Reading List…

I’m wondering why it is that of late (and I’m talking the past year or so here) that I’ve stopped or almost stopped reading books? I used to average at least a book a week, meaty, thought-provoking books; both fiction and non-fiction with a massive array of subject themes and subject matters.

So what’s changed?

A couple of things I’ve concluded. SoMe to start, I threw myself into learning the likes of twitter and Google+ last year, both of which were goals of mine I feel I can now reasonably successfully tick off (reasonably because I seem to have slowed down on the Pinterest front!) and have been making a point of reading a lot more blogs etc every day. Secondly work’s kicked off in a major way with the integration of three big players in the NZ media game. And thirdly life! A now five year old, moving house, numerous conferences, overseas trips (yay!), friends, family, exercise…that’s probably more than thirdly! But as a result there are a number of books I’ve been meaning to read and so here begins my reading list, in no particular order as some I’ve been physically carrying around for months and others I’m still waiting for:

  • Reinventing Organisations; Frederic Laloux
  • Robert Plant; A Life – The Biography; Paul Rees
  • Training Bites; Angela Atkins
  • The Humane Workplace: People First – A Book Project; Amanda Sterling
  • Putting Social Media To Work: A Practical Guide; Gemma Reucroff & Tim Scott

What else should I be adding to my list? All suggestions gratefully accepted! To help you with this I love old rock, HR, L&D, new & developmental thinking, autobiographies, over coming the odds, Wilbur Smith and the odd trashy “chick lit”…not too broad I hope?! 🙂


#IT18NZ – Opening my eyes…blowing my mind

Phillip Tusing (@PhillipTusing) invited me along to the #IT18NZ conference on 21 April and as a result I have much to thank him for. I’ve come away with my eyes opened, mind blown and a host of new ideas for implementation and further investigation.

The day kicked off with a Key Note address from Candace Kinser on Building and Growing High-Growth Tech Companies; key takeaways for me included:

  • Start-up cultures are very real to people now; need to get this on table from get go and agree remuneration, perks etc from outset
  • High growth firms often attract people who are risk takers, competitive, creative, identify with the brand/product/culture, are well travelled and worldly, and intelligent but not always ‘people’ people

Candace was followed by Andrew Milestone from Red Hat who discussed recruiting the ‘open source’ way ( being: open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, meritocracy and community development. He also shared lessons for recruiters such as following the company’s mission and helping to build it if they haven’t got one, offering new products and services to customers and supporting charities. I particularly liked his final messages: Aim High, Fail Fast, Measure, Repeat, Win.

Laura Stocker from ADP, Airs was next on the agenda blowing my mind as much as last time I saw her speak with some incredible imaging insights to sourcing tactics covering Google image searches, Instagram, Xraying sites for images, Video searches,, lanyrd and the likes of Trip Advisor and AirBnb.

Using alternatives to LinkedIn such at,, GitHub and with some amazing insights into finding candidates, their email addresses and links to their networks were the eye openers for a non-tech recruiter such as myself, and really highlighted just how much you can find on candidates if you know where and how to look from Chis South (@findsouth), of Prominence’s session.

Richard Westney (@HRmanNZ) of HR Shop had five lessons for us:

  • Don’t confuse perks with culture (employees want appropriate salary, challenging work and training/development)
  • Don’t F up the culture!
  • Culture creates the foundation for all future innovation (avoid group think)
  • Hire the right people, ask the right questions
  • Lead & manage in a different way (ensure company positioned for future)

Other valuable messages from Richard were to be aware of culture impact early on, creating small trams with laser sharp focus, leadership via trust and autonomy and encouraging responsibility and ownership (developed in conjunction with Try Hammond (@TroyHammo) of Vend.

Patrick Wagner of Game Loft gave us some incredible insights and advice for hiring and retaining millennial’s from offering workplace flexibility, listening to employees, communicating vision & values and making them grow.  He suggested being prepared for shorter term employees by shortening inductions, streamlining processes & tools, cutting long projects to shorter phases (agile), emphasizing strongest employees and not relying on oral tradition – document everything!

Troy Hammond (@TroyHammo) & Vanessa Payne (@vanessapaynenz) of Vend were on board with three tips for successfully engaging candidates; being story-telling, strategic timing of emails and sending follow up emails with real life and useable examples of each. They also discussed their partnership with the likes of Weirdly for assessing the cultural fit of candidate and Ask Nicely for assessing their NPS. Of particular note is their personalised rejection emails to every candidate.

John Clegg (@johnclegg) from Summer of Tech followed with the benefits of internships, from accessing raw talent through training staff in the right way, improving diversity and accelerating student development. To ensure success in the internship he recommends spending time finding the right intern, selling the organisation to the students, balancing hard and soft skill development and properly on boarding them.

The conference was closed by Mark Pascall of 3Months who started out with API and Google Prediction, moving through the Internet of Things, connecting the online and offline worlds with the likes of Shopkick, Estimote Stickers and wearable technology. He discussed Myo, augmented & virtual reality, and then moved on to Bitcoin and the disruption of money leading to innovations in smart contracts. All completely blowing my mind! I think it’s safe to say most of us could have listened to and questioned him for much longer than his allocated time slot!

#IT18NZ is one of the best conferences I’ve been to in terms of takeaways, learning’s and a lengthy list for further research and implementation – surprising considering I’m not a tech recruiter, but not given Phillips involvement. Further adding to the benefits of the day was the opportunity to put more ‘in real life’ faces to names I know from social media and the like, and catching up with others I don’t get to see often enough. A fantastic day, one I hope to repeat next year – and am slightly jealous of the crew in Wellington who have yet to experience it in 2015!

“It’s Conference, It’s Conference Time…”

Hopefully like me you’re singing that in your head to the tune of “It’s Business Time” from Flight of the Conchords from those who know it. I’m on holiday this week at the beach and I’ve had crazy lyrics in my head off day – clearly I’ve switched off from work somewhat! But there are something’s I’m focusing on and thinking about which lead me to ‘Conference Time’ as it seems to be that time of year again in the NZ HR world.

For me this year I have two lined up; IT18 on 21 April and The HR Game Changer 2015 on 11 & 12 of June, both in Auckland. Added to this I’ll be attending the #NZLead Unconference in October. Added to this are HRINZ’s HR Summit and the NZ HR Expo, HR Leaders summit and I’m sure there are others I’m missing, so if you’re in HR, Recruitment, L&D, ER or OD and related roles in NZ there a lot of offerings in terms of professional development and networking coming up.

#IT18 promises to be the only IT Recruitment and Talent Management Event in NZ focusing on attraction, recruitment and retention of IR professionals. Comprising of a career day whereby a free event aims to introduce professionals with employers for career and learning opportunities and the second day a conference boasting local and international experts on topics ranging from open source recruitment, through unconventional sourcing methods to culture, environment and engagement.

The #HRGC15 has spread its wings this year to cover Auckland, Melbourne, Wellington and London, building on last years’ themes and being structured into four parts over two days in each location; The WHY of HR, Leading a Future Workplace, Changing the Game and The Tools you Need. Again, a star studded host of speakers will be present from home and abroad including the acclaimed Simon Sinek and Perry Timms.

The #NZLead Unconference is scheduled for 14 October, and for those that attended or heard about it last year you will understand the unconference format, whereby the agenda is set by the attendees. This year the conference will also be pulled together from volunteers in the #NZLead community which is a concept I love and I look forward to seeing the results of. The theme for the Unconference is planned to be #Leading People, but who knows where the community will take it?

I know people often get cynical about conferences and the value of them, but I see them as a huge positive. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to learn and grow, share and develop ideas, take on new concepts and ways of working, build my network and extended my capabilities. I’m looking forward to hearing from people at the top of their game, breaking new ground and paving the way for the future of work. There are people I’m hoping to meet ‘in real life’ who I currently only know via social media, others that I don’t get to catch up with often enough and I’m hoping for new connections with like-minded people.

I’ll be tweeting from all of these events and you can follow along via the hashtags #IT18, #HRGC15 or check out the websites at and or better still it would be great to see you there – and if you are, please come and say hi!

For now it’s back to the beach as the surf’s looking good and I still haven’t got Flight of the Conchords out of my head…

Feedback would happen all the time if…

This blog began as my contribution to the #FeedbackCarnival (you can read more about the concept here) because I wanted to contribute to the topic and discussion and benefit from reading the thoughts and opinions of others, hopefully with a view to improving and developing myself in this key, but often overlooked or misused function of the workplace. However, through the course of the writing and research it’s become a self-directed learning exercise.

However on jotting down my ideas the list quickly grew and encompassed more than just work-life examples. In fact some of the best examples of feedback being delivered and received frequently come from my home-life. My list is as follows:

Feedback would happen all the time if:

  • It was delivered and received with the best of intentions, whether good or bad feedback
  • The environment provided an open, honest and trusting space for the feedback to be given and received
  • There was a feedback loop; both giver and receiver could respond to the feedback, act on the feedback and continue the conversation on
  • Actions post feedback were considered and assessed
  • Make sure the feedback is genuine and helpful in some way (even if it’s something to work on)

Like I say above, when I started to think about the feedback I have received two people come to mind as delivering it very well. First up my daughter, Miss 5, who regularly comments, praises and in some cases admonishes me, but always with the best of intentions; a prime example being you look gorgeous in those shoes Mama, but I’m not loving that dress on you. My current manager too is very good at giving feedback, both positive and negative. She has a way and an approach that ensures I know it is delivered with my best interests at heart. She gives me feedback so I am able to grow and develop, I hugely appreciate it and as a result work hard to keep in mind that which she imparts.

Social Media gives the perfect receptacle for feedback in the modern world. Whilst there are the obvious examples and means for people to give terrible feedback, the flip side of this is environments are also being created for exceptionally insightful feedback, both positive and negative, but all enabling us an opportunity for development through blogging, chats, commenting, sharing and the like.

This all got me thinking about how I am with feedback so I asked around and got some fantastic responses – again positive and negative. I asked people who I hoped would be honest with me and again, inform me in the spirit I was asking in.

Again, this has given me some great development ideas and added to my list:

  • Change your feedback style according to better match the person you are delivering to
  • To be appreciated more feedback should be given regularly, often and updated where appropriate
  • Don’t be too quick to dismiss feedback, take time to mull it over

We’re about to start the next round of Performance Reviews in our workplace, and this is always a time where I coach and remind managers of the importance of feedback; the quality of it and how it’s delivered. So not only am I self-reflecting, learning and developing as a result of this blog, I’m looking for ways to inspire those around me to put more into their feedback also.

I look forward to workplaces where feedback happens all the time as a matter of course in the working day. I hope we are all working towards a situation where feedback was constant and plentiful, for we would all be better for it. I await the rest of the blogs in the #FeedbackCarnival and anticipate having more to work on very soon!