Tuesday, 31 January 2017

#hrdsummit17 blog 1 - opening keynote speeches

So here I am at #hrdsummit17 again. It's my fifth year running at this event, and my second year running speaking at the event. Tomorrow I'm delivering a Lightning talk, a bit longer than but a similar concept to an Ignite talk, on the subject of Amazing Workplaces. If you've seen me do this before you'll know a bit about it but I've extended and revised it. Consider it the EP version. Get yourself there, 10:55 tomorrow. I promise you won't be disappointed.

I'm also blogging from the event again this year, this time officially on behalf of the organisers, but I'd have blogged anyway because blogging helps me make sense of what I'm hearing and seeing, and helps me get my thoughts in order to review at a later date. 

Jabber Sardar opened up the event and introduced Lynda Gratton and Tammy Erikson. Lynda started off by talking about how the world is adapting to the increased prevalence of technology. She gave some excellent examples, and talked about how what she calls medium skill occupatoins like sales, admin, production etc are slowly disappearing through automation and being performed by robots. But she also mentioned how even higher skilled jobs are starting to slow down in terms of increase and may tip into decrease in the coming years. 

Lynda said we would be surprised how much technology runs most jobs, and we would be very surprised what technological developments  are in the pipeline that will automate even the most skilled of jobs, for example carers. 

And yet she said there are some things that aren't yet automated. She gave examples of making a bed, or walking up stairs. I'm very surprised at that, because I'd have thought both of those things would be very easy for a robot to do? Maybe I don't know enough. 

She handed over to Tammy, who built on these ideas. Tammy outlined how the way we get things done is changing through technological advances, and gave an example of people arranging to meet up at some future date - now it's all done via technology. Technology allows us to make choices in organisations about how to do things, and meant that companies could get smaller through outsourcing lots of activities to other organisations who could automate it. 

Tammy took this further by saying organisations will get smaller still. She said you will obviously spin off real estate, but you'll also spin off people and use less employees. Or rather smaller numbers of actual employees, but larger numbers of associates who will work as and when for companies. 

If this does end up being the case, then organisations main focus of work will be projects, and each team will be a project team, working in a different way. People will manage and contribute to multiple projects. This changes the way you'll need to reward employees, and that will increasingly be on a project basis, not via hours worked. 

Lynda then took over again and talked about the Age of Longevity, and how 50% of people born in the last decade will reach age 100 and may need to work well into their 70s in order to finance that. Unless you save 25% of your income, you won't be able to retire at age 65. 

She said this means the traditional model of the three stage life (education, work, retirement) breaks up and becomes more fluid. She made an interesting point that this doesnt mean being older for longer, it can mean being younger for longer but this depends on lifestyle and other choices.

She then said that intangible assets like productivity, vitality and transformation become more important than things like savings, property and a pension. 

Tammy took the stage again and talked about the decreasing importance of things like College degrees and the increasing relevance of transferable badges that represent an individuals accumulated skills. This, to me, sounded very much like the approach taken by groups like the Brownies and the Scouts, but adapted to the workplace, and as long as we can agree what the badges represent and their value then I think it could work. What do you think?

She asserted that if this proves true, then individuals will only be motivated to perform for tasks that allow them to share ideas and work together, and provide extraordinary service. We should realise we can't order people to do this, but we need to create conditions where they will want to do so. She touched on many things that organisations need to do in order to create this place. 

And this has echoes of my own talk tomorrow where I'll cover many of the same things. 

I enjoyed this talk and it set a good context for the rest of the conference. 

The next talk was from Jens Hofma from Pizza Hut. Jens took over as CEO at Pizza Hut over a decade ago when the brand was on its knees, and had ideas about how to revitalise the brand. 

His main thrust was to create the very best employee experience and he asserted an idea that his customers should never be happier than his employees, a great concept and one which has turned around the brand. 

He spent time working on the shop floor to get to know the issues the staff were facing, and understand the motivations of the staff. 

He discovered that the staff don't care about the mission statement, the values or anything that leaders assume they should care about. Instead they care about paying their mortgage or rent, having fun at work and other things that don't necessarily fit with traditional HR and OD work. 

He and his team created a roadmap to re energise the business, and he gave some statistics that highlighted how well he has done and yet he is not satisfied and thinks things could still improve. His point was that we operate in a society that still operates with values from the 1980s, at least in a business sense, and this leads to a lack of trust in the elite. 

He felt that the HR profession has a key role to play. They shouldn't be the mouthpiece of the CEO, or the values police, but instead should be the champion of employees, listening to and engaging with front line employees and focusing on encouraging business to be human. 

He shared some values that he feels encourage people at Pizza Hut to be human which you can see below. 

He finished by asking us to build more effective relationships in organisations and by doing so, to be more human and therefore more successful. 

I think this is a good point. In my own career, and especially in the last year or so, I've realised that my own effectiveness and, by extension, my teams and my organisations, is built upon effective relationships. 

I sometimes say it's not what you know, it's who you know. 

Well, it's not quite. It's about who you know but also how you treat them. 

Food for thought as we had for the break. 

Till next time...


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