For the third year running, the CIPD has kindly invited Meg Peppin and me to their annual conference in Manchester. One of the main reasons we go is to facilitate some cocreated conversations about work, under the banner of HR Unscrambled. Everyone’s invited and our guests are asked to suggest the questions they want to discuss together, over breakfast. Our experience shows this is a welcome opportunity to reflect on and synthesise some of the learning people are absorbing at the conference.
This year – the questions offered up for discussion were:
How can we influence wellness?
How can we drive analytics?
Is employee engagement just about doing the right thing?
If we started again, would we invent HR?
The essence of the conversations were transcribed by Meg and we have now shared them on Slideshare. If the questions interest you, please take a look at the conversation summaries.
In addition to some suggested answers to the questions, further questions emerged too. That’s a benefit of giving people the time and space to talk, and ultimately, action is what really matters. By way of illustrating that, I overheard this snippet as people were in discussion: ‘After this conversation, we need to act. Cary Cooper’s been talking about wellbeing for the last 20 years, and nothing has changed’. You may or may not agree with the detail of this observation – but I’m sure you can relate to this frustration to some extent.
Here are a few more signals and snippets that wafted past my brain as I listened.
We should pursue wellness for its own sake, and if we need to link it to £ in order to release budget, so be it.
Use ‘stealth mode’ – this brings to mind Proceed Until Apprehended and Trojan Mice.
Part time fully present beats full time not there (physically and/or mentally).
Ban internal email two days a week. I’m not a huge fan of banning stuff but if this stick can be used to stir the pot of conversation then maybe it’s worth a go?
On the inclusion of women at work:
What is the gender make up of your future employer? How is that make up represented at senior level – do the two match up? If your work force is diverse and your senior management is stale, male and pale, is this a place you want to invest yourself in?
Consciously target and recruit – make it easier for those women who want to return to work. Truly flexible working – attitude shift away from presenteeism. Job share.
Meg subsequently wrote a powerful piece on diversity and inclusion. Here’s a short extract from it, the whole thing is well worth a read.
Thank you to the CIPD for their ongoing support and sponsorship and to everyone who came and participated in these cocreated conversations. Without people, you’re nothing.
Thanks to Simon Heath for the HR Unscrambled cartoon.
I doubt myself sometimes, and I know from experience that you do too. It’s OK, no one is listening – this is just between you and me. My own doubt is partly driven by the fact that I believe so many of the things we need to do to make work better are so utterly simple, that when I think them, let alone propose them, they, and therefore me, seem somehow ridiculous.
I believe we work better together. Some of the things that help us do this are:
- Giving, building and having trust
- Noticing ourselves
- Noticing one another
- Getting to know ourselves better
- Getting to know each other better
- Keeping things simple wherever possible
- Accepting that small things can and do make big differences
- Having open access to information, which means we can cocreate power with each other, not exercise power over one another
- Recognising that creativity is not binary. You don’t just switch it on, you adjust the dials and tease it out. Don’t fear it, play with it, iterate.
- Having meaningful conversations
- Taking breaks
- Finding out what brings joy to one another, and then – try to cocreate the conditions to make that happen
- Agreeing that respect is not a zero sum game. I want to lift you at the same time as you lift me, or put another way, my success is not dependent on putting you down.
- Being coactive – that is to say doing things with, for and by each other, not to each other
- Practicing – our work is our art
That’s enough for now. Oh, and one more thing. Don’t forget to doubt yourself from time to time:
Thanks Sharon, Julia, Meg, Gareth, John and Richard for a crescendo of compelling conversation yesterday. I’ve had this post in draft for months and you all helped contribute and free it up.
For every pack of Stop Doing Dumb Things ordered in December I’m making a small donation to Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity. If you’ve been meaning to order some cards for yourself or as a gift to others, now might be a good time? Thanks for your support.
The old man sat next to me on the slow train into London. Like so many others on board I was passing time staring at a tiny screen.
The old man asked, ‘What did you do before you had a mobile phone?’ ‘I stared out of the window, read, sketched, wrote and sometimes talked’ I said, and so, twenty five minutes before reaching Victoria station, our conversation began.
The old man studied American history, ‘Abraham Lincoln forever, and all that,’ he said. Turns out he’s a Packers fan and so we talked of American football, cheese heads, Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks, Raiders and more. ‘I’ve never been to the United States’ the old man told me, and I explained that’s where I was journeying to. ‘I like the sound of Baton Rouge, it has a nice name’, he said. Somewhat surprised I replied ‘that’s where I’m heading.’
We talked about the trip I took to New York City with my late father. I told the old man about the sights we saw and added, ‘we even went to see the ice hockey.’ ‘The Rangers?’ Asked the old man. ‘Indeed’ I said, and we spoke of sport and our separate experiences of listening to US forces radio bouncing crackly live signals from various sports on the medium wave.
With Victoria approaching, and with twenty five minutes passing like twenty five seconds, we shook hands and wished each other well. He continued his journey to the midlands to watch Wolverhampton Wanderers take on Peterborough, and I headed for the airport, to catch my flight to Baton Rouge.
What did you do before you had a mobile phone?