You usually meet HR people twice; first when you are hired and then when you are leaving. I had the chance to meet a full delegation of HR Directors this week, whilst covering one of the biggest HR Events in Europe: HREvent13.
Everything started with an early morning, catching the 5:30am train to Birmingham. Then walking the icy streets without falling, making it to the ICC where the 11th Annual HR Directors Business Summit was taking place.
There is big machine running behind a Human Resources department and a two day event was going to draw attention to the main pillars supporting the industry of getting the right people in the right places. It involves changes, decisions, cultural shifts, psychology, innovation, performance, strategy, self believe, benefits, software and so on. I will tell you some highlights; nevertheless there were many interesting stories on stage and in the corridors.
Day One was enlightened when Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller took to the stage (as she said – a very long name, don’t bother to say it again). With a great sense of humor and a strong voice the Baroness talked about “How to manage change under pressure”. She was head of MI5 -Britain’s Security Service- in the wake of 9/11 and during the threat of Al-Qaeda. Not an easy task right? During this time, this woman managed to double it in size, opened 8 new offices and established a training academy. While telling true stories about people at MI5 – I picked up on some good statements:
- The higher the pressure of a situation, the easier it is to make decisions.
- We always have a way of doing things, but ask yourself – is it the best way?
- Performance will drop if you change too much.
- It’s not what you do; it’s what you think.
- Understand the pressure and don´t fear failure. If you fail, you will only have more to do.
- Believe in what you are doing.
- Be concerned with people’s welfare.
- Pay attention to the small details, make sure you know people’s names.
- Human beings are laughers, have a sense of humor.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Be humble and open about what you do wrong.
- It’s good not to be thanked as many times as you think you should.
The program kept running and we kept moving along the conference rooms. I then joined “A guide to working the way you want” it sounded like the title for a best seller, instead Richard Peers, Head of HR at Vodafone, showed us how a company that sells its customers mobility, embraces the same principles. Vodafone’s head office at Maastricht, a city in The Netherlands, enables their employees to work whenever and wherever they like. In this building they replaced fixed workstation for multifunctional rooms, so you don’t have the same desk every day.
The concept is called mobile working which brings into practice what Vodafone stands for: simplicity, speed and trust. You can work surrounded by a library, by a forest, get a coffee and then move to another room and ask for feedback in an informal meeting.
The well being of it’s staff is part of the design and it goes further than an office layout, it motivates people to collaborate, enhancing transparency among the organization. It also has financial benefits, have a look at these figures:
Then we went for a lunch break, I think we deserve one here as well. See you shortly.