Tuesday, 2 February 2016

#hrevent16 blog #5 of many

So lunch was difficult for two reasons. One was controlling my huge appetite but the bigger problem, one that arises every year at this event, was finding somewhere to put your plate down whilst you ate. When it's a buffet you can cope with holding your plate but not so easily when it's hot food and full meals. So everyone struggled holding plates, bags, drinks and juggling all of these without anywhere to put any of them down. 

After lunch I watched the first Ignite session of the event. Chaired by Perry Timms, this one showcased the talents of Ian Pettigrew and Simon Flynn. I'd not seen an Ignite event before although I'd heard of them, and as I've been invited to participate in one in a few months time I figured this was good research. 

Ian, in his first Ignite session, showed a mastery of the technique and presentation format, and succeeded in illuminating the audience on how to unlock potential. I thought he did exceptionally well (as did Simon) and I'm now looking forward to and brimming with ideas for my own upcoming Ignite session. 

The follow on session on leadership in the NHS suffered very much from post lunch syndrome despite the best efforts of the presenter to encourage interaction. His presentation was very visual and I can't recall any slides that just contained words, so he too was a confident presenter. However I feel he took too long to really get into describing what he had done at that part of the NHS. 

What he had done was create two linked leadership programmes, one focused on risk management for developing team leaders, and another focusing on collaboration on live projects for first line managers. Both programmes are heavily experiential and the initial conclusion was that they are proving successful in this part of the NHS. 

After this I hopped next door and went into the Roffey Park session led by Michael Jenkins, which started with this startling statistic:

Basically the UK needs to raise its game, productivity wise. Michael prepared to share with us what Roffey Park advise we do about it. He focused on a model for developing strong leadership through employee engagement, and homed in on the compassion element of this model. 

Roffey Park understand why leaders find being compassionate difficult, and have produced a test/model that measures compassion in leaders and which helps them to become more compassionate. In summary, leaders are helped to be alive to others suffering, be non judgemental, be tolerant to personal distress, be empathetic, and to take appropriate action. 

As a session this ended up being more theoretical than I originally envisaged, and I was hoping for something offering more practical advice and lessons from experience, however the model to measure compassion is an interesting one and one I imagine could form a good component of leadership development and executive coaching. 

The lack of an afternoon break enables the organisers to fit more sessions into what are already long days, but I think a fifteen minute break would have been helpful to many. 

My final session of Day One was by Kath Austin, People and Marketing Director at Pizza Hut, who talked about marrying HR and Marketing to rebuild the PH brand. She shared an interesting journey from a brand that was going nowhere, or going to the wrong places, because it wasn't listening to its customers and its staff. 

What worked was handing over ownership of the rebrand to the local stores. Critical to this was HR's ability to assess the capability and readiness for the change. Managers of local stores needed complete retraining and this change in skills, knowledge and attitude / mindset can take upwards of a year!

The process of rebranding, retraining staff and refurbishing the store comprises six steps on the PH leadership journey. It was a complicated slide to try to describe and I couldn't get a good, readable picture either, but it was also a comprehensive approach to rethinking and retooling the business. 

The question of whether HR and Marketing could work together was solved by putting them together in the same function, and allowing them to grow together organically. This is something any organisation with brand issues or talent attraction issues may wish to consider. 

I enjoyed this session and have ended the day on a high. Roll on tomorrow. 

One thing I would say to the organisers is that, even now spread across three days, these are LONG days. An 8:45 start is early but not too bad, but the post 6pm finish as well makes it almost impossible for those with families to attend all of the conference. As it is, I'm sneaking off at 4:45 to catch my train and still feel as if I'm missing out. 

Let's see. 

Gary