HRPA 2011

Wed, Feb 2

Inspiring Workplaces:The Way Work Ought To Be (Michael Kerr)

Four values shared by inspiring workplaces:
Value 1 - Service - not just good but great
Value 2 - Communication - not just what we say, but how we say it. Try not to live in "deja moo" (heard it before). People listen to message when told in a fun way.
Value 3 - Creativity - Ideas are the backbone of success. Ask different questions, get different ideas. Embrace diverse thoughts.
Value 4 - Embrace a sense of fun - learn the 3 R's:

  1. Remind yourself that laughing is good for your health (or Relax) - celebrate wacky holidays, come up with crazy celebrations
  2. Reward - sincerely thank people
  3. Reframe (or stress is in the eye of the beholder) - try to look at things positively or make light of things by looking at them a different way.

Breakfast Keynote 730 Days from Now: How Your Life Will Change in Two Years and How to Prepare for it (Leonard Brody)

Leonard Brody is an Emmy-nominated media visionary who believes in prospering in chaos. He discussed how technological evolution has, in less than a decade, connected almost everyone on the planet and how that has fundamentally changed us (for example, Crosby's Olympic goal was noted on 3.5 million status updates on FB in 30 minutes in Canada - and the majority of those came from women over 40). He believes we are at a fork in the road with 4 tines: Demographic Change, Technological Change, Environmental Change, Financial Change. He feels that people are asking the wrong questions about Social Media - the question should be why not how. The time we are living in is a Pixelated Revolution which began in 1993. Our virtual selves are far more trusting (for example, you would not post your kids' photos on a street post, but yet do not think twice about posting them on FB). We are outgrowing the world we live in. We no longer fit in standardized boxes - for example: kids are still having to memorize the times table but yet it's available at their fingertips.

16 Truths and Imperatives about Leadership (Sharon Castelino)
Leadership is like parenting - it's not about you and it's delayed gratification. You should have a KWYDK philosophy (know what you don't know) - ask more questions than offer answers and surround yourself with people who know what you don't. Retain the best talent.
Leadership is about credibility, not credit. How have your experiences shaped you? Show your humanity and share your history.
Collaboration is key for buy-in and ownership, however there are times when urgency means there is no debate.
Inspire performance, set expectation and measure output - you get what you measure.
Demystify yourself - teach your team how to communicate with you and how to help you be effective so they can be effective.
Feedback and coaching is a 2-way street.
Adapt your style to situations but always stay true to yourself.
Stop at the stop sign - sometimes those roadblocks are there for a reason, lessons we are meant to learn.
Don't be afraid to lead - it's not about the label, it's about the responsibility.
Trust is the only currency in business (S. Covey)
There is a difference between managing and leading.
Practice gratidue and positivity daily.

Luncheon Keynote A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste (Bill Taylor)

You need to be different to stand out in today's market. Customers are more selective than ever and more demanding. Bill talked about getting staff to focus on the WHY we do things rather than the What we do or the how we do it. The key to success is to focus on the core value of why we exist.

My favourite take-away line from his keynote - "You can't let what you know limit what you can imagine"

It's a 2-way Street: Employees Obligations to their Employers (Krista Siedlak)

Employees have an obligation to tell the truth - employers have a right to question information provided during the interview and to ask candidates for documentation. The duty of honesty becomes a formal duty once they are hired.
Duty of good faith and fidelity: ee's should avoid conflict of interest (ex. direct competition, side businesses interfering with duty to employer) and they have a duty not to misappropriate confidential information (this does not include general know-how).
Duty to participate in accommodation: shared responsibility, must facilitate search and implementation of accommodation. Ee must also accept reasonable accommodation. Employer does not have to create a job for them.
Obligation regarding social media - not to waste time and productivity, to be aware of the content they are posting. Employers have a right to deal with violations and to protect their reputation.
Obligation are employment - cannot disclose confidential information, cannot take physical property. The higher up the employee, the more obligation there is.

Thurs, Feb 3

The Importance of Teamwork (Michael Clemons)

I've heard Pinball speak before but he is truly entertaining and comes across so sincere in what he's saying that you buy into it and him immediately. His discussion focused on how when we are aligned with our strategic plan, we are in our 'sweet spot'.
In the paradox of our time, our real SOS is style over substance. Heroes are not the ones who stand alone saying 'look at me', they're posers. Humility is the key. The real hero is at the bottom, holding everyone up.
Vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare.
Learn to cheer for others, your team should know that you play the game for them. Challenge others but don't change them, accept them for who they are. Don't take the easy road, find the best in people. Be brutally honest with who and where you are.

Breakfast keynote: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (Simon Sinek)

The author of Start With Why challenges people to find the purpose, cause or belief that drives them. If everyone knew why they do what they do, and if everyone only did the things that inspired them, he believes that the world would be an amazing place.
Our instinct is to find people who believe what we do. Great organizations do that more easily. The things we do, what we wear and the companies we work for say something about who we are. Authenticity means that the what, how and why are balanced. Can you clearly articulate why you do what you do (not make $ - that's a result - but your true purpose). Start with your why, not the what - people are not drawn to what you do but why you do it. You must have clarity of why, you need to be able to explain and to hold people accountable to those beliefs.
You are more likely to take risks when there is trust. People seek connections - nothing replaces human interaction. Confidence and clarity matter.
The goal is to hire people who believe what you believe, everyone else is just working for your money.
There are leaders and there are those who lead - those who lead inspire us and we choose to follow them. Martin Luther King didn't say "I have a plan", he said "I have a dream". Vision is seeing things that others can't see.
Wake up every day competing against yourself, not agains others - and others will want to help you.

The Critical Errors for Behavioural Interviews: Why They Happen and The Easy Fixes (David S. Cohen)

Contrary to popular belief, past behaviour is not always the best predictor of future behaviour. We are not the same as we were in high school. Behaviour is an intangible, how do you measure intangibles? Behaviour is not predictable unless it is repeated - you need to know how recent it was and how frequently it occurs.
The key to a healthy organization is to ensure that overt and covert values are the same. You want to identify SKBEE in interviews - skills, knowledge, behaviours, education and experience.
There are things that we presently list as values or behaviours but they are not. For example, integrity is not a value, it is a result of your values. There is often a lack of consistency in interview results because people interpret competencies differently.
Tips for successful interviews:

  • do not include the behaviour or competency in the question. (example - Tell me how you adapted in a difficult situation. What did you do?) You also shouldn't have a question at the end - it assumes an action.
  • Do not telegraph the answer (similar to point above). This allows the candidate to build a response based on what you are suggesting.
  • Only ask probing questions after the initial response has been given (allow time to answer, silence is ok - up to approx 30 seconds)
  • Behavioural questions are statements, not questions.
  • Examples of ways to start these questions - Share with me, Tell me about a time, Describe…
  • Introduce the interview to the candidate. "We're here to find out about you…"
  • Good questions may cover many behaviours
  • Questions should be specific to your values - these are strongly held beliefs which are resistant to change. One of the best retention factors is alignment to values.
  • Compare candidates to the profile and not to each other (less subjective)
  • To ensure an honesty factor in a story, ask for a reference for the story (someone involved you can contact)

It's not usually your culture you want to change, but your strategic direction. Your strategic plan moves you toward your vision while always staying true to your values.

Luncheon Keynote: The Spirit of Leadership (Amanda Gore)

Author of The Gospel of Joy (all attendees got a code to access a free e-book copy), this was a very high-energy presentation. Amanda was extremely entertaining, funny and full of energy. However, that made note-taking difficult as attendees were active participants in much of the program (not to mention that she spoke extremely quickly :))
Her key message was that the spirit in which we do anything determines the outcome, whether positive or negative. (no, this wasn't like The Secret) The idea is that people with a positive spirit are more motivated, inspired and excited about what they do so they create stronger relationships.
She talked about ideas for stressing the positive like keeping a gratitude journal or gratitude glasses (you have to be sincerely thankful to those you see when you wear them) or just having people talk about the best thing that happened to them today (focusing on the positive experiences, rather than the negative ones).
Knowing that sometimes you need to complain/vent - she also recommended that you develop a "whining" hat or glasses. Only the person wearing this item gets to complain and then once their vent is done, it's done - they must remove the item and move on from their negative place.

Maintaining Positive Employee Relations in a Non-Union Environment (Mendelssohn & Fitzgibbon)

The lawyers from Watershed LLP discussed the unionization process as well as North American unionization stats.
Although money and benefits are usually large bargaining items, the biggest complaint is really that employees feel like they are not listened to - money and benefits are just easier to quantify and put on the table.
Staff concerns need to be addressed, not just heard, although staff need to understand that they may not get the answer they want.
The focus is not on being anti-union - there are/were legitimate needs for unions - the focus, rather, is on being pro-employee and building a fair and respectful workplace. There are pros and cons to each side of the coin.

Friday, Feb 4

Young Canadians at Work (Max Valiquette)

The President of Youthography, Max, used a combination of statsCan info, primary research insights and personal anecdotes to discuss youth in the workforce - his presentation focused on Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials (in much information, Gen Y and Millenials are considered in the same group). Essentially his presentation was to provide a handle on the under-35 set. It was an interesting and energetic presentation (his marketing background and passion for media were certainly obvious) but it didn't really present much in terms of new or surprising information.

Breakfast Keynote: The Value of Nothing (Raj Patel)

Dr. Patel began his session by explaining that he has been tear-gassed on 4 continents - this declaration was made to a room full of business-people! Not your average breakfast conversation :)
This researcher and author started his presentation by talking about how most commodoties we purchase are actually severely undervalued. One of his examples was the $1.89 burger at McD's and how if you take into account, the cost on the environment, cultures, etc, that burger would actually be worth $189. His presentation, although quite academic at times, was insightful and informative. I can see why some people are calling him the new Maitreya (teacher of the world) -a title he denies. In terms of social responsibility, I think this was an excellent presentation and I will definitely give his books a try - but I'm not sure I can say that I took away any HR learning from his presentation.

Six Keys for Dissolving Disputes: When "Off With Their Heads!" Won't Work (Loretta Love Huff)
The BAR theory states that beliefs shape our actions and actions shape our results.
The 4 A's of change: aspire (create a clearly defined goal to aspire to), assess (where you are in relation to your goal, act (ensure that actions are consistent with goal), and accountability (find someone to keep you on track)
The cost of conflict - 85% of employees experience conflict on the job and managers spend 40-60% of their time dealing with conflict.

Methods for resolving conflict:
Distinguish facts from fiction (facts from assumptions)
Distinguish motive from emotions (what did they do and how did I feel about it? What else might they have intended?What pressures or concerns may have led them to act that way?)
Remember that you have the power to shif how you react to people
Convert complaints to requests (what is the complaint? who has the power to fix it? What do I want? - you must give up the right to be resentful about things you have not specifically requested)
Start where you are (ex. I want X but I am concerned/afraid of Y)
Take ownership for your contribution or your role (how am I complicit? What can I do to fix it? What am I doing or not doing that's keeping the situation going? What actions will I take?)
Forgive (with whom am I holding a grudge? What is the negative impact on me? What emotions need to be healed? What am I able to do now because of the incident and because I've forgiven them?)

"Conflict cannot survive without your participation" - Wayne Dyer

Workplace Trauma - No One is Immune (Susan McGrail, Bellwood Health Services)

I had really hoped to get some good information from this session as it was geared to how to deal with the aftermath of workplace violence however the trainer was not very strong and seemed unprepared. The person behind me kept answering phone calls which didn't help much. One thing I did take away was that mental health disability claims have taken over cardio-vascular disease as the fastest growing category of disability.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Daniel Pink)

Mr. Pink, a former speechwriter for Al Gore, is quite charismatic and is quite convincing in his view that people need intrinsic rather than external motivation. The closing keynote focused on the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. He focused on the rewards of yesterday (the carrots and sticks) not working in today's society. His presentation brought many of the ideas presented earlier full circle and served as a great recap of the conference theme as a whole.

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