Wednesday, 13 April 2011

#HRD11: Stories not Processes


   The other main challenge to traditional HR thinking that got my attention during the CIPD HRD conference was this one about the role / importance of softer, more organic approaches as opposed to harder, more mechanistic ones.

I’ve already referred to one example of this distinction in Laura Walker’s comments about changing the stories.

To be sure, there were a lot of calls for ongoing management of the organisational machine, for example Paul Kearn’s suggestion that we should measure the results of leadership development through the pace at which people shuffle paper!, but there were lots of examples and suggestions around more progressive ways of managing too.

I thought this new way came out most strongly in the session with the two undercover bosses (David Clarke from Best Western Hotels and Kevan Collins from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets).  Some of the key points discussed included:

  • Relationships are at the heart of success in business – you want people to bring their whole heart and whole life to work.
  • This is about genuine, authentic dialogue to help people really understand each other
  • Help people move beyond thinking about what they expect of the organisation to what they expect of each other (see my post on social EVPs / branding)
  • Life is emotional – walk towards, not away from, emotions
  • You need to give people time (you might not be that concerned about what they’ve been doing on their weekends, but stop for them anyway – it’ll only take 30 seconds)
  • Blogging and Twitter helps by showing openness and creating networks within organisations


I thought both bosses were great, but what a shame it needed a Channel 4 TV programme for them to generate these insights.  It’s a bit like when you make a CFO a CHRO and they get to understand it takes a completely different mindset, not just a new set of capabilities, to do the job well.  We need to get this mindset into more business leaders (and still into more members of HR).  And perhaps we need more new generation HR leaders becoming CEO too?


Also see my earlier post on another undercover boss with an equally compelling story (Stephen Martin from Clugston Group).



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