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‘Curiosity and confidence’: the new currency for HR

Atlassian’s work futurist Dom Price has urged the HR profession to stop living in fear of what could go wrong, and to embrace ‘curiosity and confidence’ as the new currency of work .

He was speaking at a breakout session at this year’s AHRI National Convention held in Brisbane, which discussed ‘Transitioning Workforces to a New Way of Working’.

The panel discussion between Price, Vector’s chief people officer Fiona Michel, the Department of the Environment and Energy’s Paula Goodwin, and Jon Williams, partner and co-Founder of Fifth Frame, provided a mix of private and public sector viewpoints related to bringing about people-focused change in business.

Fiona Michel kicked off the discussion pointing out that for HR people to generate the capacity necessary for organisations to navigate the new world of complexity, they will need to let go of many of their norms. One of the most obvious being performance management.

She said despite the fact that many in the industry know this is an outdated model, we are still working within it; and it is in fact “long since dead”. She spoke to the huge cost of running performance appraisals, and pointed out that it does not generate the increased levels of performance to justify its existence.

She also said that HR as an industry needs to review many of its people processes and let go of the fear that comes with that, because it is the only way we can create capacity long term.

Monthly report generation was raised by Jon Williams as another work practice that doesn’t serve the greater good, as he claimed staff rarely take reports into account or even read them, yet so many many hours are dedicated to producing them.

Overcoming loss aversion among staff is key to dropping some of these practices and creating better uses for people’s time, and this particularly applies in the public sector where “risk tolerance” is lower, according to Paula Goodwin.

The challenge in the public sector is getting employees to think outside of many of the ingrained business structures they have always worked to such as recruitment processes, systems, reporting lines and cost centres.

A new currency

“Compliance and certainty” have traditionally been the currency of work, added Dom Price, but he feels that “curiosity and confidence” are now the new currency.

This means that, in practice, organisations moving forward focusing on what they are doing well is far more productive than living in fear of what could go wrong.

He also points out that despite the plethora of new technology, productivity is at an all time low, and says this is perhaps because we should no longer be measuring productivity but looking at purpose, planning and people instead.

Williams claimed that organisations are often not honest about their purpose, and understandably so, as whenever the focus is claimed to be anything other than ‘shareholder return’, there are ramifications and issues to deal with.

“As a profession we’ve got to get a whole lot more ballsy, and we’re not there,” Fiona Michel stated.

“We’re still trying to follow best practice and we’ve got to get to the point where we’re prepared to do something different.”

Further information You can find out more about the AHRI National Convention here.

This article was first published on www.hradvance.com.au on 24th September 2019.

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