This Time, It’s Personnel

Today marks the release of a book of blogs edited by David D’Souza, which has been crowdsourced and which I contributed a chapter to, courtesy of Ian Davidson, who originally connected me to the enterprise. “Humane Resourced” was the first book in the series and this one “This Time, It’s Personnel” builds on the success of volume I. The book is initially available at a bargain price of £2.59 and all proceeds go to charities chosen by the authors, after Amazon have taken their wedge.

This Time It's Personnel - Click to buy the book on Amazon

This Time, It’s Personnel – Click to buy the book on Amazon

This Time, It’s Personnel contains 70 articles featuring many of the leading HR protagonists I have come to know on Twitter, such as Kim Patterson, Ian Pettigrew, Amanda Sterling, Kate Griffiths Lambeth, Ryan Cheyne, Kandy Woodfield, Anne Tynan, Nicola Barber, Simon Arrowsmith, Robert Ordever, Gemma Ruecroft, Malcolm Louth, Jo Dodds, Tim Scott, Perry Timms, Amanda Sterling, Sukh Pabial, Tash Peiterse, David D’Souza himself and Ian Davidson, to name a few.

For my part I’ve written an article for the book again. This time it is a sober analysis of HR Strategy and how that should be connected to the business and tied to behaviour at ground floor level. Last time I wrote of disruptive innovation in HR via the medium of Punk Rock, a notion which I explored with Peter Cheese, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) the other week. I am myself an FCIPD (Fellow, now Former member), having left the institute because I felt it had become too inward looking and that some HR functions lack focus on the businesses that HR serves. I must say I was impressed with Peter’s input at the event I attended on the subject of recognition the other week and am reconsidering the CIPD as a result.

So grab yourself a copy of the book and help a charity whilst it is just £2.59.

Speaking of Humane Resources, I’m meeting Patti Russo later today – Patti has performed with Meatloaf for 20 years, Cher, Queen, in the Las Vegas production of “We Will Rock You” and many others. I was deeply impressed at how she has handled her dealings with people over this time in the highly pressured and ego ridden environment that is Rock’n’Roll. She is a shining example of ethical HR practice in an industry that is not renowned for such things and I’m proud to be working with her. I know David D’Souza has also faced many challenges ensuring the production of the book, including the death of his mum, but he has quite literally made sure that “the show must go on”. This song by Patti is for him to thank him for his perseverance in adversity:

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics, offering better Organisation Development, Training and Coaching. He also offers keynotes that blend World Class Leadership Thinking with the wisdom of the street via The Academy of Rock – where Business Meets Music. Author of seven books on Business Leadership, acclaimed by Tom Peters, Professors Charles Handy, Adrian Furnham and Harvey Goldsmith CBE.

Let’s pretend we’re married – Getting engaged

Let’s pretend we’re married … “Prince” attempts to forge a strange relationship with Miss Haversham and Scrooge

Employee engagement – what does it mean really?  Do more engaged employees do more and better work for longer?  Is engagement some kind of secret code for ‘in company dating’ or a causal relationship between casual workers and casual sex?  And so on… I attended an academic meeting on the vexed questions of employee engagement at the University of Kent the other day.  I took the opportunity to extract the gems from all the World Class speakers who presented.  But not before we take an insight from one of Rock’s Honorary Professors, none other than Prince:

What’s this strange relationship

Starting with Professor Paul Sparrow, Director of the Centre for Performance Led HR.  I’ve summarised Paul’s most compelling insight from his opening keynote:

Engagement is needed in the current age for three reasons:  When the world outside changes incrementally or radically; When you want to change the rules of the game for disruptive innovation or; When you want to become more fluid / adaptive

The last reason reminded me of Chris Argyris’ and Peter Senge’s work on learning companies – see the post on Britney Spears for more on this.

Dr Amanda Shantz from York University, Canada offered us some great insights into what to do with disengaged employees.  Dysfunctional relationships are at the heart of such problems and therefore part of any potential antidotes.  Once again Prince offers us a gem of wisdom via his piece “what’s this strange relationship, ship, ship, ship, ship” .  I did have a video of “strange Relationship” here but his purple holiness asked youtube to remove it – damn! 😦

Amanda more or less just regurgitated  some good old-fashioned job design ideas courtesy of Hackman and Oldham.  Despite this, I confess I found myself enjoying these since they align well with ideas I presented in Punk Rock People Management.  Just because Hackman and Oldham are a bit untrendy, does not mean that they should be displaced by a “7-dimensional model from a trendy HR consultancy firm”.  Click on the PUNK ROCK HR link to get some wholesome common sense on job design and engagement.

A no-nonsense guide to people management for busy people

On to Professor Rob Briner from University of Bath, who posed the ‘Morrissey question’:  How bad an idea is employee engagement?  A jolly good question in my view ! 🙂  He provoked the audience in a very skilled way to question the notion that engagement is actually a good thing, supported by a good deal of well researched data.  Rob demonstrated eloquently the problem of HR gurus such as Gary Hamel, who seem to mouth the word ‘engagement’ at HR conferences more times per minute than Robert Plant used to sing ‘baby’ in the average Led Zeppelin song.

Dr Brad Shuck from the University of Louisville looked at the ever-present dilemma of measurement.  We are able to measure almost everything these days and many businesses do just that.  Just because you can measure everything doesn’t mean you should. One quote from Kahn stood out “The fragility of engagement is a function of how vulnerable we feel, and are, when we risk being fully present in a situation”.  Feels more like a poem or a lyric than a management consultancy concept 🙂  I later found out that Brad is an avid jazz and country musician which explained a lot for me.   A great treatment on a troublesome topic which has spawned a whole industry of people feeding off the measurement dilemma.

Professor John Purcell posed the thorny question “Is embedded employee voice an essential pre-requisite for engagement”.  But what did it mean?  He was really talking about reciprocity.  In Punk Rock HR terms this translates to “What do I get?” i.e. If I give you something, I will expect something in return.  I think that is a handy definition of engagement although I don’t think it is well understood in the business world.

Finally, David McLeod and Nita Clarke outlined the steps to be taken in partnership with HR practitioners and academics to make high performance a part of ‘business as usual’.  Professor Adrian Furnham’s work on this area is most incisive – see the post on Adrian Furnham for more.  Adrian and I have shared a stage and a few glasses of wine and beer.  He is the ‘boss’ on such things should you wish us to come to present this stuff in an intelligent AND engaging way.  Oh, yes, and don’t forget to ask us for a copy of Punk Rock HR via this slide deck:

We must of course return to Prince for some salutary advice on the psychological contract, reciprocity and discretionary effort.  As usual Prince takes the whole subject of engagement well beyond the usual limits – you’ve gotta love him for it 🙂

Let’s Pretend We’re Married

"If I was ur girlfriend, I'd just pretend we're married" - Oh dear I look like Thomas Dolby :-)(  At HRD 2012 with Lauren of www.growthepeople.co.uk

“If I was ur girlfriend, I’d just pretend we’re married” – Oh dear I look like Thomas Dolby :-)( At HRD 2012 with Lauren of http://www.growthepeople.co.uk

Pretty Vacant – 10 Punk Rock Business Management Tips

I kissed an HR girl and I liked it ...

We live in lean times.  Lean times call for lean thinking.  Punk Rock is all about brevity, simplicity and authenticity.   So, here for your viewing pleasure are 10 Punk Rock People Management tips (well, there may be more or less than 10!), from some self proclaimed HR Punk Rock gals and HR Rock Chicks, presented in a slideshare show:

PUNK ROCK BUSINESS WISDOM  – If you don’t use slideshare you can also find the slideshow at  I kissed an HR girl and I liked it

If you have not yet got your copy of Punk Rock People Management, now is a good time to do this.  The book recently overtook Dave Ulrich, Gary Hamel and the usual HR Gurus, having hit No 1 on Amazon Kindle in management and HR books.   There are a number of options:  Beautiful full colour print version,    Kindle version – UK,      Kindle Version – Worldwide.  The print version of the book makes an excellent and unique Christmas present.  Check this review out by the Open University Businsss School.  The contents page can be found here:

Lean People Management for Lean times

We’re off to deliver an HR keynote at the 7th international HR conference in Athens next week following on from Dave Ulrich and Lynda Gratton of London Business School.  To warm up for this, let’s finish with some classic punk – Pretty Vacant, a song which clearly predicted the current HR obsession with employee disengagement in its title! 🙂

Pictures courtesy of Lindsay Wakelin PhotographySue Cook and book design by PDS Hamiltons

What’s new pussycat? – Musings on Innovation

What’s new pussycat? Click on the picture for the book

This is a preview for the new book ‘Punk Rock People Management’, available as a high quality print version at Punk HR and  as a Kindle book.  I’ve included an extract from the book on the theme of innovation to whet your appetite.  Our title suggests that we ought to have some music from Tom Jones – hardly punk rock!  But a sideways shuffle takes us to one of Tom’s classics performed by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band – the wonderful tortured tale of Delilah:

Here’s the extract:

INNOVATION – What’s new pussycat?

I once read a book entitled “Innovation in HR”, published by an HR institute.   I was moderately excited to receive the book, which was a gift for perceived services of acting as an ‘agent provocateur’ to the profession – by the way that’s ‘irritant’ in English.  You can be sure that, once an HR professional starts speaking in French to you, they are about to be inauthentic.  Imagine my disappointment when I opened the book to find it empty – ha, ha!  ‘Caveat emptor’ I should have replied to keep the foreign language HR intercourse going….

Yet, perhaps that is a little unfair, and I feel I deserve to have my bare bottom thrashed with hawthorn twigs for even having such thoughts!  Nonetheless, I must be brutally truthful, in that this rather long book had very little to say other than ‘be positive’.  This in itself is often only half the story in terms of innovation.  It may be nice to surround yourself with ‘shiny happy people’, but they don’t always succeed in the innovation game.  If Isambard Kingdom Brunel had decided to hold a series of ‘iron horse focus groups’, 360 degree appraisal forums and ‘drop in customer transportation strategy listening sessions’, he would probably have never built the Great Western Railway and the world would have never have discovered Swindon – some good points in this then – oops!  If James Dyson had written a pleasant letter to Hoover explaining his minor concerns with their vacuum cleaner rather than getting fed up and  making one that sucked (in the best sense), we would NOT now have “The Dyson” as a new name for “The Hoover”

In short, innovation in new products and services requires more perspiration than inspiration.  Innovation is not over when the flip chart is full in the brainstorming meeting and everyone has imagined 101 ways to use a paper clip as a labour saving device for nail care in HR.  Cold sweat, blood and sometimes tears are required.

If you want to innovate, know that perspiration matters more than inspiration, and comes AFTER the brainstorming session.  Too many so-called innovation social networks are only concerned with creativity.  This fine as far as it goes.  However, there is evidence to suggest that modern social networking websites are a new displacement activity, replacing ironing, daydreaming and focus groups at work.  In the words of Andy Warhol and Lou Reed “It’s work” that counts.  Toyota stands out by being excellent at execution as well as inspiration.

Punk Rock People Management offers us three lessons on innovation:

  • Perspire more than inspire.  A walk on the wild side to discover new ideas is necessary but never sufficient for profitable innovation.
  • Run the numbers alongside the brainstorming and recycle your thinking until the innovations have been tested to destruction to improve the ratio of new ideas : profitability.
  • If your innovation is more ‘product push’ than ‘market need’, know that you need to work much harder and differently to succeed.

‘Punk Rock People Management – A no-nonsense guide to hiring, inspiring and firing staff’ is available for FREE via the Punk Rock People Management webpage.   If you like this extract, you will LOVE my other books – so ‘BOGOF’ – Buy One and Get One Free !  Contact us to book your next conference keynote based on our heady mixture of business leadership and music.  You can watch a slideshow of some Punk Rock HR women previewing the contents at ‘I Kissed an HR Girl and I Liked it‘.  Big thanks to Lindsay Wakelin Photography and Sue Cook for this.

To finish, here is Rock’n’Roll’s greatest failure John Otway performing Delilah at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  annual conference to the amazement of 200 HR professionals!  John attempted to innovate by organising his own record-breaking Rock’n’Roll World tour in the style of Spinal Tap, but failed.  This is an innovation story in its own right, more of which will be told in the post on Spinal Tap.

 

Kissing a fool

 

Punk Rock HR

This is the first post to introduce my new book “Punk Rock People Management”.  Before we start, here’s a classic piece of Punk Rock – New Rose by The Damned:

I had the great fortune of seeing The Damned, The Doctors of Madness, The Jam etc. many times at The Marquee Club in London.  This included getting ‘extinguished’ by Captain Sensible on stage when it became so hot that the Captain decided to hose those pogo-ing on stage down with a fire extinguisher amidst electricity and live cables.  This was in the pre-risk assessment era – Hooray! 🙂

Punk Rock People Management suggests that the HR profession has become a bloated industry which delights in making things more complex than they need be.  In the book I have stripped down People Management to the bare essentials.  This means that each ‘chapter’ is just one page long – ideal for the busy person / Kindle reader etc.  Thus you can read a chapter in less time than it takes to pogo to a Sex Pistols or Linkin Park song! 🙂  On hearing about it , Tom Peters, the world’s greatest business thinker, author and speaker sent me a mail with just two words in it:  “Do it!” – Now that’s what I call succinct in the normally long world of HR!

Never mind the HR Boll..cks

To whet your appetite, here are some chapter titles.  The book is organised using the classic ‘Life, Sex and Death HR cycle’, i.e. Hiring, Inspiring and Firing:

HIRING

Selection – Shall I stay or shall I go?

Induction – It’s my first time

INSPIRING

Engagement – Pretty vacant

Motivation – Reasons to be cheerful

Training – Waiting for the great leap forwards

Innovation – What’s new pussycat?

FIRING

Conflict – Who killed Bambi?

Redundancy – Submission

To order your copy of the book, see Punk Rock People Management.  To buy our other book go to AMAZON.

For now, let’s treat ourselves to the great punk philosopher Billy Bragg, with his song “Waiting for the great leap forwards” – a song all about the gap between talk and action in change management / organisation and HR development.  Reminds me of Red Wedge and many other great days of wide eyed optimism and passion.  There still is a better way to get your point across than stealing a bottle of water from Poundland!