The HR Game Changer Blog

Falling in love, with Simon Sinek

I better clarify that at the HR Game Changer conference in Melbourne the other week, Simon talked about falling in love, and that’s what I fell in love with (hence the careful use of the comma in the heading!).

Beaming in from New York, Simon talked about what he sees as the biggest challenges companies in growing the right culture. He talked about this taking time and effort. It’s not about the big gestures, it’s the little things. And here’s where loving someone came in.

When you love someone, it’s not because they do one nice thing for you a year, like buying you flowers. It’s actually when they show they care for you, every day, in little ways.

This really resonated for me and I actually think it’s a key theme in transforming what we’ve been doing in HR. We’ve been putting in place processes that are like flowers once a year – rather than small gestures every day. Our managers and leaders have then been using those processes and doing the big gestures. As we know from research on employee engagement and thousands of case studies – this approach is not working.

We’ve been doing:

  • Annual performance reviews instead of regular ongoing feedback
  • Employee of the month rather than sharing and celebrating small successes often
  • Yearly bonuses instead of high frequency, low value rewards
  • Performance plans for poor performance rather than supporting and allowing mistakes

And for us in HR, we’ve been communicating with managers only when they have an issue, rather than building proactive relationships where we show we care and are trying to help them, regularly and sincerely.

Now this is much harder than the big gestures. But if you do the small stuff every day – it’s like exercising. At first it will take a lot of discipline and you won’t see many results, but over time you’ll find you become fitter and the pain stops!

There was a lot more Simon talked about that I’m still thinking on, but I completely agree with Simon’s thoughts about a company being your new tribe. And what you want from your tribe when you make a mistake is that they say “Great fall, now get up and let’s help you do it again”. How many companies does this happen in?

Once we switched the questions from the audience, there were some excellent thought provokers (and I’m sure Wellington will come up with a few more!).

Simon shared his thoughts around how you can convince others to understand the people and culture stuff. The bad news is that you can’t convince them – there is no magic elevator speech. Instead you have to inspire them to think differently when they see what you’re doing.

So that’s what I’m going to focus on with the HR Game Changer movement. Not trying to convince HR people, managers or business owners that transforming HR is needed – but instead sharing the amazing stories and case studies out there of HR teams and businesses who are changing the game – and instead hope that that starts to inspire people to want to be part of that. This blog is part of it, the conference is another, and the HR Game Changer book that I’m writing will hopefully take the message to a wider audience.

I’ll be using some of Simon’s other ideas going forward (he answered questions on using data effectively, what books and films he’d recommend and how to back up your why with action) and looking at his online course to find your WHY.

I’m really looking forward to hearing him speak again in Wellington next week! If you’re coming along to the HR Game Changer and want to prepare or you want to find out more about Simon, here’s are 3 things to get your started:

See you at the HRGC next week for some more falling in love!

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3 comments on “Falling in love, with Simon Sinek

  1. Amanda Parish
    August 9, 2015

    I was reflecting on the small cultural symbols as I walked in to work today – even things like adding one more layer of internal swipe card access, or yet another signature required for a small decision – clearly tell our people ‘we don’t trust you’. Even more interesting when this completely contradicts all the big messages received from the top around values, one team etc!

    • angelaatkins
      August 9, 2015

      Yep totally agree! Simon had just read Shell were cutting 6,500 jobs as they hadn’t reached their quarterly targets. What that says to all other employees is ‘you’re never going to be safe in this company. We can cut you at any time due to things completely outside your control’. I’ve been seeing a trend with leaders recently saying one thing, but then their actions tell people completely the opposite.

  2. sarah mannion
    August 10, 2015

    Really looking forward to hearing Simon next week. Reminds me of hearing 5 CEOs interviewed last week on what it takes to win the Aon Hewitt Best Employers awards. There were inspiring CEOs from Z Energy and Chorus and Frucor among others. They were asked what is the big thing that made a difference. They said there is no big thing it is the little things you do every day to demonstrate leadership and to define your company culture. Simple really and something I really believe makes such a difference as it is what the CEO and the leaders do rather than say they believe that matters.

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