#HRGCNZ : 3 little words

Posted: August 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

or why HR has a gift horse to NOT look in the mouth


A post supporting the HR Game Changer Conference in New Zealand – 17th/18th August 2015

It’s a funny phrase that – “never look a gift horse in the mouth”.  It apparently has its origins in Olde English with a Latin Phrase that preceded that even.  It was essentially saying, “Never inspect the teeth of a given horse” i.e. when gifted a horse, never look in its mouth to see if it it growing new teeth and therefore whether it’s younger or a more mature nag.  Just be grateful you’ve been given a horse.

What are the three words and the gift horse I speak of?

Talent; Reward; Productivity.  Yes there’s technology, and data, and innovation, and change, and climate and all sorts of other things that are the megatrends of now but the three words Talent, Reward, Productivity cropped up in several unconnected conversations with HR, Charitable, Academic and Leadership professionals with me over the last few weeks.

Whether or not you agree these are utterly crucial factors in the world of work and success factors in the now and the future, it was uncanny that all three kept popping up as themes.  So I’m going with them as crucial based on that circumstance that has had me thinking for over a week now.

Talent – people with skills and adaptability that you have to find, attract, retain, tool-up, deploy and let loose so they grow your business into success.  There is no war though, just a series of campaigns, search/seek/secure missions and so on.  What IS clear to me is that talented people, working to their strengths and supported, valued and inspired to perform often leads to successful organisations and more joyful ways of working.

Reward – because it’s not about pure cash or benefits of a fiscal nature any more.  It’s a smorgasbord of things that can be anything from social recognition to private messages of appreciation – whatever they are, they’re important.  To everyone.  Cashing a paycheck is no longer what many people are about as much.  Fulfilment and purpose – even as Dan Pink called it transcendent purpose – are critical factors in the reward pot of the now and certainly the future.

Productivity – that enigmatic factor the Government of the UK is so obsessed with.  Ultimately, something that denotes how effective, lean, credible, satisfying, channelled, repeatable, and the creation of an edge that determines whether we’re toiling away under the myth of efficiency or whether we are actually making a difference and getting real value from what we do that benefits the entire nation and the world even.  A war on waste.  Wasted effort that is.

3 crucial factors that may in themselves or collectively determine whether a company survives in this ultra competitive and challenging world of business we find ourselves in.

HR’s gift?  These three words are professional areas that form part of the HR portfolio and therefore a real chance to prove credibility, trust and belief in a viable part of a better future of work.  A chance to be taken seriously.  A chance to show the profession has a real impact on success and a chance to stand up and be counted.

Why wouldn’t we want to be the custodian of these vital elements of work?  Under confident, under developed and under pressure to perform are perhaps factors where some might feel reluctant to take the challenge before them and look that gift horse right in the smacker.

Except of course, those who are caring, confident, game-changing HR professionals.  It’s a gift they’ll not return and ask for a credit note on.

if we (in HR) get Talent; Reward and Productivity right, there’s hope for a better working proposition in the future.  Hope that HR will become a highly sought after professional avenue.  A chance to restore humanity to the sciences of motivation, work and continuous improvement.

A chance to give people a hopeful, energising future.  

And where we resist the temptation to scrutinise the dental elements of an equine endowment.


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