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

The law of two feet

It’s amazing the effect a simple rule can have.

Last week I got to run a session at the CIPD’s HRD exhibition. (Translation: an HR conference). My partner in crime was Neil Morrison, and we had been asked to give the participants a little taster of the ‘unconference’ format that is springing up all over as an alternative to the more traditional conference circuit. (Please don’t switch off if you are not an HR-y person..I’m going to cut to the chase shortly).Flora Marriott at the CIPD's HRD conference in April 2012

The theme of our session was about our role as HR or L&D professionals in helping to do something about unemployment and contribute to the future of our economy. Neil writes brilliantly about this subject.  I think our future workforce is hugely important – so much so that in the recent past I devoted 4 years of my career to working as a lecturer on a business degree programme (that’s another post) – but right now I want to write about the law of two feet. Continue reading