Are you ready for the end?

I’m not the sharpest tool in the box. I’m ok with that. The reality finally struck me that in a matter of weeks our world might be on the verge of substantial change. There is a very real chance that we could be collectively making the decision to leave the european union.

It doesn’t matter what I think, or what you think, the implications will be ours to deal with – both good and bad. In many ways, it is hard to think of a profession or an industry that will be more directly involved in unpicking the implications of that decision than the HR profession.

Nothing will happen too quickly, we won’t wake up and be faced with a series of challenges – other than uncertainty – but we would need to start thinking through the type of employment framework that we believe is right for the country and how we want our world of work to be designed.

Those for an exit will tell you that it will give unrivalled freedom to do what we want. Those against will tell you that nothing much will actually change. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle, away from the rhetoric and fear mongering.

But we do need to think through the type of economy we want and how we would go about building the arguments for creating it. The arguments of freedom come with the significant risks of exploitation and loose practice. Yet what is clear is that the “one size fits all” approach of central legislation does not fit the difference in the economic models of the UK and other countries.

What would you keep, what would you change? Have you thought it through?

Our entire landscape would be subject to debate and consideration. From immigration and skills, through discrimination, compensation and employment protection and litigation. We would be at the centre of some of the most contentious discussions and debates and we need to understand and find our voice.

Many think it will happen, I’m clear it could happen. In the event that it does, the HR profession will have a responsibility to lead business, to make its collective voice heard and to stand for something. We will have an opportunity to shape. And if we fail to take it, rest assured someone else sure as hell will.

Who are the CIPD and what do they want with us?

Seems like a strange question to ask really. Who are the CIPD? And……what do they want of us?

Like many of you, I get a nice letter once a year asking me for money. I fill out the various forms and I put the invoice through to my accounts department where the good people that work there, happily process it.

And then once every so often I get a copy of People Management through the post and I read it….well sometimes. I used to look at the jobs, but not so much these days. I get invites to branch events….but they’re not really me. I’m not a “society” kind of a guy.

So what is in it for me and if those good fellows in accounts were to reject my payment, would I be willing to put my hand in my own pocket and cough up the hundred odd quid that I’m asked for?

I don’t know. Or at least I didn’t know.

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to spend some time with Peter Cheese, the new CEO of the CIPD for a coffee and a chat. Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not slow to crack a few old surname jokes. And it would be easy to make some, although I’m sure Peter has heard them all.

But sometimes you meet someone who really inspires you, someone who makes you think. Peter is one of those guys. We share a lot of concerns and we share a lot of ideas about the future and so it would be easy to say that I’m just kowtowing to someone who thinks the same as me. Maybe I am. But I left our meeting more confident about the future of the CIPD than I have ever been before. Maybe this is the start of something?

Leadership is a funny thing, leadership is often about being unpopular. I have a feeling that Peter might be unpopular…at least with a vocal minority. But during the time that I spent with him, I have to say that I experienced a clarity of purpose that the CIPD has lacked for many, many a year.

Take the new look People Management magazine, it certainly feels different, it certainly looks different. The cobwebs of institutionalisation seem to have started to be blown away (although they still need to call in the web designers tout de suite). And as Peter says in his introduction to the latest edition, “We’re developing a clearer framework for the way we communicate, placing us at the heart of the changing worlds of work, organisations and work forces.”

The CIPD at the heart of the changing world of work, organisations and work forces…..now there would be a thing, a long overdue thing…..

The CIPD needs to be leading the debate, not following it. It needs to be pulling on the collective knowledge of its membership, the people who are there, day in and day out, working with organisations on their needs and challenges. Not just focussing on long and academically heavy studies that appear months after a news story has passed. The CIPD needs to be a voice for its members, not a voice for itself.

So, are we turning a corner? I’d like to think so.

A we enter our conference season, I look forward to a bright new dawn from the CIPD. I look forward to a renewed sense of meaning, I look forward to EVERY member having an equal voice and remembrance of the fact that a vocal minority are exactly that….a minority.

I look forward.

And, in my opinion, you should do too.

We still need to answer the questions that started this post.

Who are the CIPD?

And…….

What do they want with us?

There is a lot to yet be defined, a lot that is yet to be discovered and a lot that is yet to be concluded. But…….if you’d allow me this, I’d like to take the opportunity to misquote the inimitable Professor Green…..and allow my foible of playing with people’s names to emerge just a little.

“The future’s bright, the future’s Cheese.”

For the moment at least…..let’s see whether the mountains are truly conquered.

I’ll go back to my day job now…….

The CIPD Annual Conference starts on Tuesday 6th November in Manchester. You can follow developments on Twitter via the hash tag #CIPD12. I’ll also be giving my thoughts on it here and you can follow fellow members of the blog squad, such as Doug Shaw, Flora Marriott, Sukh Pabial, Perry Timms, Rob Jones, FlipChartRick and Mervyn Dinnen to name but a few. And of course, the CIPD….. on @CIPD!

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.