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.

#HRLeadersSummit

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the HR Leaders Summit in Auckland this week, by the wonderful team at Drake NZ. Described as a high impact day addressing the changing face of HR, there were four speakers who were highlights on the day from me.

 Steve Tinghe, Business Futurist, opened with three key concepts for working back from the future – reimaging business and HR.

  1. Awareness of the emerging change.
  2. A broad and flexible sense of strategic identity. Senior Leaders need to take care to have a broader than internal sense of corporate identity, don’t become too introspective.
  3. A process for strategic design. In the information age we’re acquiring more data to make sense of the changing environment for competitive advantage; firms don’t need more information, just help applying and optimsing what they already have

He further discussed the need for strategy to be seen as a resource that needs time and energy and encompassing five key elements: Future, Creativity, Collaboration, Learning and Process.

The three words left with me after Diane Edwards, Ports of Auckland’s, address were Challenge, Culture and Courage. Entitled Change management and using HR to promote sustainable values, her session described the changes at PoA that enabled them to achieve a five year plan in only three years with some incredible profit and people results. Key strategies included:

  • Leadership courage; large scale restructuring, taking on the unions and chaining the culture.
  • Working together, reinventing relationships through communication, alignment, centralisation and integration. Show consideration and create partnerships.
  • Address poor behaviour head on; including the likes of zero tolerance on bullying and a focus on health and safety.
  • Breaking down hierarchies; such as getting exec’s out working on the wharf monthly.
  • Doing things better; competency frameworks challenging improvements and innovation, weekly WIps in place of annual PDRs and a customer focus on diversity of thinking.
  • Diversity and Progression; focus on moving women up, on progression through merit and job fit, aptitude testing and increasing flexible contracts.

Their results spoke for themselves, in turns of productivity and dividends returned to rate payers.

Kate Nuttal, Air NZ, though from a completely different perspective and starting point also told a pretty impressive story of the transformation Air NZ has been through in the past two years. Her five key takeaways were:

  1. Give people a sense of purpose, and connect to the vision. Small actions can make a big difference to the bottom line.
  2. Measure performance in a meaningful way and clearly differentiate high from low. Stop, start, continue mentality coupled with real conversations and staff development.
  3. Build great leaders and a robust talent framework. Leadership builds culture, creates engagement, promotes performance. Talent matrix hugely important.
  4. Truly collaborative with people (high performance engagement), connect with your people.
  5. Building employee capability in those areas that are a priority for the company. EG: sales capability – reward & recognition, sales cycle, capability model and collaboration.

The points Kate claimed made all of this work for Air NZ were: leadership by example, transparency, having difficult feedback conversations and coaching.

The final speaker also resonated strongly with me; Kylie Holton of Woods Bagot Australia on redesigning the workspace – a creative vision for the future. Kylie described building architecture and interior design in HR terms:

The main trends discussed were:

  • Culture & Brand; be original based on drivers of the business. Be authentic, show who you are and what you do.
  • Flexibility & Agility; re configuring spaces for project based work through furniture & infrastructure. Creating choices over when, where and how you work.
  • Model Shift; hierarchical to project based. Flexible furniture and walls (spaces that move and change).
  • Connection & Collaboration; people come into buildings for different reasons, and want to connect with the building differently, so creating scenarios for people to bump into each other. More break out spaces and virtual tools for engagement. Formal and informal work zones.
  • Innovation; spaces supporting productivity & innovation through freedom of choice and customisation.
  • Health & Wellbeing; natural light, planting and more sit/stand workstations.

It was interesting and incredibly positive to see so much alignment between our future working spaces, and evolving ways of working.

Something else interesting about this conference was that despite the references for leaders, HR and employees to all be more involved with social media, there was extremely little engagement with this during the conference. Chris South, Prominence, even encouraged it at the end of his session on Attracting the very best talent: The latest tips and tricks (which by the way was excellent and I got more tidbits that I missed from seeing him at IT18NZ), but to no avail. Hopefully attendees will take this on board, and hopefully those in Amanda Sterling, NZLeads’, session on HR in the Cloud – Changes and benefits of collaboration were encouraged also, so that next year we might see more sharing, conversations and networking as a result.

Fearless Change Agent?

The agenda for the upcoming #RHUBNZ Conference claims that “After two days you can expect to be a fearless change agent” (http://rhub.co.nz/agenda/).  That’s a big call, but one I’m more than willing to put to the test. I’d love to be considered and consider myself as a Fearless Change Agent. How would that be for a job title? Sounds like a super hero. So aside from this, what else has got me excited about attending the conference touted as a must attend for all in NZ recruitment?

The line-up for one thing. The speakers confirmed for the conference read like the glitterati of the talent world. There are people here who I’ve looked up to and learnt from in one form or another for years now. Including one of my former AUT lecturers, so good he wrote the text books. I’m anticipating being more than a little star-struck over the conferences’ two days.

I’m looking forward to networking. Meeting people #IRL (in real life) that I’ve previously only met via social media and the like who share similar interests. This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of another conference I attended recently, resulting in deepened and strengthened connections with people I was already in regular contact with and a host of new people to share with and learn from. The incredible technology available now means that through social media it’s even easier than ever to maintain these relationships on an on-going basis.

Recruiters. I’ve heard them called the car salesmen of the HR world – don’t hate me for that comment, for it’s not one I subscribe to. Rather, I see recruiters as something of the super hero’s or “change agents” of the HR profession. In my opinion they appear to be the group forging ahead into new and different ways of working. Utilising technology, embracing it and pioneering a way forward. I believe the rest of the HR disciplines could learn a lot from recruiters, how and where they are working both now and into the future.

Takeaways, learning, development, growth, new ideas and new ways of working should all be given results of any conference, but to do so you need to be fearless. Fearless enough to learn and recognise there is always more to learn. Fearless enough to open yourself up to new. New people, technology, ways of working and thinking.

In reviewing my thoughts to this point I’m aware that I’m expecting what looks like a lot from this conference. However, as I’ve rarely stopped preconference to really think about what I want to get out of it before (other than the obvious – in this case honed recruiting skills) it may well be that all of the above is highly deliverable. Here’s hoping. Here’s to fearless learning.

Post the #RHUBNZ Conference I fully intend to be a Fearless Change Agent (with Super Hero like recruiter practices). I hope my post conference blog has the same title, but with the question mark replaced by a period. 

CHANGE…EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITY

How do you feel about change? How do you view it? Is it scary to you or anticipated? Are you a person who instantly pooh pooh’s the unknown? Or someone who looks forward to the new and unexpected?

Time and again over the past few years I’ve heard the phrase change is the only constant. It’s become something of mantra for me and as a result I’ve made a major shift in my thinking in the past few years. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts I viewed HR as a career / team / business entity /service etc – as unlikely to change. That HR had developed processes and procedures that were tried and true and to be followed to the letter. Always. And I’ve also openly admitted how wrong I was! Particularly in the areas of social media, best practice and the like – and probably now if I’m really honest in every aspect of HR; we need to change! The rest of the world is changing around us and if we don’t change and adapt we’ll become extinct as all things do that are resistant to change.

But back to me personally. I love change. I’m someone who’s easily bored if I feel I’m standing still or repeating same old same old too often. So change is in my nature to a degree – interesting then that I once held the perspective that HR didn’t or wouldn’t need to change! I regularly view around me both personally and professionally people who resist change and people who openly seek it out. I believe the later to be in a better position. For those who openly seek or are at least agreeable to change will have an easier road ahead than those resisting it in my opinion., They will be afforded more opportunities in every aspect of life and will therefore be more likely to take those opportunities than those adverse to change.

Again taking a personal view of both angles. In the past five years I’ve undergone a lot of personal and professional change; had and am raising the most beautiful child; bought, sold and moved house three times; studied for and been awarded a double degree with an admission into a high achieving alumni; have sought and received promotions at work; meet the man of my dreams; embraced and developed the use of social media; traveled extensively both locally and overseas; taken up running including my first half marathon and all that on top of my usual life of family, friends, work, sailing and the like. Change, I love it.

But at the same time I’m regularly faced with those adverse to change. Prime example, my parents. On a weekend away at their reasonably remote bach (holiday home) recently I attempted to explain blogs, blogging, social media, meeting people IRL (in real life) and a conference I’d recently been on (HR Game Changer). Over a couple of whiskey’s (Dad’s Scottish after all), I almost had my Dad convinced to blog as he’s undoubtedly an expert in his field and people would seek out his expertise. This is a man who’s never sent a text or even an email before in his life and still uses a cheque book. He’s still not sure why or who would read his blogs and most importantly how he would do it (we concluded I would have to do it as his alias), but it was a big step that he even thought about it. I don’t believe however, that he’ll do anything to change what he does now and has always done. My Mum however has surprised me. A month later she’s phoned me to ask about facebook, twitter and “Linking In”. And wants to know could this relate to her business? Short answer yes. The long answer is along the lines of I have a marketing background and have been trying to tell you this for years as you run a sports and function venue... But something must have resonated – today she asked me if I could help the lady next door to her at work with social media marketing! She’s starting to put it all together after hearing it from different angles and situations (FYI the lady next door is 70 – considerably older than my Mum, go her for getting into it I reckon!). And my best friends grandfather, now aged 93 regularly skypes, texts, emails and is currently investigating snapchat – how’s that for change and progression?!

My point in all of this is where could you find yourself if you were more open to change? What could you achieve? Where could your organisation be if you were to advocate, rather than work against change? In turn how could you affect engagement and culture if you were a change advocate in the organisation? How could you inspire others to change, grow and develop? How bad would it be to do things differently and try something new? After all you, and they just might find that you like it.