During Ron Thomas's opening statements at TLNT Transform, he remarked that by virtue of attending this conference (in person or via online), we had become transformers. Because it was an HR conference, there was a further call for all of HR to transform. Though, this is easier than done.
The good people at TLNT, over the course of a two-day conference in Austin, Texas this week, attempted to transform the world of HR into a better industry. Despite the immediate moniker of transformer, I think transformation takes time. But one has to start somewhere. TLNT Transform with the best intent started off on the right foot in that direction.
Over the course of two days, Transform delivered a diverse cast of presenters and topics. On paper, this seemed quite ordinary. But presented in the quick pace of back-to-back sessions, created an environment of urgency, a call to immediate action, a compendium of several moving parts that needed to forge together to form the mythical Transformer of toy and movie fame. From there, it needed to save our world from the cross hairs we had stumbled into.
Despite the urgency, we still need to return to our organizations where the real transformation needs to occur. Here the efforts will be challenged. Here is where the transformation will require more diligence on our part to see it through. Here we are not machines. Here we are humans.
As I reflect on the highlights of the show for me, I think of several things I want to change. Some of the desired changes are of myself, my organization, the industry, and for future Transform conferences.
First The Highlights
Libby Sartain – “The New Consumer of Work”
Much like the tagline of this blog, Libby’s theme was it’s about the work; it’s no longer about the job. More people in the workforce are thinking less about who their next employer is, and more about what kind of work will they be doing. It’s because jobs are not as interesting as work.
With that in mind, HR must transform into a different function. When searching for talent in this new work model, HR needs to focus on creating work experience instead of promoting jobs, differentiate between core work functions and jobs that can be done by non-employees instead of hiring all employees, focus on shorter time span of completing work instead of lifetime careers, focus on immediate engagement and productivity instead of engendering loyalty.
Tim Sackett – “What Your CEO Wished HR Would Do”
As a reader of Tim’s blog and writing with Fistful Of Talent, I first decided to not attend his session. I thought I had heard it all from Tim. But, because of other circumstances, I caught Tim’s session half-way into it. I’m pleased that I did.
I caught Tim presenting his “twelve step program in five steps”. I won’t explain each step. You can find more on that here. But all of the steps are easy to implement and essential. As an HR Director or CPO, your role is to direct your own department. Your organization and CEO’s role is to achieve business results. These steps will create the link between the two.
Billy Beane – “The Moneyball Approach to Talent Management”
Much has been written about the need for analytics and on how to communicate this effectively. Much as been written about Billy Beane and his enormous success in trusting numbers to win baseball games. There’s also a movie where he’s played by Brad Pitt. Even though, Mr. Beane doesn’t resemble a movie star, his story is nonetheless compelling.
The book and movie are called Moneyball. Even though it’s set around the work environment of professional baseball, the story could easily translate to any line of business. Creating hope that regression analysis is worthy and that it works requires patience and great communication skills.
I wondered though what the HR industry would be like if faced with the same type of scrutiny facing professional sports employees. Imagine every day the press reporting on your previous work day, and proclaim your genius when you succeed and your idiocy when you fail. Yuk.
Margaret Morford – “HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn”
Despite I heard this was not a new presentation, I was not familiar with Ms. Morford. After her presentation, I proclaimed on Twitter she was my new HR hero. Fast talking, blunt and unwavering her message was a strong proclamation for HR to carve out a role for themselves.
By being different in your thinking, ignoring fads (at least fully evaluate before fully adopting), get brave, develop talent & skills of creativity and inquisitiveness, get out of HR for awhile, and separate yourself from the pack, HR professionals increase their vitality and necessity.
My favorite takeaway was the question of how can we consider ourselves change agents, if only 31% of organizational leaders consider HR agile. It’s a clear sign our profession must change.
Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen (Talent Anarchy) – “On New Terrain: Social Gravity and the Future of HR”
I have had the pleasure of seeing Joe and Jason present in the past. Like great stage performers and stand-up comics, I never see Jason and Joe do the same performance twice. Plus, they never disappoint.
This time they were promoting their new book (Social Gravity) and their concept of the six laws of social gravity. Drawing on a great deal of sources for a comprehensive view on making connections and leveraging them for your social benefits, they present a compelling case for placing more value on “who you know.”
Gerry Ledford – “How Employee Engagement Can Pay Off, and Why It Often Doesn’t”
Following the energetic presentations of Margaret Morford and Talent Anarchy are hard acts to follow. But with the right amount of vim and vinegar, Mr. Ledford kept the transformative ball rolling as he set to dismantle what we think we know about employee engagement.
Being a big student of this topic, I found the presentation captivating from minute one. Thorough, comprehensive and convincing, I have more to say about this presentation in a future post.
Fran Melmed – “The Second-Generation Workplace Wellness Program”
Jennifer Benz – “3 Steps to Success: How Benefits Can Help Drive Your Strategic HR Transformation”
No. They did not present together. But presented consecutively their sessions closed out the conference. I am fortunate to have Fran as a friend. As much as I refuse to drink the wellness kool-aid, I look to Fran as the expert on how to make this work in organizations. I never do what she says. But after seeing her present for the first time, I have some distinct takeaways for my office. And Jennifer Benz drove all of Fran’s points home and pushed me into action mode.
My List Of Action Items, Final Thoughts and Suggestions.
- I hate using the word "rock star" to describe high performers. If you think about what rock stars actually do and how poorly some of them behave, it is not flattery.
- I don’t understand the notion of employees associating with a company brand. It makes employees sound like livestock. Personal branding on the other hand makes sense.
- I’m planning on doing more traveling this year for various conferences. I have to start taking better care of myself in terms of eating and exercise. I need personal wellness.
- I’ve reached the point where I’m learning less at conferences. I’m validating more about what I think are leading HR practices.
- Moderators should make it clear to panelists that it’s OK to disagree. The lack of dissent and different opinions is a let-down to the audience.
- If you’re an HR Director or CPO, tell your CEO you think he or she is doing a good job. If you think the staff think that also, tell the CEO that as well.
- At work, I have a couple of plans that I’m not asking permission to do. It’s my movie and I want it to win an Oscar.
That’s it for TLNT Transform. Next year, it will be in Fort Worth, Texas on April 3-4, 2013. If you have the means and the time, I highly recommend it. If it’s anything like this year, you’re guaranteed a high quality HR conference.
Personal thanks to John Hollon, Lance Haun and the TLNT crew for their work and hospitality. Special thanks to all the vendors for the food and the great conversations.