59: How To Advance Your HR Career And Your HR Function

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Ian Ziskin is one of the preeminent leaders, thinkers, and trendsetters within our profession. He makes a return appearance on our podcast to discuss the 2018 EXcelerating HRTM Conference, an edgy forum which is hosted by Ian’s firm and designed to facilitate shared HR learning. He also discusses the CHREATE Project, which has been exploring the forces of change having a profound impact on the nature of work and HR. Key takeaways from our conversation are important issues that HR is, or needs to be advancing and what HR professionals need to be doing to advance the function and their careers.
Ian is the President of EXec EXcel Group, a human capital coaching and consulting firm. Ian is an experienced CHRO, author, speaker, Board advisor, teacher, and coach. He is the recipient of many awards and now spends his time helping others develop to improve performance and their impact on their organizations.
Listen (above) or watch the video (below) to catch Linda's interview with Ian.

Key Learnings From This Episode

  • About 2018 EXcelerating HR™ Conference. The conference started several years ago by the EXec EXcel Group to create a forum for clients, colleagues, and others. The concept was to keep the event small (the most recent conference hosted about 80 people) and to include CHROs, VPs of HR, and up-and-coming HR professionals, as well as consultants and academics. Approximately 12 sponsors also participated this year, coming together to interact and contribute to something at no cost. The goal was to create a shared learning environment, as well as a token of gratitude for all of the contributions to the firm. Typically, the conference is held about every 18 months. 

    The agenda is developed with topics that HR really wants to talk and learn about. The content is driven by what is relevant at the moment and what participants are currently struggling with. Participants must also be willing and able to contribute their thoughts and perspectives from their practices because they are currently working on those issues. 

  • 2018 EXcelerating HR™ Key Conference Takeaways. Large-scale transformational change was a key theme. For talent acquisition professionals, in particular, understanding ‘fulfillment’ versus employee engagement and why fulfillment is much more important. There was much discussion on digital disruption in the workplace and its implications for transformation and innovation, for careers, and how organizations are redefining the notion of career through digital platforms and products and services that did not exist five years ago. 
  • The Future of Work. This topic was the most engaging and generated the most discussion, raising questions such as:
    • What is going to be the most different 10 years from now? 
    • What do I need to do personally as an HR leader to be ready for and relevant to the world that is evolving?
    • Am I going to be able to step up to what is going to be expected of me?
  • HR Studio Podcast Guest - Ian Ziskin QuoteThe CHREATE Project. Over the last six years, Ian has been involved in The CHREATE Project, involving over 100 contributing volunteers. The goal is to explore the forces of change in the external environment that have profound implications for the nature of work. The project team also examines new capabilities that HR and non-HR leaders will need to have in order to be effective. 
    • Forces of change. Emphasis on the evolution of technology and machine collaboration, automation and artificial intelligence (AI). The anxiety around whether human beings will be replaced by machines, robots, and computers? Recent data shows it will create more jobs, although it is anticipated that it will also create up to 70% unemployment in certain professions. Therefore, there is a massive transformation of the workforce whose skills need to transition to ‘play’ effectively in the world of automation.
    • Reconfiguration of work. Becoming more virtual and flexible and shifting from the traditional ‘employee’ employment model to the world of freelancing, gigs, and short-term projects that people take on without becoming long-term, full-time employees. HR leaders need to look at HR policies and procedures (in place in most companies today) that assume regular, full-time employment. While this model is not going away completely, it is being supplemented by a non-traditional workforce, and many practices do not contemplate these trends.
  • Develop an External Perspective. Most HR people are internally focused. They know their own organization, culture, and people. A clearer, external perspective is demanded. HR professionals should know what is happening in their own industries but also understand other industries and geographies. Capabilities that are beginning to emerge are much more externally savvy and more multi-disciplinary in nature since issues that arise tend to be more cross-functional. An ‘orchestra conductor’ mentality needs to be developed. The orchestra conductor may not be fluent in particular issues but they need to be comfortable looking for the best people who are. 
  • The difference between fulfillment and engagement – William (Bill) Schiemann (author of Fulfilled! Critical Choices:  Work, Home, Life) spoke at the conference. His book explores the evolution from satisfaction to engagement to fulfillment. He discussed ‘lighthouse goals’ as stepping stones to achieving one’s broad, long-term aspirations, using the concept of a ship at sea that is not sailing directly to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is providing general direction and guidance, identifying where the rocks might be so that the ship can make adjustments to stay on course. 

    People should bring their whole self to the workplace and try to strike a balance between what they are trying to achieve at work and what they are trying to achieve in their life – health, spirituality, and physical and emotional well-being. People are burning out. It is difficult for people to feel fulfilled if they feel completely overwhelmed, not in balance, under-resourced, and underappreciated in the face of change. Research indicates that only 20% of people feel highly fulfilled which impacts productivity and quality of work. The trend is towards better balance and incorporation of the full person, to feel more comfortable bringing their entire self to work. This will have a significant, positive impact on diversity and inclusion.

  • It is important to build the business case for stakeholders (e.g., CEOs) providing the data:  (1) as to the value of making the investment and creating an environment where people feel more whole at work; and (2) outlining the negative consequences for the lack of fulfillment and sustainability of energy. Greater fulfillment supports innovation and growing the business. 
  • The fear of experimentation. There is a fear of trying new things because people see what happens to people who fail. Failures aren’t well received and do not last long. Companies who promote innovation need to understand failure as an acceptable outcome. Part of fulfillment is trusting each other, learning from processes, and experimentation. Experimentation needs to be resident in HR as well. 
  • Don’t wait for divine guidance. If HR wants to play a relevant role in transformational change, they have got to lead. The role is not to just facilitate, it is not to seek permission, and it is not to persuade other people to do things and then stand on the sidelines. HR is expected to lead, demonstrating a connection, knowing what the business needs are, understanding the value chain, and recognizing that you need to be out front leading the change. 
  • HR professionals need to take responsibility for their own development and career. Participating in conferences not only provides for learning of content but it also stresses the importance of building and cultivating a network of people you can rely on before you need to tap it a specific purpose.  Attending conferences is necessary, practical and fun.

Recommended Reading and References From this Episode

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Ian Ziskin HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Ian Ziskin HR Studio Podcast Show Notes
Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 8:00am
HR Consulting
Linda Hlavac
Ian Ziskin
HR Studio Podcast