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

My top 10 tips on being a culture champ!

I had a fantastic time at the HR Advisors Conference in Wellington this week. I met a wonderful group of passionate women in HR who want to change workplaces for the better and have a successful and challenging career. I always find myself really inspired by the discussions and enthusiasm of everyone attending.

Imogene Lomax from enableHR also ran a number of short think tanks too on different challenges HR Advisors are facing, and sharing stories of what’s happening out there to inspire each other further.

And so despite my 19 years in HR I still took a whole lot of learnings from our presenters and decided rather than try and summarise the whole conference, I would write out my top 10 tips that made me think.  

And so here they are in no particular order: 

1. Forget about taking names and details off c.v’s. Jo Copeland, HR Director at Simpson Grierson talked about being consciously biased to check for under privelege in candidates because if you just look at grades you’re not comparing apples with apples. For example, if you’ve got 2 candidates, and one attended private school, lived at home while attending university and got A grades with the help of a tutor and the other grew up in an under privileged area, attended university while holding down a part time job at McD’s and taking the bus for an hour each way and got B’s – actually the B student had to overcome far more obstacles to do well. 

2. Create the right space to work in so you can focus on what’s important. Robyn Pearce from talked about simplifying your workspace and clearing it off distractions that are all crying out ‘pick me! Pick me!’. Email alerts are one of the distractions but your physical workspace is another.

3. Robyn also taught me how to click on the little microphone icon when you’re writing a text, email or tweet and then you can speak into your phone and it types it up!! For me, that’s a game changer!! 

4. David Keane from the Art of Deliberate Success talked about what successful people do differently and the first is defining what success is and writing it down on a piece of paper and putting it in your wallet. I did that today and it feels really good to have it there. You can’t focus on exiting others about culture if you don’t feel successful yourself. Not to mention the arm demonstration he did which has to be seen to be believed!

5. Kellie O’Sullivan, GM of People & Performance at Ministry of Justice talked about her journey using Design Thinking at MSD. She had a brilliant tip to get your executive or management teams taking ownership of culture. Instead of providing comments from the engagement survey in writing for them to read (and seeing it on paper doesn’t make it feel very personal), she had a pizza night and played the exec team videos of employees talking through what they liked about what their suggestions were. Watching real employees tell their stories got the exec team completely engaged in the culture journey!  

6. Angela Evans from LangtonHudsonButcher shared some interesting case law examples. If you want a checklist of what the courts consider is a fair and reasonable way to handle performance issues, then check out Yan v Commissioner of Inland Revenue.

7. Janine Belcher from NZTE talked about building a culture code – to describe what it’s like to work in an organisation. NZTE are the first public sector organisation to do this. If you want to check out what this might look like, Netflix Netflix have made their code public.

8. Janine also talked about HR having to be the most engaged in the business to make culture change happen. When their results weren’t that high, they focused on what the HR team could do to become really engaged and once they were – they could get everyone else excited. 

9. Fraser Atkins (CEO of Elephant, Trustee of the Association of People Professionals and my husband) spoke about working through change. He talked about only some changes being assigned to HR, but actually every change affects people – so HR needs to make sure they are involved in every project team – even if it’s an IT change process. It still involves people!  

10. Lastly (I can’t believe I’ve got to 10 already!) Linda Watson from Just Workforce shared research around what really makes a productive and positive workplace. She talked about getting rid of incongruence like having a bowl of fruit and telling people to be healthy, then having a culture where people work 60 hours a week. She also said the number reason people take sick leave around the world is pollen levels!

So there you have it – these were 10 of the learnings that really stood out for me. However we captured others ideas on the ideas wall – so I will share that too in another post. 

For those that attended, what were the top tips you took on how to be a culture champion? For those reading, what tips or ideas have you heard over the years about how HR can be part of building the right culture? Please feel free to share them here and help us all become culture champions!

P.S. I’m looking forward to seeing what other ideas come out at the Auckland HR Advisors Conference on 16 – 17 February. See you there!



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This entry was posted on January 29, 2016 by in culture, human resources and tagged , , , , .
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