Guest Blog “39 years of work and this is what I have to show for it””

Following a discussion about mentoring  this morning  John McChesney, HRD at Manx Telecom shared this with me.  John mentors and coaches constantly – it’s at the heart of all his work – and his approach to work has heart.  I thought this has an elegant simplicity and was worth a share.

  • Know yourself, what you are good at, and what you are not so good at.
  • Build teams that have complementary skills and abilities and overlap your needs.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel; steal/borrow all you can.
  • Always be a learner.
  • People don’t set out to screw up, so don’t treat them as if they do.
  • “Thank you” is worth a fortune.
  • Don’t blame; take and ask others to take responsibility.
  • “Situational confidence” is half the battle; tackle difficult issues quickly.
  • Live with “don’t know” answers.
  • Treat others as they would like to be treated, not as you want to be treated.
  • Manage up, not just down.
  • S**t happens, so learn from it and move on.  You can’t undo the past but you can change the future.
  • Listen to the inner voice/thoughts/feelings.
  • Maintain a balanced life, whatever that is for you.
  • Network, network, network.
  • Use great mentors and coaches.
  • Don’t be a turkey.
  • This is not a rehearsal, it’s for real, so make the most of it and have some fun.

HR Unscrambled #CIPD13


Doug Shaw and I facilitated a fringe event at the CIPD national conference earlier this month in Manchester.  Our commitment was to share the output from the discussions in order to broaden inclusion into the debate about the future of HR. Here is our summary.  Please do share this with any HR people who may not be engaged in consuming their news and information via social media – this is a discussion that any of us interested in the progression of people management are probably having.  The more of us who share; the more likely that change will occur.

Whether you’re passionate about improving organisational culture, employee-led change, employee communication or anything else that will help make work better, we’d like to invite you to HR Unscrambled.” Our invitation to members.


We wanted to co-create an opportunity for dialogue between the CIPD, its members and any other people interested in exploring both the CIPD purpose, Championing better work and working lives, and the future for HR. We believe there is great meaning to be found in exploring ways to work co-actively, doing things with each other. HR Unscrambled represents the beginning of that learning.

In the future we shall:

 Explore ways to broaden the reach – build on the social media energy that is growing, and extend beyond it too.

  • Utilise more open space facilitation at future events and conferences.
  • Integrate research from the CIPD and other relevant parties and involve members in shaping the future.


8.00am one morning in Manchester

 Our space was airy, breakfast was available, and tables were set up for four people. Guests were invited in small groups to discuss what brought them to the session. There were 30 contributors from a wide range of backgrounds including, CIPD staff, HR and Learning and Development professionals from the UK public and private sectors, and independent consultants. We were delighted too that Peter Cheese the CEO of CIPD joined us for the first half despite seemingly being everywhere else too!

The emerging themes were connecting, sharing and learning – and the future.

The connecting and sharing through networking – in its most enjoyable sense – included sharing insights, building on those insights, reflecting and thinking through them together and the implications for organisations.  

A question that users of social media are asking with increasing frequency – how can we invite in those who don’t access SoMe – how do we extend the conversation?

Learning comes from connecting and sharing, and having space to assimilate the learning. We explored technology and how it is changing the way we learn, what we know about how we learn, and how we can integrate technology into our Continuous Professional Development. There was also a desire to think about generational learning differences.

 Implications for the future – what the generational differences and similarities are, what self directed learning means culturally within organisations, and what skills HR professionals need – were all up for discussion.


 People grouped together in fours to explore common interests around these subjects. The conversations were self-organised; people went where they had the most interest. During the discussions, we invited people to move tables with the purpose of stimulating the development of the conversation and to facilitate more networking. People were also invited to use flipcharts to capture their thoughts, priorities – what they would like to share with people who weren’t there.

We noticed that across what seemed like a broad range of topics, a dominant theme emerged in relation to learning. Discussions encompassed the tools for learning, how people learn, how technology is changing traditional methods and creating opportunities for people to become curators of their own learning. IT can get twitchy but technology, self-directed learning, and the autonomy it offers has arrived. This has so many implications, and we were left with some big questions:

  • Social Media brought people together in this space – it feels edgy but are we just on the edge?  There’s a huge community of HR people both members of CIPD and non-members.  How can we bring them in?
  • What implications does self-managed learning have for how organisations are designed?
  • What does the HR of ten years time look like; how can we build towards that now?
  • What could we do more of in relation to mentoring?
  • What manager capabilities are needed for the future?
  • Are we too inward looking; how can we engage more outside our community to broaden our perspective?                                                                                                                                              

We’d like to thank all of those who were motivated to get up early and create this event, and we look forward to building on this.


Don’t leave me hanging on

If someone drops you a polite note, it’s nice to reply.  When you don’t respond, I wonder – is it because……

a.  You don’t know the answer

b.  You’re busy

c.  You don’t give a damn

d.  You didn’t read it yet because you have a lot of emails

e.  You have no intention of doing it until you’re chased

f.   You don’t really see it as a priority

Or anything else that I don’t really understand.

Can I ask you – take the time to give an honest reply.  There are really busy people I work with and communicate with constantly who are always the first to fill in a doodle, respond with information for a project, reply to meeting invites, offer up dates, etc.

Then there are really busy people who must be busy dealing with their avalanche of unreplied to emails.  I might have sent three reminders, rather than one rather straightforward simple request, or it all becomes last minute because I forget to remind you and then things don’t get done well, and everyone gets a bit irritable.

I am rather confused by the non-responder; is it passive/aggressive resistance?   Is it a dismissal of others needs?  Is it fear to say that you don’t want to do something?    Probably if you’re a non responder, you won’t respond to this.   But I wonder how much time is taken up by us chasing each other.  I say us; I mean you, because I believe that to be acknowledged is an important human need, and it’s something I am committed to.

#CIPD13 Progress.

This blog is a sharing of my reflections, learning points, challenges and ideas from #CIPD13

The impact of a leader

We have a figure-head as a profession in Peter Cheese who is actively engaged with his members and with a widening range of external partnerships and relationships.  

At the conference he was present, engaged, active, proactive and credible.  He was visible throughout the conference, open to challenge, demonstrating his ambition for our profession with great integrity.  He was available, up for challenge and debate, open to influence and seemed to have endless stamina.  People believe him;   believe in him and my take on this year’s conference was that there was a coherence between the different sessions.    I sensed a connection, experienced a momentum and perhaps because he has engaged so much with members, it made sense to me – it linked together.

Peter was at many of the sessions I attended and it is clear he has a personal stake in progressing the HR profession.  He was open to challenges, available to everyone, and didn’t talk management bollocks.  He is clearly very smart but is grounded and speaks without jargon or acronyms.  He was authentic without needing to tell us he was.  That is probably my biggest take away from this year’s conference; that strong leadership brings people together, creates a shared purpose, through openness their personal vision is understood, and it makes people want to get involved and what an impact it has had on me.

CPD from #CIPD13

There is a tumblr website curated by Doug Shaw  to access some incredibly eloquent and well written blogs, describing each session.  Don’t know what you do for your CPD?  Read the curated reflections.  Couldn’t get to the conference?  Immerse yourself in these reflections.  Want to know what HR’s professional body is advocating?  Dip in.

Jettison the keynote

I attended the keynote opening speech, which Ian Pettigrew blogged about here.      Would like to offer up a hack of my own for conferences – jettison the celebrity keynotes.    I and many others I spoke to would have liked to have heard much more from Peter and other members of the CIPD team.  CIPD have published some compelling research (more for your CPD) and I think members would benefit from and respond well to engaging in discussing the research and getting involved in setting the agenda for change.

I like Hacking

You can read about the Hackathon here and how you can adapt the methods into your own work – whether it’s HR or not.   I opted out early because I read more and more hacks which weren’t relevant, sounded like book reviews, consultancy dogma.  It turned me off.   I was unable to relate my work, or the challenges of my clients to what I was seeing, and it felt like rhetoric and self-serving cleverness.

I went to the Hack session – I learn more from stuff that challenges me – and actually it was probably where I got the most value.  HR-Gem put it beautifully through the “fruit rule”.  It’s simple.

“Employees may eat fruit at their desk during working hours, only where the fruit may be eaten and / or peeled by hand.  Where the fruit needs to be eaten with cutlery such as a knife or fork, or is in a receptacle such as a plastic container, the fruit in question may only be eaten in the break area, during official rest periods”.

This made me remember a meeting once – a staff group had got stuck on setting the rules for dress down Friday.  They wanted my help.  The question at hand was “how  much cleavage should be on show” – they were discussing the merits of size of a pound coin as a yardstick. 

What are you doing that doesn’t add value?

Download your own guide to hacking here.


Just because it’s intangible, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Intangible – unable to be touched

“intangibles like self-confidence and responsibility”

Data, analytics, metrics. Yay, we love these words.   I come from a perspective of linking my work to business results.  I am very proud of some of my achievements; producing 50% more business with reducing costs (no  jobs lost), working in partnership with an amazing CEO and team of people to return over £1m profit after a £10m loss), reducing attrition from 44% to 3% and all the associated tangible and intangible costs.   I get it.

I attended a session about Human Capital Management (shudder) – CIPD’s partnership with CIMA to help business measure the impact and value of workers.  I went  because, I learn more from what I resist.  Hoping to be persuaded I suppose.    As the CIMA revealed their thinking, my timeline started to wobble, bubble, froth, and so did I.  There was something repellent to me in some of the language “the assets that are human”.   Don’t get hooked on the language?  Our language reveals what we are thinking, really, deep down.

A great tweet from @stevebridger “we need to be careful,  the messiness of the intangibles is going to be what offers most value”.

  • We can already do the numbers.
  • We know if people are stressed at work that costs us
  • We know if the culture isn’t conducive to whistle blowing before we need to call it that,  people will make decisions that aren’t in the interest of the greater good
  • We know that the more senior people get, the more isolated they are from day-to-day reality, and
  • We know that decisions that are informed by solely financial gain are unlikely to serve the organisation i the long-term, and discount other realities.

“Culture and the Bottom-Line: Important Lessons from the Research

Kotter and Heskett’s landmark study Corporate Culture and Performance documented results for 207 large U.S. companies in 22 different industries over an eleven-year period. Kotter and Heskett reported that companies that managed their cultures well saw revenue increases of 682% versus 166% for the companies that did not manage their cultures well; stock price increases of 901% versus 74%; and net income increases of 756% versus 1%.”

We don’t need to develop another set of consistent metrics; we have data already.    Manage culture; we know enough already to know that adaptive organisations are the ones that survive, that we NEED to be adaptive.  If we are adaptive, stress will be lower, we’ll recruit people into work they want to do, and we’ll make sure that people doing transactional work are rewarded well, treated well, offered respect and provided enrichment in other ways.    We’ll keep the right people and ditch the wrong, people will be working for common purpose, not promoting internal rivalries.  We already know that if people do not feel valued, discretionary effort will be reduced.

We know that governance has failed us, that excessive pay gaps do not foster constructive cultures.  There is nothing new here is there, other than perpetuating the financial dominance.

If we value quantitative data over the qualitative, the phenomenological, that’s what employers will pay attention. What will be missed?

OK, some takeaways are:

·       That the Hack is down to the individual.  I have hacked my own way of recording information – evernote is mine.

·       The messy stuff, the edgelands, is more interesting and useful than the obvious.

·       The CIPD is truly becoming a leading advocate for changing attitudes to work more than I ever thought could happen.

·       People want to talk with each other during conferences to reflect on what they have heard and to help land their learning.  It’s a great big hack opportunity.

·       People will get up to attend an 8.00am discussion if they are committed, even when some of them hardly go to bed at all @perrytimms

·       Sharing, collaboration, learning are our priorities.

·       Exploring with people who are fearful/suspicious/sceptical of technology to broaden the reach of SoMe.

·       We could share podcasts of the case studies and talks prior to the conference, have an area too at the conference where people can go and experience them, and have the speakers engaging in workshopping, discussing, tweeting.  Treat it like an art gallery; installations, exhibitions, interactive workshops.

·       80% of HR people work in SMEs; it’s a different reality from the large corporates – the consultancy holy grail, working with the leaders of large corporations – I think CIPD get this but there’s still more.

·       Context is everything.  Didn’t hear the end session, but know that Bob the Builder was used as a role model for leadership.  Without context….


*leaves the building*.