Thoughts about hr and management in the real world – extra information I couldn't fit in my books!.


Last week another first happened in New Zealand – the nzlead HR unconference. No agenda, no keynote speakers, just a day of talking about what matters – while sitting out in the sun and even trying the flying fox!

For me, I was the track leader of two of the HR process sessions during the day. Perhaps not seen as the most exciting area of HR, but if your processes aren’t right, then it will create issues to delivering great HR. Here’s my summary of what came out of the two tracks I led.

Doing more with less

Our first HR process issue was that we all get bogged down with operational HR and then can’t do the proactive, value added stuff. So we talked about which HR processes eat up the most time and cause us the most frustration. They were:

  • Performance Reviews
  • Salary Reviews
  • HR policies and process manuals

So we split into groups to take each of these apart, work out what parts were valuable and should be kept, what could we delegate and what could we dump?

For performance reviews we realised that we could scrap most of the process. I loved what Chorus have done in having monthly meetings where managers discuss each of their team’s performance. It quickly becomes clear which managers aren’t spending time with their team and don’t know what each person’s strengths or areas to develop are. Peer pressure shows them up as not being good managers. The monthly discussions also mean that at any time the company knows how everyone is performing.

In salary reviews we estimated that the admin around the process eats thousands of HR and management hours. Let’s face it, many managers do not have the capability to objectively assess their teams outputs or have the discussions needed about salary outcomes. Many employees end up completely disengaged with the process. We discussed that with so many downsides of linking performance to pay – why do we keep on with it? Why isn’t salary just linked to market increase and bonuses are paid if people go above and beyond? In fact, we came up with a system where if an employee meets their goals, they can log into a system that randomly comes up with a bonus amount for them. One year they might ‘win’ $100, the next $2,000!

For HR policies and processes we need to go back to the drawing board. Throw them out, start again. Make them simple, use plain language, use visuals. Get people involved in writing them (like the #nzlead discussion where we rewrote the policies as tweets).

HR Innovation

The second track I led was towards the end of the day. We were getting tired so there was some flying fox action to boost innovative thoughts! We talked about whether NZ was good at innovation – embedding a good idea and delivering it to market. We  decided we aren’t.

Nor are we good at this in HR. We’re good at inventiveness (coming up with new ideas) – but these can be seen as fads because they don’t deliver long term (and NZ tends to be very short term in our thinking). As Fiona Michel said at the HR Game Changer conference ‘don’t celebrate when you deliver a project, celebrate when it changes behaviour and delivers’.

So when you try new things make sure there are some quick wins – but also have a long term plan for how to embed it. Don’t work on too many things at once. Have support for the setbacks and people not believing (just like many HR people are against the whole transforming HR movement – you need to find ways not to let it get you down).

We also talked about HR having the brave conversations with managers. We tell them to be brave with their teams but we’re not challenging them enough on them living the values and being great managers. They can’t just chuck everything hard for HR to do.

It’s as easy and hard as that

We finished the day talking about how we bring others into this journey and what actions we’ll take. If you’ve read this and didn’t attend but would like to know more, why not try the following:

  • Join the #nzlead group on LinkedIn
  • Have a read of the website which has summaries of the discussions the community has had over the last couple of years
  • Read the summary of the day from @HRManNZ’s blog: off the beaten track
  • Read Perry Timm’s thoughts about unfurling HR and what it means.
  • Join the HR Game Changer Conference group on LinkedIn.
  • Try something new with your HR delivery!

3 comments on “#unfurlingHR

  1. Pingback: Reflections from #unfurlingHR: what next? | Learning to Fly

  2. Pingback: Unfurling HR - conversations for change - Implement + Associates

  3. Pingback: #UnfurlingHR | NZLEAD

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This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
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