(Photo courtesy of Kate Collins)
For all their over-use, there is a simpler process the words innovation and disruption describe that ought not illicit an eye roll on command: people sharing ideas big and small to do their jobs better.
That’s at the bedrock of the best of DisruptHR, a global franchise of speed pitch presentations by and for those employed in and around an organization’s human resources (or people operations, to use the phrase of the moment). The event series has the same basic premise in some 70 cities across the world: lightning format (20 slides, 15 seconds on each slide for rapid-fire five-minute talks) about topics on trends in teams, management and process.
Each city can have something of its own flair, as evidenced by the fourth installment in Philadelphia, held Thursday night with some 300 attendees inside World Cafe Life. The event is organized locally by HR professionals who volunteer their time for network building and thought leadership, including recently-relocated Kim Hughes, Carrie Bucci, Mikal Harden, Kelly Poulson and Tori Mitchell. The crowd was made of HR service providers and recruiting firms, in addition to in-house HR professionals from places like Chatham Financial, Barclays and Comcast.
The night was billed as a raucous challenge to so many stereotypes to HR professionals — emcee Bruce Marable (the founder of HR-tech startup EmployeeCycle) rallied the crowd to cheer and boo, used a generous array of vulgarities on stage and encouraged frequent trips to the bar. (It very much felt like an industry-specific Ignite Philly.) But between the bluster and eccentric sponsor pitches (did the guy from Accutrace actually rap his remarks?), 10 speakers shared genuine and thoughtful remarks on organizational theory. (Or well, nine and then one from this reporter, who, full disclosure, was one of the speakers.)
Here is the big idea of from each of the speakers:
1. It’s unfair to ask your leaders to be authentic.
- We need them to be their best selves and authenticity can be both a trap and an excuse: Vadim Liberman, The Starr Conspiracy (DisruptNYC host)
2. Everyone is biased, including in the workplace.
- Establish a program that directly confronts that, like an on-going mentorship program that brings in junior people from different backgrounds who might not fit your existing hiring patterns: Amelia Longo, Interactive Mechanics
3. You almost surely work with people who suffer from depression.
- Allow for open dialogue about mental healthy like you would physical health. “Talk about going to a therapist like you talk about going to the gym:” Abby Mosconi, Brand Strategist
4. HR and finance need to be more deeply linked.
- On many balance sheets, you’ll find people as liabilities (wages) and owned infrastructure (like toilets) as assets. We need a new paradigm: Laura Queen, Colloquia Partners
5. You should invest time in your employee’s financial wellness and understanding.
- That can mean bringing in a professional to answer questions beyond a complicated employee manual. Kristy Runzer, OnRoute Financial
6. Experiences with your company’s brand are vastly more important than swag.
- Water bottles and the like can be a nice reminder but invest your money in higher-level employment branding strategies. Kristin Dudley, Co-Create (former Comcast talent acquisition lead)
7. Drop the numerical-only employee valuations.
- Rather than only (or mostly) rating your employees on a number scale — “who wants to only be a 3?” — add questions and discussions about their career direction. Heather Herrington, H2 Consulting
8. Stupid behaviors can be solved for with team dynamics.
- Using popular HR tools and best practices, it is the HR professional’s job to leverage and tweak team dynamics to solve for annoyances big and small (person who hits Reply All too often; person who dominates meetings unnecessarily) in collaborative ways: Arend Boersema, Kirkbride Center
9. Change the definition of passive jobseekers.
- They aren’t just people with jobs you try to poach with over-the-transom offers, they’re smart people following company brand’s they appreciate. That was me: Christopher Wink, Technically Media
10. You can be privileged and hard-working.
- Privilege isn’t an insult, it’s a fact of life and one we need to discuss at the workplace. It’s like immunity, some people received different immunizations at birth and that gives them advantages: Kristen Bakalar, Athena Health
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