Category Archives: AHRI National Convention

Are you fulfilling the role of the credible activist?

Just recently, in attending the AHRI National Convention I heard about the AHRI National Awards. I was thinking about entering these, and came across the criteria for the HR Leadership awards. These awards recognize leading HR practitioners whose contribution to the achievement of the business outcomes through HR practices is worthy of recognition.

If you are considering nominating yourself or someone else you’ll need to apply today as it’s the last day, but even if you aren’t you might want to evaluate yourself and see how you rate as a HR practitioner. You might even want to use this as a bit of a checklist or goal for the year ahead instead of how you want to be seen by your business.

woman with megaphone


1. Achievement: The applicant has been recognised for excellence in an academic or career capacity

2. Impact: The applicant has made a tangible contribution to the organisation

3. Progression: The applicant’s career demonstrates an upwards trajectory beyond the expected

4. Leadership: The applicant has demonstrated a capacity for leadership

5. Commitment: The applicant has demonstrated a passion for HR through service to the profession

6. Innovation: the applicant is ahead of the field in ideas and/or practices

7. Credible activism: the applicant demonstrates personal credibility but also a point of view about the business

8. Strategic architect: the applicant demonstrates an understanding of strategy and how HR will deliver strategy.

A few of these are pretty self explanatory but a few I found to be terms that I don’t think you hear a lot of- but hopefully it will be something we HR professionals refer to a lot more in the future. With regards to leadership, I guess it depends on how you define it.

Personally, I interpret it according to Zimmerman’s (2001) definition which is that leaders must play the role of a visionary, a collaborator, a salesperson and a negotiator. I’m sure reading this; you will agree that we play all these roles at some point as a HR professional.

The one that really sticks out for me is the ‘credible activism’ which comes from David Ulrich. It’s about being trusted, respected, admired and listened to, and most importantly holding a firm standpoint about the business.

Ulrich said in a press release, “HR professionals who are credible, but not activists, are admired but do not have much impact. Those who are activists but not credible may have ideas but will not be listened to,” he added.

It really made me think about my role here and will challenge me for the next year to make a serious impact upon the business. What are your goals for the next six months?

Read more from the Society of Human Resource Management on this, or click here to read an interview with David Ulrich.


Leave a comment

Filed under AHRI National Convention, Uncategorized

Jack Welch Says HR Managers Have the Most Important Job in America

Earlier this week I wrote a post “Banking on People”, which outlined David Morgan’s speach at the AHRI National Convention. He made a number of genuine statements about how important people are to your business and how important it was for him as a CEO to work extremely closely with the HR Director.

Additionally, Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was the opening keynote speaker at the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 61 st Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans this week. He says that HR managers have the most important job in America and that CEOs should value their HR managers as much as their chief financial officers.


I think the fact that highly succesful CEO’s in America and Australia are openly coming out and making these statements is so powerful and is necessary in order to drive a change in the way that leaders in the business view Human Resources.

Read more on Jack’s speech here


Filed under AHRI National Convention

FL!P Peter Sheahan speaks about mindset flexibility at AHRI National Conference

Peter Sheahan

How do you stay ahead in a world where ‘fast, good, and cheap’ are just the price of entry for your clients, customers and staff? What is the X factor you need to differentiate your offering – and what will it be tomorrow? How will HR add the most value to business in this market and what will HR need to do in order to be seen as a genuine partner and not just a consultant, or worse, a support function to the wider business?
This session was a must for leaders who want to stay on the cutting edge and future-proof their business. It outlines how the world is changing, and what the mindset of the business leader needs to be to adapt to that change. HR professionals and senior executives will be inspired and informed, and be ready to blitz the challenges that lie before them.

Peter was a highly engaging and interesting speaker, and this was important as he was towards the end of Day Two of the AHRI National Convention. He started out by telling us that the number one skill needed by Senior Leaders was what he called ‘Mindset flexibility’.


‘Mindset flexibility, not proprietary expertise or resources will define the successful businesses and leaders of the future’.

Mindset flexibility is about ‘flipping’ the norms or what we have been complacent with, and being challenged. In times of high-speed change and complexity, a new philosophy for strategy and leadership is needed. Peter argues that the real money is made in the cracks and that we are conditioned by past experiences (choosing to stick with the way its always been done) and being conned by media into believing that success or failure is a result of the economic conditions.

The biggest take out for me from this presentation was when he used the “Values Jam” from IBM as an example of flipping the way HR does things.

In a time of great change, IBM felt like it needed to revaluate its values for the first time since it was founded. They said they needed to “affirm IBM’s reason for being, what sets the company apart and what should drive our actions as individual IBMers.”

The CEO did want this dictated from the top and wanted everyone engaged in the process. So they created the “values jam”. For 72 hours they invited all 319, 000 IBMers to their global intranet for a discussion on the values at IBM.

The CEO said that people were brutally honest and that “some of what they wrote was painful to read, because they pointed out all the bureaucratic and dysfunctional things that get in the way of serving clients, working as a team or implementing new ideas.”

The result was:
• Dedication to every client’s success
• Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
• Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

What an amazing organizational change experience to be part of. So go ahead and get yourself FL!Pped today!

Leave a comment

Filed under AHRI National Convention

The Secret Business of Social Networking. Lee Hopkins at the AHRI National Convention

Lee Hopkins- Director of Buzz
Check out his blog

Lee Hopkins

“Lee Hopkins is a management psychologist with over 20 years experience of helping businesses communicate better for better business results. An internationally sought-after speaker, Lee combines his passion for employee and online business communication with his dynamic presentation skills to create ‘once seen, never forgotten’ live experiences.”

Scepticism still surrounds the use of social networking sites at work for many organisations. Can this new technology be tapped to achieve business outcomes and what are the potential positive and negative implications for organisations?

I’m fairly engrossed in the Social media scene already (I’m a member of the Social Media Club Sydney) so Lee’s presentation was introductory for me, but judging from the amount of questions and engagement he had from the HR professionals in the room- this is an area that needs to be explored much further.

Lee argues that social networking is now much bigger than email- its one of the largest ways that we get information. However it’s important to follow the Social media ethos; which is about trust, transparency and accountability. Gone are the days when companies could not admit mistakes- social media has actually encouraged companies to come forward and concede errors in the interest of being transparent and accountable.

See an example here

He then illustrated the power of social media by playing us a clip of an AOL customer trying to cancel his account. The customer had to wait on hold for more than 15 minutes, and then asks to cancel the account. It’s a frustrating call to listen to as the customer repeatedly says “cancel the account” and “I don’t know to make this any clearer”. The AOL rep refuses to budge and even asks to speak with the customer’s father even though the customer is 30 years old.

The customer then put the call on his blog, and it went viral. Due to its popularity, the customer was interviewed by many television and radio stations including CNBC. To date, it has had more than 250, 000 views on YouTube.

Lee also spoke a bit about Second Life- which to be honest I’m not a huge fan of.

According to their website: “Second Life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its Residents. From the moment you enter Second Life, you’ll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity.”

Many organisations have already jumped onto Second Life including Xerox and IBM. They use it hold ‘virtual’ meetings, conferences, training sessions and they even simulate business situations and build product prototypes.

You might want to read more on this by checking out the IBM case study.

Overall the key message was that Social Media isn’t something companies should rush into. It’s important to conduct a risk analysis, develop clear policies, and ensure that your employees are trained.

Leave a comment

Filed under AHRI National Convention, Social Media/Technology

Future Files: a history of the next 50 years. Richard Watson speaks at the AHRI National Convention

Richard Watson
Check out his blog.

Richard Watson

Prediction is a dangerous game – the future is never a straight, linear extrapolation from the present. Unexpected innovations and events conspire to trip up the best-laid plans, but predicting is better than not thinking about the future at all.

Widely acclaimed author and futurist Richard Watson makes provocative forecasts about how the world and the world of work might change in the next half-century as he examines emerging patterns and developments in society, the economy and business.

Richard Watson is a futurist- and what exactly is a futurist you ask? Richard said it is essentially someone who thinks about the future. Pretty simple explanation, but don’t we all think about the future in one way or other?

More specifically Futurists, or futurologists, are those who speculate about the future. He says that we can’t predict individual events, but as a futurist he looks at broad waves and patterns to predict what may happen.

In his presentation, Richard argued that there were four key drivers of change in the next 15 years; namely globalisation, demographics, technology and the environment and these are explained briefly below.

Growth of outsourcing
Rising job mobility
High skill jobs under increasing pressure

Ageing workforce
Declining birth rates
Skills shortages- more leaving Australia than those entering
Gen Y impacts- (Gen X and Boomers struggle if they can’t physically see their workers so workplace needs to get more flexible)
Gen i- millennials etc will expect a much more flexible workplace
Immigration- we’ll need to increase people that come in to compete
Baby Boomers retiring


The internet will be more sensory
Pace of change will increase
Increased automation i.e. smart machines
Growth of virtual worlds
Rising IT enabling distance working and collaboration
Rise of robotics
Web 3.0

Demand for natural resources rising
People more aware of sustainability issues
Procurement taking on strategic significance
Tightening regulation
Rising transparency expectations
People are beginning to make decisions on social, ethical and environmental decisions

So what does the future of work look like?

It is faster… more global… more polarised (with technology and incomes)… there will be more part-time work…there’ll be more specialists….more machines…more stressful!

Finally I’ll leave you with Richard’s tongue-in-cheek “Extinction Timeline”.

Leave a comment

Filed under AHRI National Convention

Your Manager is a greater predictor of your life satisfaction than your partner; Work Life Conflict in Australia

Linda Duxbury

We all play many roles: employee, boss, subordinate, spouse, parent, child, sibling and friend. Each of these roles imposes demands on us which require time, energy and commitment. Work-family or work-life conflict occurs when the cumulative demands of these many work and non-work roles are incompatible in some respect.

Dr Duxbury is a leading workplace demographic expert and health researcher. She will explore the issue of work-life balance in Australia through her recent research on Australian managers. The research has assisted both employees and employers to identify what is needed to combat the issue and how it is affecting Australian workers and workplaces.

I really enjoyed hearing Linda speak because her material had a solid foundation based in significant research of Australian workplaces. She articulated that Australians have a bit of a way to go in this space because we haven’t equated work life balance to the bottom line yet.

Work life balance is important in Australia because there are huge changes in family types; we have an ageing workforce and declining birth rates- and this all impacts business. We also have the highest reliance on female part-time labour in the world.

Dr Linda Duxbury

Its not just about mothers with young children to care for anymore- it’s also about people who have both young children or teenagers AND elderly parents that need care. This is known as the “sandwich generation” and Linda predicts that the situation is to worsen as the population ages and more employees transition out of the workforce and then require care. This is a serious issue for Australia, particularly for Gen X and Gen Y individuals.

So what is Work life Conflict?

Linda defines it as when someone experiences role overload (too much to do) and when work interferes with family (needing to be in two places at once). We’ve all been at a family event such as watching someone play a sport or a BBQ and seen people working away on their blackberries answering emails or taking business calls. Managers and Professionals in Australia are 5 times more likely to prioritise work over family.

This example was particularly poignant when she mentioned a study on blackberry use. The group worked on average 47 hours a week and were given blackberries for 7 months. After 7 months, the average hours per week that they were working exploded to a massive 71 hours a week! Incredible but plausible.

This all however comes down to your Manager, who according to research is a bigger predictor of your life satisfaction than your partner. An organisation can have the best policies and practices in the world, but the managers must talk the talk and also walk the walk. People must have access to work life balance solutions- not just have them in policies.

The key message is that work life conflict is imperative for employers to consider. Gen Y’ers don’t want to be their workaholic parents and many are opting not to endure the overload or stress. This means companies will have huge succession planning problems. It is not a moral issue, nor is it about feeling good. It is a serious issue linked to health care, the labour force, employee engagement, absenteeism and turnover.

Leave a comment

Filed under AHRI National Convention

Banking on People: David Morgan

David Morgan is the former chief executive officer of Westpac Banking Corporation (1999-2008). Prior to Westpac, Dr Morgan worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington and the Federal Treasury as the senior deputy secretary. In 2009, Dr Morgan was named a member of the Order of Australia for service to the finance sector as a leader in the development of policies affecting the regulation of financial institutions, corporate social responsibility, and economic reform.

I really enjoyed David’s talk because although he touched on the GFC, unemployment and what his thoughts were on the situation; his overwhelming message was that your frontline people are your brand and that you need to look after them because not only are you nothing without them, but it makes good business sense. Customers don’t trust companies; they trust people- that is why your staff are so important. He also noted that when you have employees whose values align with the organisation, they’ll essentially manage themselves. He appeared to be a great leader during his time as CEO at Westpac and listening to him made part of me wished I had been there to experience that journey as well.


For instance, as CEO he went around Australia with all the DECISION MAKERS in the company, visiting ALL their sites, TWICE a year and spoke to ALL the frontline leaders at Westpac. Why? Because this was the best vehicle to communicate the vision and get feedback from the frontline. He also had a company hotline, where at certain periods of the day anyone could call and talk to the CEO, because he didn’t want to be divorced from the frontline staff. Finally he said that out of all the executives, he spent most of his time with the HR director, and that their offices were always next to each other. In how many companies do you know of where HR has such a prominent seat at the table- let alone right next to the CEO?

He also spoke a lot about ethics and corporate responsibility, arguing that they are demonstrably important to business. Moreover, he articulated that corporate social responsibility is a value adding strategy. Check out the Westpac website for some info.

Finally, he argued the importance of looking after your top 10% of talent. It’s important to do this during a boom because of the scarcity of talent but also in an economic downturn because your top 10% of talent will still have the options to go somewhere else. This is why he also said companies should avoid knee jerk reactions with regards to compensation and that the top 10% of talent should be exempt from hiring and pay freezes.

Overall David was fantastic to listen to because it was really proof of what is possible with the right leadership.


Filed under AHRI National Convention