Bring Brilliant Everyday – developing high performance leaders (notes from the session)

HR Em:

and breathe…. Science says so!

Originally posted on Pontecarlo or Bust :

After a rousing Key Note speech, a quick battery charge and water stop I’m ready for my first session.

Presented by Dr Alan Watkins an international expert on leadership and human performance from Complete Coherence Limited – and the son of 1970s comedy TV writer including episodes of Terry and June {impressed face!}. The session promises to cover:

- how to go beyond behavioural biology, to permanently step change performance
- how learning differs from development; and how to transform talent by working the difference
- practical techniques to strengthen leaders’ decision-making skills and overall performance levels

A great start as we are encouraged to Tweet from our seats in the session using the #CIPD14 by Gill White from CIPD.

Dr Watkins started talking about living in a VUCA world and that the world is getting faster and faster and becoming more ambiguous. Post world war 2 knowledge was doubling…

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Street Wisdom

Street Wisdom

This morning I rocked up to Street Wisdom on the CIPD conference. I’ve had a headache for days, just thought I would mention it.  I can’t really do the experience justice here – it’s one of those things so individual you have to experience it for yourself.

What I can share is the following things that I noticed -

You think you slow down? You think you take time out? I noticed that what I thought was slow, wasn’t. In the first exercise I thought I had slowed down – until in the next we were asked to go even slower. So I did. I noticed that my idea of slow has been to only focus on one thing at a time, one channel at a time. That’s not slow, slow is sloooow. Slow is turning off all devices. Think like a tortoise. It was a peculiar experience to slow down in the middle of Manchester people and traffic rushing around everywhere, but a revealing and worthwhile one.

Trust – trust yourself, you will end up where you need to be. It might not be where you expected to be or thought you wanted to be. Notice how you got there. Things work a bit like that on the internet – one minute I’m tweeting pictures of biscuits, the next I’ve connected with someone and finding awesome ideas. Would the awesome idea have happened if I hadn’t tweeted the biscuit? We may never know. If I ever end up being disciplined for excessive use of social media at work ‘The interconnectedness of all things’ will be my main defence.

Stretch your eyes, stretch your perspective. At Uni an artist friend of mine used to say – you’ve got to stretch your eyes! As a philosophy student I was more concerned with whether your eye

s exist in the first place, never mind stretching them. But, I think I understand now. If, like me, you spend most of your time at the computer you are mostly not looking much further than the end of your arms. Never mind noticing stuff – there’s no time between emails, status updates and posts to look up. Or go to the loo. Street wisdom restored my sense of perspective – I know the world won’t end if I don’t check my phone for a couple of hours, but does that stop me checking every two minutes? Pressure stops the brain working, it helps to look up every so often.

I loved Street Wisdom. I slowed down, I had a good cry (much to the bemusement of CIPD conferencers passing by) I feel clear on what is important to me, I feel grounded. I know I’ll need a top up when my brain fills up again soon and I’ll have forgotten all my own advice! I’ll just aim for it to take longer for my brain to get clogged up each time.

Oh – and my headache has gone.

Street Wisdom
Street Wisdom

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Scary thoughts…

Oh mummy! Scary thoughts!


Oh mummy! Scary thoughts!
Oh mummy! Scary thoughts!

Not so long ago I was feeling rather frazzled – I was tired out.  I had no energy, I couldn’t keep up with the HR Em Director of learning and leisure (age 3 3/4) and I was stuck!  Everything else was going ok, I just needed to do something differently so that I had more energy!  I knew I wanted to get a bit fitter, but I didn’t have time – or didn’t I?

It turns out this was just one scarily wrong assumption that I was making that was stopping me from digging my trainers out from the back of the wardrobe and getting out there!

No matter what your goal that you’re not quite getting to, be it for work, fun or health, I would bet my last toffee apple that just like I did you are making a whole load of assumptions that you are not even noticing!

So in proper internet list style – here are the assumptions that I was making that were stopping me from getting a bit fitter!

1) I don’t have time

2) I should be doing something else

3) I might get addicted to running

4) A dog might bite me

5) I can’t run in the dark

6) Running is bad for your knees

7) I’m rubbish at running

8) I need a new ipod

9) I’m too unfit

10) I’ve lost my trainers

None of these things have been true so far!

Like this?  You might like the Feeling Fabulous Club!  Join us on Facebook, web,  and for details of future webinars – Eventbrite!


Oh mummy! Scary thoughts!
Oh mummy! Scary thoughts!

Top ten – How to get over the wall

It’s my one year blogeversary – yey!  As a special treat I am allowing myself to make a top ten list!

Recently I read these fabulous blogs from Gemma Reucroft (@HRGem), Barry Flack    (@barryjflack) and Julie Drybrough (@fuschiablue)   Gemma asks, “How can we realise the potential for social HR ?  How do we make this stuff real, useful, accessible?’ .  Barry challenges the social space to ‘Blink first and expand the conversation’.  Julie asks – ‘Where are the ladders?’

They got me thinking which has resulted in this list of top ten ways to get over the wall I hope they are interesting, possibly helpful or at the very least make you smile.

1) “Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social” Jay Baer. 

Always have this is your head with everything that you do, for without it you will dissapear into the big black hole of writing a social media policy and procedure (brrrr – it’s cold alone in the big black hole).Cocktail from Gemma Hobart's pinterest.  Quote - Jay Baer

2) Do not terrify people!

There is a professional body with 4 letters, lets call it DJQE to protect the innocent. I went to a local DJQE branch session on social media .  When I left I was ready to delete all my social media accounts and run back to the safety of the big black hole that is the social media policy and procedure and try to control it all.

I imagine these are the sort of thoughts people had when discussing who should have permissions to use external email.

3) Cute cats sell

Fact.  Fun images work well to engage people on social media, they encourage people to share.  Do not be afraid to use them at work.  I give you my Yoda campaign to promote our mentoring sharepoint discussion page - ta daaaaa!



4) Lets get a thing going on

See also numbers one and three above.  If you’re serious about making shit happen, get out and about and find out what makes people tick and shamelessly exploit it to encourage them to use social media with confidence.  For example – I have been enouraging my work peeps to join in #catfriday on twitter.  Go on, join in, you know you want to.  See also #unexpectedbunting, just for fun.

5) Don’t be afraid of low tech solutions

Remember!  This is not just about the tech and the gadgets (although they are fun) this is about being social.  One of my favourite low tech solutions is kitchen facebook  (#kitchenfacebook).  It  got coversations going and got some scarily honest feedback.  That’s not my kitchen by the way.

Kitchen Facebook

6) Apply the Doctor Pepper test

See also number two.  What’s the worst that can happen? You could end up in a restaurant  all by yourself with a table for 10 booked? Perhaps.  You could accidentally infer that a senior HR professional make an alternative career as a prostitute over twitter? Maybe.  Or you could end up being noticed and actually get paid for implementing and developing ‘Social’  in your organisation – awesome.

7) Begin with the end in mind

I didn’t say that, Stephen R Covey did, a long time ago.  I was 12 when he said it, Frizz Ease hadn’t been invented and I wasn’t allowed grolsch bottle tops on my shoes.  It may be old but it definately applies to your adventures in social media (see also number nine).

People say, ‘HR Em - help, I don’t know where to start!’  I say ‘Don’t worry grasshopper, think first where you want to be’ and float away leaving them to ponder my words of wisdom…

Then I email them a list of who they might like to start following to keep up to date with social HR stuff.

8) Email = bad

Email is generally bad if you want to knock down that wall (with the exception of number seven).  If you want to stay sane in a social digital world that inbox should be empty, it is not a sign of your importance how full it is!

Try this email free experiement - let everyone (not just your friends) know where you are going to be at a particular time, for example for lunch.  Say ‘I’m going to be here and I’m going to talk about social media and anything else that crops up – the more the merrier, bring a friend!’  post it on kitchen facebook, on eventbrite, on sharepoint, talk to people – anything but email.  Approach this with an open mind and you will make connections that you never expected! or no one turns up (see also number six).

9) Be yourself

‘I need to be myself, I can’t be no one else’  Wise words, wise words.

If, like me, you have spent your entire working life trying to do things in the ‘corporate way’ now is your time to shine and apply a massive dose of  YOU.  This isn’t always easy, there is safety in the crowd and only you can judge how much of you your organisation can cope with at a particular time.

In the interests of transparency I have to say that I have had loads of help and enouragement *crys like Kate Winslet winning an Oscar*  I have had coaching (you are awesome @rachelsmith72) I have stalked people on twitter and blogs, I have been encouraged by Senior HR peeps and my mum loves my blog.  Get a good & positive people around you and you will feel confident to be yourself.

If you end up in a disciplinary hearing you’ve gone too far.

‘I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin and tonic’  Wise, wise words.

10) Blink first

Take up the challenge and blink first!  Work out why you think social is so awesome, how has it made your life  happier / easier / made you more resiliant? How will it make your colleagues life happier / easier / make them more resiliant?  Find out where the people who aren’t on social media are having conversations and go and join in (in a non-creepy way).  Volunteer & offer to do stuff and bring in your new super knowledge of Social HR & techy stuff to make people’s lives easier (Eventbrite anyone?).  See number nine as to how to feel confident and try the experiment in number eight.

That is the end of my top ten blogeversary tips – I’m just going to leave you with this guy he always make me smile!

Where to start…

Grandma's sunday dinner
Grandma's sunday dinner
Grandma’s sunday dinner

Is there something that you should be doing right now that is actually the opposite of what you think you should be doing?  Michael Carty asks this question in his blog ‘Smile again’.

A good question I thought!  The short answer to this question is yes, often.  When I’m working I worry -have I got my priorities right?  I’m relaxing, but shouldn’t I be using my time to build a multi million pound business and then give all my profits away to charity? Shouldn’t I stop watching Masterchef and be watching TED talks?

And there is of course the permanent general nagging feeling that, whatever I am doing, I should be exercising.

What to do about it? A wise friend of mine often describes this phenonemon as being like grandma’s sunday dinner.  There’s just too much on the plate and you don’t know where to begin.

Usually this comes up while I am crying into my coffee and feeling overwhelmed with the tasks in front of me and having spent a week mistaking indigestion for some sort of heart problem.

So how do you decide where to start – do you eat your carrots first, so that you can see in the dark, or Yorkshire pudding first, because that’s the best bit?

These things have worked for me -

  • I once wrote down everything I did in a day, everything.  I recommend it - do it, look at the list, throw it away and then be kinder to yourself.  Whenever the feeling of not achieving enough creeps back remember this list.
  • Face that sunday dinner head on.  Decide which bit you are going to start with, for whatever reason, and then crack on with it.  There is no logic to why the HR Em Director of Learning & Leisure (aged 3 1/2) decides to be a horse at a particular time – but he devotes that time and all his energy entirely to being that horse.  Sometimes, for variety, he pretends to be a dinosaur.
  • Shhh, be still.  I was always more of the ‘Lunch is for wimps’ school of work but have recently been learning that the mind is awesome.  If things start to feel overwhelming stop and breathe.  Take 10 minutes out and because your brain is magic the most important things, work or otherwise, will float to the top.

So if you think there is something that you should be doing other than reading this blog , stop fretting and go and do it!  Then move onto the next thing.  Eat the Yorkshire pudding first and stop worrying about the carrots.

Are you still here?

Full up
Full up

Fun with Sharks

From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo

This week I have attempted a vlog.  The vlog was to update people where I work about what I’ve been up to this

month - all in the continuing efforts to apply transparancy, authenticity and helpfulness to my work!  I haven’t pushed the button to send yet and when, or if, I do so it will be with my eyes closed.

Here are some thoughts on vlogging, in no particular order -

  • Erm, do I really say erm that much? Erm.
  • I’ve heard that video will be, erm,  massive this year.  That’s fine for video, but not for me.  Erm, I do not need that extra 10lbs.
  • Erm, while we’re on the subject where did the extra chins come from?  I’m sure they weren’t there before .
  • Erm, what IS my hair doing? Erm, seriously, how did anyone let me out of the house this morning!
  • Whatever I do I can’t stop, erm, looking at the, erm, big red ‘record’ button on my, erm,  ipad.  This makes  it look like I am looking at,erm,  someone in the other room.

I found this article to explain why the extra pounds - basically far away camera bad, close up camera good, although I couldn’t have got much closer!   Also this short video which attempts to explain why we hate seeing photos of ourselves.

I have found it pretty uncomfortable, I think it would be odd if it was any other way.  It’s unnatural to see yourself while you’re talking and not be distracted.  I feel like the child on breakfast telly who is looking at themselves in the camera and waving.

In conclusion – this needs practice!  But why continue if it’s so painful?  For the same reasons that a good friend of mine went swimming with sharks to overcome her fear of sharks.  “Why bother?” I asked, bemused  “It’s not like you’re going to come across a sharks just walking down the road!”  She said simply “because I’m afraid of sharks.”

Profound or daft?

Either way I know she had an awesome time swimming with those sharks.  Who knows what adventures there will be in the land of video, so  I’m going to keep practicing until I find my video voice and overcome my fear of  sharks!  Until then I leave you with one of my favorite Vlogs, Daily Grace and of course I can’t miss off the king of the flipchart himself!

From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner
From Hunting Bruce by Cory Turner

Where ideas roam free

'What next for Google?' The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.
The New Fence
The New Fence

In an attempt to explain why our back yard feels bigger even though the fence we recently put up is taller that the previous fence, Mr HR Em was explaining to me why you feel boxed in by an upside down table.  Now, I am spatially challenged at the best of times and in the interests of transparency I should declare that I may have had a glass of wine.  Lets just say that the idea took a while to sink in.

It’s all to do with space and perception, says Mr HR Em.  Even though there are no walls there are only four posts. Your mind fills in the

Dino struggles to think outside the box
Dino struggles to think outside the box

walls that you expect to be there.  ‘Whoa!’ I say (mixing my experiments somewhat)  ‘if you put a cat in an imaginary upside down table box is it alive and dead at the same time?’.

After more debate we decided to turn the table back the right way round, put the Chinese takeaway on it and watched Masterchef.

Where ideas roam free…  

The Dinos struggle with the concept of the 'Unconference'
The Dinos struggle with the concept of the ‘Unconference’

Ideas – I’m pretty confident that everyone has them.  Some more than others.  Some good, some bad.  From my own experience I know that what can stop them getting out into the world are the walls we put up in our own head, without even knowing we are doing it.

We can make the values clear, we can communicate them, we  can do everything right to encourage people to collaborate and be enterprising – but until we challenge and help people know themselves well enough to know what their walls are, their ideas will never roam free.

Who knows what great (and not so great) stuff we are missing out on?

'What next for Google?' The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.
‘What next for Google?’ The Dinos wonder if Google is going to far.



Say yes to positivity!


At the beginning of lent I vowed to to relentlessly look for the good in everything and everyone.  The massive pile of  Easter eggs has now receded and the 5/2 diet is underway.  I’m now thinking what, if anything, have I learned from this exercise.  Did I succeed? And now that it’s over can I just go back to being grumpy again?

I will admit that I have not been completely successful.  Here are just a few of the less than positive moments (there were many)-

1) Mr HR Em leaving muddy wellies in the kitchen every single day (to be fair, he didn’t take this up for lent, he’s always done it).

Muddy wellies

2) The HR Em Director of Learning & leisure (aged 3) pouring bubble bath all over the bathroom floor, meaning that the Director of Leisure & Learning (aged 74) not only has to  navigate small toys on the stairs but also a bathroom that’s like an ice rink.

3) Some feedback I received about an event I am organising.  I do honestly love feedback BUT - I can’t stand people making assumptions before they have even tried something.  This got me proper wound up.

See how it happens – their negativity made me negative. Grrrr.

So there are some of my lapses.  What are the positives?

Awesome  The language we use matters.  You already know this, there are libraries of books on the subject.  But being consciously positive made me more aware of it, in my own head and elsewhere.  It’s not a bad exercise to do every now and again.

I’ve also increased use of the word awesome in as many situations as possible without being sarcastic.  This has resulted in mixed reactions in the workplace.  But they are reactions.  Awesome.

One direction?  I went to a presentation on resilience recently and found that most of it didn’t seem to fit my world any more.  Working on things that give me a buzz, that I am good at, is what gives me energy.  I would rather do more hours working on something I love than half the hours working on something I hate.

One Direction?
One Direction?

I realise that in some jobs there is little room for change, but shouldn’t we at least be trying to help people to recognise what makes their heart sing and try our best to help them go in that direction?

Break twitter  To get as poetic as Eric Cantona – a tweet is like a pebble in a lake. Drop as single pebble in and you get a small splash but not much  else is going to happen.  You connect that pebble to thousands of other pebbles (somehow) and, erm,  you get a bigger splash and more ripples. If you connect your pebble to enough pebbles there will be no lake left.  Then you have broken twitter. 

What I mean to say is don’t keep all your positivity to yourself.  Look up from your desk once in a while, connect, eat some Pizza.

Be awesome! and meet other awesome people #connectinghrleeds Wednesday 28th May from 6pm details and booking on Eventbrite!