Tuesday, 2 February 2016

#hrevent16 blog #3 of many

One thing I have always found confusing at this conference is the myriad of rooms and little corridors and stairwells you have to traverse in order to find your chosen room, and the lack of a booking system for each talk meaning that some are really popular and you can't get in, but others are almost empty. Plus, the numbering system for rooms used by the ICC is different to the numbering system used by the event organisers, so this can often be time consuming trying to find where you need to be. Thankfully this year Hall 5 appears to be Hall 5. 

The next talk I am in is by the founder of Potentialife, Angus Ridgway, and if I am brutally honest he suffered by having to follow both Howard Webb and Marshall Goldsmith, both of whom were world class speakers. His talk was about putting leadership behaviours in place right through the organisation. 

He highlighted the difference between average performers and the best performers, and based his advice on scientific research. Take a look at the photo below which showcases these different behaviours. 

Angus suggests that successful people spend more time on the right side of the page. He then asked us what the impact would be if we had an organisation full of such leaders? Most attendees of this session, when asked, said that it's a mission critical success factor. 

Ridgway had a look of Bear Grylls about him, but he wasn't as engaging a speaker as I think Bear is. Perhaps it was just post keynote slot syndrome, or perhaps my dehydration and hunger were getting the better of me, but I was willing this session to end. 

It had the feel of a lecture rather than a speech, and there is a subtle but important difference. It was a bit too sciencey for me. 

Ridgway concluded by leaving us with three questions. How many leaders does our organisation need to be successful? How important is it to have an organisation full of leaders? And how do I overcome the obstacles? He asserted that leadership is a key enabler of success. 

And then it's coffee time.

I spent much of the lengthy break stuffing my face with Danish pastries, and imbibing as much coffee as I could. I have no willpower. 

I also spent some time catching up with Gemma Reucroft, Ian Pettigrew and Perry Timms (resplendent in white lab coat) and discussing our experiences of the event so far. 

After the break I'm in a talk about transformational change by Viridor. As my own talk on Thursday is on transformational change (have I mentioned that I'm speaking at this event?) then this offers a good opportunity to compare and contrast different approaches.  

Perhaps unfortunately, Viridors talk started with 8 whole minutes of detailed description about the company itself, including a nice video, but this was not what we were here to listen to no matter how interesting. It left them with around 20 minutes of actual advertised content. 

I wonder whether the organisers of HREvent vet or quality check the presentations before they unleash them? Something I've wondered about today is whether the move to three days instead of two has diluted the quality of the content and this may be an indicator here. Of course my own speech is the exception. Of course...

Viridor faced a number of challenges and their response was twofold. 

1. They put colleagues first in everything, and established new talent pipelines and training programmes. 
2. They made the sector more attractive to high calibre candidates, and increased the awareness of different career opportunities. 

In the first of these, they did a big investment in Health and Safety, and employee wellbeing. Talking to existing employees was key to this in terms of establishing what employees valued and wanted. Another key point was improving the quality of line managers to be able to manage staff and teams.  These will be similar to some challenges I feel will face me in my new role, so seeing how it is done at Viridor is useful. 

In the second of these, they realised that they had a problem with perception of their industry. Attracting candidates was difficult but retaining talent once employed was easy. So they needed to tell their employees stories and publish these so that all potential talent knew what the available careers were and why they should consider them. They also made a conscious choice to benchmark themselves outside their sector, and to deliberately recruit senior staff from outside the sector. 

The benefits were improved safety records, improved attraction and retention rates, better productivity and improved customer growth. So this appears to be an approach that has worked wonders for Viridor. Can I adopt a similar approach in my new role to tackle similar challenges?  Let's see. 

Gary