The future of work is human

If I had to list four things that bring out my inner geek, they’d be:


I can’t remember the dates of any historical events, my knowledge of sports and sporting prowess is limited and if you want to know what stocks and shares to invest in… the ones I’ve just sold. But give me any of these four topics and I’ll talk, ignorantly but passionately, for hours.

Each in its own right is a things that stirs the proverbial loins, but what about the point where all four intersect? Is there a relationship between them?

We know that technology is changing the way in which our children interact with the world. It is also starting to change the way in which they learn and work at school. So what is going to be the impact on the world of work when these young people get to employable age? Is technology changing the way our brains work and function and what do we need to think about in how we design work, teams and organisations?

Are we already starting to see the impact of the way that we use technology on our behaviour in the workplace? Our choices, decision-making, attention, concentration, speed of communication?

Late last year the CIPD started a piece of work to explore the future of work from a variety of different angles. The aim being to move the debate on from the normal, often predictable themes and to take a different approach. There are a number of work streams and groups exploring all sorts of angles, you can read more about it here.

As part of this, I want to look at these questions. To go beyond the “robotisation” arguments and look at the relationship between human performance and technology from a psychological and behavioural perspective, the good, bad and indifferent.

And this is where I need your help.

If you’d like to be part of this work, or if you know someone who you think might be, then I’d love to hear from you. Ideally I’d like to pull together a group of people from a range of backgrounds to exchange ideas, thoughts and theories with the view to presenting the findings at a “Big Tent” event in October.

There is no specified time commitment, geography is unimportant and I haven’t even worked out the process (yet). I just want to bring together curious, passionate, thoughtful people to help explore the themes and ideas. So if that sounds like you, if this piques your interest, then get in contact and lets see where the conversation takes us.

Introvert HR

I’m not a huge fan of personality assessments.  Whether that harps back to my early days as a psychology student and lecturer, or an understandable fatigue through my career in HR, I don’t know.  It isn’t that I think that they’re entirely worthless, just that I think for those that are self-aware they add little new and for those that aren’t, there are multiple reasons to disregard any potential insight.

But I digress.  Earlier this week I received some feedback after completing the Dimensions Personality Assessment from Talent Q.  I won’t dwell on the actual tool, because for this post it is neither here nor there.  The fact is that in the large part it was information that I was pretty well aware of.  There was one aspect, however, that made me think more about myself and my career…and whilst it wasn’t new to me, it was highlighted in technicolour (which reluctantly I accept must show some value to the tool and the process!).

You see, I’m an introvert.  Not in the Myers Briggs sense – drawing my energy from within. But as the Dimensions profile terms it, “Socially Confident” or more precisely….socially “unconfident”.  Now it isn’t as bad as it seems….I don’t cry in the corner….in fact I have a strong sense of self belief, but my work based exhibitionist tendencies aren’t at the fore (does that make it sound more intellectual?).

And, what’s more,  I don’t think I’m alone in the profession.

So much of the work of HR is done in the shadows.  I’m sure that there are people out there reading this thinking, “How can a ‘people person’ not be……a people person” but it isn’t as simple as that.  People like me build relationships based on one to one individual contact, not on standing on stage.  We build trust because people know that we will keep our counsel and through that we develop influence.  We are quite happy to work with others and for them to take the credit, if we get the right result for the organisation.  We don’t need to be the centre of attention and we don’t think we should be the centre of attention.

Personally I’d rather been the oil in the cogs than the badge on the front of the motor.

The downside of course is sometimes that we can struggle to get our voices heard.  In a world where the loudest can be seen as the brightest and most relevant, the introverts amongst us need to develop the skills and the confidence throughout our careers to hold our own and demonstrate our capabilities.  As always there is the ying and the yang, the light and the dark, the good and the…..well ok maybe the analogy stops there…..nonetheless, hopefully you get the point?

And that point is that we shouldn’t be afraid to make our views heard (read my post on Unconscious Immunity) but at the same time we shouldn’t be afraid to make our voices heard in OUR way.  Diverse organisations are the best organisations.  We need the extroverts and the introverts, the talkers and the reflectors, the speakers and the listeners.

So if you’re like me and your preference isn’t to be the centre of attention, then be the wise counsel, be the trusted advisor, be the critical friend.  But don’t be afraid to be you and don’t be afraid to speak up. Your organisation needs you to do so.