Growth key to HR professionals

The Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals’ annual conference usually focuses on hot topics in the industry, especially as they relate to Cayman.

Not this year.

Instead, the forum focused on personal growth.

Society President Samantha Nehra spoke about this year’s ‘Grow’ theme in her message.

“All too often, as leaders in our businesses, we leave our professional development to last, focusing all of our attention and efforts on the development of our employees,” she wrote. “Today is all about your growth.”

The conference taught methods of personal growth both within and outside of the workplace.

The sessions kicked off with a video called Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. Author and speaker Dan Pink animates his way through describing two studies that reject the notion that businesses always get better performances by offering monetary incentives. As long as the task involves only physical labour, monetary bonuses work as expected, the video stated.

“But once the task called for even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance,” Mr. Pink said the studies showed.

He said money was a motivator only in the sense that if someone is not paid enough, they won’t be motivated.

“The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table; pay people enough so that they’re not thinking about money and thinking about their work.”

Autonomy matters

Once money is off the table, Mr. Pink said the studies showed that there were three factors – autonomy, mastery and purpose – that led to better performance and more personal satisfaction.

A presentation by Corey Heller, corporate vice president and chief human resources manager for Baptist Health in South Florida, supported the findings suggested in the video.

Mr. Heller said Baptist conducted an extensive internal survey with its employees to find out what “would get them excited to get up and go to work in the morning”. The survey found that employees were looking for satisfaction in five key areas, including having autonomy and purpose in their work.

Other key aspects included having a good work culture and high values; good work-life integration; shared rewards; and career opportunities in a stable work environment.

As a result of the survey findings, Baptist started having some company events that were designed to introduce fun in workplace and to help develop workplace friendships.

Whatever a company does to try and make itself a better place to work, Mr. Heller said, sustainability was the key to success.

“If [employees] think it’s just the HR fad of the month and there’s a lot of ‘rah, rah’ and then it’s over, it’s not going to work.”

Certified mediator Julie McLaughlin, the director of mediation service at Solutions Ltd, presided over a workshop called Transforming conflict into opportunities for growth.

Conflict can be good

She said there were two major myths about conflict: that it always involved anger and that it was always negative.

“Conflict can be a very useful tool for growth,” she said.

When solving problems, Ms McLaughlin said there were two basic formulas. With positional problem solving, the solution is stated, then the rationale is explained and then the problem is defined. This type of problem solving has a basic ‘I want/you want’ structure and usually leads to a compromise.

With interest-based problem solving, the problem is defined first, then interests are explained and a solution is chosen. This type of problem solving usually requires brainstorming.

“You’re looking for a win-win solution to a joint problem,” Ms McLaughlin said.

Use of social media

The remainder of the workshop dealt with various methods of idea generation, with participants breaking into groups to try the various techniques and then reporting to everyone what worked and what didn’t about the technique.

In the next segment, Anjuli Muttoo stepped in for an ill Chris Gourzong to give a presentation called Wired, which explained how to leverage social media at work.

“Social media is no just for kids,” Ms Muttoo said, noting that it had benefits not only for businesses, but for the professional development of individuals as well.

In addition to helping a business reach a wider audience, social media can also increase learning, enhance teamwork and improve a business’s standing in the community – all for little investment of time, Ms Muttoo said.

“Don’t be afraid of social media; it’s here to stay and it’s something you should get involved in,” she said.

Keynote speaker Robert Vallee, a speech and presentation coach, offered practical ideas on how to improve communications.

Speaking about PowerPoint presentations, Mr. Vallee said people should not show a slide and then read it to the audience.

“The worst thing you can say is ‘As you can see…’,” he said, adding that good presenters always prepare the audience in advance for what they are about to see next.

Another key aspect to effective communications is choosing content that is highly relevant to the listener.

“You’re dancing with a partner, not dancing with yourself,” he said, noting that the best compliment a presenter can get is “That was very interesting”.

The conference at the Marriott Beach Resort on 19 May also featured 14 ‘marketplace’ exhibitors, including a booth by the main sponsor, BritCay.

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