I was a participant and speaker at the CIPD Social Media in HR conference yesterday. My overall impression of the event was *thumbs up*. I met some interesting people, heard some interesting speakers and as a speaker, everything I needed to deliver to the best of my abilities was taken care of. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again – the CIPD events team are on the ball.
It’s interesting to see how the increasing use of Twitter in events is distilling things. Maybe my ‘pre-match’ nerves aided my inability to really concentrate, and I find a lot of what I’m recalling came as a result of an active Twitter stream. Here are just a few things that caught my eye and in some cases, puzzled me too.
Bill Parsons from ARM started the day reminding us that ‘people working together is what creates our value’. Bill also said that the HR strategy at ARM is the same as its marketing strategy – it’s all about connecting people. And he made references to many social tools that people at ARM use to share information, and even help recruit people into the business. When asked about how leaders should feel about adopting social media, Bill answered with a very sombre, ‘adapt or die’. I’m inclined to agree with him and at the same time it seems odd that his Twitter feed is locked and has 16 followers and is following 10 others. Come on Bill, get on board – adapt or die.
Mat Davies from Logica up next – great presenting style, and took the mickey out of himself nicely, ‘Mrs D reminded me this morning – just because you’ve a Twitter account doesn’t make you an expert!’ Mat acknowledged we’re in the middle of a communications rebellion. How true, and he referenced glassdoor as an example of this. Mat also said that control is no longer in our hands and Logica recognises its people are important in building the brand. I’ve not seen Mat in action since we worked together at BT and it was a pleasure to see him on such good form. Oh – and of course he kicked off the whole do we/don’t we need a social media policy….
…Which leads me nicely to the wonderful fireside chat which Matt Alder (who did excellent work as event chair), hosted with Alison Chisnell and Neil Morrison. A trio of legends if there ever were such a thing 🙂
Neil kicked us off with an assertion that we should stop doing dumb things (yay – I didn’t pay him, honest!) to each other, and from his point of view, writing a social media policy is one of those dumb things. Neil said we should use social media to encourage experimentation, and just accept that people will and do use social media for personal use. Neil says, ‘we’ve never felt the need to write an acceptable use of newspaper policy, so why have one for social media?’ He also underlined a point Mat made (which Mat had previously pinched from Neil – all good friends eh), along the lines of, ‘if productivity is a challenge for you then social media’s not the problem.
Alison spoke about her companies open minded approach to social media, reflected in the way Alison has been asked to run how to sessions on blogging and twitter for her board of directors and others in the organisation. Alison made a great observation which for some reason seemed to go largely unnoticed. She said that her ability to use these tools and to help others do likewise, gave her influence. And who doesn’t like to be able to influence? Often I see HR folk agonising over justifying a place at the top table and other such stuff. For what it is worth my advice would be, do an Alison Chisnell. Learn these skills, practice them yourself and help others around you to use them. Gain influence through excellence.
After a short break for coffee (loads of buzzing conversation, so much nicer than avoiding folks trying to sell you stuff in an exhibition methinks), we heard from Hayley Brown at The Big Lottery Fund (BLF). She showed us a nifty induction cartoon movie and said that for her company, ‘social is about determination to learn and curiosity unleashed.’ Hayley also talked about how folks at BLF can search for projects online by tagging, following etc. and how project owners can look for help exactly the same way. Then we cut to Samantha Hackett from Save the Children. Samantha talked about how they use social tools for action planning and to help deliver just in time bite sized training for staff. And Sam talked about trips to Bangladesh where she discovered most kids over 8 have full time jobs. And they all have mobiles, which will be how they can be reached and possibly helped by charities like Save the Children. Sam came across as straightforward and practical, her talk was quietly moving. Christine Bamford from the NHS closed this session with the help of some great video contributions from her trust CEO. Christine talked about the importance of taking everyone on the journey and being social inside and outside the organisation. Vitally important.
Next up was Martijn from Deloitte. I felt Martijn was hampered by a deck of very heavy, wordy, diagrammy, dare I say it – typical big consultancy practice slides. Powerful snippets like ‘Why do people leave organisations? Because they don’t feel connected to it.’ got lost in a blur of PowerPoint busyness. Martijn revealed a degree of nervousness among Deloitte people speaking openly on social media in case they say bad things about a customer or potential customer. And he told us that people are very competitive in Deloitte. They need to be rewarded in order to share knowledge. I have to say I found that rather anti social.
We had a short ‘surgery’ session where a panel of five of us took a few questions from the audience. I recall a good devil’s advocate one about spending too much time on line, on social tools. Will there be presenteeism type pressure? I acknowledged this is a danger so long as companies contract people to work x hours instead of focussing on outputs and outcomes. And the wonderful Jose Franca told his Christmas tree tale – you had to be there! I’m sure brighter folks than me gave more useful answers – but I’m afraid my tummy was rumbling too much to hear them.
Lunchtime. Good food, and a great buzz of conversation again. I ate quickly then slunk off to panic quietly. I had the post lunch slot and the standard in the room was high, I was nervous.
I spoke about using social to encourage engagement and participation. I told a few stories from my experiences of linking employee and customer engagement. Some successes, some mistakes. Well we all make them and they’re where the best learning comes from eh.
We then watched Emilie Dixon from AutoDesk blasting, Matt Jeffery style through a very high impact, visual presentation on the many ways AutoDesk are using social to share, recruit, and all kinds of other things. They’ve integrated all kinds of platforms really neatly – Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube. You name it, they’re playing with it. I was very impressed with what Emilie showed us, Matt would have been proud I’ve no doubt.
Sadly I had to leave at the afternoon coffee break (parent’s evening at Keira’s school) so I missed Gareth, Jose and others finish off the day. I also missed the Tweetup afterwards. You can’t win them all. On the plus side, I read the Twitter stream on the train out of London and was bowled over with the feedback from my talk – and about the event in general. Here’s a snapshot of some stats from event courtesy of Gareth Jones, and another perspective on the event from HR Bullets. This felt like a big step for the CIPD and I think it went well. I was certainly very pleased to be asked to help.
If you’ve any further comment and want to share links to other event content feel free, I’d love to hear from you.