Key takeaways from HR Vision 2017

Tim Stoller | 30th November 2017

I recently attended and exhibited at HR Vision in London. Focussed on tackling the UK’s biggest HR challenges, the event attracted 300 senior HR professionals over two days. I was particularly attracted to sessions that focussed on how disruptive ideas and technologies are helping to change the world of work.

As an exhibitor, it was refreshing to speak with so many organisations investigating how to bring new ideas to their businesses. There was a recurring theme from the talks I attended that there is a need for HR to have more influence. The event gave everyone the opportunity to find something relevant to them.

The following is what left a lasting impression on me, and what I am looking to help our business and our clients act on:

Leadership effectiveness

How effective is leadership and what can be done to improve it?

The most important skills required by leaders are:

  • Inspiring commitment.
  • Caring about your people, holding people to account and giving recognition.
  • Strategy planning and identifying growth opportunities.
  • Effective change management.
  • Ability to form collaborative relationships.

It was cited that “Only 27% of individuals believe they have the leaders they need for successful personal development, and only 14% of people have the right leaders to lead their organisation successfully.”

To fill this gap, businesses must develop new leaders effectively. Whilst seven percent of leadership development programmes are considered best in class, and 40% regarded as “acceptable”, there is a sense that leaders are failing their people.

This means recruiting and training with the right balance between skills and natural characteristics:

  • Hard Skills: communication skills, listening, problem-solving, attitude, creativity, adaptability, agility…
  • Natural Character Traits: passion, purpose, motivation, trust, growth mindset, commitment…

Leadership listening quote

Doug Scott from General Electric gave great insights that businesses should be “Paying leaders to think and make decisions, not to do or execute.” He spoke about effective listening being the key with leaders getting staff and client feedback and that practising together as a team builds inspiration.

In an insightful talk on behavioural economics, Carl Copley from Gallup intimated that brilliant coaches are born, not made. He discussed that the core skills of setting expectations, joint goal setting, holding people to account, and giving regular feedback is essential to performance management. He also shared research on the changing expectations of work.

What questions should you be asking?

To have the best leaders, your organisation needs to answer some important questions:

  • What sort of leader does your business need?
  • What skills and behaviours are needed now and in the future?
  • Are current leaders still right for the role? – be aware of a leader’s “Best before date.” Leaders need to be current and relevant to the business and its challenges at that time.
  • Who has natural leadership ability? – focus on passion and purpose, then teach the relevant skills.
  • Have you scanned the entire business for potential future leaders? Don’t just select people like you.
  • Are you using people analytics to uncover talent, capability and performance?

VP International HR at Facebook, Fiona Mullen explained that they have decoupled career progression from management to ensure that the right people are becoming managers. It was also discussed whether traditional career pathways are still relevant? Many businesses no longer follow the traditional, linear routes for progression.

What can you do right now?

Pooja Arora from Cisco discussed how to improve business performance and enrich the employee experience. Her advice was to become more customer-centric and not to just work in silos but on the business vision and strategy. She also stressed the importance of using Design Thinking to unlock creativity.

Vykinta Kligyte and Capucine Loisance from DDI discussed hacking leadership potential and changing the working environment by creating flexible leaders, focussing on engagement and offering tips for drastically cutting time to get things done quicker.

Facebook’s Fiona Mullen explained how having a high tolerance for failure and accepting things will not always succeed. But it will empower everyone to take risks, which can lead to great ideas and innovations.

Science author, Colin Stuart, discussed how you can challenge your assumptions and preconceptions.

His final thoughts were perhaps the most inspiring; the most successful people don’t always have the largest networks, but will be the lynchpins within networks. i.e. the most connected. HR should be the most connected function in an organisation and should have the largest opportunity to impact the rest of the business.

At The Happiness Index, our aim is to help HR have greater influence within the boardroom. Having connected networks and using data to build insight led action plans will help boost these networks.

I hope you have found some insight in this summary that will be the catalyst for some innovations within your own business.