Purple bumper boots, passion and mind numbing bullets.

So, as I reflect on the various sessions I attended in my blogging capacity at #CIPDHRD13, something hurts.  The healing bit of this blog is inspired by Andy Lancaster , Neil Morrison and a conversation with Doug Shaw.

I am lucky enough to do work that absorbs me, stretches me, fascinates me, teaches me and that I love.  There are parts that feel like harder work than others, and there are some bits that I would like to wriggle away from, and some people that I can’t connect with.  I often learn the most from these situations.

I’m always studying too, I’m a girlie swot, I got laughed at when studying for doing ALL the reading and homework.    Whatevs.   I’m currently writing up a reflective portfolio of a humungeous amount of words evaluating myself as a coach.   I know nothing and want to learn everything.  If I could go back to school (primary of course because my high school education wasn’t worth remembering) I would.  I’d have my hand up for every question, I’d put the hymn numbers up, clear the canteen and practice my italics.

So when I attend the sessions at conferences I want to hear everything you want to share, and I want to explore it.

But you unintentionally hurt me when you give me 30 minutes of powerpoint bullet points and no interaction.  It hurts because I can’t hear you.  Oh the disappointment, the missed learning opportunity. I can’t see you because when you talk at me a part of my brain shuts down.  Then I start to physically hurt.  The pain worsens because you are trying to tell me your story of how much the relational aspect of working with people is important to you.  You are trying to share your commitment to making their environment one which nurtures people.  You want to share your excitement of the great conversations you have facilitated.

But what I see is a photograph of people looking at a photograph.  What I see is rows of chairs expectantly placed to look at you.  What I hear is a description of tried and tested methodologies, such as a nine box grid (heart suddenly weighs more), what I hear is that you are still thinking top down (a little sinking feeling starts to drag me down).

What I’m waiting for is for you to be relational with me.  What I’m waiting for is for you to jump about with your own excitement that with make my heart leap with you.  What I want is a story about a person, who thought they couldn’t be something,  but hoped, and who you showed their possibilities.

When I walk in your room where you tell me how important your people are, but you don’t ask me to get involved, somehow I don’t believe you.  When you tell me that you must find more ways to prove ROI, I somehow doubt your veracity – how much would you stand up for what you believed in, how much do you believe in what you are doing?  I feel pain when I don’t experience you in the way that you are describing is your way of taking people through change.

When however, I walk into the room and you have purple bumper boots on and you are brimming over with excitement and energy to tell your story, when your story by its nature shows the return on investment, when you make me laugh, make me catch my breath, when you ask me to think with you, then my pain dissipates and through my body hope breathes its’ soothing and uplifting spirit.

When I walk into a room and you are playing music, the tables are round and we are looking at each other as well as you, when your story heats us up with the flames of your passion and commitment, your stories, your pinkened cheeks as the blood raises as you remember the achievements of the people who took their empowerment then I believe you.

You pace, move, look.  I can see you thinking about what you are saying, it’s still alive for you now, you want to wake us up, you want us to come with you.

My challenge to next years speakers, will be to work harder, more truthfully, more connectedly to bring your stories to life.  Why not bring some of your stories with you to chat to us in person, why not invite us to a google hangout so that they can live stream their story to us, why not get your audience talking amongst themselves, why not get a twitter feed going.    Why not give us some activities to do.  We can read your case study afterwards, and about your organisation, it’s important but not as important as your story.

Wear your purple bumper boots and show us the passion.

Purple Passion

PS thank you to Simon Heath for his artwork.

How deep is your love?

I was delighted to be asked to blog from the CIPD HRD  #CIPDHRD13 this week.  I have tweeted throughout and you can read my tweets on the #CIPDHRD13 backchannel (get me, all social media terminology).  There has been some great blogging during the event; I am still reflecting  on what I want to say, that you might find interesting.  This is where I am at on afternoon two.

How deep is your love?

Well, go on – tell me.

A bucket load?  A heart full?  A life’s commitment worth?  An exploding teardrop powered by love blasting into space?

Do you know what percentile your love for me love sits in compared to mine for you?

Does your love feel so strong that you could conquer the fluffiest cloud, or does it feel so special that you want to keep it as your own tightly clasped secret, your own inner jewel that sparkles just for you?

Do you know if you’re loved?

Do you know who you love?

A message I have heard in different places this week is about the ROI on L&D, capturing and PROVING the business benefits of the relational aspects of change.  We have to get better at measuring this stuff.

Do we?

How can you quantify my potential; my potency, my possibilities?  Because if you really value me, every message you transmit to me will tell me that.  You will be congruent in word, deed, tone of voice, body and I will know.  If you do not really care what i think, then I will know that.

If I know you value me and respect me as a human, I may be able to take more risk, offer up new ideas, be brave enough to say “I don’t know”.

If you genuinely want to explore my perspective when you consult me, I will know that you want that exploration, and that because you have listened to me, and I have been able to express my vulnerability, hope, joy, fear, emotionality, I may have courage to face the uncertain and still strive to be my best.

You cannot measure my potential because it is unknown.

My challenge to business leaders is to measure your own effort and investment into the relational aspect of your role;

How much time do you spend listening as opposed to speaking

How much time do you spend pushing your agenda as opposed to exploring others’?

How much respect do you offer in comparison to the respect you expect back?

What do you need more of to prove that love, compassion, respect, listening, creating time for people to think will allow them to be more?

Measure how much time you spend articulating the” right answer” as opposed to giving people time to internalise and examine changes that directly impact them.

Measure how much time your boss gives you.

Touchy feely pink and fluffy – say what you mean.

I introduce the beginning of a small campaign to remove these phrases from the business lexicon.

When people use these phrases, I like to ask them what they mean.  Because actually, I don’t know.  It sounds rather dismissive, derogatory.  Something we’d rather not name.

Us humans, we make meaning of stuff, it’s what we do.   Want to know how I make meaning from touchy feely/pink and fluffy?

Touch feely sounds like a lascivious groper, and pink and fluffy makes me think of candyfloss.  That’s the meaning I make of these terms.

When I ask people to say a little more about what they mean to help me understand them, when they say touchy feely they tell me they’re really talking about emotions, feelings, expressing tenderness, vulnerability.   They’re talking about relationships.   They are always able to explain it when invited to clarify.  Pink and fluffy – is used for what they can’t explain easily. Perhaps we live in a world where we only value a numerical metric.  It’s lazy – pink, fluffy  – have a go at being more descriptive.

What are organisations unless they’re a set of relationships?    Why are we so embarrassed, lazy, dismissive, inarticulate, uncomfortable that we describe this complexity as touchy feely?

So why not say what you mean rather than being pink and fluffy about it.

Bradford Factor – hack it. Introducing the Trust Factor

Been reading the blog of Perry Timms and Sukh Pabial and now I’m thinking about hacking management systems.  Rock on.  Wotcha.  ‘Twangs braces’.

Command and control still rules everyone, it’s alive and thriving, and HR is at the heart of it.  Possibly unwillingly, but still….

The Bradford Factor is living proof of command and control.  It’s a great way to get sickness down; there is plenty of evidence to support this.   Fact.

Prediction;  future research will make a correlation between rigorous application of the BF rules, 4 strikes etc, and a decrease in what we’re currently calling engagement.  I call it trust.  If I don’t trust you; I will deliberately and subconsciously withhold myself from you.

Wiki says rather well:

“One party (trustor) is willing to rely on the actions of another party (trustee); the situation is directed to the future. In addition, the trustor (voluntarily or forcedly) abandons control over the actions performed by the trustee. As a consequence, the trustor is uncertain about the outcome of the other’s actions; he can only develop and evaluate expectations. The uncertainty involves the risk of failure or harm to the trustor if the trustee will not behave as desired.”

At a base level,  “management” are saying “we do not trust staff” when deploying  types of controls like the Bradford Factor.  If a manager does not trust his or her staff, then guess what they’ll get back?  Distrust.

I managed teams for many years and one thing I know; if someone wants to abuse a system, they will find a way to do it.  You can belt and braces it and you will still have someone who is dissatisfied enough with life, themselves, you, whatever, to want to take advantage and find a way.

But, all the others, the most of us majority,  who will willingly give their effort and wouldn’t dream of taking advantage are constrained by the binds that tie them.  Their hope, energy, commitment gets squeezed out.  Of course they daren’t have a duvet day so your sickness numbers are down – excellent, target achieved (another hackathon subject).

A trusted workforce will not abuse their employer; they will understand why being there matters, who it matters to, and they will see the consequence of any selfish and slightly lazy actions.     This will combine to make them care enough about each other, their employer, their customers, to minimise unnecessary time out from the office.  And when they’re there?  Using myself as an example, I guess when I feel people trust me, I flourish, I feel valued and that I matter.  My contribution matters, so I  make sure I do things so well. And I always do things well, but when I’m trusted, it opens up other space in me.

I knew when someone had had four Fridays out in a month, or when they were staying in bed when they had a headache, or when they were burned out and I could cut a bit of slack.  I believe that some of us will struggle with life from time to time and that we don’t fit into a box and we have to deal with some situations on their own merit.

The defenders of the Bradford Factor will advocate for it on the basis that it’s a management tool to be used to point to potential problem areas, I’m sure.  Of course, it’s the managers using it incorrectly, nothing to do with it being another policy to get in between managers and their teams.  (Of course, managers are team members too).

What a lot of effort goes into controlling people and trying endlessly to find ways to allocate monetary value to them.

If employees plan together, identify ways monitor their own work and set their own standards, see what happens if you offer trust.