The Imposter

During the the past week I have had more than one person congratulate me on how good I am at networking and self promotion, citing the success of the book as an example of this. I thank them for that, I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness behind it.

I’d like to level with you all. I’m rubbish at networking and self promotion. I simply can’t do it. I feel uncomfortable and slightly like an imposter. At a recent event someone asked me if I was a consultant. My reply was ‘um, I guess so, I mean…technically…people pay me to do stuff, so I guess I’d have to say I was, but I’m not sure I’m a proper one or if it will last’.

Yesterday someone asked me what my areas of expertise were for a speaking engagement. My initial response was ‘I’m interested in lots of things, I’d hate to claim to be an expert’

These aren’t the responses of a natural salesperson.

From the very first black tie networking event I attended in my career I’ve felt inadequate, out of place and about to be found out. So I found ways to make the experience more comfortable.

i) I find one person who I know (or who also looks lost) and I talk to them about whatever they like

ii) I try and help them with a problem if I can – I listen and try to be useful to them

iii) I assume everyone has an interesting story to tell

iv) I open up early and ditch the formality. I’ll talk really honestly with people

So I mentally exchange my forced black tie event for an evening doing what I love – learning about people and helping them solve their problems. Last week that led to me getting a visit to Facebook, a wonderful experience. I’m happy to admit it came about through me just wanting to find someone to talk to at the CIPD Centenary Dinner, primarily so I didn’t feel like a spare part.

The volume of PR around the book has been based around not letting 50 other authors down. If this was my book that I’d written on my own? There is simply no way that I’m spending days tweeting people asking them to endorse it. That is a horrible concept to me. I’m not brave enough and it’s not in my nature.The fact there is a social ambition to it and an ability for me to create success for others is what drives my behaviour.

All the good stuff that people think is me being brave is just me running scared from failure and awkwardness. I’m not leading, I’m just finding the most creative way I can to run away.

This will probably be a problem for me if I continue to be a ‘sort of consultant’. I’m not comfortable at self promotion. I’m comfortable with sharing. I thought I’d share that in case anyone feels the same way.

So I’m sharing that if you feel awkward with self promotion – well, there is at least one other person out there who feels the same way too.

#CIPD13 – Celebrations and frustrations

So.

A long time ago my HR dept used to do ‘celebrations and frustrations’ each week. Everyone would send in an email listing their work/experiences and then this would be circulated to keep people updated.

What tended to happen, all too often, is that the busiest people didn’t find time to fill it in, felt they didn’t get appropriate recognition and got progressively grumpier. That is why HR is tough. Designing systems around people is complicated.

Anyway, I’m stealing the format to do a quick overview of #CIPD13. Most of the bloggers have written beautifully reflective pieces. Welcome to my bullet points

Celebrations

  • As a networking opportunity it was incredible. I went to Facebook today and I’m off to Innocent Drinks soon. These opportunities came as a direct result of the event.
  • My love of Dan Pink is well documented. I was lucky enough to see him twice during the conference and to take part in a Q+A with him. That was an exceptional opportunity and he genuinely engaged
  • I got to see an overview of the Crossrail project that really helped me reflect on how much work can mean to people
  • I dropped into plenty of the sessions in the main hall and enjoyed the variety and content. Great, short sessions
  • I got an hour with the CIPD CEO and then another hour with the Deputy CEO. They were open to challenge (which was good because I challenged) and the debate felt worthwhile. They listened. I realise this contact time was atypical of most delegates experience, so it feels important to note the time they gave to random people like me
  • The CIPD were very gracious in supporting the book – still available to buy.

I met some great people and shared in their energy and enthusiasm. That’s always the standout isn’t it…

Frustrations

  • The opening keynote was flat. It really disappointed me and felt slightly shallow and by the the book (and very ‘buy the book’). I’ve seen the speakers before and they were ten times better when I did. I would have far preferred to hear more from Peter on his thoughts about the profession
  • More CEOs or people who are ‘not HR’ would have been great. HR is business, more people from the broader business would have been useful.’My HR team did this and this is what it did’.
  • I agree with Sukh Pabial about the lack of diversity in the speakers
  • The hack update was great in terms of content from the hackers, but the whole process feels a bit slow and not action focused enough. The hack model is about design – real life is about implementation and momentum. A lot of people signed up for the Hack – I’m not sure how many have been retained
  • I heard some really closed thinking from people, including a horrible description of how different generations learn (‘older people just want to be talked at in classrooms’)
  • I heard some really risk averse responses to ideas. It’s seemed unless an idea comes gift wrapped people won’t run with it. How would that work in your organisation? Well, that is something you are paid to work out. I get that we need to manage risk, but we also are in the business of growth and that involves encouraging risk.
  • It would have been great for the main sessions to be more interactive. If we are updating on the hack then… let’s hack. Send people away to discuss Dan Pink – do things to involve the audience. One person speaking to several hundred has less benefit than hundreds exploring a concept. If a group of HR people designed an internal event it would never be this formulaic. More on the fringe, more interaction, more involvement, more commitment, more exploration = better results

A few notes to give context on the above.

  • As I tweeted and blogged for the CIPD I didn’t pay to enter the event. I’m probably biased and they did provide me with biscuits which increases the probability of this further
  • I’m not a member of the CIPD, I never have been. If I’ve been positive about them it’s due to them deserving it
  • I attended a range of events across the 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed the evenings

#CIPD13 – Hacking HR #CIPDHack

So, panel discussion on hacking. I love hacking. I like disrupting things. I want to hear more…

I hope this is good, as if it isn’t and we can’t find ways to involve people to change things for the better quickly… well, I’m not sure we deserve a conference to be honest. I’m not entirely sure some of us deserve jobs. We improve things or things die. Hacks are about stepping up and saying we can do that now. So, on to the discussion….

Peter Cheese

‘I’m always up for new ideas’. That’s a good start.

The nature of work is shifting so how do we shift and adapt rapidly to do things differently. The future is already here. Jobs that aren’t jobs now exist. What are the barriers to adaptability – how do you capitalise on trends rather than see them as barriers? – we are off to a good start

Michele from Mix (who helped run the hack)

Starts by thanks hackers and individuals who ran the hack. A hackathon is a collaborative event to collectively and radically solve challenges. We can make things better through this process. Anyone who wants to contribute can. Framing of the problem is important as is equipping people with tools and building a community.It is about leveraging collective intelligence.

Frame -> invent -> develop -> what did we discover.

*My note: The above is a nice model that was shared, but I’m perplexed as to why the final stage isn’t DO or share. THAT is what change looks like. Sorry to be grumpy*

150 minihacks were developed and then the list narrowed down to 60. 1700 people were registered to work on the hack

*My note: not sure of how many people stayed for the duration?*

Helen Amery from Boots – the mix it up hack

How do you reduce silo working? We need to help people connect dots to see the bigger picture – people make the difference, not process.

Nice model of how to short visits to difference parts of the company to encourage learning. Not secondments – this is short introductions to a role. Just mix it up.

Benefits – break down silos, develop individuals (not just ‘top talent’), help people feel invested in, help people understand purpose, help support succession planning, help support career development and organisation, supports a culture of ‘trying stuff’, supports connections and problem solving together.

Great stuff so far – simple, fast, fun. It won’t be perfect from day one but you will get there together.

Loved that. Quick, smart, great replacement for secondments

Monique Jordan – Pearson, work for the customer and not ‘the man’

How do you move the customer into the centre of the conversation? The issue is the manager designs most elements of jobs. Task orientated and with odd vague outcomes that aren’t connected to the customer.

Customers can feel like an interruption. The employee isn’t in a position to solve customer problems.

A nice outcome based approach was described where you start if you know what requirements need to be met for the customer – as well as what the manager needs to do to support that.

It’s simply brilliant and brilliantly simple to be honest and apparently it reduces the amount of valueless work. And let’s face it, who likes valueless work?

List what you do -> group into categories ->understand need you are fulfilling -> that is your framework

Gem Reucroft – Tunstall HR – Chuck out your chintz

Starts by confessing that the idea was stolen – most of the best ones normally are.

How do we think about removing admin and process and being about people? It links back to the keynote about not having stupid rules in organisations.

Gemma shared a hugely stupid rule. A rule of inherent stupidity and lack of sense. It’s called the fruit rule – contact her and ask about it (that is your connecting challenge)

There are three impacts of this stupid rule making

i) we miss out on value

ii) it impacts on our reputation as a function

iii) people stop thinking for themselves

So what is the test to help you reflect…

take what you do and check it adds value, does it have a positive output, do we have to legally do it, does it work for us, are we doing it as ‘best practice’

Gemma’s team have freed up time to make other things happen – they slimmed down policies by 50%, stopped writing reports that nobody read, shred the handbook (literally).

This has happened and has seen benefits – that’s a good thing. Spot your Fruit rules and kill them

—–

I’m off to tweet now, if you’ve read so far then please don’t think ‘interesting’. Think, this is what it is all about.

This is what we are here to do

  • make change
  • make things easier
  • make things better

 

Humane, Resourced – on the way!

Kaboom!

!BoB cover

So, I’ve finally pressed the ‘publish‘ button after a near endless email chain with Hugh at Pressbooks. Essentially the issue that appears on my screen, previewer and physical Kindle – where the book starts in the middle of the index – doesn’t appear on his. I’ve therefore taken the gamble and published in the hope that for new readers the book starts at…the start. I’m hoping when I wake up it will be available in the Kindle store.

A few final notes:

-The book can only be ‘free’ for 5 days out of every 90. I therefore will make it free from Tuesday next week – so it is free to download throughout the CIPD conference

-This has been a ‘homebrew project’  – there will be formatting errors and I’m sure at least one typo will have managed to sneak in there. If you let me know any that you come across I will do an update in a month or so that will be available for anyone who has downloaded it. This a natural consequence of my relaxed nature to things like this and the speed of the book’s production.

– I guarantee someone has sent me something I haven’t included. It is just bound to have happened. To that person (or people) – I apologise, it wasn’t intent, it wasn’t an assessment of your writing – it is just me being rubbish. I’ll try and update it if I can, but please just let me know I’ve left you out without shifting into ‘I can’t believe you left me out you “£%”£$% mode’.

– There are links to videos and articles throughout, these won’t work on a ‘normal’ Kindle but will on iPad/Android/PC. It seemed a shame to leave them out and their presence is the reason that, at the moment, the book isn’t available as a physical copy. If it is successful then I might try and edit it so it makes sense in a print version. It would be nice, I’m sure, for all of the authors to have a physical copy of the book.

– There will be a second book that will improve upon the above….next year folks!

The final list of contributors is below, it is an incredible crop and I’m just delighted that the book has enabled me to come into contact with them. People haven’t just submitted articles they have supported, cajoled, edited, crafted the cover and promoted the book. They are great folk and they made this project happen for each and every one of the other writers

1.    Simon Heath (@SimonHeath1) – blog, glossary and cover
2.    Doug Shaw (@dougshaw1)
3.    Sukh Pabial (@sukhpabial)
4.    Ian Davidson (@ianandmj)
5.    Bruce Lewin (@fourgroups)
6.    Ben Morton (@Benmorton2)
7.    Richard Westney (@HRManNZ)
8.    Lembit Öpik (@Lembitopik)
9.    Emma Lloyd (@engagingemma)
10.  Gemma Reucroft (@HR_gem)
11.  Stephen Tovey (@StephenTovey13)
12.  David Richter (@octopusHR)
13.  Amanda Sterling (@sterling_amanda)
14.  Wendy Aspland (@wendyaspland)
15.  Peter Cook (@AcademyOfRock)
16.  Julie Waddell (@jawaddell)
17.  Leticia S. de Garzón (@letsdeg)
18.  Vera Woodhead (@verawoodhead)
19.  Nicola Barber (@HRswitchon)
20.  Tim Scott (@TimScottHR)
21.  Amanda Arrowsmith (@Pontecarloblue)
22.  Inji Duducu (@injiduducu)
23.  Anne Tynan (@AnneTynan)
24.  Neil Usher (@workessence)
25.  Louisa de Lange (@paperclipgirl)
26.  Megan Peppin (@OD_optimist)
27.  Ian Pettigrew (@KingfisherCoach)
28.  Steve Browne (@stevebrowneHR)
29.  Kate Griffiths-Lambeth (@kateGL)
30.  Tracey Davison (@mindstrongltd)
31.  Jason Ennor (@MYHR_NZ)
32.  Bob Philps (@BPhilp)
33.  Kat Hounsell (@kathounsell)
34.  Simon Jones (@ariadneassoc)
35.  Mervyn Dinnen (@MervynDinnen)
36.  Alex Moyle (@Alex_Moyle)
37.  Julie Drybrough (@fuchsia_blue)
38.  Susan Popoola (@susanpopoola)
39.  Ruchika Abrol (@ruchikaabrol)
40.  Simon Stephen (@simonstephen)
41.  Damiana Casile (@damiana_HR)
42.  Honeydew_Health
43.  Malcolm Louth (@malcolmlouth)
44.  Perry Timms (@perrytimms)
45.  Sinead Carville (@SineadCarville)
46.  Jon Bartlett (@projectlibero)
47.  Jane Watson (@JSarahWatsHR)
48.  Broc Edwards (@brocedwards)
49.  Sarah Miller (@whippasnappaHR
50.  Meghan M. Biro (@MeghanMBiro)
51.  Anna Lloyd (@buggilights)
52.  Luke Thomas(@springccr)

The Book of Blogs – progress update and FAQ

When I first set upon this crazy enterprise I wasn’t sure what I was doing or if it would take off. Whilst I’m still not sure what I’m doing, I’m delighted to say that the idea has very much taken off.

The individuals below have all agreed to contribute and if they all do then we have have more than enough content to justify the ‘book’ tag and it will be of incredible quality. I’m hoping that we attract more writers over the coming days, so please share this blog and the intent. It would be great to get a few writers from the US (edit: we now have!) , but as you can see from the list it is already very much an international project.

  1. @simonheath1 – Simon Heath
  2. @Projectlibero – Jon Bartlett
  3. @TimScottHR – Tim Scott
  4. @HR_Gem – Gemma Reucroft
  5. @OD_optimist – Meg Peppin
  6. @dougshaw1 – Doug Shaw – submitted: In Fear of Fear 
  7. @LadyLoki – Niki Rosenbaum
  8. @ruchikaabrol – Ruchika
  9. @Malcolmlouth – Malcolm Louth
  10. @StephenTovey13 – Stephen Tovey
  11. @paperclipgirl – Louisa de Lange
  12. @Jawaddell – Julie Waddell
  13. @HRManNZ – Richard Westney – submitted: Collaboration is the new Competitive Advantage
  14. @sterling_amanda – Amanda Sterling
  15. @Jsarahwatshr – Jane Watson
  16. @KateGL – Kate Griffiths-Lambeth
  17. @KingfisherCoach – Ian Pettigrew
  18. @conmossy – Conor Moss
  19. @dds180 – me
  20. @bphilp – Bob Philpin
  21. @fourgroups – Four Groups – submitted: A Physics of People
  22. @sukhpabial – Sukh Pabial – submitted: What is hope?
  23. @verawoodhead – Vera Woodhead
  24. @myhr_nz    – Jason Ennor
  25. @Joolztybura – Julia Tybura
  26. @BenMorton2 – Ben Morton –submitted: Leadership in a VUCA world
  27. @IanandMJ -Ian Davidson –submitted: Why thinking in averages is below average thinking
  28. @ariadneassoc – Simon Jones
  29. @octopusHR – David Richter
  30. @MrAirmiles – Jose Franca
  31. @MorrisElise – Elise Morris
  32. @sineadcarville – Sinead Carville
  33. @engagingemma – Emma Lloyd
  34. @kat_hounsell – Kat Hounsell
  35. @TashTasticNZ – Tash Pieterse
  36. @fuchsia_blue – Julie Drybrough
  37. @pontecarloblue – Amanda Arrowsmith
  38. @wendyaspland – Wendy Aspland
  39. @HRswitchon – Nicola Barber
  40. @mervyndinnen – Mervyn Dinnen
  41. @damiana_HR – Damiana Casile
  42. @EmilydouglasHC – Emily Douglas
  43. @MeghanMBiro – Meghan Biro
  44. @DwayneLay – Dwayne Lay
  45. @PamelaRoss – Pamela Ross
  46. @Nicky_T – Nicky Texeira
  47. @Lembitopik – Lembit Öpik  submitted: HR challenges on the USS Enterprise
  48. @LetSdeG – Leticia S. de Garzón
  49. @zoemounsey – Zoe Mounsey

So, I’m assuming at this point that people are in favour of the concept and I’m now getting requests for more detail. This blog is an attempt to give some of that detail…

FAQ (it stands for Faked Anticipated Questions)

Why did you decide to do this? 

I had the idea on a whim when I was thinking about crowdsourcing and in particular this list of HR social influencers http://list.ly/l/5qg. It seemed like a nice community project and, as I enjoy the content shared on HR blogs so much, I thought it might be nice to collate it. I then shot out an impulsive tweet and things took off from there.

So, what is your motivation?

My motivation is very much about giving people an open space to create as individuals, whilst at the same point creating something as a group. I’m unlikely to get a job from this (if you’d like to hire me have a look at goo.gl/fySbh  ) but  I currently have some space in my days I thought it would be fun to build something. The book will be priced at free, so this isn’t a stealth commercial project. It is a community project, plain and simple. I like ideas, I have the time to invest in helping and motivating people to share theirs. If you agree to take part then please understand that this is the ethos and don’t ask be complicated questions about who owns the rights etc. I simply don’t know and am probably disinclined to make things more complicated, if you are worried about this then just don’t take part. If you can think of it as a giant collection of guest blogs then you are in the right place.

What are the entry criteria?

Anyone can contribute – it can be their first blog or their hundredth. It can be new or their favourite old blog. It just needs to make sense standing alone. I’m sort of hoping that we do get to showcase some new bloggers and that the experience helps them go on to create more, that would make the project worthwhile in itself. There is no quality control – if someone has taken the trouble to write it then I will take the time to publish it. I haven’t approached anyone directly as I wanted people who were involved in the project and didn’t want to place any pressure on people to contribute. Please don’t attempt to sell a product – that is the only thing that won’t be acceptable.

What are the timescales?

A month from today for the content (!) should be enough for the length of writing required. So by 16/08 please have your content submitted or uploaded (see below). If you are able to do it earlier then please do, as there is only one of me so having 30 arrive on deadline day will doubtless cause issues.

*cough, cough* but you don’t know anything about publishing do you? 

No, I don’t, good spot. I do, however, love new technology and I’m also able to use Google. The combination of these things has led me to PressBook which is like a communal WordPress tool that will allow people to upload their own content and then for me to publish the content as an eBook to make available on Amazon etc.

So we are all uploading our own material?

It would be really helpful if once you have written it you could upload it yourself. If you write it in WordPress it brings everything over quite painlessly.Send me your email, I’ll send you a log in and then you can just paste your material in as a new chapter. Click on text and then new chapter…

If this seems like the scariest process in the world then there is a two step process

i) attempt it yourself, you only get to live this life once and being in fear of useful things isn’t very useful

ii) send me your content directly – I don’t want anyone to suffer undue emotional distress in what should be a pleasant process

How will the book be structured?

I’m undecided. I might attempt to collate similar entries together or deliberately leave them apart. Who knows? It’s fun embracing an open approach.

What if everyone writes on the same topics? 

I don’t think they will, but if they do then we will still have a book – just on a narrow range of topics. My experience is that people have their own style which means at the very least people will offer different angles on topics.

Is there anything I can’t do?

Please don’t link to any material that we don’t have rights for.  I like putting video and pictures in my blogs, if you are doing so then please make sure you aren’t breaking the law when you are doing so.

What will it be called?

I haven’t a clue. I’m accepting suggestions. In fact if you send me suggestions I’ll run a poll and we can choose together. That is how collaborative this can be.

Can I contact you with questions?

Yes, I’m weak on Geography, but I’m pretty strong in most other areas.

My First Day at the CIPD

The CIPD have recently announced the appointment of a new Deputy Chief Executive , I thought I’d use this blog post to speculate what her first day in the office might be like.

 
 I’d like to be very clear that this is a parody and that I have had no contact with Susannah Clements and have only heard great things about working at the CIPD. 

It would be funny if working at the CIPD was awful though…

 
9am
 
Bounce into the office ready to make a good impression on my first day. Slightly disappointed that nobody has allocated me a desk, but I’m told that George isn’t in today so I can use his 
 
9.30 am 
 
Finish tidying up George’s desk. I can’t believe anyone hadn’t noticed the smell from what, I assume, was once an egg sandwich, but is now a strange brown blob.
 
10 am
 
After several attempts to log on I have been told that my new starter paperwork hasn’t been passed to IT. When I speak to IT they tell me that there is a 5 day service level on this kind of thing and it isn’t their fault they didn’t receive the form. 
 
11am 
 
Spend time reading latest CIPD publications, very enjoyable. IT have now set me up on the system, but unfortunately I’ll have to remember to log in as Sue-hannah.Clemenza for the near future. Still, important to stay positive about these things. The default font is set to Coptic, but that just means I’ll have to keep to my mantra of ‘learning something new every day’
 
11.30am 
 
I’ve had some time allocated in my calendar to deal with a range of ‘hacks’. I hate dealing with the press, so I ask PR to take care of it. It turns out after a short exchange that it was a different type of hack and I’ve just referred the entire output of the hackathon to PR.
 
12am
 
Asked to deal with ‘hacks’ again. Walk into a conference room assuming I’m going to hear some suggestions about next generation work practices, only to be cornered by journalists. We really need to get more consistent with language. It doesn’t go well
 
12.30pm
 
It’s been a testing morning, so I decide to try and cheer people up over lunch by sharing some extra food and nibbles I packed for the day, the jaffa cakes go down really well but then I said
 
‘Cheese crackers anyone?’
 
The room went silent. It turns out that Peter Cheese, the CEO, is really well loved by the team here and that they believe that I’m attempting to deliberately undermine him. People are muttering about signs of an early power struggle.
 
1pm
 
Whilst taking a comfort break (and I have to admit sobbing a little,) I overhear a conversation in the ladies about how ‘the new lady ‘Sue-Jannah’ attempted to start an open revolt against Peter and nobody wants to work with her as she smells of stale egg sandwich’
 
1.30pm
 
Peter calls me into his office for a short chat over some feedback he has received. 
 
2pm
 
I really enjoyed my time working with the CIPD, a great institution