HR in SMEs – CIPD Conference Next Week!

Having had a fantastic time blogging at the CIPD L&D Show a couple of weeks ago I’m really looking forward to going to blog in Sheffield next Tuesday for the second of a two-part CIPD event “HR in SMEs”.  The first day was on Monday in London and it looks like it was a huge success with some great tweets on #cipdsmes14.

My favourite from @HR_Cass


With a great programme for the 20th, I couldn’t wait to share a couple of snippets to get your conference tastebuds watering!

In the morning we’re going to hear about the Importance of Leadership and Innovation within an SME – a perfect topic for all organisations as the world continues to change at an increasing pace.  As well as hearing from Connor Moss (@conossy) and Alex Prince of Sheffield Hallam University, Keith Jackson, MD of JRI Orthopaedics Ltd, will speak about what they’ve been up to in their business.  To do that Keith’s going to take us on a journey!  Starting from a time when they were a traditional, autocratic business where employees would wait to be asked to do something and then they’d do it, but also where things not working out as expected were seen as failure, and treated as such.  As you’d expect, not the most fertile starting point for innovation and ideas!

Which makes the transition to where JRI is today all the more brilliant!  It’s not been easy all the way and it’s certainly not been a ‘one silver bullet’ quick-fix solution.  It’s been about making the culture all about innovation – defined for them as ‘doing things differently and doing different things’.

They’ve got some great practices in place, many of which hinge on working across disciplines both internally and externally, so that there’s raised awareness of what others are up to and what could help elsewhere in the business.  A great example of this has been developing a brand new shoulder replacement (apologies Keith I may have my technical jarogn all wrong!) which was done in collaboration with both Newcastle and Nottingham Universities.  I’m sure Keith will be sharing more on the day!

I can’t wait to hear more from Keith as he espouses a core of always striving for more – whether it be in products, service or  learning – and with a culture of inclusion, supported by a situational leadership style.  Facebook, Google, Zappos – you are ‘all that’ of course but so are JRI!  Inspiring!

A few more sessions, a bit of lunch and we’ll be starting the afternoon with Ben Saunders speaking about Attracting, Retaining and Selecting the Best Talent.  Ben is Head of HR and Learned Society for IMarEST – or in the non-shortened version ‘The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology’.  Yep, we’ll stick with the short one!

Ben describes IMarEST as the CIPD of the Marine community and with 125 years under its belt it’s going from strength to strength!  You could be forgiven for thinking 125 years = stuck in the industrial revolution era but far from it!  I got a real sense from Ben of the flexible and adaptable approach they take to everything they do:

– Responding to the requests of their members to ensure the organisation is represented in the right places globally.

– Setting up overseas – but not being concerned about ‘proper’ offices as these don’t equate to success.

– Writing HR policies as they’ve grown – but only the right ones for them and written right for their business.

– Formalising recruitment practices – but in a way which still allows them to spot talent and offer alternative career routes to the person’s ultimate job, even if it’s not the perfect job today.

– Having a core team of 50 – but hiring-in expertise on a retained basis for key projects.

The organisation has travelled a well-worn HR road with having an Office Manager…..become Personnel……to HR, Ben will be able to share that journey and what they’ve learnt along the way no doubt bringing a great level of experience to those starting this journey, maybe offering a different route to this one.  But also bringing some refreshing insights to those who are further along and perhaps getting caught in the ‘we’ve got bigger, we must put in process and controls’ approach, which is the norm.

As I write this today there are still tickets available so get yourself booked on (, it would be great to see you there.  But if you can’t make it, keep an eye on #cipdsmes14 for the tweets and blogs.

It’s going to be good!




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