Leadership, personal

The whole world turned upside down: brain cancer & awesome workplaces

In June this year my life took an unexpected turn. I had my parents (John & Jenny) visit from New Zealand, they said it was to visit Sam and I (but I knew the truth, my 2-year-old was the main attraction).

After an action-packed week of Aquarium and Zoo visits, and tramming their way all over Melbourne they were ready to go home.

One day before they were due to leave, Mum and I took John, my wonderful, kind, generous Stepdad, to the hospital after some headaches and confusion.

The outcome of that long ED visit was a Stage 4 GBM (brain cancer), brain surgery, chemo and radiation. Their short stay, arranged during school holidays, was then extended indefinitely as we fought this. They ended up staying with us an additional 9 weeks.

I cannot help but look at the past couple of months and see some of the best lessons of my life playing out.

The biggest part of that lesson for me was a personal one. Despite his diagnosis, despite the uncertainty and surgery and tears from us all, John has been unashamedly positive.

* Positive because of the incredible care he received at the Royal Melbourne.

* Positive because of the doctors, nurses and staff who took the time to care for him.

* Positive because, despite the circumstances, we had unexpected bonus-time as a family together, with my brothers and sister visiting from NZ and America.

* Positive because of the outpouring of love from family, friends, colleagues, strangers, and ex-students of my parents who sent messages of aroha and support from near and far.

* Positive in continually repeating that he’s lucky, he’s got a great life, and wife(!) and wonderful kids, it could all be so much worse.

John manages to find good in everything, and everyone. (after you meet his Mum, Nana Jean, you know where this comes from). The one nurse who during his time in hospital was a little short, hungover and on her phone? He refused to complain, because “you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life, she might be having a really hard time”. John is the definition of positivity and love. I’m so fortunate that he came into our lives when I was a kid.

The second biggest lesson was what I experienced, along with each member of my family during a really tough time. My parent’s employers (Devon Intermediate, and Frankley School in NZ) were both amazing. They made organising time off easy and they sent messages full of love and hope. They sent tins of tea and flowers and fruit. They contacted us and asked what would help and listened.

My work (bloom hearing specialists), and, in particular my direct manager, have been nothing but incredible. While I’ve been on the HR-end of many crises, that’s not the same of the overwhelming sense of thankfulness you get when your manager makes it clear that there’s nothing that matters more than being there with your family. When your colleagues forgive your absentmindedness and don’t mention your horrendous eyebags/unkempt hair after another sleepless night. When you are encouraged to do what is right for you and your family, knowing it really is OK.

This post is part thanks, and part encouragement. Encouragement to do what you know is right, and treat others with empathy and love. At the time you might not consider it something monumental, especially when you know someone is going through *big* things. But every message, every small gesture meant an incredible amount to us as we grappled with all we had to deal with during this time, and it won’t be forgotten.

* John & Jenny have now returned to New Zealand, leaving our two-bedroom house very quiet.

AHRI, Career, Human Resources, SHRM

Finding My Tribe & The Power of Multipliers

This morning I sat down for breakfast with Greg Hawks ahead of presenting at the Illinois SHRM 2018 Conference – #ILSHRM18. A completely random occurrence: both Greg and I were speaking at the equivalent Ohio conference (a fabulously run event), and upon seeing we were both going to be in Chicago, Greg suggested we have breakfast.

Greg, myself and 110 mousetraps sat down, main-lining coffee, chatting about how we’d both ended up at the Hilton Suites ahead the conference kicking off. We just didn’t shut up! We discussed conferences (how well run was #OHSHRM18?!), kids, HR, business, speaking, American hospitality (it’s disconcerting how polite everyone is here), and the amazing people we’ve met along the way.

If you asked me a few years ago whether I’d be here, bouncing around ideas with a phenomenal speaker (do make sure you check him out) in the restaurant of a hotel in Chicago where I’d been invited to speak at a conference the answer would have been a resounding hell-no!

But here I am. And the unreal nature of the situation has not been lost on me – I’m incredibly fortunate. Yes, it’s taken hard work to get here, but much of how this has all come about has been because I’m surrounded with a tribe of smart, successful, kind people, like Greg, who have been generous with their knowledge, friendship and time and paid it forward.

I worked with a wonderful human, also called Greg (Jennings), in Melbourne at the YMCA – it was this Greg (perhaps there’s a consistency with the name?) who introduced me to the concept of ‘Multipliers’ (from Liz Wiseman & ANOTHER GREG (McKeown)). Multipliers are people who believe in the concept of plenty and are all about helping others, encouraging growth and creativity in the workplace. I took to this concept quickly as it immediately resonated, providing a reference point for all those people I most admire & the way they work.

As I sit here in my hotel room I reflect that the tribe I’ve got gathered around me are all multipliers. Colleagues, past and present, friends, random acquaintances-turned-good-friends, mentors and of course the incredible #HRTribe, many whom I first met via social media, have all helped me grow, learn and be more confident in my work. There are far too many to name, but I am particularly excited that over the next 3 days at #ILSHRM18 I get to spend some time with a few of these multipliers – who probably don’t really understand the impact they’ve had on me, and others, with their approach to life.

Who are your tribe? Are they multipliers? How do you prioritise learning from, and spending time with them?

So without any further ado, a bit of well-deserved gratitude:

Thank you so much to Dave Ryan, Steve Browne & John Jorgensen who I get to hang out with this week! Thanks to Julie Doyle & the whole Ohio SHRM team for my past few days. Thanks to Andrew Morten & Mary Kaylor, the SHRM crew & SHRM Bloggers for everything (there’s a lot). Thanks to Mardi Versteegen, Andrea Martinez, Brylee Neyland & the Widex group for being a fabulous, supportive & scary smart team to work with. Thanks to every single person I worked with at YMCA Victoria – there are far too many to name here – but you’ve impacted me more than you’ll ever know. Thanks to the AHRI team for all the the education, support & leadership you show in the HR space. Thanks to the incredible network of Melbourne-based business & HR leaders that are so generous with their time and gifts.

Disclaimer: This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are many, many other people who have had a huge impact on my professionally. I’m just quite jet-lagged, forgetful and am happy to trot out the excuse of being a mother to a 1-year old to explain my forgetfulness.

I’m really looking forward to the next couple of days at #ILSHRM18, I hope that I am able to do half as much for others as they’ve done for me. I want to thank the committee, volunteers, speakers and attendees ahead of time – as it’s the hard work that you all are doing that allows me to learn from each one of you.

Thank you to my #HRTribe!

Human Resources, SHRM18, Working in People & Culture

Q&A with #SHRM18 Speaker, LinkedIn’s Eric Owski

Eric Owski, self-confessed sports nut, a voracious reader, traveler and above all else, a committed dad to his eight-year-old boy, leads Talent Brand & Talent Insights for LinkedIn – before that incredibly impressive role Eric was an executive at Bright (acquired by LinkedIn) where he led sales and marketing. Eric is leading the #SHRM18 session ‘Talent Intelligence: Building the Workforce of the Future’ which is getting into the detail of what we all know – your company’s cutting edge isn’t product, tech or services – it’s your people.

Eric’s passion for getting talent right comes across easily and I for one am excited to hear him speak – particularly for the passion that comes across when he discusses companies which get talent intelligence right!

Eric-Owski

What makes you tick? 

First and foremost, I’m a dad to a wonderful and curious eight-year-old boy. When I’m not hanging out with him or at LinkedIn HQ, you can find me watching a game, rooting on the Tigers, Lions, or Pistons (I’m a diehard Detroit fan, win or lose) or somewhere reading a good book. Some of my recent favorites include The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen and Return to the Dark Valley by Santiago Gamboa. Traveling is also on top of my list of favorite things to do. I love to discover new places and often seek out the art these cities have to offer.

 

What work experience has influenced your career path the most?

At my first professional job, I held six different positions in six years. It allowed me to learn many different sides of business, and to see the whole strategic picture. What I learned during that time has helped inform decisions to this day.

 

What company (other than LinkedIn) do you think uses talent intelligence the best? Why?

Using talent intelligence means that companies are leveraging real-time insights about the movement and development of talent to inform strategic talent decisions. On average, LinkedIn sees about 10,000 requests per year for insights on talent pools, competitors, and more as the pressure to leverage data to make smarter decisions, is on.  As data reaches a maturity level where even more analytics are possible, we see companies making great progress with their talent intelligence strategies.

Take Intel for example. They were facing a shortage of software engineers at Intel’s offices in Gdansk, Poland. When searching for specialized tech talent, LinkedIn Talent Insights revealed large populations of this talent pool in neighboring cities Krakow and Warsaw. Competitive insights further revealed that professionals in Warsaw were working across many different companies, whereas in Krakow it was largely concentrated in a few top organizations. Using these insights, Intel built a strategy to run a highly targeted billboard campaign in Krakow and received buy-in from engineering leadership. This campaign, coupled with a recruitment event in the area, led to a 20 percent increase in visits to Intel’s careers site.

Atlassian is another great example. Their talent marketing team was tasked with developing recruitment campaigns that target both designers and developers. Atlassian wanted to understand the size of their talent pool in desired locations, so the team turned to LinkedIn Talent Insights. They learned that for every 25 developers in the markets they were targeting, only one designer was available. Using this insight, the team was able to recommend investing a greater amount of money in a talent brand campaign targeting the designer talent pool, in order to hit their hiring goals.

 

Do you think what Intel and Atlassian have created is transferable?

Absolutely.  Over the past year, I’ve talked to a few hundred talent leaders and the questions I hear are universal. We’ve talked about using data in talent so much that we’ve almost mythologized it. The reality is, every talent leader wants to make more informed decisions. When you’re trying to figure out where to open an office, no one wants to be endlessly debating the merits of each stakeholder’s anecdotal evidence. The right insights can quickly prove or disprove someone’s thesis and it leads to more efficient and more confident decision making. I think the vast majority of talent organizations are on their way there.

 

What do you think attendees will get the most excited by with your session?

The HR industry is feeling the pressure to use data and insights in their decisions, whether that be finding talent, or retaining and understanding the talent they currently have. Ultimately, talent intelligence can help empower talent acquisition teams to tackle both the simplest and the most complex issues. Attendees will walk away understanding how they can dig into their own data and use these insights to help build and deliver a winning talent strategy.

 

You can hear Eric speak at #SHRM18, in Chicago June 17-20 (Tuesday 19th June 2.15pm). I’ll see you there!

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

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

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

Brad Boyson.jpg

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

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

Where does your passion for HR come from?

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

What made you decide to join SHRM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHRM18 Conference & Exposition

June 17-20

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

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!

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