Future Talent Conference: "Are we Human Resources, or are we Human?"

After reflecting on the Future Talent conference hosted by Changeboard last week, I thought I would summarize for those who were unable to attend. The main theme spoke to the human aspect of Human Resources, bringing home the point that we are not just part of a business, but we are a function composed of individuals with our own stories, just like every candidate who comes through our pipelines.

My takeaways were...

Changeboard's Future Talent Conference Recap

Martine Wright actively choosing a positive response to a life changing event; finding that trust, respect, commitment and communication enabled a diverse team to excel. I loved her description of “Team Me” – that wider team that we all have of friends, family and mentors that make us stronger, more focused and able to achieve things we could never achieve alone.

We then heard about exercising your “curiosity muscle” to build rapport from Ruby Wax. Being curious about another person enables real conversation and discovery. And being curious about what is going on within yourself enables you to be aware of why other people may be reacting to you.

Helmut Schuster talking about the Tipping Point when technology changes the world of work. His interest in the Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality and 3D Printing all lead him to conclude that our macro world demands that our employees have mobile device access to their work, their HR tools and active networks of people to which they belong both within and outside their own organization. Oh, and you must be able to condense your people strategy into a 30 second elevator pitch. Give it a go, it is harder than you think.

Lord Chris Holmes impressing the room with his experience of working in a non-hierarchical, diverse team of 50 to bring the 2012 games to Britain. And reminding us of those amazing game makers – he talked through the decision to create a culture where the volunteers would have the training required while also being encouraged to bring their personalities to the event to make the experience exceptional. He testified that if you can create vision, mission, strategy and clarity of purpose underpinned by belief, and connect it to every person in your organization, you can smash silos and unleash the talent that is lying dormant. Lottie his guide dog definitely won the “best dog at a conference ever” award.

Amy Sawbridge from Virgin continued the theme of creating a culture where people bring their whole selves to work and the importance of a consistent brand experience whether you are an employee or a customer.

We heard from Alain de Botton that we all have an unspoken agreement with our work colleagues along the lines of, “I vow not to show you how fragile and slightly mad I am,” but he suggests if we were all a little more honest about our fragility and more psychologically aware we might all feel a little less stressed.

De Botton tied in to Martine Wright’s “Team Me” with his comment that a team or board table does not consist of just the people who are physically present. Sitting invisibly with each of those people is their “Team Me” and that those often ignored attendees’ opinions have a palpable effect on an organization.

He speculated on when capitalism would get around to selling the important things in life not just the basics. In reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, de Botton argued we largely focus on the physiological and biological essentials such as selling food, drink, heat, houses but not the truly valuable things such as love and friendship although the path is being paved by social networks and psychoanalysis that has systematized conversation and targets the top of the pyramid, self-actualization.

As with Chris Holmes, de Botton is emphatic on the need for clarity. He spoke of the necessity for a narrative thread to identify the meaning for people working in large companies with longer term objectives otherwise it feels like being in a football game where there are 10,000 people on the field, 19 balls and the match goes on for 2 years!

The CEO panel discussed speed and agility to get people with the right qualities, not just the right skills, into the organization and a change to leadership traits to unleash their potential once they are there. Being a little on the loud side myself, I thought the reminder to listen to the quietest person in the room was a valuable one.

Yvonne Agyei, Head of Recruitment for Google, spoke about how when Google recruits, they look for what they call “googleyness” rather than recruiting to fill specific positions.

Clive Woodward gave a really inspiring presentation on the DNA of being a champion. For Clive, having the talent is only the beginning of the story. To have real success, Clive believes you need to be a “sponge not a stone.” He then gave examples of how no matter where you are in your career – in business or sports – it is important to constantly question everything you do in order to see if there is a better way of doing things.

Dr. Alan Watkins introduced us to “I, We and It.” He explained his theory that we need to know who the “I” is as well as actively focus on the “we” (our teams, others in our sphere) to achieve the “it” (our tasks and goals). Alongside Helmut Schuster, Dr. Watkins is a firm believer in the importance of social networks, and understanding and targeting those pivotal people within an organization that creates the culture.

The day finished by firmly focusing on change and the absolute necessity of supporting our customers, suppliers, employees and communities. Peter Cheese discussed how increasingly investment decisions are influenced by the quality of leadership and how the employees are treated. We need to design work for humans that plays to our strengths and has meaning. He summed up by quoting William Gibson, “The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.”

Thank you to Changeboard for organizing a great day full of interesting content. Looking forward to next year already!


Post contributed by Paula Parfitt, Senior Vice President of Cielo. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.


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