Rebel with a cause

Another new experience under the belt. This time a short talk at the PPMA conference (not the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association) rather the Public Sector People Manager’s conference – you can check the #ppmahr13 hashtag for tweets from the day.

This is a quick summary of my session and I want to thank Perry Timms for getting me involved and Peter Cook for delivering an inspiring session that I was able to play a part in. Although how you follow someone who plays a guitar round the back of his head beats me.

So what was it about? Well it was primarily about Punk HR as Martin Couzins (aka LearnPatch) caught up with Peter to find out a little more.

I’ll be up front and say my knowledge of punk is limited, those who read my recent post will know I’m all about the beats but this doesn’t stop me getting involved in some of the things that punk stood for. My session was short maybe 10 mins so I had to keep it brief and to the point but make people think differently about social tools and I named my session a rather dramatic “The Social Revolution”.

  • I opened my session asking those in the room if they considered themselves to be in a senior manager role, approx 80% of the room put their hand up.
  • I then asked for those same people to put their hand up if they had an active Twitter account, approx 5% of those kept their hand up – ouch!
  • My last question was based around how many people in the room were already using social tools in their organisations, may be 10% of the room put their hand up.

So lots of senior managers, very few of them using Twitter (appreciate this is not a definitive method of gauging knowledge / attitude toward social) but indicates they are not active social media users and only 10% of those in the room are using social in their organisations. This was going to be interesting.

I will start my saying one thing (I wish I had said this and been more challenging), if you do not use social media yourself then you will not understand it. If you do not understand it then how can you see the value social tools can provide and lead change and role model this change. You can’t! Senior HR managers, in fact any HR managers…. in fact anyone in HR right now beware……ignoring it and thinking you don’t need to bother or saying things like “I don’t get all this social stuff”, “I don’t need to get it”, “that’s for other people not me” will not wash any longer. If you persist with this attitude your days are numbered as change is happening, you can either get involved, support and lead this change OR you can get out of the way. It isn’t about ‘social media’ as many might think of it but solving real business problems with a new and exciting tool set.

Why do I have this view? In my humble opinion it’s fundamentally about changing our approach to the way we do things, it’s more than thinking differently it’s doing things differently, it’s about bringing different behaviours and a different attitude to how we operate in the workplace alive through ACTION. An open approach to leadership and an attitude that isn’t preoccupied by title or seniority but focuses on getting things done in a different, more open and authentic way. The behaviours of great leaders haven’t really changed but the way and means we can bring these behaviours to life have changed. The focus is not on social technology but what these tools enable us to do and the value they can create when used correctly and productively. How can this happen when the tools aren’t understood?

I opened my session proper with a quick reference to the punk attitude. Even though I wasn’t part of the punk movement I understand it was about making change and a gathering of people who believed in the same thing. People who through music found a way to come together and share what they are interesting in and what they were passionate about to make lasting change themselves.

I then spoke about 5 areas in brief and have summarised them below:

Choice – using social tools you have a choice to contribute and be part of the open conversation. You can choose to engineer conversations and bring others in to the conversation. You can choose to encourage others and help people and provide information and you can choose what message you share and what form this message comes in. Alternatively you can choose to do nothing.

Attitude – who are the people you like working with? What are the things you hire people for? We need more positive deviants and those not afraid to disrupt the status quo. We need people in your organisations – not sorry YOU must have an attitude that says I will do things differently. I want to see attitudes that inspire and motivate – to lead and share not hoard. Engage and nurture NOT command & Control.

Curiosity – I’m curious, what happens if, what happens when, ask questions – challenge what has gone before – more importantly what happens when you give people a voice and the opportunity to get involved? Does this scare you or does it excite you?

Rebel with a cause – if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got. It’s time to challenge the ways in which HR communicate and work with the people we are here to help and serve. That doesn’t mean anarchy and anti-establishment but it does mean empowering others to reach their potential and a shift in the way people use open forms of communication and work together. Which leads to….

Collaboration – This is where the revolution is…connecting your workforce, bringing people together to work and achieve their goals in an open way that over time with YOUR support and influence will change our workplace culture for the better. You need to be leading this change and role modelling how these tools can be used for the greater good not looking at social tools as a negative thing that will bring about tension and unproductive staff. This is a change we can and must influence and drive to enable the people we work with to be more effective in their jobs and to work together more openly.

I summed up with a music analogy as this was the order of the day. I believe HR need to be leading this social revolution and making the music not listening to it from the side lines or worse still turning the music off because it’s too loud or different to what you’re used to.

The revolution is happening………will you be dancing to the beat or sat round the dance floor?

Are you involved in bringing this change to your workplace? Are you a rebel with a cause?

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