Thursday 26 June 2014

#ECTalent - Darren Chlds: Putting himself on the line

Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV at the Economist Talent Management Summit 2014

Well due to the French air traffic control strikes I missed the sessions I really wanted to see but we've had a couple of good sessions on diversity (Jean Marting arguing that businesses needing to progress people from unusual sources and a panel providing lots of examples about this not happening.)

And now we've got Darren Childs, CEO of UKTV talking about corporate culture.  He spends half his time on this as it's the biggest indicator of success.  His view is that any company that focuses on building a command and control structure rather than engaging staff will be out of business within the next ten years.

When did you last put yourself on the line - being prepared to jeopardise your own position for the good of the position of your people and your company.

Leaders need to be prepared to be judged.

Eg participating (unofficially) in the Sunday Times Best Employers survey - asking employees about whether Darren is an inspirational leader.

Results suggested that the business wouldn't be able to reach it's potential, or even stay in business there was so much destruction going on.

So he started speed dating the whole company.

In just two years they've increased from 24% to 81% of employees now agree the company is led based on strong values.

And in 2013 and 14 they won the Best Companies award.

Their business is about creating culture so they ned a culture in which people can create - an ideas culture in which people are motivated to come forward with ideas.  And that people can develop their potential without a fear of rejection.  Their mantra is 'imagine more'.

They've been doing some interesting things with workplace design - eg their 'Eden' room is fitted out with park benches.  And they have big kitchens where they can talk to all of their staff about what's important.

They have a behaviour about generating ideas linked to their values and they recognise this - staff make a short video about people they want to nominate which are aired in front of the whole company.

There are smaller programmes too eg any manager can give any emploee a chocolate bar containing a small gift eg a lie in the next day or they can go home early on a Friday afternoon or get a whole duvet day.

The second essential step is bringing these ideas to life.  They have an innovation pot and anyone including the cleaners can apply for money to bring their ideas alive.

Most important is a culture that is supportive not cynical.  This is his biggest role as CEO.  His measure is that people will tell him they are doing their best work in their careers.  His role is faciltator not conductor.  Other people take centre stage - he builds the stage for them.

When he interviews staff about two thirds of the time is spent on their alignment to the company's values and culture.

They also support staff in things like surfing lessons if this will support their potential.  And they support work in the community.

He doesn't mind skeptics but he actively manages cynics out of the company.  Eg the people who don't turn up for their meetings in the over sized kitchens.

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Monday 23 June 2014

The New Global Currency

I'm looking forward to the Economist's 2014’s Talent Management Summit on Thursday.
My main focus as a consultant is helping HR respond to changes in the world of work so the sessions I’m most eager to see are the earlier ones on the new Global Currency, and the later ones on the New Work Order.  (That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to the ones on Boardroom Conversations and Redefining Leadership too!)

I’m going to devote this post to the New Global Currency and I’ll be blogging here on all the other later sessions, as well as these earlier ones, at the conference.

So what is this new global currency we’re talking about?  (Hint: it's not Bitcoin.)

Well this is what the marketing literature suggests:

“Most companies publicly state that their people are their most valuable asset. So why aren’t talent and leadership strategies keeping pace with today’s fast-changing world?

  What strategies will keep you ahead of the global skills race and defend your talent from potential competitive raids?

  Why are companies still struggling with building an effective global leadership pipeline?

  What are the best operating models for high performing, adaptive, global, mobile leadership teams?

Attendees will hear first-hand perspectives of corporate executives and thought leaders on how businesses can leverage their talent and leadership currency to compete in the face of such sweeping change.

So the new global currency is talent and leadership - people, and well be finding out how to accumulate this new type of cash!
Well I must admit Im in two or three minds about equating people with money.  On one hand I agree that people need to be more clearly recognised as the new source of competitive success and that the old school of thought that (old style) cash is king has had its day.
On the other hand I dont think that being talked about as currency will be that engaging for many employees, which is a problem given that engagement is certainly a key part of realigning talent and leadership strategies with the new work order.
I face the same problem with my brand - Strategic HCM or Strategic Human Capital Management, i.e. the management of people to create human capital.  However I always explain that human capital is what people provide, its not jargon for the people themselves.  I think its important to call people people.
Thirdly, thinking of people as or like money isnt going to be helpful even if we dont refer to them as such.  There are some critical differences between talent and old style cash - the main one being that cash is scarce and talent is abundant.
Cash needs managing with a scarcity mentality - it can generate amazing returns but unless its spent carefully, it gets flittered away.  (Thats why companies are still sitting on a record amount of cash despite the improving economy.)
Talent benefits from an abundance mentality as it can also deliver amazing returns but not if it gets hoarded.  The more we use talent (the more we practice), the more the quantity and quality of talent we get back.
Therefore a key concern to me, that relates to the Economists initial question about why HR isnt keeping pace, is that most surveys of potential suggest most people are using just a small fraction (generally about 20 to 30%) of their potential in their jobs.  If we could free up the remaining 70% wed get more work done, but wed also accumulate more new global currency in the process.
So how do we move on? - how do we manage people - talent, leaders - in ways which enable not constrain; engender passion not boredom, and support collaboration not petty politics and turf warfares?

Arvinder Dhesi (Korn Ferry), Gary Elliott (Diageo), Tracy Robbins (IHG) and Rita Vanhauwenhuyse (BP) - as speakers in this session at the conference: answers please!

And readers - I hope you might be at the conference to listen to Arvinder, Gary, Tracy and Rita first hand and if you are, please do say hello!
And if not, please do check out my blog posts on or after Thursday.

And regardless of which of these you do, please do take some action - we want to see a completely new agenda next year, not an even more urgent rehash of the question asked this year.  In fact my dream topic for 2015 would be Outsourcing Finance - as obviously with people being king, we wont need so much focus on that traditionally more important function!
The kings no longer what it was.  Long live the king!

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Tuesday 17 June 2014

Art and Science of HR

I posted here last year that I thought the CIPD were - and are - making a mistake in linking HR too closely to decision science.  There are aspects of science which we can learn from and use to improve what we do, and the more transactional, operational elements of HR are often pure science too.   But the strategic, future oriented elements of HR are, at least should be, more heavily based on art.

Note that I'm not suggesting it's all science, just that it's probably more art, and I'm concerned that others are exaggerating the science perspective leaving art far behind.  So I'm really just trying to rebalance the commentary around science and ensure art gets a look-in too.

One of the ways I'm trying to do this is through the Art of HR global conference taking place in Dubrovnik, Croatia, from 13 to 16 November 2014.

And I'm also trying to stimulate some conversation about what we mean by HR's artful role in this Linkedin group which I'd encourage you to join if you're interested.

One perspective on art and science I'd like to share was developed at my US colleagues at Buck / ACS (now Xerox) whilst I was working there as Director for Human Capital Consulting for Europe part-time seven or eight years ago.  Using house building as a metaphor we suggested:
"Science represents the heavy lifter. In building terms, this would be the general contractor, the builder or the plumber. In the world of business, this translates to the taskmaster—the person responsible for structure, tasks and milestones.

Art represents the architect or the interior designer. In terms of your change man- agement team, this is a person, typically very well connected throughout the organization, who gathers feedback, asks “why” and is outstanding at motivating peo- ple to do things, because of his or her relationships. 

Scientists are the drivers of the change, while artists are the navigators who cycle in and out, asking the questions that keep things on track. They’re the people who make sure that everyone isn’t so intent on the destination that no one realizes the car is out of gas."

Our change management model pictured above included the top half representing science and the bottom half representing art. 

"The science side is the tactical side, driven by outstanding time managers who are detail-, schedule- and task-oriented.  The art side ensures that perspective and feedback get back into the system so that the outcome works for the company and accomplishes the ultimate goal." 

Then the bit I really liked looked at how art and science need to link together but with one or the other leading at different stages in a project:

If all you're doing is science, you're missing out on a large piece, and potentially the most important aspects, of any change or HR project.

If you've got any other thoughts, please do join the Linkedin group and if you can, come along to the Dubrovnik conference in November.

Also see: Thoughts on the Art of HR

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