Dear HR.....It's over.

Dear HR.....It's over.

Written by Kevan McBeth, Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

Dear Human Resources,

It’s been real. It’s been good. But let’s be honest, here – it’s never been real good.

We had a whirlwind affair, you and I - with lots of ups and downs, but I have to say goodbye. It's not working HR - we need to move on and see other people. 

It started off like Gosling and Mcadams....

It started off like Gosling and Mcadams....

We got together back in University- we were young and full of ideas on how we were going to change the world. Things moved fast for us, I’ll admit it, and even though something about the words “human” and “resources” never really sat well with me, you promised me things like “being able to make a difference in the workplace”  and “changing people’s lives for the better” – and I ignored that tiny voice in my head and took the leap.

Things were good at first.

You and I settled down in a small cubicle at the Public Service Commission. It was small, sure, but it was ours and we loved it. I got a job as a staffing consultant, which is how these things always start. It came with a "management salary" and business cards made me feel oh so special. I sat in hour after hour of interviews and worked late nights developing interview guides and screening candidates, but I didn’t care damnit- it was all worth it. I was making a difference in people's lives - I could hear it in a candidate’s voice when I got to call them and offer them a job! We bounced around to a few different places during that period of time, and we tried a few different things while we were in the staffing world. Most of the time the role was the same, but we didn’t care- we were drunk with passion and purpose!

Then we made the move from operational to "strategic HR"

For a while there we were caught in the throws of joy and wonderment too. From a cubicle to an office- with a door and name plate and everything! We were moving up in the world. We took on global issues like policies and strategic planning and…..other stuff that seemed to still be connected to that promise of changing lives. But it also started to feel cold and impersonal, like we spent more of our time outlining what we couldn't do, rather than what was possible. I think that’s when we started to see some cracks in the relationship. We’d start to argue when we ran into office politics,  had difference of opinion and were even tested with some lack of strategic clarity and corporate will. It felt less and less like “us”.

And then the big move – Middle Management!

Finally, a chance to be the man with the plan! We could go in and help people be more engaged and happy with what they were doing! We were going to build a team in that image in our minds way back in university! People skipping happily to work, sharing ideas and being collaborative, doing meaningful work for others and having fun- we were going to have fun on our watch, even if it killed us damnit! And we (gleefully) yelled alot!

Fast forward 6 months.

I am not sure where it hit me. I think it was while I was standing beside a dumpster at the gas station beside work where I slammed down a Slim Jim and a bottle of Pepsi between my 12:00 pm Executive Wall Walk meeting and my 1:15 Engagement Metrics meeting that it hit me. What were we doing here?  We weren’t doing anything that we had planned to. My time was less my own as an Executive than it was when I was a Staffing Consultant. How did we get here?  I wasn’t paying attention to people at all anymore- I was caught in a never ending cycle of meetings, planning sessions, data evaluations and firefighting. I wasn’t taking care of people. I wasn’t even taking care of myself.

It was obvious that we needed some distance. 

We went from Champagne cocktails and Caviar dreams to Slim Jims and Pepsi by the dumpster- where did our love go HR?! 

We went from Champagne cocktails and Caviar dreams to Slim Jims and Pepsi by the dumpster- where did our love go HR?! 

So, HR, it’s time to go our separate ways. I am breaking up with you. It’s not me….it’s totally you.

I am looking for something more. I want to be the kind of leader that helps others become their best. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, in our organization and in the community we serve. I want everything that I thought you were, but were too rigid to give me. I have started to see other people.

I have started to become involved in Servant Leadership.

Servant leadership was who I was looking for all along.....

Servant leadership was who I was looking for all along.....

Servant leadership is what I have always wanted, but never knew how to define. We put people first, and seek to use listening, empathy and community as building blocks to personal and organizational success. We are plugged into other people in a way that I could have only dreamed of when you and I were seeing each other. Servant Leadership and I don't lead the charge for others like you and I did- we get out of their way and let them be their best so they can do it for themselves.

SL (thats what I call her now) and I  talk to each other all the time. We promote idea sharing, discuss solutions not problems and we share a vision for the future that allows us all to buy in and be a part of the success of the organization. We share our goals and dreams for what we want for others and for our organization, and we work with our team to figure out how to get there. 

We do everything together. 

We don’t set goals that are meaningless to our people, like being the “top organization in our field”. Instead we focus on improving the lives of our employees and customers. SL and I have learned that our focus needs to be on the employees we serve, so that they can then serve our customers to their best of their abilities. 

And we are diligent, passionate and unapologetic about our belief and purpose. It's who we are and why we exist. And it makes us all.......happy. We would visit with others like Ian Fuhr, and realize- this is where we wanted our relationship to go. 

I wish you the best HR

I have no hard feelings. I hope we can be friends someday, and I know that you will find another fresh-faced university grad to latch on to quickly- if you haven’t already.

But know this: Your game is getting weak.

Those old pick-up lines you used aren’t going to cut it for long out there. Those new grads? They are looking for something more than what you can provide them- they seek meaning; Purpose. You are going to need to change your ways if you want to continue to be relevant. Because if you keep going the way of the industrial revolution, your time is short my friend. And let’s be truthful- what you have to offer isn’t working and we’re just not that in to you anymore.

All the best,

And please don't call me. Let's not make this any more awkward than it already is. 


Live Like a Kid!

Live Like a Kid!

Written by Cory Blair- Chief People Officer, Affective Consulting 

The world right now is a little messed up.  All the violence, terrorism, political catastrophes and hate…. It is not cool at all.  It is what we see everyday on the news and especially social media.  In fact, it is 95% of what we see.  WHY do we focus on all this bad stuff???  It is like the analogy of driving by a car crash just to see it… Nobody needs to see that… The more attention we give to this stuff the more we succumb to it.   We need to take a time out.  We need to be people people…. We need to stop and focus on doing great things for others…. we need to learn from our kids!!

It is currently the middle of summer vacation.  It is a time to recharge the batteries and spend time outside at the lake, camp, go on a trek in the old minivan – whatever it takes to get away.  Kids are on vacation from school and just going bonkers, loving the sun and being free.  I am lucky to have 4 awesome kids and also nieces and nephews as well as be close to our neighbor kids.  This summer I have focused on watching them have fun.  How they play and interact.

 Guess what? Our world and many organizations can learn a thing or two from kids.  99.9999 % percent of their purpose is simple. To have fun.  Be themselves. Learn. Share.  Laugh.  Run through the sprinklers... It is a really simple concept.  Just do really good things.  Good things lead to other good things and before you know it a culture of fun is born.  A culture of awesome is born.  Yes, there are some cries.  Yes, there are some scrapes and bruises but those are quickly forgotten because kids don’t sit there and dwell on the bad.  Kids get back up and go.  Our messages as parents or people to our children is to focus on the good ALWAYS!!!  So why the heck are we focusing so much on the bad in the news, within our organizations or even our adult relationships….

Just for a day live and think simplistically like a kid.  Your day will be awesome.  Good things will happen and yes the sprinklers will be really cold!

What We All Can Do to Stop Men's Violence Against Women

What We All Can Do to Stop Men's Violence Against Women

By Kevan McBeth, Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

A good friend of mine, and fellow change-agent, Tracy Knutson offered me an opportunity this week that I couldn’t pass up- an opportunity to be a part of a men’s leadership session with Dr. Jackson Katz, a world -renowned subject matter expert on the issue of men’s violence against women. If you haven’t had a chance to check out his TED Talk on-line, you need to take 15 minutes and watch him, as nearly 2 million others have, share his views on why domestic violence is a man’s issue.

When I was asked to participate in the session with Dr. Katz, I jumped at the chance. I was curious to see what he had to say, and wanted to learn about his philosophy about Domestic Violence being a man’s issue. I’d seen his YouTube video a few times before meeting him and knew about some of the messages that he would bring to the discussion, but there were also a few things that surprised me when we started to talk about why it was important to have 30 male business leaders come together for a leadership session on addressing Domestic Violence.

The biggest surprise was that Saskatchewan leads the country with the highest rate of police –reported family violence amongst the provinces. It’s also near the top when it comes to self-reported family violence according to a recent Stats Canada report, released earlier this year. This blows my mind. As someone who hasn’t been exposed to domestic violence, I can’t imagine that these numbers would be accurate. I don’t know of anyone that has been a victim of domestic violence. My family wasn’t affected by domestic violence. I don’t know of any of my friends that have been impacted by domestic or family violence.

But in a way, that’s the whole point isn’t it? Most family and domestic violence isn’t reported. It’s not something that people really talk about, and even worse yet- it’s not something that generally others see. It happens in the home, with the doors locked and the shutters pulled down so nobody can see what men do to abuse their spouses. So how WOULD we know if this horrible thing is happening around us? And if we aren’t connected in some way, shape or form, why would we get involved?

But IT IS happening. All around us. Whether we see it or not. 

If we don’t get involved in reversing the trend, changing the culture and lending our voice to social change – it’s going to keep happening. The stories of rape culture that we see on television on University campuses, the vicious attacks on Aboriginal women who all to often even go missing or murdered, the stories of women being drugged or abused when they are too incapacitated to consent- all things that we watch on our TV screens on read about on-line and think “what the hell is going on in this world?!”. But we take a wholly passive approach. And if we want change, we need to take greater responsibility. We need to own the issue. All of us. And here’s how we are going to do it.

Change our language about men’s violence against women.

Dr. Katz talked about the passive language that we use when we talk about men’s violence against women, like "Sue was a victim of violence". The way that the majority of domestic violence is presented to the masses rarely even mentions the aggressor (overwhelmingly the aggressor is a man by the way) and even speaks of the event as past tense, as if to say “its in the past and what’s done is done”. The ownership of the action is placed squarely on the victim. It’s a cheap parlour trick to take your eyes off of the issue at hand, but an effective trick none the less.

We need to start talking about men’s violence against women in a way that includes the aggressor and as the catalyst and OWNER of the action. Women are the victims of the violence and the act of violence is not something that they “experience” – it’s an act of dominance through abuse and violence in an attempt to control their partner. 

Start to have open and honest conversations.

If you want to change a culture, you have to start to talk about the issues that you wish to see altered or modified. It’s got to be open and honest, and in a space where people feel safe and trusted. MOST people seek to understand, but tend to stay silent out of fear that there will be repercussions if they say something stupid. But this is too important an issue to let that stand in the way.

I was really appreciative of Dr. Katz’s approach yesterday in that he created an environment for the men in the room to ask questions, be engaged and try to understand the issue in a way that they never have before. Stories were told rather than stats, bringing us closer to the issue and real-life examples were presented to bring the issue to life for us all.

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that I like that says “Once you see, you cannot un-see”. To me, this is one of the critical pieces of understanding this issue. Once you know that men’s violence against women exists, and how our current social norms accept existing actions that support the violence, only then can you engage people in the desire to shift the culture.

We all have a role to play.

Dr. Katz spoke about the bystander effect, of which he is one of the architects of in the men’s violence against women movement. This mirrors the approach that I tried to take with the I Am Stronger campaign back in the day when I ran the anti-bullying campaign through the SaskTel Corporate Social Responsibility Department.

The idea is that we all have a part to play in the issue. This isn’t just about the two people that are involved in the act, but also everyone around them. The approach that we took through I Am Stronger was more about being able to stand up and speak up at the time of the actual act of bullying, but that isn’t necessarily the same situation for men’s violence against women, due to the fact that most men’s violence against women happens outside of the public eye. What isn’t different however, is the role that bystanders can play in influencing social change.

When someone in your circle speaks about women in a sexist or pejorative way or if there is a scenario you witness a situation where men degrade women in any way, you need to understand that your silence is consent.  Engaging bystanders in the process opens up the accountability and the responsibility of us all to act on influencing the social norms that contribute to men’s violence against women.

One of the other reasons that I absolutely love the bystander approach to dealing with social issues is that the bystanders hold the power to change things, and change things quickly- all they need to do is stand up and be counted, and lend their voice to the cause. The real challenge is creating a compelling enough story for them to get involved and be willing to stand up and challenge the status quo.

Leadership (and more importantly leadership from men) is vital.

Influencing social change and creating an environment that rejects men’s violence against women is one thing, but if the behaviours that we wish to see aren’t modelled by those in leadership roles, then the intent of the culture change becomes lost or at the very least less powerful. It’s up to the leaders of organizations and our communities to speak loudly and model the behaviours that they wish to see changed in their culture for things to truly change.

Want to see what speaking out looks like at it’s finest – check out this video that was played at the conference featuring the second in command of the Australian Army Chief Lieutenant David Morrison address inappropriate behaviour within the ranks.


Now, am I suggesting that you go to the extremes of Chief Lieutenant Morrison goes in the video? I guess if the shoe fits…..

But what I do think you have an opportunity to do, what we all have an opportunity to do, is to speak up and say “that’s not right” when something, well, isn’t right. To call out behaviours, teach our children and reinforce positives when they happen in our world. If you are more comfortable with “clicktavism”, then share some posts of positive stories of people standing up against violence on social media. We all need to act at a level that we are comfortable with, so do what you can – just don’t do "nothing" anymore.

Men need to lead that charge for change. 

Dr. Katz spoke about the idea that exists today in which men are not seen as the current owners of the issue of men’s violence against women. Let’s take advantage of the lack of understanding use it to our benefit.  We can build an army of male leaders who we can educate on the issues of domestic violence (once they see......), and help influence social change.

Like it or not, when it comes to dealing with issues that require others to see the world through another communities eyes (whether it is Aboriginal issues, disability issues etc.), the message is almost always more clearly understood when it is presented by someone from outside that community. The thought that there is an ally outside of the given community somehow creates the belief that the information shared is presented without secondary agenda. Sad, but true. 

In this case – men addressing the issue is against the norm of what the majority of the public have seen, and that helps drive home the message of male ownership of men’s violence against women.

The last thing that I will say on this subject is that the leadership event I went to was organized entirely by women- smart passionate and visionary women who understand that getting men to start to talk about this issue is exactly the kind of push for social change necessary for this issue. 

Now what? 

Where do we start? What do we do?

We get involved. Make small changes. Push the envelope. We become willing to take risks to change behaviours. We teach our kids and our friends what men's violence against women is and how to treat each other with empathy and compassion. We take responsibility. We start to change things. Together. We be human. 

They Get It

They Get It

By Cory Blair, Chief People Officer

About two weeks ago I had the privilege to speak at a fun HR event called Disrupt HR.  It is like a Ted talk but shorter and more to the point.  I had 5 minutes to teach 100 or so people something that I believe in.  My talk (actually my rant) was geared towards my strong beliefs in being a people people.  No not a people person but a people people.  That is a phrase I live by and all that it truly means is for you as an individual to see the awesome in others, work with empathy, care more and be honest.  At home and at work.  Pretty simple. 

One of the slides in my rant was about people “who get it”.  We say that all the time at work and in our daily lives, whether meeting a new business colleague for the first time or getting emotional from a Facebook post of a story that pulls on the heart strings. “Oh they get it!”  Or the opposite “they do not get it”.

People that “get it” are the ones that believe in what we believe.  There is a connection from similar values and ways of thinking and I will say those values are people things.  I will go even further and say those things that define “getting it” are in fact empathy, caring, compassion and honesty.  People that “do not get it” are more focused on money, self-satisfaction and power.  Just think about Hollywood.  Who as a celebrity are you most connected to?  Why do you like them?  Does Ellen make you feel awesome or does Kim Kardashian?  I don’t know either of those two personally but I do know Ellen does things that tugs on the old heart strings and the selfie revolution just doesn’t do it for me…..

Just look around.  Take a peek at your family, work peers and even your Facebook friends.  Who makes you feel connected?  Who is your go to person to help you out if you need help? Who are the people you would have a beer with and who are the people that are selling you a bunch of nothing? 

This is the most simplistic way to build culture, build organizations into great successes.  You hire people who get it and let go people that do not.  You design process instilling empathy, compassion and honesty and do business based on caring for others no matter what and treat your customer just like you would want to be treated. 

The best customer feedback ever would simply be “hey you guys get it.”

That time I met Bill Clinton and he taught me about leading with empathy

That time I met Bill Clinton and he taught me about leading with empathy

Written by Kevan McBeth - Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

I have been a very lucky person over the years to have met some amazing people who have mold me into a better person and a better leader.

One of my brushes with greatness came as a chance to meet Former President Bill Clinton when he passed through Regina in 2006. I had written his foundation a letter about the work that I was doing at the time to engage and inspire vulnerable youth, and was shocked when his people actually called and invited us to bring some of the students to his event and meet him prior to the show. It was an amazing experience and we got a chance to get up close and personal with the man (I even shared a brief chat at the urinal with him, but that’s a whole other story!).  The one thing that I have always remembered from the presentation he gave was a story about treating others with dignity and respect.

Three amazing words: I. See. You. 

His closing remarks that day were about the work that he was doing in Southern and Northern Afirca through the Clinton Foundation. He spoke of how the African people were always so happy, yet had so little. He explained that he learned a social nuance about the people in Northern Africa that amazed him.  In Northern Africa,  people passing each other in the mountains  acknowledge each other, not by saying “how are you” or "hello" as we might.  Instead, they say “I See You”.

“Think about that for a second,” said Clinton. “It confers dignity. Think about all the people you never see. The people that turned on the lights here, arrange the sound equipment- those who will clean this place up after we walk out. Just think about it.” He paused and then went on to explain “I am convinced that if we truly see each other the way we now only do in a moment of common understanding over heartbreak, if we could do that on a daily basis, the 21st Century will be far more peaceful and prosperous than the last one was, and these young people will grow up in the most exciting time in human history.”

I didn’t know it then, but those words would stick with me for the next ten years (really- it’s been 10 years since this happened?!), and shape the way that I think about leading others. Although President Clinton was speaking far more globally about world issues, I internalized his words and tried to connect them to my ability to contribute and “see people” in my community and workplace.

How "I see you" changed the way I lead others

Over the next ten years, I built my leadership style around the need to “see” the people around me and acknowledge their hard work. I invested more time in listening to others, working to find different solutions to issues rather than saying “can’t be done”. I even helped people transition out of the workplace for the good of themselves as well of the organization in a dignified way, because their role didn’t match the goals they had for themselves. I aimed to bring a more authentic, human approach to work and home, and I truly believe it’s made me a better leader. I learned to lead with empathy, passion and kindness for others. 

Let's try to see each other more often

Let’s all make sure we take the time to see the people in our lives more often, and acknowledge them for their contributions as often as possible. Together, we can strive to make our workplaces, homes and communities more dignified and receptive to each other’s skills and abilities. Let's strive to create an understanding that we all have a role to play and we all matter. Let’s change the way that our organization’s think about our people and their ability to contribute, and create more engaging and meaningful work environments.

Let’s invest time and energy into better supporting our team members so they are able to contribute to our organizational success, and let’s just “see” where this takes us…..

This is a great visual about inclusion. But it's wrong....

This is a great visual about inclusion. But it's wrong....

Written by Kevan McBeth, Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

I have come across this really great visual a few times over the last several months (most recently on the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy Facebook site) , and although it very beautifully demonstrates the difference between inclusion, exclusion, integration and segregation, there’s been something about it that bugs me.

The differnce between inclusion, exclusion, segregation and integration

After really thinking about it, I started to realized that there are a couple of things that could be changed/ edited to make this a better representation of what true inclusion is all about.

The green dots should be different.

I get it. the green dots are supposed to represent those who are “typical” - those of us who are able bodied, caucasian and without barriers. And that is fine- it’s a reality that we should acknowledge. But when we talk about true inclusion, we are talking about creating a culture that strives for equity and embraces, respects, accepts, and values difference.

And that isn’t just about the differences in the blue and red dots. That’s also about the green dots too- we are all unique individuals with a rich and wide level of diversity as well, so why shouldn’t this be acknowledged in the visual as well? In fact it’s a critical piece of the definition.

The red and blue dots need to be different too.

If we are using a people first philosiphy, and moving beyond the idea that you as an individual are your physical or cognitive ability, or the colour of your skin, or your sexual orientation is something that inclusion is all about. The colours are vital to the overall visual, but by just using colours, you are potentially continuing to reinforce the labelling of individuals and not taking into account who they are beyond the visual differences that you naturally identify when you see someone who isn’t just like you.

By changing the size of the dots, you are making a distinction that everyone is different, while at the same time connecting the different coloured dots to green coloured dots - afterall, we may look different, but we may also share experiences, religious beliefs, backgrounds, opinions and more. These parts of who we are make us uniquely us, but also give us the chance to connect with others through common connections.

The inclusion circle needs to “pop”!

My biggest issue with the diagram above is this - it just doesn’t represent the incredible impact that an inclusive culture truly is!

Inclusion isn’t just about bringing different people into the center and making their lives better- if it’s done properly, it actually makes everyone’s lives better. It creates a culture of understanding, empathy and belonging. It makes people more open and caring. It reinforces our natural instincts to be kinder to each other.

I am not an educator, and I know that inclusion has it’s supporters and detractors when it comes to classrooms. But consider this- outside of the obvious benefits for children with disabilities who have been given the opportunity to develop prosocial skills and be a part of their natural peer group, typical students in an inclusive environment are not adversley affected, but rather in general experience positive academic outcomes for students overall.

And when it comes to businesses developing a more inclusive environment, I think I will leave that to this amazing video of Mark Wafer, a Tim Horton’s owner who believes in the business case for inclusion to make that case for me.

My version of the inclusion graphic.

My thoughts and views are my own, so I encourage you to take this or leave it - or better yet, in the spirit of inclusion, send me a note and tell me how it could be better! I would love to generate greater discussion on inclusion, and if you have a suggestion for me on how this could be a better representation of such an important topic for us all, I would love to hear from you.

Isn't this better?

Can you do me a favour?

Can you do me a favour?

A simple change in your language can turn a directive into an employee engagement exercise. 

A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

Written by Cory Blair, Chief People Officer, Affective Consulting 

That is conation and it is beautiful. Instincts are that gut feel on how to do something and making those million decisions a day that have an impact on you and others. Instincts or conative abilities are the how to your life.

Through my training I learned that the human mind actually has 3 parts.  It is some Freudian stuff but when you lay it out, it is simple to understand.  We even used one of the terms as our business name to signify the importance of feeling good about yourself.   Where thoughts, instincts and feelings live.  Let me explain…

When I conduct team building sessions I always tell a story about in my 33 years I have learned so much about people, life situations and my self.  People say well you are pretty young what the hell do you know?   Well I know I am not a messiah by any means but I do know people stuff and football stats!! Even in my last 6 years I have learned a lot about how business works, how relationships are formed and destroyed and most importantly how I fit into the puzzle.  I have a long way to go, gaining more and more experience but I will now forever be indebted to the 3 parts of the mind and use it in everything I do.

In 2010 almost 6 years to the day, I flew to Phoenix Arizona and took training in Kolbe™.  Kolbe is an assessment tool that we use here at Affective Consulting that is strength based focusing on instincts and natural creativity and decision making.  It opened my eyes to a world of stories and examples that make sense on how I currently function as an individual, husband, father and coach and how I did as a kid.   At the time I did not realize my authentic self but now 6 years later I am helping others realize how awesome and unique they are and that it is perfectly fine to be yourself. 

The biggest piece for me is my learning of the 3 parts of the mind.  Thinking, feeling and doing.  Essentially up to 2010 I only knew about the thinking and feeling part.  Those also go by cognitive and affective.  Cognitive is how smart you are, your experience what you have for education.  Affective is your personality, likes dislikes, attitude and motivation.  Most to all organizations hire for those two.  What degree and job experience do you have and are you introverted or extroverted.  What are you passionate about?  What do you love?   These are needed and important.  But one thing I learned was missing was how do you take action? How do you walk the walk?  In a decision making crisis how are you going to solve the problem?

That’s the doing piece.  That is conation and it is beautiful.   Instincts are that gut feel on how to do something and making those million decisions a day that have an impact on you and others.  Instincts or conative abilities are the how to your life.

The best part of this is that all 3 play off each other.  You need motivation to get started and you need to have reason to take action.  The best example was my university career.  I did not know a thing about conative abilities at the time but I wish I did!!  I struggled in class and larger classes.  I had horrible study habits.  I did not take notes and waited for the last minute to finish anything.  I failed... Bigtime!!!

 Again without knowing anything about conation I was motivated to finish my degree and from experience I knew I had to find a solution to finish it out.  So being naturally innovative and more of an essential info guy I registered in smaller classes where the professors were more one on one, took classes where I could use my creativity in writing papers not exams and shifted my class schedule to late mornings so I could sleep in.  Those are just 4 ways of getting my degree.  There was more (but this is a blog not a novel).  Looking back, it was adapting to my strengths on how I do it and being me that resurrected my university career.  Thinking, feeling and doing simply my way, got me out of the rut I was in.

Check out for more info on why we do what we do and I look forward to my next blog in the coming weeks!!



HR Doesn't Need Big Data - It Needs Adaptive Design

HR Doesn't Need Big Data - It Needs Adaptive Design

Written by Kevan McBeth - Chief Purpose Officer, Affective Consulting

I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles lately that have been touting the next great thing in HR Strategy- integrating big data into the overall strategic planning process. Many even go as far as to suggest the need for HR professionals to improve their skills in defining and collecting an increased number of data points, as a way for HR departments to better inform the overall decision making process for corporations far and wide. The idea, according to one blog I read this morning, is that HR drives critical initiatives that improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of the organization as a whole. Therefore, as a reliable business partner it needs to provide data to other departments to allow them to work efficiently and smoothly.

And while I agree whole heartedly with the idea that HR is a critical business partner, capable of supporting (and even driving) organizational productivity through a highly engaged, skilled and optimized workforce, let’s pump the brakes on this whole “HR needs Big Data” talk. 

There is a fundamental flaw that organizations have been making for some time now. Organizations today are driven almost entirely by the need for analytics. Whether used to support decision making or appease and impress shareholders, measures that fit nicely into corporate scorecards or dashboards carry considerable weight in the overall decision making process. But trying to boil down your people and HR practices into a series of data points is steering your organization in the wrong direction. 

Stop treating your people like numbers. 

 I get it. In a number of other areas of business, information from a multiple number of data points within your organization is a way to track and predict your overall success. If an area of your organization is under performing, you adjust inputs to create a more improved outcome. Why wouldn't a similar set of measures and standards be successful for HR practices? 
But it doesn’t work that way with people. No indicator you can extract can show you how to make people more productive if the environment that they work in is one that doesn’t inspire them. No number will show you how many of your people are motivated to do their best every day, or work for their organization with purpose because they are buying into their workplace leadership philosophy. 
Big Data- type analytics are nothing new in HR- we’ve been using employee engagement surveys, workforce planning analytics and other “predictive” types of data for years now. So why is it that in the 2014 AON Employee Engagement Survey, only 61% of worldwide workers said they feel engaged at their jobs, and the Conference Board of Canada states that less than half (48.3 percent) of US workers are satisfied with their jobs in 2015. We’ve had data like this for years- so if data allows us to alter the outcomes and predict a higher level of productivity in the outcome, why aren’t the numbers higher? 

Start treating your employees like customers.

What is needed is not greater, or even better data. What's needed in organzations is a shift back to a leadership philosiphy that meets the needs of the next generation of employees. But more often than not, and despite their best of intentions, most leaders haven’t bought in to making the changes that are critical to moving the dial on employee engagement. They have yet to make the shift in organizational philosophy between seeing workers as servants of the company they work for and deserving the same level of attention, diginity, and respect that is traditionally reserved for their highly valued customers. 

"Leaders who are able to create sustainable, high-performance cultures over the long term see their primary purpose as serving the employees on their teams—not just the other way around," said Matt Tenney, author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons From A Prison, A Monastery, And A Boardroom. "These 'servant leaders' realize that when people know we truly care about them—and not just about what we can get out of them—they tend to go the extra mile."

Predictive Design is the next great thing for your customers. And your employees.

So if big data isn’t the right direction for HR, then what is? Good question. One area of business I have started to pay more attention to is marketing, and the trends coming from many of the larger marketing firms across the globe. This is a great way to better understand what they see as up-and-coming consumer trends. It's an opportunity to explore trends for possible cross-over into the HR world. After all, if we as consumers are looking for a certain level of experience as customers from organizations, why would we be expecting anything less from those same companies as employees? 

I came across a fantastic presentation recently from Aaron Shapiro, CEO of HUGE- a global marketing and design collective that works with the big boys like Nike and MTV. Aaron was presenting his take on the next level of market design, which he called anticipatory design at the Acquia Engage Conference in California back in October. 

Aaron’s presentation outlined the need for a number of shifts to occur in the way that we leverage technology, and the need for organizations to begin to better understand their client’s needs. The next generation of marketing is actually not going to be about more choice, but far less. In fact, what Aaron sees is marketing technology that modifies consumer choice down to a few simple choices- based on what organizations know about you and your interests, your needs and even your schedule. In short, when brands better understand you, they will present you their best match for your request rather than giving you a million options for you to sift through, and potentially risk your indecision or neutrality resulting in a lost sale. 




In my mind, there are huge (no pun intended) lessons here for us as HR leaders. By being more in tune with our employees, and fully understanding who they are and what they need to be their best self, we can create opportunities to put our people in the best possible position for success. Organizations need to be adaptive, nimble and open to positioning individuals in places where they can be the most successful. Where they can be most engaged. 

But to do that, we need to gather a different kind of data than what Big Data can provide. We need leaders who engage with their employees – connect with them on a more personal level. Find out what makes them tick, what gets them up in the morning and what energizes them.

These kinds of data won't show up on a spreadsheet, but if you truly want to improve the overall productivity and effectiveness of the organization as a whole- this is the kind of data you should seek to better understand. 

Introversion and Extroversion

Introversion and Extroversion

Written by Scott McBeth - Chief Development Officer, Affective Consulting

I stumbled on to a Ted Talk the other day, and I'd like to tell you about it. I have watched it a number of times to date, and I am so moved and inspired by it, that I feel compelled to share it with you.

In Susan Cain's talk entitled, "The Power of Introverts," she talks about the manner in which we celebrate and even favour the extrovert, in Western culture. She talks about how our schools and workplaces are largely designed around the idea that we should all strive to work in ways and environments where significant group work and high levels of stimulation dominate; environments where extroverts typically thrive. Introverts,  not so much. Extroverts are often favoured, or rewarded with leadership positions over introverts, even though there is no reason to believe that they are better positioned for success in these roles, based on their extroversion alone. What happens to our introverts?

In a lot of ways I feel like Susan Cain could have been speaking directly to me. I have felt like I have been misunderstood, in this way, for much of my life. This talk really explains a lot of what I have encountered and struggled with internally, through my years. Her insight validates me. It makes me feel like I can just be me.....but where do we go from here?

Each of us is capable of creative thought, innovation, or meaningful contribution, but the way that we get there can be very different.  I believe that we need to get better at honouring and valuing the diversity in the creative process, and how we get there. We need to allow people the opportunity to work in alignment with their natural strengths and instincts. When we begin to move to a more balanced representation of this thought, and to a more introspective thought process, we will start to harness the power of diversity in thought, and diversity in people. I find that thought very inspiring.