Following the Fashion Pack

It’s Fashion Week in NZ at present meaning Auckland city is abuzz with fashionista’s, designers, models and the rest, donning their up to the minute threads, partaking in shows, bubbles and commentary and generally entering the who’s who world of fashion. I don’t for a second claim to have any authority on fashion, however I like to have fun with it and every year take a keen interest in the way the city changes for this one week, the way all of a sudden it’s more vibrant and people are taking more care with their looks – and their attitudes, and it feels like something of a celebration. I’d love it to feel this way all the time as I love the diversity it seems to bring with it.

Another thing Fashion Week brings with it is coverage and commentary on my desk this morning arrived the “Viva Daily”, The NZ Herald’s guide to NZ Fashion Week, and one such advice article caught my attention: How To Talk the Talk at Fashion Week by Dan Ahwa, describing eight ways to sound like you know what you’re talking about in and around the shows. It’s funny, witty and in a lot of ways true though I wonder what the true fashionista would think of it?! It also got me wondering about buzz words, phrases and actions in HR.

Are you an HR person or department who’s following the pack? Are you ticking boxes, dotting i’s and crossing t’s because that’s what you’ve always done? Or because that’s what you’re being told to do or say? Are you working inside the square of what’s expected of an HR department keeping to the routine? Recruiting through newspaper ads and job boards, inducting through scores of policy and paperwork, completing bi-annual performance reviews that are time consuming and cumbersome, offering the same training and development courses as you have for the past five years or more? Because if you are I have a Fashion Week challenge for you. Stop. Stop what you’re doing, sit back, look at it objectively and honestly answer to yourself whether it’s really adding value. Because I’m not saying there isn’t value in all of these activities, but I am challenging you to be sure of it. If they’re not, scrap them. Change them up. Do something differently. And if they are adding value – could they be better? Simplified? Could you improve process through technology?

I notice people are braver in Fashion Week. They wear more colour, they pull out those pieces in their wardrobes they usually deem for “best”, they take more time with hair and make-up, coordinate the outfit, shoes and bag. They’re not afraid to try new things or wear items way outside of their comfort zones. So there’s my challenge to you HR folk, get out of your comfort zone. Try something new, try not doing something or try changing something up…what’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work you can always try something else. But you just might find you like the new, simpler or more dynamic ways of working – and no doubt your teams and organisations will too. People love change when it’s done right and communicated appropriately, so bring them on the journey with you and encourage them to do the same.

Be one of the leaders of the brighter future for your organisation and blaze your own trail for other people to talk about. Don’t sit back following the fashion pack, get involved, and create your own fashion (HR) movement.


The Essentials

Last week I attended a session on “Essential Employment Law” run by Nikki Peck from Elephant. First up, high five’s to Nikki for her facilitation style which ensured she had my attention for the entire day on a subject I admit doesn’t exactly float my boat, but is an essential component of my job.

Which is exactly why I was there. As an HR practitioner I prefer to focus my attentions on the likes of culture, engagement and employee development; but the reality is employment law comes into play in all aspects of HR. Over the years I’ve ensured that I’ve kept up to date with relevant law changes, as they’ve come up, but a whole day focusing on relevant acts and case law was time well spent in refreshing my knowledge. The benefits of which were threefold; networking, employee and self-development.

I met a group of HR peer’s I hadn’t previously engaged with, including one I’d been LinkedIn stalking only days before in relation to a potential new role for a friend! The value of networking and meeting peers in your industry but outside of your organisation is immense. The discussions, ideas, ways of working, suggestions and solutions that were bandied around on the day certainly left me thinking and provided me with new opportunities to research and implement in my own role and organisation.

I realised there are many roles with core skills, or knowledge needed in my organisation and that we either hire or train staff dependant on the situational need – but are we following up on that? Are we stretching them further and ensuring a constant development of their skills? A good example for me is product training; we thoroughly induct all staff into our culture, values, style of selling and product offerings, but our products and platforms change constantly. So I’ve resolved to ensure that in all cases we are adequately communicating and training staff on these changes, that there is a feedback loop for the changes and a clear go to person for any questions that may arise. While I’m at it I will be relooking at role tasks and PD’s to ensure that the essential competencies and tasks in our team roles are properly captured and that our staff are meeting the required standards.

And thirdly as HR folk are we focusing too much in any one aspect of our own roles? Are there areas you could use development in that maybe you haven’t focused on for some time that would in turn be complimentary to other facets of your role? In other words have you been focusing on your favourites and leaving the rest out? And if like me this is something of the case then research your options, as if you can find a situation like mine where the course material and facilitation made a subject that’s not my favourite fun and enjoyable then it’s a win win situation.

If we all get the essentials right in our roles and ensure we are continuously developing and progressing in these areas, they will in turn ensure all aspects of our role, skills and knowledge are heading down the right track.