also love food) with a great speaker is tops! What I don’t like is for an event to shoe-horn in a speaker with games and awkward conversation.
  • I like having unstructured talking time.
    I’m actually ok at striking up a conversation here and there. Often the best contacts I’ve made through various forums has been engaging in a great conversation and continuing it over dinner or drinks after the event has finished. If I’m not tied to a table or group I’ll mingle until I find interesting people who I can learn from.
  • I don’t like feeling like I’m being lined up as a client.
    The big divider between events where I feel engaged and those where I don’t is the authenticity of the conversation. You know what – if your company stumped up a lump of cash to make this event happen then that’s awesome! Good on you for investing in relationships. But I don’t want to sit through an hour of your MD telling us about how great their product is if they’re doing an ‘introduction’ for the speaker that got me in the door who then only speaks for 15 minutes.
    Likewise if you’re a consultant that is fantastic, I get that you need clients to make your business work. But I’m not going to become a client by you pressing me into a meeting. I’d like to actually connect with you as a person, and in exchange I won’t pretend like I might have some work if really I know there is no chance.

Recently I was flirting with the idea of reconnecting with a great group of people who I coincidently met at one of the great networking groups I joined when I first moved to Melbourne. I had a chat about it with a friend and thought ; well if I like the super unstructured drinks & a loose theme kind of networking event then maybe others would too’?

As a result of this, and subsequent conversations, with the original group I’ve set up a ‘People People Catch Up’ – for people whose business is people – People & Culture, L&D, OD, Projects, Change and everything in between. If this sounds like you and you’re based in Melbourne (or just happen to be here on August 13th 2015) I’d love to see you there!

For more details head to book into the #PeoplePeopleCU here or contact me via @ReneeRoberz

 

Working in People & Culture

Why Work in HR?

Guest post from Helen Sabell

The Benefits Of Working in Human Resources

A career in Human Resources can offer a wealth of opportunities within all business sectors. The HR industry has undergone a significant transformation, it is competitive and an essential part to any successful organisation. HR professionals are often involved in the execution of fundamental business change and on a daily basis liaise with senior management to coordinate their company’s performance.

Talent Development

There is a mentality within HR to be continuously growing and learning new skills and techniques. You will take pride in creating new training initiatives that you and your affiliates will utilise in order to maximise your professional skills in key performance sectors.

Challenging

Companies and their models are constantly evolving. As our workforce progresses, businesses are being required to attract and engage with new generations of employees. Human resources handles this area in order to ensure the business is continuously developing and employing proficient professionals. The HR department has a crucial role in implementing changes whenever a business goes through major developments, such as restructuring or mergers.

Variety of Tasks

This of course depends on the size of the company but you will be working on a variety of different tasks. These could include training and recruiting, interviewing, pensions, resource management, benefits analysis, payroll, redundancy, compensation to implementing employment law.

Workplace Opportunities

Ultimately, this gives you an opportunity to find the best workplace best fit for your personality but also career goals. You could work for schools, to small business firms, or major corporations as they all have a high need for HR professionals. Once you have the experience and essential skills you can take them to any organisation worldwide.

Working With People

Most significantly this job role requires a great level of interpersonal skills. You will be required to work with new hires to the leaderships teams meaning your communication skills will be utilised on a daily basis. So, why do you want to work in HR? The motivation is usually working with people. Employers look for candidates who are good with people and this quality is crucial in Human Resources. It is paramount that you genuinely care about the well-being and development of your employer’s employees which results in close working relationships with people across the whole business.

Author Bio

Helen Sabell works for the College for Adult Learning, she is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. She has designed, developed and authored many workplace leadership and training programs, both in Australia and overseas. Helen also works with a select group of organisations consulting in People Management & Development, Education and Change.