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There’s more important stuff than…

…fill in the blanks.

We have stuff we’re bothered about.

We come across things we want to put right.

We see people’s attitudes and behaviours that could do with a sensecheck.

Someone’s gripe is another’s triviality.

Judge all you like. It isn’t likely to alter people’s views much.

Chastise the sheer gall of their indulgence in something that just doesn’t fit your priority bucket list.

Dismiss their shallow observations as uninformed trite thinking.

Laugh at their naivety.

Or just shut up and let them get on with trying to fix things that matter to them.

They probably don’t give a shit about your importance or valiant causes.

They’re too busy fixing stuff to worry about your opinion.

#e4sfutures : Rob Briner: Does Engagement DO anything?

Now here’s a challenge to conventional thinking on engagement.

Not 1 published paper on higher levels of engagement causing better performance. In Rob Briner’s research a load of so-so research is out there but that cannot be trusted.

Rob is asking us to consider much more the questions to ask about why engagement matters rather than “what solution measures engagement so I can prove it matters?”. Or something like that.

Does satisfaction mean higher performance?

We all love a fad. We have a load of good intentions. What is the specific problem engagement can fix?

What does it mean precisely?

What is the claim suggesting?

What specific evidence is there?

What’s the quality of the evidence?

How much should I trust the claim?

We appear to on a hunt for causation. Or causality. Or another rubbish word like it.

I’ve been around long enough to know that I worked with some people I would say weren’t engaged. With their job, their organisation or their team. Some of them performed pretty well. Other’s not so.

I’ve also worked with people who were highly engaged by the definitions we know and they too worked largely well. Some screwed up the odd thing.

So yes, engagement meant a lot of things that did and didn’t matter to the end result.

Those who BELIEVED in themselves, their team and the purpose of their organisation seemed to be the best performers who didn’t always seem engaged by the definitions and models.

So engagement is still something where it polarises views, annoys the crap out of some, enamours others.

And Paul Sparrow has just used the believe word.

I believe in what I do. I might or might not report engagement on that but I will work best when I believe in what I do, others believe in me to do it and the results increase the belief others have in the impact of what I do as being worthwhile.

So engagement doesn’t do anything. If you want to call me engaged because I believe in what I do, then maybe you’ve missed a trick.

If you say “I believe in you” then you won’t need a score to show me that and continue to get the best out of me.

I believe. It is still time to rescue engagement as the “pyramid selling” model of our time. If we believe in the right questions to get the right data to create a recipe for success which is human and metric, and that we believe in each other to do right.

Employee Voice : rediscovering the black box

I am here at Engage for Success’ “Futures” day - found on twitter under the hashtag #e4sfutures.

After a very well received and delivered opening by Peter Cheese as CEO of the CIPD, we moved on to John Purcell - a known academic involved in the employee engagement arena.

John opened by talking about the employee voice. This highly emphasised element critical to an engaged workforce and a workplace that can say it has engaged people in it.

2 main reasons that John said employee voice has not taken a greater role influencing the workplace engagement agenda as.

1. Managers don’t relish the challenge created by the opening up of the employee voice. As they have a degree of control in organisations, they therefore don’t vote strongly or create systems to enable this voice to be heard.

2. Top down corporate communications have fostered a receiving and passiveness about employees - whether they like that way or not.

John went on to talk about the consistent challenges we have had with the hearing of the employee voice - going some way back - despite the peak moments of the trades unions movements in the 1970s and 1980s.

Indeed we are seeing a decline in consultative bodies and therefore senior managers are less likely to be explaining the prospects and plans for the future of their organisations.

This sense of a lack of justice and a perceived or real lack of fairness in organisations has become a critical factor in how people feel about the organisation they work for.

Line managers are still critical in being the immediate face of the organisation to most employees yet it remains a concern of John’s that the senior leader disconnect is still of grave concern in creating right climate for the employee voice to thrive and help the organisation succeed.

Unions and work council representatives increasing may be good for increasing the employee voice yet John was disturbed by the lack of Governmental noise on employee voice.

So I guess my conclusion of this, is that in order to hear the voice of the many, the few need to be shouting about that to urge, encourage and make it happen.

I am sorry to say, I won’t hold my breath on that one.

Over exposure - think about it

Tweeting out a lot?

Speaking a lot?

Blogging a lot?

Controversial posting a lot?

Gushing a lot?

Getting liked and commented about a lot?

Anyway, it is tempting when you get a head of steam on something to push on further and do more of it. In my mind it’s about doing more of WHAT that really counts.

It got me thinking on this over exposure term. And it got me wondering on the lines of can you be too featured? Too regular? Too noticeable?

Yes of course you can.

This post is a sincere plea to everyone I follow to genuinely NOT spoil your best bits by becoming over exposed.

There is though definitely not a need to apologise for being fresh, insightful and inspiring. Regular or irregular is fine when the impact is this good.

So over exposure - in my mind - isn’t about repetition, it’s what’s behind the “appearances” that matters. And the true meaning is apparent; so be wise and considered when posting.

People can tell whether there’s “genuine” intent behind a post or something a little less than “for the greater good.”

Especially if it’s an “aren’t my views the most striking…” kind of pompousness.

Want some examples of selfless, brilliant regularity? @FlipchartRick; @MJCarty; @workessence.

I’m not giving examples of any potential over-exposurites. Only you can be the counsel on your motives to post (that may lead to over exposure and lead to diluted impact etc.)

I’ll leave you with my version of an over exposure health warning.

We are all (potentially) one big / many small posts away from becoming the new Jeremy Clarkson.

Nothing’s easy…

We live in interesting times.

We have a lot going on that taxes our thoughts every day.

We struggle and succeed in equal measure.

It’s tough standing up for what you believe in.

Hard work inspiring people to achieve more than even they thought they could.

Getting your grey matter around the complicated things we have made out of work/life takes effort and application.

Focusing on your place of work and pursuing your wider professional interests (studying, volunteering, teaching etc) takes persistence and commitment.

Researching and sharing top quality insight can be left to others, so hat’s off if you do that and do so for the benefit others.

Challenging crappy conventions and deeply rooted inadequacies takes courage, conviction and clever communication.

Working in education, healthcare, social support, law, local government - not easy environments. Everyone has an opinion on how to do it better than you.

There is some easy stuff though.


Swap the “O” for an “E” and you have the potential for real impact on others.
Keep the “O” and we find something nearly as easy as moaning.

Ignoring it.

Hackers: what did they ever do for me?

So yesterday in Glasgow (at West of Scotland CIPD branch AGM) we hacked. And there was energy. And ideas. And a sense that no-one ever turns off the tap of possibility.

We took the future skills of Scotland; Zero hours; Fixed-Term contracts; Succession Planning and Learning through Social Technologies and in an hour we talked. We made good headway into challenging issues and we generated ideas.

Not bad for a Thursday evening post AGM.

Led into this mindset with the sweetly articulated and strategically planned vision for CIPD Scotland by the powerhouse that is Dr John McGurk, we took our thoughts and we discussed our hacking possibilities.

We didn’t need a technology platform to hack; just our imagination and experiences.

We shared debate and lively exchanges of views.

We generated ideas and acted as critiques and agitators.

We created.

It was like we were free thinking, experienced and passionate people.

No one in charge. No minutes to take. No performance to assess.

Just energy. Will. Creativity.

A small snapshot of the art of the possible.

We will continue.

We will set up a platform. Only so we can continue the conversation and invite others in who weren’t there.

We will turn ideas into experiments so we can hack our own proposals.

We will experiment to discover and use that to build.

New. Better. More powerful.

It proves the spirit of human kind can set up to make a difference. Not transact on the orthodoxies of now. Transform to the new shape of success.

It was a tribute to visionaries - known and unknown - that we took a concept (hacking) and made it work for us.

Now we can take that work and put it to work.

I hack. Therefore I am. Part of something better.

#nzlead : Transformers. Robots in disguise

Of course it’s not THAT type of transformer.

#NZLead is the best HR/Work related twitter chat on the planet that I don’t join in with as much as I used to due to other things occupying my time.

Yet today I jumped on half way through and it was about transformational thinking and doing in HR.

So I called my own business People and Transformational HR as it translates to PTHR and is also my initials.

I have described my frame of reference as transformational to distinguish my practice field from transactional. As in I don’t do employment law or payroll type HR. NOT an attempt to over glamourise what I do, just to distinguish it. Distinct but related. I am totally for HR as a joined up profession boosting work success for all, so I know you cannot truly transform without being able to transact too.

So what IS transformational thinking and doing? Especially in an HR profession not known for its ground breaking transformative qualities.

Well I am off to Glasgow to “do” some transformational “stuff”.

It - transformation - starts with you.

Your own self. You may be very content and successful by not transforming yourself. Which may well be fine. You don’t need a reformation or a rebellion or any transforming. Adaptation to externally driven change maybe. Nothing stands still. So there is no static.

But transformation comes from this.

The feeling there is MORE to you than currently.

A sense of dissatisfaction over you existing in a gentle, safe and easy way.

A sense you were meant for something bigger/better/sharper.

An urge inside that you have things you want to explore about you and the dent you can make in the universe.

So if you want to transform - go ahead. Do it. In whatever shape or scale you choose. Yes some circumstances can prevail but stories of superhuman endeavour are not just for adrenalin junkies or extreme sportsfolk. People like you transform all the time.

When you DO want to transform my experience is that you will probably find a cause that you also want to transform as a result.

Social care.
The planet.
Endangered species.
Professional impact.
A job.
People’s attitudes.
Older people.

About the only thing you might want to avoid is the weather. Not sure we can transform that or forecasting.

In a tweet today I said “there’s no starting pistol nor finish line for transformation”. Although there is a move from someone previously NOT transforming. Transformation rarely happens to / from all of us at the same time.

Even Perestroika/Glasnost and the break up of the former Soviet Union happened and transformed people at different times. As did Renaissance art. And so on.

Movements is a much used and oft derided word as it implies something akin to a cult. Yet transformation on a scaled basis sometimes needs a brand, a gang, a movement.

Malcolm Gladwell’s David & Goliath book talks of the impressionist painters who - wait for it - became a movement and did so to put on their own exhibitions when the conventional galleries wouldn’t display their works in prominent positions.

Mods, Rockers, Punks, Ravers. All movements. Yes some dissipate yet many persist.

Engage for Success - whatever you think of it - is a movement that has at least got people we need talking about and noticing engaged people - listened to, supported, enabled people - do great things at work.

So transformation sometimes needs a movement.

Back to you. Once you have decided to transform yourself, and maybe as a part of that ally yourself to a bigger cause to also transform then the fun begins.

Or not sometimes.

Transformation has had many false dawns. Over labelled change programmes built on sand. Poorly scoped business redirections dropping profit/impact clangers.

So we do sometimes fear transformation for it breaks “the devil we know” into a worse set of demons.

But if we never transformed we would still employ children in factories and use ineffective snake-oil medicines.

It is now a subscribed theory that you actually gain by transforming yourself before others do it to you. Disruptive Innovation is what Clay Christensen calls it.

So to transform is now considered to be something of a move to not only improve but to sustain, to future proof and just do better.

Things seem to get very dated, tired, ineffective and broken quickly so transformational approaches seem to be more needed than before.

It used to be that maybe every generation saw transformation. Now it seems every year something is transformed. Change is the new norm and other clichés apply.

So Glasgow then. What am I transforming?

Well I am helping people understand how THEY might like or need to transform. To garner more success.

And then what professional areas they might like to throw their intellectual, emotional and spiritual hat in the ring to transform.

Or they could dismiss me as a transformation junkie and leave the transformation to me and others like me.

Sooner or later though, the robots in disguise will get you.

Transformation comes a calling and I think I’d rather be doing it than allowing everyone else to do it TO me.

Can you transform? How will you transform? What will you transform?

Transform for good. For better. For us all.

Hello Voicemail. I wish I’d never met you…

I don’t think I am the only one here but phone calls - and especially voicemails - are an utter pain in the ar$e.

Can we deinvent the call? Certainly lose the voicemail.

I recall in corporate life I hated the return to the desk after 3 days in other offices and the stack of pointless voicemails (which were followed by emails anyway). Waste. Of. Twenty. Minutes. That might have been the beginning of my dislike. And my unannounced war on voice.

Now not in corporate and all over every social media channel there is, and still I find phone calls popping in to my day when I am in the midst of something. Don’t get me wrong emails do that too, they’re just easier to park and move on from.

Now I am a social, chatty people-oriented person. I make time for people, I am present and do not insist on booking a meeting just to have a catch up but being brutally honest I detest phone calls. Even ones celebrating stuff. Unless they are planned that is. Planned spontenaiety perhaps.

Not wishing to be unhuman but if I do want to talk to someone I will ping them a message - a text or Twitter DM. To say; think a chat would be helpful. When’s good?

I prefer a Google Hangout or even Skype but a phone call. Not unless I have to.

What has happened to me? Am I the product of years of texting and now social posting that I hate a human voice?

I don’t hate a human voice. I like them. So why are calls and voicemails such an interference and annoyance for me?

I think it’s the imposition. Unknowingly or otherwise. Maybe it’s the lack of choice or control.

Whatever has happened to me even as I share this I still don’t want phone calls back in my life.

As someone tweeted recently “A voicemail? Oh well you may as well have written it on a post-it note and chucked it in the sea”. I felt that post. It was what I was thinking but hadn’t said.

So I could blame voicemail, or my corruption by other channels of messaging. I genuinely don’t know why I don’t like calls/VMs but I know I don’t.

Apologies if you have called. Apologies if you left me a voicemail.

I will get back to you but please, don’t leave your name and your number just an @, + or might just get us talking.

#EUHREvent. 2 days of Eurotrash?

No actually.

When I was invited to be a track chair at this 2 day event by the World Trade Group in Berlin I immediately agreed before even checking the content.

I like a good conference and what better way to assess the state of European HR than being in the thick of case studies from Slovenia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovakia and France.

No it wasn’t trash. And yes there was some UK representation. No it wasn’t Eurovision and yes it was keen and articulate professionals sharing their stories of good people stuff (c) @HR_Gem.

We had futurology from BT. A wake up call on the rapid technology enabled disruption to work constructs.

And sobering statistics on Euro childbirth rates and not a skills crisis but a population decline that could leave us with people gaps not just skills gaps.

A toy manufacturer who have innovated through their workforce and live their playtime products.

A cloud tech provider mapping people and performance cleverly.

Banking, Resilience expertise, One-HR connected programmes in postal services uniting people, managing remote workers in tech industry and most appealing of all, powerful learning and innovation.

Tales of how management development is delivered through innovation projects proved there’s life outside of business school MBAs. Where business cases and business plans were the results of live learning, no teaching and new products and ways of working that are giving companies an edge. A differentiation.

People. Powered. Change.

I got involved in a twitter debate about change and resistance. I made some new friends and connections.

I had one conversation which could bring the World Economic Forum, Academia, Research and People Development Professionals together - crossed fingers on that one.

So it wasn’t trash but a stark warning.

That as a part of the United Work Federation of Europe, HR is challenging and being challenged.

Challenging the conventions of people management orthodoxies. Challenging the profession to adapt, innovate and deliver.

Being challenged not by the businesses they are a part of. More the ecology they are in.

It rang true that HR as we know it is being overhauled. Adapting to demands and pushing a new way.

It made me think that our obsession with the East and over the Pond is understandable but we shouldn’t overlook our European partners and compadres.

It gave me the shudders and the smiles that proves - when at our best, HR professionals can deliver impactful, positive, productive change across businesses and to create new value through people and products/services.

It reminded me that HR must up its game not for HRs sake, but for the sake of work, societial and economic prosperity.

It wasn’t trash talking. It was talent talking. About talented people showing there is a better way.

But boy do we have a lot of trash to dispose of, recycle and make space for this new wave.

Maybe it’s the final countdown…

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