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Dear friend

I do hope my letter finds you, your friends and family well.

I’m writing this in a real hurry but wanted to share some thoughts with you which impact on the future of the HR profession.

I went to the CIPD NAP conference in York last week and will be writing a few blogs about the thoughts it provoked. The conference was excellent and left me feeling really positive. And happy now I think of it. I wanted to drop you a line first with three reactions from me  which affect all HRDs and you, my friend, might want to think about them if you are not already.

Let’s spread the word.

Firstly I saw Ryan Cheyne speak. You know the chap – won an award or two as a fellow HRD. Within his presentation was a message that more HRDs need to heed: when planning your agenda focus in on a small number of HR priorities and do them relentlessly well. Really well.  Over and over again. Which activities? Well I think it’s for every HRD to know their business so it’s over to you (them) to reflect on what they might be. I have some thoughts if you are interested. It’s about focus and keeping it simple I suppose.

Secondly I was in a room listening to a very interesting presentation from Dean Horsman on emotional engagement. He had some really good ideas. The mood in the room wasn’t always helpful to him I’m afraid – maybe some unnecessary challenge and one or two interventions which, for me at least, were a bit disappointing. The one that really made me think was this: A particular HR professional became a little agitated when he didn’t have a stock answer to “what should I do if my Board behaves without emotional intelligence?” Well there isn’t a stock answer is there? It’s for the HRD and his/her colleagues to work that out. And maybe to take a personal risk in feeding back some uncomfortable truths to their boss(es). I think many HRDs have to face up to Board behaviour and find their own way of influencing/challenging it. Part of being an HRD I’d say.  What do you think? Let me know if you think I’m being a little too requiring of others here.

Finally the man himself – Peter Cheese. His thinking has evolved and he is now advocating, for example, a switch “from control to enablement” in HR behaviour. Music to my ears! I was so pleased to hear him say this and tweeted about it immediately. You may remember – back in my last HR #1 role – the core of my HR functional strategy was “less controlling and more empowering, equipping & enabling”. And you know how I’ve coached and mentored people to be thinking in this way. I was really heartened to see the CIPD advertising similar thinking. So now it’s up to everyone at senior levels in HR to think about what that means for their role and their function. Again it means stepping up to the plate and taking some personal risks.

Lots more to share from the conference – some really big ideas – and I will very soon in another blog. It’ll be more reflective than this letter which I suppose is on the challenging side. But that’s it for today and I think there are some really big points to consider for anyone who pretends to, or is currently occupying, an HRD position.

Yours, as ever, Tony