Conference reflections

Before attending the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition I wondered if I had fallen out of love with my profession.  I’ve spent so much time outdoors this year, and in ways that I haven’t yet fully explained, this has changed my life.  How would the experience of an HR conference be after all this time?  I’ll give a little digest of some of the things that struck me during the two days, and then I’ll finish with the verdict on my love story.  If you’d like some in depth run downs of the content of the conference, there are some brilliant blog posts written by those with far faster fingers than me.  Doug Shaw has cleverly put all the blogging content in one place.   Now here are my reflections, in no particular order. Some are about the content. Some are about the delivery.

The physical stuff is hugely important

I would say that, wouldn’t I.  This year has brought it home to me, that us humans are physical creatures and we need not to be folded into chairs for hours on end.  More of that in a future blog post.  During the conference there were many reminders of how important it is to be able to see tangible things; not just bits of paper.

Crossrail gave the best example during their presentation, when CEO Andrew Wolstenholme showed photographs of employees carving their names into the wall of a completed tunnel.  The sense of pride in a huge achievement was so strong we in the audience could feel it.  Those engineers will be able to tell their families that they built that, and that their names and the dates are there for all to see on that tunnel wall.  Pick any theory of motivation you want:  carving your name on the tunnel wall ticks all the boxes.

On a more personal level, in 2012 the CIPD conference ended with the Olympian, David Weir letting us folks in the audience go up and hold his gold medals.  A year on, I had several conversations with people reminiscing about holding that chunk of gold metal.  For me and others I spoke to, it is a glowing memory that still makes us smile.  When I work in places where there is a less tangible product, I want to find opportunities to use lasting things you can touch and see, and that have meaning: to find the equivalent to a tunnel carving or a gold medal. Continue reading

Wrong shoes

Long time no blog post.  Since I posted last the total amount I – you – raised for Mending Broken Hearts has increased to £4,300.  I’m really grateful and very pleased.

I20131105-215610.jpg‘ve just got out on good behaviour for a long weekend of walking.  My friend Steven and I had 3 days in the Peak District.  Three wet and windy days.  But lots of laughs and wonderful autumn scenery.   20131105-215519.jpgYesterday the bad weather cleared and I nipped up to the Lake District and was lucky enough to skip around the Fairfield Horseshoe in brilliant sunshine, see a temperature inversion, and get to tread on my first snow and ice of the winter.  It was awesome.  Really a brilliant hill day.  From the top, which is 873m high, I could see Cross Fell in the distance.   Cross Fell is the hill that defeated me several months ago, so it was great to actually see the thing out of the clouds.

The view south from Fairfield to Windermere

The view south from Fairfield to Windermere

Little Flora with Hellvelyn in the background

Little Flora with Hellvelyn in the background









Then today I drove down to Manchester, because this week I’m part of a team of people who are writing blog posts and tweeting at the UK’s major people management conference, the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition.  I’m looking forward to it as it is a chance to hear some interesting speakers, to hear new ideas, and to meet old friends and make new ones.  If you want to hear about the conference from the safety of your desk or sofa, you can read about it on the CIPD blog, or by following #CIPD13 on Twitter.   My Manchester visit has started really well as I got to attend a separate event today, which was hosted at BBC North.  We had a really interesting talk, and also got a tour, the highlight of which was seeing the BBC Breakfast studio.  I’m afraid several of us regressed to age 10 in delight at seeing all the cameras and that big red sofa.

Me and Ian Pettigrew posing for all we are worth

Me and Ian Pettigrew posing for all we are worth

What else has happened since July?  One thing is I have discovered that my body is a different size than it previously was.  I had to give away all my walking and running shoes, as my feet turned out to be a size 7, and not a 6.  Wish I’d known that before I started the big walk.  It would have made for fewer foot pains!  My advice to anyone starting out on a long walk is to go to Profeet in London and get your feet measured and gait analysed.  Do it before you set out, not after.

When I got back from the walk I wrote that I wanted to keep my fitness up.  I have done that and more.  Since July I’ve hiked another 108 miles, I’ve run 102 miles and I’ve cycled 812 miles.  I’m a lot fitter than when I finished the walk.  Which seems like an odd thing to say.  But I think what happened was that the walk reconnected me with my love of sports, being outdoors and being fit.  Which was one of the aims.  I had wanted to get out of my sedentary rut.

I’ll bring news on the job front when I’ve some to report.  In the meantime, if anyone is looking for an L&D Manager/Head of with lots of energy, imagination, and the ability to inspire and bring people together, I’m your woman.

Yellow gooey sticky mess

Teach like your hair's on fireI recently read Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith.  It’s a first hand account by a primary school teacher in a working class school in the US.  Rafe writes about the principles that shape his teaching. It is a remarkable book.  I have found much in it that is useful for me in my work.  I particularly love to learn from people in different types of jobs and walks of life.

(It’s a super little paperback, and I’d thoroughly recommend it to parents as well as L&D people). Continue reading

New girl part 1

Five months ago I started a new job, working in an industry sector that is new to me.

Flora in the North York Moors

I can’t think of a relevant image. I’ve been on holiday since my last blog post. So here’s a holiday snap instead. I am hiking in the North York Moors. And it’s not raining!

It struck me this week that the first five or six months in a new job takes up a lot of energy.  Mostly mental and emotional energy.  It’s been really interesting, and I feel I’m getting there, in terms of doing what I set out to do.  However,  I think that it is important to acknowledge that at times the first months can be draining.

There is a lot written about adjusting to a new job, e.g. all that ‘first 100 days’ type literature.  Some of the most useful research I’ve come across is by two academics, Helena Cooper-Thomas and Neil Anderson.  Since one of the projects on my list is to deliver a new onboarding process for my company, I may as well kill two birds with one stone and reflect on my own experiences and kickstart my thinking process.
Continue reading

Fake goods

In my last post I wrote about Zappos.  I neglected to mention something that I really like about them.  Which is, that I get the impression from reading Tony Hsieh’s book, that he and the people he works with have done a lot of thinking to figure out the best way to run their company and create an environment in which employees can happily give their best.

Fake goods - a picture of fake handbags

That’s happened through learning from mistakes – Tony talks about how the culture went bad in his first start up, mainly because he didn’t pay attention to it.  And also he frequently explains how he gets interested in a subject, like positive psychology, and then finds the research and reads up on it, and works out how to use these theories to make his company better. Continue reading