Wednesday, 9 November 2016

#cipdace16 blog 1

So here we go again. First blog from #cipdace16. I'm lucky and pleased to be part of the Blogsquad again which is a great honour but also a very tiring one. Blogging, tweeting and frequently posting on other social media all day long, coupled with an early start, lots of networking and a late finish due to the press dinner and other social activities mean I'll be absolutely knackered later and probably grumpy tomorrow. 

Anyway. 

I'm here both days and intend summarising my views on most of the sessions I get to along with other conference and exhibition happenings. Im also likely to be lurking around the Press Office and through the Exhibition regularly so if you see me, stop me and say hello. 

I'll also be tweeting, posting on Instagram and maybe even doing face swaps on Snapchat.

I'll also repeat my bargain from last year (unsuccessful I may add) that if any exhibitors will offer me a neck and shoulder massage (either from a qualified therapist or not, I'm not fussy) then I will frequent your stand and promote it heavily via said social media outlets.

I have NO shame. 

To the conference itself. 

Opening speech is Peter Cheese as usual. 

Peter started off by referencing the US election results and comparing the impact to that felt after the Brexit vote. His take on this is that we are not all in the same place, and not everyone's voice is being heard, and that gives us new challenges but also new opportunities in the future world of work.

 

Peter talked about the future of work needing to be good for people, and the challenges posed by all of the world changing around us, making it difficult to achieve our goals.

 

Peter asserted that the future of work is about fairness, opportunity and transparency. It's about productivity and skills, about diversity and inclusion, and about wellbeing and engagement. He's right, and he's also right that HR and the CIPD have a key role to play in shaping these agendas.

 

He talked about how the HR profession is evolving and how it needs to further evolve, topics I have very recently blogged on. He says we have to become experts on people and organisational behaviour, and stay strong to our principles and professional identity.

 

He then handed over to Margaret Heffernan for her keynote opening speech.

 

Margaret's talk covered some of the same ground on the future of work. Her opening analogy on productivity was interesting in that it drew on a lot of evolutionary theory, citing Darwin that it's not survival of the strongest or fittest, it's survival of the most adaptable. She claimed that many people have this theory the other way around but I'm not sure they do. She's making a good point though that the key to survival and productivity has been with us for a long long time.

 

She talked about teams being successful, where the most successful teams get the best from each team member and are well balanced in terms of gender. She noted that research showed that the better teams have more women in them.

 

She also noted that organisations and teams across the world excel when their team members display helpful behaviours and are helpful to other people in the team.

 

Does your team and its members display this trait? Can you measure it? If so, how?

 

Much of the trait of helpfulness made me think of the oft referred to term of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) - in essence a very loose team but I find my own PLN exceptionally helpful and am pleased to be helpful in return. I'd characterise my PLN as exceptionally successful in achieving my own learning goals, but much of this is based on my ability to select it's members and to quietly dispose of them if I don't find them helpful.

 

Of course, as a manager I have this power, but it's not as easy as that, particularly if you're one senior leader amongst many and the team in question is that senior team you are part of.

 

Heffernan talked about nodes, people in organisations who know everyone and everything. I call these people hubs in my own thinking, but she talked about maximising the potential of these hubs or nodes and has found that by encouraging these people to take regular coffee and networking breaks raises the productivity of both the hub person and those they come into contact with.

 

As network theory goes, that's good stuff.

 

So, taking time away from work makes you more productive when you get back to it.

 

I've found that too but it's refreshing to see someone else mention it. Although the concept of FIKA has been well researched and it's something I've yet to implement in my own workplace, but maybe I should.

 

She built on this by saying you can measure the success of an organisation by looking at how long it takes for important information to get around that organisation.

 

That's an interesting measure of success. When I examine culture in an organisation I encourage people to look at HOW information moves around the organisation, but not necessarily how FAST. So that's an interesting perspective.

 

The nodes or hubs are critical in this dissemination of information, and I'd urge you to remember that these people can spread bad news and harmful gossip just as quickly as they can spread good news. So be careful who you use as nodes and for what purpose.

 

She also talked about the nature of the world now and the pace of change being such that business can only safely plan perhaps two years ahead. I once spoke to someone who worked in the nuclear decommissioning industry who was able to work on plans of 100+ years, so this will be a blow to her.

 

She's right though. Just look at what has happened in America overnight. Many organisations long term plans are now in disarray. It will be interesting to see how other speakers address similar issues in their workshops over the next two days. 


Heffernan also talked about how Microsoft have survived despite missing out on a number of key technological developments over the decades. She asserted that it's by having a growth mindset, in recent years at least, where every person feels they are there to learn and to grow, and look around the organisation to share mistakes and help each other learn from mistakes. She gave an excellent example of how the new Microsoft CEO made a public mistake and often cites this in his own learning journey, and will talk regularly to all employees about it in order to encourage greater learning from mistakes. 


She said one question we can ask people is who helped them get to where they are today. If they can cite a long list of people, great. If they refer to themselves, then we don't want them around. The former group of people are those who will help to build a more successful organisation, because you're acquiring their social capital which will impound your own. 


This puts managers in the role of casting actors in a play. If you can cast the best actors, you'll deliver the best play. 


Who would you cast? And who would you never cast again?


Food for thought. 


Till next time. 

Gary.