#CIPD14 – a year ago today…

….I wrote my first ever blog post after #CIPD13 and after encouragement (in Duttons Bar – a good place!) from David D’Souza to give it a go.

Now, a year on, I’m incredibly proud to have lots of amazing, forward-thinking tweeps as friends, colleagues, mentors and challengers and I was fortunate to go to CIPD14 as part of the blog squad.


So last year I came away with positive thoughts about how the profession was starting to move in the right direction but that, for a profession that’s meant to be about inclusion and diversity, the speaker sessions were pretty exclusive and corporate.

This year it was fantastic to see more variety of speakers with more small businesses and not for profits represented. There was more free, quality, fringe activity. And the social media activity outstripped 2013 so those as far away as New Zealand could still connect with what was going on.

Since the end of last Thursday, the thing I’m now pondering is this culture stuff.

I care about cultures that are inclusive, where staff and bosses talk like two adults who are equally worthy of their place on this planet, where collaboration is encouraged, where ideas are actively sought – not just welcomed if they happen to appear, where there’s a clear purpose beyond profit that gives people a reason to be there beyond their wages, where people deliver what’s needed in their job because they see the part they play in the overall success. The kind of stuff that Julie Drybrough talks about here and the sort of Giver culture that Adam Grant talked about.

I truly believe that this place is better for individuals, for bosses and for business. Not just because it sounds like a great place to be, but because it will create a business that’s more able to adapt and change for the benefit of its customers – and that will benefit the business.

Millers Oils put it beautifully by saying they created a strategy about how they wanted the place to ‘feel’ in the future – not about the growth they planned to achieve. They knew the growth would follow. And it has.

But then, amongst all that, there’s a challenge. As Gemma Reucroft wrote about how work, for so many people, is just about getting the money they need and trying to survive until the next month. It’s just about getting by in the hope that they’re treated well enough and that they don’t need to worry about the relatively low level of employment rights they have.

But there’s another world too. A world that Tim Scott and I chatted about. A world where things are just ticking over nicely thank you. There’s no burning platform of market conditions requiring a change in approach. The boss might be of the traditional, hierarchical command & control school but they might also be fair and paternalistic, with a team who know where they stand even if that place they stand in is ‘do as I say, and don’t speak unless spoken to’.

Of course I exaggerate a bit for effect but these are just 3 cultures on a continuum of the workplaces we have today.

And who’s to say which is right or wrong for a particular business, for the market they’re in at that moment in time, for their ambitions for the future? Well, ok, the breaching employment rights bit is clearly wrong!

But the other message I heard at the conference loud and clear, and which I believe to be true, is that the culture of a business comes from the top.

So, if that is true. If we can’t shift anything really, properly unless the person up top buys into it, is the role of anyone involved in making work and working lives better to just do that? Make it a bit better. No matter what starting point you have. Just start, take a bold step tomorrow, and then another, and another.

Yes – definitely talk to the people at the top about what you’re learning about the changing economic and work environments.

Yes – definitely keep that conversation going, sharing case studies and success stories.

But really it’s going to be down to them if anything is going to fundamentally change. If anything is going to shift and stick in any direction.

So your job, my job, our job is to take the culture in front of us and make it the best we possibly can – to make the working lives within there the best they can possibly be.

For a full roundup of all the #CIPD14 content take a look here. Thanks to Ian Pettigrew for that!

I believe in people being the key to success in a business and that success is unlocked by great bosses. I’m an Executive Coach for SME leaders to help create success for you, for your team, for your business.

Get in touch for a chat if you believe in this stuff too and you want your business to be even better – helen.amery@wildfigsolutions.co.uk
or take a look at my website to find out more http://www.wildfigsolutions.co.uk


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