Treat me like I’m me

Short one. 

There is a lovely line that Aaron Sorkin has recycled a few time in his scripts. You can find a brilliant video of his recycled lines here

The line is “Don’t talk to me like I’m other people”

It’s normally uttered by a character angered that they are being treated as though there is no history between them. As though there is no trust. As though there is no real understanding. 

Too often I’ve seen and heard superficial observations of motivation in the workplace that don’t really get to the heart of that individual’s values. We treat them like motivations are consistent across groups of people. 

Tim is upset. The conversation is then about why someone in Tim’s position would be upset. 

It should be about what we know about Tim. 

Don’t talk about Tim like he is other people. 


My first profound TV interview 

The below was my status feed a year ago on Facebook. I thought I’d share it so people can either laugh or learn. Both are very important. 

Today was my first TV interview. I think I’m supposed to pretend that it’s all in a day’s work and I’m blasé about this kind of stuff… Lots of people I know seem to do this regularly. For me it was my first time and I wanted to share the experience so that everybody else knows it is ok to get nervous and you survive and learn as you go. 

Here’s how it went:

1. 3 visits to the toilet in the hour leading up to it

2. “Better with jacket on or off? Or on? No, off… On? Off” – that lasted about five minutes 

3. There is a large amount of unusable footage where I’m caught out by hugely difficult questions like “What does HR do?” and “What is your job?”.

4. I use the word “profound” about 17 times. Everything is a profound change or has profound impact or is profoundly interesting. 

5. I imagine anyone watching in HD will be able to see my lip becoming increasingly sweaty. SD viewers will be OK. 

6. I’m pretty sure I broke every guidance on position offered to me by our PR team, but it was such a blur I can’t quite work out if I managed the whole set. 

7. At one point they asked me “What are the main employment trends currently?”. I couldn’t manage one trend. After a pause I said… “Self employment is going up which is good and….not good” 

That’s how it really went. 
#Failoutloud folks, as the very wise Marco would encourage me to do.

Speed reading on #Kindle & #Productivity 

I’ve been a fast reader as long as I can remember. I didn’t learn how to speed read, but if the average person reads at 200-250wpm I’ve read enough to have a normal speed well above that. 

Yesterday Google suggested that I might like a speed reading app. Since the folks at Google are the only ones (outside of  government agencies) to get to read all of my emails I tend to listen to them. In fact sometimes they even answer my emails for me. 

So I duly downloaded an app and was impressed with the way it presented a web page – but the interface was a bit clunky. I really wanted something that could read books straight from my Kindle library. So I went back to Google and it revealed that,  embedded in the Kindle app on Android and on Amazon tablets, there is already a speed reading feature built in. There it is… Just click on ‘Word runner’ 

Then it does this… It flashes up words very fast (you dictate the pace) and your brain neurolinguistically sucks them up into your amygdala to process in the left side of your prefrontal cortex releasing dopamine. If you don’t understand that sentence is bunkum you should read more. 

In theory you can read super fast… But I was reading a relatively complex book about high  frequency trading, stock market movements and algorithms so I kept it just under 600wpm. And it worked. 

I tweeted about it and it seems that some people aren’t that fond of speed reading. Which is fine, but I think trying it is worth a go for most busy people. I’ll relax with a novel, business books I just want to absorb. 

If you fancy giving it a go and you have the right kit then just think how much more you could consume, how much time you could free up, how much more you could learn by using a bit of free tech. It can double the speed you read and really, really cleverly it even slows down slightly for difficult words/bits of text. 

And yes. I enjoyed reading it too. 

Proximity Problems 

I’ve got a longer post written on the issue of what I call ‘the proximity problem’ within organisations that I’ll release next year. For now I have this. 

When my mother had late stage cancer her spine was hugely weak. She risked a broken back or ribs with any small collision. She also had poor balance due to the impact of her treatment.  Walking with her around a city or town centre, or when using public transport, I used to be hugely protective of her and furious with the people who would jostle and push just to get somewhere faster. I formed the best protective barrier I could.

I also became far more aware of the difficulties people have moving around in public spaces. I became more tolerant of missing a tube because I was held up by someone walking slowly through a tunnel. I accepted and was aware that I should never be in such a rush as to see other people as simply impediments to my progress. 

My mother passed away two years ago and I’m aware of that intolerance and lack of awareness creeping back into me. Impatience and frustration take its place. 

The lack of proximity to the the problem – through distance or time causes lack of understanding to grow and for empathy to fail. 

I’m a worse person for not appreciating the struggles of people – whether in the bustle of a crowd or an organisation – more keenly. 

So the next time you feel frustration with progress or people, just try and imagining how you would feel if they were the people that mattered most to you, rather than on the fringes of your awareness. 

And check out #hrrandomactsofkindness too

CIPD Branches, doughnuts and strategy

This morning I’ll be hanging out in the cafe at CIPD Towers and calling it work.

We are attempting to write the first draft of our business area’s strategy out in the open with the entire organisation joining in. I look after, amongst other things, making sure we are communicating well with our branches. We are better than we were before, we are not there yet.

The feedback from our branch network has been they want to be confident that the work they do lines up with the CIPD strategy, so we’ve invited the entire CIPD to come down, have a doughnut and share their thoughts.
I have no idea if it will work. I have no idea if there will be a giant crowd, a steady stream of people or tumbleweed. But there are a few benefits

  • Things created together create shared accountability
  • Doing things in the open creates trust. No rabbits out of hats (when nobody asked for a rabbit)
  • If people suggest something that won’t work then we can explain why and then they understand decisions a bit better
  • If someone suggests something that would work then that has saved me some thinking – or done some thinking I wasn’t capable with
  • It should be fun
  • It’s a good opportunity to showcase the amazing work the branches do – and my team does when I’m not getting in their way
  • It’s a good excuse to have doughnuts
  • When people, our volunteers, are giving their time up the least we owe them is making sure it is being spent on the right things

Once we’ve got the strategy draft we can share more broadly and see where we get. We speak to branches everyday about what they want to see, this is about making sure the organisation is joined up too and we are all pulling in the same direction.

And doughnuts.

Defence of the #HR Dark Arts

As Harry Potter fever is about to strike again it only seems fitting that I do an unintentionally clickbaity blog on the Dark Arts. It’s like magic. 

I was lucky enough to do a workshop last week with Rob Briner. The aim was to give some folk the will and the tools to be a bit more structured in the way that they utilise evidence in what they do. I described it as a 3 hour session on using common sense. Some more thoughts from me are here – and if you haven’t seen the Centre for Evidence Based Management’s website you can find that here

One of the the questions at the end of the session was wonderfully practical, it was ‘My organisation loves fads and quick wins, how could I ever get them to use these approaches?’ 

This is where I sometimes think we can be a bit more creative and use some smart marketing. Where we can be a little bit disingenuous in service of a bigger win. 

My suggestion is that you serve up an evidence based approach (not new or faddish) as the next big thing. Serve it up under the guise of all that is trendy and cool and of the moment. Use all of the tricks at your disposal to make sure your organisation is spending its energy on things that are most likely to make a difference. 

I suggest telling them that evidence based management is what Google is doing. I’d suggest telling them that you had just been to a conference and everyone is talking about it. I’d suggest telling them that you heard the CIPD’s next research report on Performance Management has been done with the support of the Centre for Evidence Based Management. I’d suggest you tell them that HR’s most influential thinker talks almost exclusively about this area. I’d suggest you point out it isn’t all about research –  it’s also about organisational data and your experience. Tell them it’s a doughnut, when it’s really most of their daily vitamins. Go and speak to your marketing and internal comms teams and find out what they know about influencing. Be smart and stretch what is possibly in your organisation. 

In short, I’d do the smart things to get some good stuff across the line and into daily usage in your organisation. Understand and deploy the Dark Arts in a good cause. 

The CIPD are doing more work over the next year on ethics. I think I’m ok on this one – I might not be. I just know that time is the most precision of organisational resources and the most precious in your career. So when you are thinking, rather than reacting, that has to be good. A little darkness in search of the light. 

I always think HR should be relentlessly pragmatic as well as aspirational. Critically assessing evidence is key to that. 

Credit for the picture as always to the exceptional Simon Heath 

#workoutloud week. #WOL

It’s Work Out Loud week and you can find a good summary of intent and good practice from Helen Blunden here

For my part I know that with my organisation’s biggest event of the year #CIPDACE16 taking place I’m unlikely to find too many opportunities to share beyond Twitter. 

So I thought I’d share, proactively,  a list of things I haven’t got around to. Some of you may find this list baffling because you are veritable productivity machines. 

Me? I always have more ideas than time and that will probably always be the way. This blog is to give other people in that space some company. 
Here’s what I haven’t done yet

  • Blog on the gig economy, democratisation of the workforce etc explaining that the terminology is unhelpful. I’ll do a little grid, it’ll be great. . . 
  • Publish a blog on Byron Burger and THAT  incident. It was written a month ago
  • Write a book (I have 4 ideas I haven’t progressed) 
  • Publish all the answers to my 50 questions about the #futureofwork. This will be done next week
  • Publish blog on Pokemon Go. Finished two months ago but didn’t want to look too opportunistic
  • Go through every deck I use and add clear referencing for anyone sent them
  • Sent one of my mentees dates for a possibly next meeting (sorry dude) 
  • Completed a full presentation on project management lessons from the production of Jaws
  • Registered as a speaker for the next #DisruptHR

It’s not a to-do list. Like much of life a mixture of failure, prioritisation and good intentions. 

One thing I can commit to though is that in my day job we’ll continue with the Ask Me Anything sessions we’ve been running for the people we support -and being honest in the responses. 

Because Working out Loud isn’t just for just before Christmas.