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.
- Awareness of the emerging change.
- 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.
- 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:
- Give people a sense of purpose, and connect to the vision. Small actions can make a big difference to the bottom line.
- Measure performance in a meaningful way and clearly differentiate high from low. Stop, start, continue mentality coupled with real conversations and staff development.
- Build great leaders and a robust talent framework. Leadership builds culture, creates engagement, promotes performance. Talent matrix hugely important.
- Truly collaborative with people (high performance engagement), connect with your people.
- 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.