HR Em has moved!

Hi there!

Just to let you know my blog has had a makeover and moved to – I would you to join me over there!

Should you wish you can subscribe for blog updates by email on the subscribe page :-)

See you soon!



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Last week I took part in a Global Gov Jam and for the first time in a long time I went along to something and had absolutely no idea what to expect.  All I had was the Global Gov Jam website  with it’s tag line – 48 hours to rock the public sector.

As it turns out it involved a rubber chicken, donuts and silly hats – so I was right at home.  Oh and lots of biscuits.

Meet the team

Meet the team

From the start the key thing was to learn through doing, not talking. We went out and talked to people on the street, took inspiration from what was around us – lots of plasticine, lego and various other random props. We mocked up computer screens from cardboard boxes  – all in the name of really understanding the user experience of the product / service we were developing.

This was most definitely a collaborative experience.  In Leeds we were twinned with the Athens Jam – with lots of waving via Skype.  It brought a real sense of the global community into the room.  Via twitter, one of the teams collaborated with a team in another city who were working on a similar project.

If you are interested here’s what our team came up with in 48 hours – Leeds Pond Our  solution to help to unlock the knowledge, skills and experience in an organisation, or a city by making it super easy (and fun) for people to connect.

Leeds Pond

Leeds pond

What I particularly enjoyed was  –

Learning by doing, not talking

Keeping it fast & dirty – fail fast & iterate

Pushing forward with your minimal viable product – don’t wait for perfect

Aiming sky high – there are real opportunities to use awesome design to make a MAHOOSIVE difference to people’s lives in the public sector.  We shouldn’t aim any lower.

Kathryn Grace covers the whole Jam excellently in her blog here,  she says “In the UK there’s an increased need for innovation in the public sector, due to huge cuts in funding and people are engaged to make a difference in a tough environment. We experienced that through the jammers that came along.”  

Lisa Jeffrey captured the 48 hours in her fabulous photos – here.

(p.s. this week I will be mostly Nappin’ check out #CIPDNAP15)





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Officially excited – CIPD NAP

Why am I looking forward to CIPD Northern Area Partnership (NAP) Conference? Frankly it’s right up my street. Literally, it’s the nearest conference to where I live in years.  Travel plans aside there’s more reasons to be at CIPD NAP than it’s proximity to my house.

The theme is ‘Creating an Amazing Workplace… through well-being and engagement; improving peformance and the bottom line’.  The conference takes place on Friday 19th June and Saturday 20th June at York Racecourse.  More details here!

I’m mainly hoping that the speakers and through conversations I might answer some questions that I keep returning to…

1)What is ‘The Workplace’ these days?  For a particular type of worker and even a part of some customer facing roles – does it still exist, do we still have a ‘Place of Work’? with the rise of mobile (it’s not going away, people!) will everyone be working in starbucks? Except the Starbuck’s employees  – who will be in Costa to do their mandatory training on their phone.

2) What does amazing look like? What’s amazing for you in your workplace, won’t be amazing for me (unless it means more biscuits). I’m looking forward to hearing from Ryan Cheyne, HR Director from Pets at Home.  As the No.1 best place to work I reckon they will definitely have some insight into this question and if it involves bringing cute animals to work then count me in!

3) How to encourage people to bring a ‘social’ mindset to work?  I’ve experienced that sometimes it is the people who are really happy (over)sharing their lives on Facebook, are some of the most difficult people to engage socially at work.  So understandably I’m especially looking forward to hearing from Perry Timms on how to ‘Be social, get social and make social work’.

So I have a few questions that I hope CIPD NAP will address, it only seems fair to answer their questions

“When you think of what makes an amazing workplace, what three words come to mind?”




“What is your definition of an amazing workplace?”

My amazing workplace is full of enthusiastic and curious people who are not afraid to try new things and don’t forget the biscuits.

Most of all at CIPD NAP I am looking forward to catching up with people ‘In Real Life’ and  meeting new people.

I am officially excited.

You can find out more & see all the awesome speakers here! 

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CIPD Learning & Development Show 2015 part 1 #CIPDldShow

Thoughts from the CIPD Learning & Development Show on Wednesday 13th May …

Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning & Development Content at the CIPD asked (with my answers) …

What is the best e-learning experience you have had?  (Twitter.)

What is the worst?  (When classroom content is simply picked up & dropped online.)

A common theme was not only the pace of change, but that change has already happened – has work learning kept up with people’s expectations as customers and the way they learn at home?  Using the distinction between work & home very loosely.  (It reminds me of a recent meme I saw which said “work is where I go to use out of date technology”)

Andy gave us an antidote for this VUCA world –


Transport for London and Kallidus  were driven by the changes in technology & customer expectations – they shared their approach to using e-learning to underpin more traditional approaches to train 1,500 people in 12 weeks.  A programme which is ongoing.  The approach they took to e-learning meant that they had to ‘rip up the standard linear approach’ to developing learning.

Ralph la Fontaine from the Home Learning College spoke too about the benefits of developing e-learning in this way, saying that the technology gives you the means to ‘iterate and improve quickly’.  He went as far as to say “Well delivered virtual classes are better than face to face”.

Joanne McManus & Kirsty Palfreyman from ICS Learn explained why social learning is important.  What stood out again, for me, was that people are learning socially anyway in their life outside work.  They made the very good point that in some of their forums people were being helpful & sharing answers, which is great, but they are not always the right answers! Therefore it is important to have some form of ‘community management’ and be proactive.

Key points from day one – 

  • Change has already happened.  Make the connection between the way you learn ‘at home’ yourself and apply this it work.
  • Rip up the rule book.  You don’t just have one opportunity with e-learning / social learning, don’t expect to put it out there and move on to the next thing.  This is an iterative process, part of a conversation.  Users will generated feedback and content – use it to constantly improve.
  • There’s some great communities of practice out there – get social yourself. Make connections, get out of your comfort zone and learn, learn, learn.

The day in numbers:

Use of twitter to procure coffee – 1

Business cards collected – 3 (must do better)

Business cards given out – 0 (Must make & bring some next time)

Disco injury – 1

Rock stars met  – 2

Twitter stars met – too many to count!

Man with purple shoes met – 1

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Busy, Busy… How to influence with little time

You know how it goes – someone asks ‘How are you?’ You reply without thinking – ‘ Oh you know….busy’.  There are lots of problems with ‘The cult of busy’ – one of them is that if we’re all rushing around do we really have chance to listen?  Another one is what if we really are busy?

Here are my top five ‘How to… influence when there’s little time.’

1)   Always, always book more time with the busy, busy, person than you need.  That way when people turn up late and have to leave early you should still get some  time that you need to get your point across.  Remember, they’re busy not daft.  Don’t make it obvious.

2)      Be prepared.  Have a list.  Know exactly what you want.   Otherwise it’s a best a waste of everyone’s time and at worst you’ll end up with lots of stuff to do that you don’t want to do.  Sometimes that’s ok, no man is an island & everything is awesome when you work as a team,  just don’t let it happen too often if you want to influence, rather than be influenced.

3)    Persistent, Consistent.   To get a message across on social media, be it sales or simply ‘LOOK AT ME!’, you need to (in the nicest way) be persistent, consistent and focussed.  Take the same approach with the busy, busy person.  Pay attention and the perfect time will come to land your message – sometimes it may seem that you are getting nowhere but eventually, like Frank Underwood,  your patience will be rewarded.  Please try not to murder or ‘destroy’ your enemies colleagues along the way.

4)      Try starting a session / meeting with a couple of minutes of stillness.  Be prepared for funny looks and accusations of ‘hippy shit’ but it will, if they embrace it, get people into the present not in the previous meeting / crisis.  Even if they don’t embrace it they may be so surprised that you shock them into the present.  Give it a go – I once did it on a webinar on ‘email zero’ and asked people to visualise an empty inbox.  I’ll be honest, I think I may have pushed their imagination too far.

5)      Be kind.  It’s easy to get frustrated with the busy, busy person.  After all, we’re all busy, right?  The busy, busy person must have a million things whizzing around their head.  It doesn’t stop, they’re probably exhausting.  Be kind, try to make their life easier and your message is more likely to get through.

Good luck!  Must dash, can’t stop, busy busy.

One more thing (if you’re not too busy)  If you’re going to be at the CIPD L&D show on 13th May check out Learn>Connect>do  helping busy people make sense of the day!

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Learn > Connect > Do — The Fringe Networking Event for SME HR People

HR Em:

This is going to be a great event, thanks to Helen Amery and #TeamFringe!

Originally posted on People-ology:

Are you going to the CIPD L&D Show for Day 1 (13th May)?  (*look at the end of the post if you’ve not booked yet)

Are you in-house HR or L&D for a small to medium organisation?

Do you sometimes feel like all the speakers at conferences work for big business and corporate?

And do you sometimes leave an event with a head full of stuff, unsure what to do with it next and wishing you had someone to bounce some ideas around with?

Then this is for you!


The CIPD have made huge progress over the last 12 months, bringing in more speakers from SMEs, not for profits and charities. But there are still a lot of big names on the agenda, who definitely do great stuff, but it can be hard – and sometimes not entirely relevant – to transfer what they do into smaller…

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No crying in the toilet!

I read an article recently about how people (ok women) can keep their emotions in check at work. Basically how not to cry at work, for women.  One of the tips was to take it to the toilet, if you’re going to cry, just make sure no one sees you.

But I say NO to crying in the toilet!

I am standing up for all the blubbers like me out there. I have cried at work – when frustrated, in interviews ( mostly when being interviewed), when angry… I can face a room full of trade union colleagues scrutinising sheets of my statistics with a fine tooth comb, I can be questioned by a hostile solicitor in a tribunal BUT I crumble in front of three lovely people asking me questions and only wishing me well.  All they want to know is how I  make sure appraisals are aligned to organisational objectives.
Why cry?
I have done it in front of people, do they think I am weaker? That I am not good at my job? I got one job after crying at the interview, another job I didn’t get. I’m assured that throught the tears I gave good answers and that had nothing to do with why I didn’t get the job.  They were very kind.
Here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt from my own crying in the workplace –
At times I have been overly worried about what people thought – I was doing things that I thought I ‘should’ do, how I thought I should do them.  Not doing things in a way that felt right to me – I wasn’t being myself and that is stressful.
Most recently I was applying for a job I didn’t have any recent experience of, it didn’t feel right – why did I apply? I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t interested, that I wasn’t committed. I ignored my gut feeling.
I believed that work had to be hard, really really hard,  otherwise why would anyone pay you for it? I’ve learnt that working on what you are good at and amplifying your awesomeness makes life much less stressful than working on the gaps & focussing on the deficiencies,  except where absolutely necessary.
Learn to say no when things aren’t right.  Don’t qualify it, don’t apologise.
Surely we don’t want to ban emotion in the workplace?  We want people to engage, be brand ambassadors. To do that we need them to feel.  If people are crying lets not cover it up, it’s a sign we need to change something – whether it’s yourself or the culture around you.
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