Perry Tims Bio

So it seemed that the topic chosen by the #ConnectingHR community in the UK for their unconference on 21 June 2013 (UK-based HR and Organisation Development practitioners can still book tickets here) worked well for #nzlead.  Credit @joningham who – as far as I am aware – coined that term for us to focus the unconference on.  It seemed to strike a chord with the New Zealand and UK HR fraternity that now frequents the best HR-related twitter-chat on the planet.  Hosted with precision and energy as ever by the fabulous @TashTasticNZ.

What were the main themes then?  Well the entire topic of #BraveHR – and bravery as a professional in an HR/Work capacity were primed by @SimonHeath1 through his own blog here.  Rightly calling out bravery as something you do when clearing mines in Angola or facing political turmoil in an oppressive regime, he recognised that in corporate life, being brave in HR had a lot of merit.  Especially when, as Simon so eloquently put it, faced with “Entrenched dogmatic cultural obstacles”. 

It seems everywhere we look in the world of work , there are practices and behaviours that simply get in the way and a courage to challenge (see the CIPD’s HR Profession Map here if you want to know how hard-wired being brave is considered for HR practitioners) is a way of life.

Generally, the first question elicited responses similar to Simon’s blog – HR DOES need to be brave.  Set against this was the invisibility of HR as a corporate function and not an outward facing function such as Marketing.  @AlisonChisnell summed it up when she said “HR needs to be brave, because too often there is an easier option that doesn’t deal with the real issue.”  Often, it seems, the less brave thing to do is close ranks and deal with things in secret not tackling the real crux of an organisational / employee problem.

@MarkSumner73 said “we have so many touch points and impact right across the business, we should be brave”.  This was added to by @StephenTovey13 who said “Brave isn’t just standing up to others in org, it’s also standing up FOR the org and leading & partnering on what needs to be done”.

@nzheadhunter weighed in with this brave comment “Being brave means staring down a GM and saying their unit is not productive because of poorly motivated staff”.  For sure.

So that pretty much cleared up the case that HR DOES need to be brave.

The second question posed was if we need to be braver in HR where do we focus efforts and the 3rd questions was that if people in the profession aren’t showing that, what do we do?  @Matt_Pontin said “coach, lead. Be sure they are clear capable & motivated” – so not accepting a lack of bravery more stimulating people to being so.

David D’Souza tweeting @dds180 added here “try and help them make it… and if not… change the people to make the change”.  It appears that not being brave in HR was holding the profession back somewhat and people without bravery might not belong here anymore.  That is brave but people holding back a profession from maximum impact was clearly not helping anyone – themselves included.

Simon Jones @ariadneassoc said it was “all about role models –  people need to see successful #hr as the brave ones, and those who aren’t brave falling away.”

There was a general discussion about the term “Business Partner” and whilst some accord with that term there was dischord as this felt too passive and not enabling enough.  Business Leader was preferred by @nzheadhunter.

The 4th question was about the signs to spot when #BraveHR was making a difference.  @SimonHeath1 in his blog said this “When courageous people have spoken up and acted to change the business for the better we will all feel it instintively in a changed culture based on shared values and authentic and honest dialogue, being authentically us at work.”

Simon Jones @aridaneassoc again reminded us that some things will disappear rather than other things appear, when he said “Brave HR will only work in a receptive culture – the example of “Deeply Disengaged” this week shows that  http://bit.ly/149bvUA

And David D’Souza @dds180 dropped this as a marker – “if successful, in the future this topic would be nonsense. It would be the same as finance discussing how best to add up”.

Overall, there was a real sense that this was a worthy focus of conversation and an approach to keep some focus on.  How this is taken forward will be one of those things that we won’t see a movement on (!) like engageforsuccess.org over in the UK; no #BraveHR will be about US as a community of passionate, capable and caring professionals looking out for each other and supporting each other.

I have no doubts that the #ConnectingHR unconference on 21 June will unravel more of this.  I will undertake to do a supplemental blog here for the #nzlead community we in the UK feel so honoured to be a part of.

I said it in my preview blog and so I conclude with increased belief (with thanks to all the participants in the #nzlead twitter chat for doing so) that it is about YOU, ME, US.

“It is about YOU.  Being true to you; standing firm about you and what you believe in as a human being and a professional who is there to make organisations and human beings “work”.

#BraveHR is in all of us.  If we believe in ourselves.” 

I believe in myself just that little bit more thanks to #nzlead and the chance to discuss this theme. 

Thank you all.

Perry Timms



Perry Tims Bio

So this is my second UK-takeover of the best twitter chat for HR professionals on the planet.  #nzlead quite literally puts the ding in my Thursday twitter feed and a weekly dose of professional chat and contemplation over 140 character bursts.

It also chimes with a theme we’re working on here in the UK, #BraveHR as part of the ConnectingHR social HR practitioners community.  So this theme then: #BraveHR.  What is it?  Why are we talking about it and what will it get us if we are that?

Some people have blogged about it ALREADY.  Doug Shaw’s is a good read about Fear here and then there was Neil Morrison’s 10 Point Agenda for HR here and there’s been some twitter chat on #BraveHR – and there will be more.

I reflected on the title, on the likely discussion this would lead to and on my own experiences of being in organisational development/change and HR.  Was I ever brave?  If so when and what did it get me?  Is there any point in being brave inside a corporate organisation or is it best to go “head down and just get through”?  Is there a need to be braver when you run your own business?

Anyway, I may muse further on these but I also got to thinking about many of my past HR colleagues and connections and thought about the same questions.  Have they been brave?  If they were brave, why? What did it get them?

And I came up short.  They weren’t brave at all.  On the outside it looked that way anyway.  They were predictable, safe, reliable, steadfast, bureaucratic, process-driven, a bit 2-dimensional, moderately successful but nonetheless successful, by the book, tidy.  Brave?  Nope.  Not apparently.

There were times when they were involved in tribunal cases, mediation cases, restructure difficulties and Union negotiations.  Were they brave then?  Not by my definition.  They were firm, safety conscious, tactical, followed a process, kept tight documentary trails and often, they “won”.  I say won, because they got what the organisation was after – a resolution that didn’t cost them a lot in £’s and reputational damage.  Still not brave though.

So in my definition #BraveHR is this – Standing out and being different – being you whilst still part of a collective. 

A couple of examples to explain my point somewhat.

  1. Not accepting mediocrity in your colleagues, business and profession.  Mediocrity is the scourge of human success.  I would rather someone try to punch above their weight than be resplendent coasting along on cruise control “just” getting by.  What a waste of human potential and skill.  This needs calling out but not necessarily in a street-brawl kind of way.   More in a stimulating, energising inspiring way. # BraveHR in this example here means sticking to the principle that people are inherently capable of great things.  Instead of forcing that from people, HR creates conditions where that comes out naturally or with some stimulation – that takes bravery in my book.  Brave because for some HR folks, that’s too ideological and takes too much effort.

And then there’s another frame.

  1. Holding your nerve and believing in yourself in creating a better way.  Having confidence in yourself, your beliefs and your ways is not always easy.  Have you ever:
    1. Been persuaded down a path you’re not convinced by via experienced heads around you?
    2. Deferred to organisational hierarchical power or strong views put across by lead figures?
    3. Accepted a norm or a situation because you don’t have all the answers?
    4. Had a controversial line that others are scared by, confused by, laugh at you for so you backed off or watered down your ideas?

ALL these things have happened to me.  I can guarantee you one thing; when I compromised because of politics, hierarchy, self-doubt or just plain conciliatory thinking things didn’t work out.  I am to blame for that because I adjusted my way and I wasn’t brave enough to stand firm and hold my nerve.  Believe in myself.

When I changed my approach to this, I got some success, some things still didn’t work out but I felt better about it.  Better because I was brave.  I began to enjoy being controversial and different.  I revelled in it somewhat.  I broke more rules and I became a bit of a rebel.

So for me, #BraveHR isn’t about taking on the big jobs in global corporate or big ticket assignments necessarily.  It isn’t about being a fighter, an angry provoker/verbal jouster, it isn’t about kicking ass and putting the Dictator in HRD.  It is about YOU.  Being true to you; standing firm about you and what you believe in as a human being and a professional who is there to make organisations and human beings “work”.

#BraveHR is in all of us.  If we believe in ourselves.

My four questions are:-

Q1 – Why does HR need to be brave – are IT, Finance and Marketing brave?

Q2 – Taken we need more BraveHR – how and where do we focus that effort?

Q3 – If people in HR aren’t brave enough what do we do about that?

Q4 – What will be the signs that BraveHR has made a difference?