John C.M. Cunningham: My TakeAways From DisruptHR Toronto 3.0

Photo credit: @JsarahwatsHR

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by DisruptHR Toronto 3.0 attendee John C.M. Cunningham MHRM,CHRP, Human Resources Advisor at Siemens, who attended his first DisruptHR event on December 1, 2016


Last Thursday, December 1st, I attended a DisruptHR event for the first time. My motivation going in was simple – the HR field is currently exploding with change, and I want to be involved in any way that I can.

Tim Baker kicked the night off with a story about how his son – paying attention to some of the energy of his excited preparation for the event – asked about the word Disrupt. “Doesn’t that mean to cause problems? – won’t you get in trouble?” Sometimes kids can really boil things down to their most simple form.

I’ve been given a unique opportunity to disseminate the information I learned last week through an official presentation at our HR Leadership meeting today, so I’ve been analyzing the information I learned and reading more about some of the topics.

In terms of topics covered, this is what I learned (and want to learn more about!)

Roy Tran / @RoyTranHR pushed us to consider looking for the right talent instead of top talent.

You cannot expect to make a motivated team just through cherry picking people with the proper credentials or experience. Just like we cannot collectively agree on the best partner for every relationship, the same applies to employees – there is not one universal standard for the perfect employee. Also, consider the timing – even if you find an employee that is the perfect match, if the timing is wrong, just like a relationship it won’t work – “I’m just not ready to get serious right now…” I found some related reading here: Three Ways Your Company Can Attract the Right Talent by Dorie Clark.

Amanda Caldas linked Neuroscience and HR, and stressed the impact an employer can have in the way it interacts with employees.

Some tips were to make your Learning & Development emotionally charged, hire for social connection, and spend time considering ‘what’s in it for me’ when managing change – frame it as such. I did some more digging on the SCARF model that Amanda presented, and found a great article on triggering of the threat & reward centers of the brain, as well as the humongous impact that this has on everything to do with work productivity: Managing with the Brain in Mind by Naomi Eisenberger.

Noel Webb / @noelwebb introduced those of us that were uninitiated to some of the ways AI is already able to impact HR.

Whether it is using chat bots to collect or distribute information to candidates before ever talking to them, or using AI for insight into mass unstructured data (pre-hire and pre-exit). If we can use AI to screen and shortlist candidates, it will give our talent acquisition teams more time with the candidates that matter. In addition, I cannot begin to imagine what it would do for employer branding if you could communicate to an applicant almost immediately that they will not be considered for a role.

Rob Catalano / @RobCatalano rated our performance management reviews a zero.

“The PMP epitomizes the absurdity of corporate life” – so very true. We learned from Rob about Deloitte’s recent findings that only 8% of managers/HR professionals found the PMP process useful. He also introduced us to the four questions Deloitte has implemented in replacement of a standard PMP. I found an article that covers in detail here: Reinventing Performance Management by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall.

Rob also spoke of Agile PMP, which consists of three pillars, including setting more frequent goals, continuous feedback, and enabling managers to do their jobs.

Sergey Kalnish / @SergeyKalnish argued for scrapping the probationary period.

He primed us with the definition of probation: “Release of offender from detention, subject to period of good behavior under supervision.” What does having such a probation period say about the employer? 1. We don’t trust you and 2. We don’t trust our own selection process. Instead – Sergey suggested we rename it to “New Employee Integration Period”. We should use this vital time during the employee’s new relationship with the employer to do the following; Show big picture – inspire, build trust. Then, define success – set realistic expectations. Can organizations that tout an ownership culture really do so with a typical probation period in place?

Jeff Waldman / @JeffWaldmanHR highlighted something extremely important; hiring employees with disabilities is a major bonus for the employer.

The retention and overall performance numbers are off the charts. Diversity is a competitive advantage – don’t think it isn’t.

Ryan Porter / @lunch_buddy helped us all realize that job ads haven’t really changed since the 1990’s and there is no good reason why.

If you want boring employees, keep up with the boring job ads. If you want to hire a marketing manager, go find your BEST marketing manager. Interview them, find out why they like their job (shout out to appreciative inquiry for those that have read about it), and then write the ad like you were writing it to them. Ryan also showed us a heat map of a job ad page – put your important stuff in the top left! Also – be more specific writing qualifications.

Jason Gotwalt / @jayg_ink reminded us that talent may be the end result, but mindset is the beginning.

Champion mindset = Springboard resilience. Stress is ok – but we need to change how we interpret and react to it. As employers, we need to make sure our employees are resilient to stress. Put them in the right mindset, build the reliance, and stress isn’t as negative of a thing anymore.

Denise Roy / @DeniseKRoy spoke about imposter syndrome – common among high achievers and especially women.

She took us through a number of ways that someone that is experiencing this can go about self correcting. This is a major issue for many, and she had some amazing tactics on how to counter them – I didn’t catch them all but please feel free to comment if you did!

Jose Cabral / @JoseCabralTO highlighted the differences and similarities between generational cohorts. He highlighted the importance of not looking at everyone as a part of the same group with his coffee bean example.

Lori Pearlstein / @LoriPearlstein gave us an awesome introduction into improv and how it can be used within our teams to make an impact.

The benefits of this to building a better team – such as being able to adapt to change, embracing failure, being in the moment. Other benefits include building confidence, as well as the “accept and amplify” technique – also known as “Yes AND!” This is a fantastic way of building on ideas, honing in on ingenuity – what if during a meeting everyone had to say “yes, and!”

Wrapping Up

Finally – the sponsors were super cool – and I was able to “HR nerd-out”, as I call it, listening to some of the things available, or in the pipeline. Using empathy toys in recruitment or training as tools? What about being able to fill a shift on demand in Toronto within 60 seconds?

Most of all, I learned that there is a strong network of people (not just HR professionals – people from many disciplines) that want to see the field grow into something amazing. It is an exciting time to be in HR. As a member of the HR team at a large organization, I hope to do my part in bringing not just the topics that were presented back to my business, but also the excitement that I felt when listening to the speakers.

I will definitely see you all next year – thanks for a great event!

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn here, and is reprinted with permission.)

Share this article: