Unlearning is emerging as a core competency. But no-one teaches unlearning. Unlearning is extremely difficult because it’s linked to stability. Have you seen the bikes that are designed to turn the opposite way to what you’ve known your whole life? A guy undertook an experiment to learn how to ride one of these bikes. It took him 45 mins a day for 8 months. For his son, who was 5 years old, it was a different story. It took him 2 weeks to learn to ride one of these ‘trick’ bikes. For an adult, after mastering this different kind of bike, when you get back on a regular bike, you can’t ride it. How do you unlearn? Leaders need to create a space where we can get the badly done first.
Argh. It’s coming up to that time of year again. And I ask you why? why? why? This isn’t an intro to a history lesson on why we have performance reviews. I’m sure they solved a problem when first invented. Pay for Performance has some merit and you can kind of understand that the annual performance review is something to anchor this to. But work is changing! We can’t just keep applying the old way of doing things and assume they still work in today’s context.
So just imagine for a moment, the impact of in-organically growing an organisation over 100 years or more. Historically the organisational approach to the integration of mergers and acquisitions was the ‘bolt on’ effect. In the case of a merger; bolt two companies together. In the case of an acquisition; the smaller company comes and does things our way. What you are left with is a mashup of processes, systems and policy. Then on top of these complexities are the work-arounds. These are the steps you need to take to make things work in today’s context.
Like the frog in slow boiling water that doesn’t know it’s burning, the organisation becomes a 12-14 layer hierarchy of people (at the lower levels) doing their job without really understanding why. Formal communication channels are twisted or blocked. Relationships have become the key currency because without knowing the right people it’s impossible to find information, or to get things done.
The significance of the installation of walk/don't walk signs that show the silhouette of a woman (replacing the traditional male figure) is difficult to explain and too easy to mock. A scan of social media will show mostly criticism, and on seven news last night I saw Robert Doyle, Lord Mayor of Melbourne espousing “I’m not sure my daughters will feel more empowered as women because the city of Melbourne walk/don’t walk signs are men rather than women or the other way around”. Firstly, Robert tell us what you think rather than sharing your daughters' assumed view. Secondly, you are missing the point.
When I first started working in Human Resources, recruitment was the part of my job I liked the least. It was hard work for the candidate and hard work for the recruiter. It took a lot of time, so was expensive, and I had a scatter gun approach; cast the net wide and hope to scoop up some suitable people along the way. To give you an idea of how long ago this was, it was before I had a computer on my desk (laptops only a dream), and so the fax was the friend I’d rely upon to send candidate details to hiring managers (quicker than post!).
Gender Equality is a hot topic for me. It’s something I tend to get a bit fired up about which can repel some people. You see, I believe men and women are equal. You probably won’t argue with this statement, but its when you get into the operational aspects of this vision that people start to go a bit iffy on me. I’ll admit, sometimes I go a bit iffy on them for not agreeing with me (I have flaws), but it REALLY hurts when women are not treated as equals today, or are suffering now from not being treated as equals in the past.
After many years fighting my body shape, I learnt about the genetic lottery. You know the one you don’t know you entered, until out of the blue you realise that beautiful people are just born that way. They won the genetic lottery. I’ve got a couple of friends who won this lottery so I know what’s included in the jackpot. It’s not that they can smash a hamburger and still look great. It’s more that they don’t want to smash a hamburger. They don’t torture themselves with diets, they don’t over eat. Long legs, tight buns and perky boobs just happen. And exercise? sometimes yes, sometimes no. It doesn’t really make too much of a difference either way. They may go for a walk or a swim, but they are not up at 5.30am most days, slogging it out at boot camp or boxing to get unseen results (gosh I feel great though).
I’ve been fortunate to work in organisations at every stage of the business life cycle. I’ve worked with new businesses fighting to exist and mature businesses suffocating in policy and process. It’s the growth phase where I see businesses setting themselves apart — its what happens here that will influence the culture of your business as you scale. It’s the time when every day is crazy fast and people operations can be an afterthought. Having a plan to align your people operations to your strategy, and to make your business a great place to work, will ensure you grow in a way that your people want to work for you and perform at their best.