Weddings Reveal Hidden Talents

This past weekend I had the extreme pleasure of attending my younger and only brother’s wedding. He married a truly fantastic girl, that has fit seamlessly into our family and I can’t speak highly enough of her. From a wedding point of view it was one of the best I’ve been to – relaxed, fun, heartfelt, beautiful with exceptional food, flowing wine and a fantastic band who played until the wee hours.

But aren’t weddings the perfect opportunities for people to let hidden talents shine through – intended or otherwise?! And sometimes I wonder how it is we don’t know these things about people who are often our nearest and dearest.

I’m a prime example. As MC for the wedding it was up to me to shepherd the hundred or so guests from ceremony through photos and dinner; introduce the wedding party, speakers, propose toasts and formalities for the evening. On top of this was organisation and coordination of everything from caterers, to band, photo booth, photographer, key songs for specific moments and knowing all the guests and seating plans etc. Now to start with my parents couldn’t believe that I have no qualms standing up and speaking in front of large groups of people; they were genuinely (and thankfully pleasantly) surprised by the content and delivery of my speaking; so too the level of detail put into the organisation and coordination on the night. Now I’ve run literally hundreds of events in my career ranging in numbers from small groups through literally 1000+ people and in all manner of settings and situations. I’ve run many different training and coaching courses and have spoken at numerous events. All things I’m sure my parents are aware of, but it was surprising to them to be confronted with it in person, perhaps most of all as I literally had to force my Dad to the mic for the Father of the Groom speech!

My partner does a massive amount of client hosting in his line of work and as such he’s a pro at working a room, learning everyone’s name, details about them and their families and can recall them at a moment’s notice. A trait he displayed at the wedding prompting amazement from friends and family who known him years and regularly comment on how often he’s not in attendance at functions due to hosting clients – again something they maybe had to see in action to really understand?

And we are not the only two in this boat. The best man delivered an exceptional speech displaying love and affection for my brother and his now wife, albeit with a bit of ribbing in-between in the form of a very clever poem he wrote. So too he sketched the images that were used as postcard invitations to the wedding – again traits a select few knew he possessed.

I discovered a good friends girlfriend who performs a very specific role in digital trafficking that I’ve been trying to fill for some time at work; a cousin who is a qualified Reiki therapist and a number of other tidbits and talents about people previously unknown to me – especially when I compared notes with the other half later to hear about his discoveries!

But all this got me to thinking; a lot of people perform ‘roles’ in their families – daughter, sister, decision maker, peace maker, bank roller the list goes on. And they’re sometimes pegged into these roles meaning the rest of the person isn’t seen within the confines of the family unit. I believe this is happening regularly in the workplace also. People are hired into specific roles to perform specific tasks. But what other skillsets do they possess? What would the result be if we focused more on ability and less on role specifics. What if employees were given the opportunity to showcase the skills and abilities they have in areas other than those required for their role? What if they were given the chance to work across projects or assist in other areas of the business that interested them outside of their main job function? I daresay we’d be surprised by some of the things the people we’ve pegged as this or that can do in other areas. I’d even go so far as to say we’d see increased productivity across the wider business if we allowed for more cross business collaboration and time in/on other areas of the business that individuals are interested in, in addition to our everyday roles.

I’m off now to recreate a wedding environment at work so I can discover the hidden talents within our organisation yet to be tapped into.

HR blonde on Rugby Tour?

Yep you read it right, this extrovert HR blonde went on tour, rugby tour. This took the form of removing me from my natural habitat in Auckland’s North Shore and my local haunts of the central city, from shoe stores and gossips with the girls over bubbles and dropping me in windy Wellington for a bloke’s weekend of footy.

The All Blacks played South Africa; anticipation built for this game from the other half since he bought the tickets in January. Customised AB’s jerseys, TV and priceless collector’s items; attendance of more than half of the Rugby World Cup matches whilst here in NZ, and reporting on it for the nation’s largest newspaper, season tickets at Eden Park going back three generations…to say he’s fanatical is an understatement. To be fair I’m to be regularly seen by his side at Eden Park and Miss Four has already attended her first All Blacks test – albeit dressed head to toe in pink! It’s not really my thing, but there’s something quite amazing about watching a nation come together to support their team, the atmosphere at the games is incredible.

And how does a nation come together?
·         With a vision so strong it’s become a passion,
·         With backing and advocacy from the top down over years and generations of followers,
·         With a continuously honed and refined strategy
·         And near flawless execution from the team in the spotlight

The players, current, future and past are legends; aspirational characters, icons we all look up to and believe in. The coaches and management team are revered the world over for their skill, knowledge and ability to continually deliver outstanding results.

Now scale this back, scale it down if you like. If organisations’ took a leaf out of the All Black’s book and created a workplace with a unified vision, a clear strategy and the tools to execute that smoothly under leadership providing direction, coaching and development where would they be? Top of their game? None of this is new and none of it is rocket science, simply another metaphor, another reminder of getting the basics right.  

Crouch, pause, set, engage!

Ten Action points from the #hrgcnz

Almost two weeks on from the fantastic HR Game Changer Conference I’ve had more time to reflect and revise on my thoughts during and post conference. What I’ve come up with here are my ten action points. 

Strangely, I’d been thinking about this post over the weekend and prioritising my action points and how to achieve them, then yesterday I received a letter from the team at Elephant Training and HR – asking me to do almost exactly that! Their letter reminded conference attendees of how Jason Judkins, CEO of Yealands, gave all employees a self addressed letter and asked them to fill in their goals at the beginning of the year. These were then sealed and opened at the Christmas party where they were asked to explain how they had gone about achieving their goals and received a $200 bonus. The results were exceptional, both personally and professionally.
So Elephant created a letter to each of us to capture our goals and actions post conference, with the intention that we bring them along to open at next years’ conference and collectively celebrate our successes and achievements. They framed the goals as actions to transform HR in my business, and actions to transform the HR profession. 

I’ve framed mine a little differently here as my focus has been on the ideas, wins, changes and initiatives developed during conference that I could takeaway and use in my business to transform the way we do things and as HR add more value to the business. Some have been instantly actionable and are relatively small changes, others will take some time to implement and require greater effort and dedication, but here are my top ten, in no particular order:

  • Instigate walking meetings and stand ups; movement stimulates.
  • Whilst treadmill working stations may be the dream, a great start would be non-formal and/or moving work stations promoting collaboration and collective / flexible working environments.
  • Use phones to record and share company stories.
  • Boost and promote the use of Yammer for internal communications; utilise more than one platform. Drive staff use of and interaction with 
  • Strategy on a page; simplify all communications, processes and documentation.
  • Use more visuals; in training, communications, recruitment…and so on.
  • Raise the profile of culture and embed into business strategy. Change culture along the way.
  • K.I.S. = In everything ask Keep? Improve? Stop / Start / Simplify?
  • Deliver, deliver, deliver.
  • Keep top of mind “What’s in it for them?”.

changing the hr game

I was fortunate enough to attend the #hrgcnz last week, and I can’t speak highly enough of my experience. I’ve come away excited by the new ideas, concepts and thoughts, so much so that it’s taken me almost a week including two days in an isolated Kaipara Harbour bach to unravel my thoughts and takeaways. I have developed an extended network of like-minded people, some new to me others I’d previously only known via social media; I have validated and benchmarked my own thinking through shared ideas and was more than a little star struck by the calibre of speakers we heard from. The conference itself was exceptionally well run by the team at Elephant HR & Training; providing a range of learning solutions and forums from speakers through facilitation and group work.

It’s thought to be a world first that as we were closing off the NZ conference each day, there was a UK contingent kicking off the beginning of their day. Simultaneous conferences, running concurrently – both with the aim of facing the future of HR, and changing the path as we know it. And both with group members tweeting and sharing the conference content in real time. Sharing so much in fact, that in NZ the hashtag #hrgcnz, was trending in the number two spot, vying for attention against the election and the Joan Rivers tragedy.

The conference concluded with the announcement of a new HR Institute for NZ – CHRI; the Chartered Human Resources Institute. Limited details at this point as to what it means for HR in NZ, but if the conference is anything to go by, I for one am excited to see what comes next.

My main takeaways from the conference are summarised under the three headings below:

 Change the game
To be game changing you must first seek to fully understand the game you’re in, from an industry, company and team perspective. Use technology such as the likes of social media for internal communications, building team culture, development of staff and recruitment; also as an avenue for leaders and CEO’s to connect with those on the shop floor. Create environments for staff to experiment and advocate right practice, forgetting best practice. Stop doing what you don’t need to and instead link up with what the business is trying to achieve and work to add value through collaboration. Hold yourself accountable, constantly ask why of yourself, others and procedures. Stop worrying about minimising risk and instead look to maximising potential. Get rid of anything that doesn’t add value or change the game.

“Celebrate when it changes something, not because you build it” Fiona Michel, NZ Police

Blaze your own trail
Take opportunities, grow, evolve, reinvent yourself and your organisational practices – embrace and drive change. Continuously look forward and focus on developing yourself, challenge and disrupt to create and enable transformation. Lead, don’t serve. Stop worrying about not being at the top table or otherwise, deliver, deliver, deliver and the results will follow. Spend time outside HR, get out of your comfort zone and establish a fundamental knowledge of the business values, goals and strategy. Think like a business leader. Seek innovation, get over yourself and stop naval gazing.

“Become infamous, not irrelevant” – Jan Bibby, Vodafone

Make people smile
Bring in fun; find ways to introduce fun through low and zero cost means to engage employees and create employee champions. Ask staff what rewards matter to them, and similarly in all dealings ask yourself what’s in it for them, and focus on delivering this. Showcase great experiences and results, after all culture drives performance. Encourage diversity and work to break down segmentations. Communication is key, so find new and innovative ways for HR and leaders to stay in touch with the people in the business.

“Make people’s lives better” – Nigel Latta