TLNT Transform Displays Spirit of HR Transformation

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By PAUL SMITH via the Welcome to the Occupation — During Ron Thomas’s opening statements at TLNT Transform, he remarked that by virtue of attending this conference (in person or via online), we had become transformers. Because it was an HR conference, there was a further call for all of HR to transform. Though, this is easier than done.

The good people at TLNT, during the course of a two-day conference in Austin, Texas, this week, attempted to transform the world of HR into a better industry. Despite the immediate moniker of transformer, I think transformation takes time. But one has to start somewhere. TLNT Transform with the best intent started off on the right foot in that direction.

Transform delivered a diverse cast of presenters and topics.

On paper, this seemed quite ordinary. But presented in the quick pace of back-to-back sessions, created an environment of urgency, a call to immediate action, a compendium of several moving parts that needed to forge together to form the mythical Transformer of toy and movie fame. From there, it needed to save our world from the cross hairs we had stumbled into.

Despite the urgency, we still need to return to our organizations where the real transformation needs to occur. Here the efforts will be challenged. Here is where the transformation will require more diligence on our part to see it through. Here we are not machines. Here we are humans.

As I reflect on the highlights of the show for me, I think of several things I want to change. Some of the desired changes are of myself, my organization, the industry, and for future Transform conferences.

The Highlights

Libby Sartain – “The New Consumer of Work”

libby sartain


Much like the tagline of this blog, Libby’s theme was it’s about the work; it’s no longer about the job. More people in the workforce are thinking less about who their next employer is, and more about what kind of work will they be doing. It’s because jobs are not as interesting as work.

With that in mind, HR must transform into a different function. When searching for talent in this new work model, HR needs to focus on creating work experience instead of promoting jobs, differentiate between core work functions and jobs that can be done by non-employees instead of hiring all employees, focus on shorter time span of completing work instead of lifetime careers, focus on immediate engagement and productivity instead of engendering loyalty.

Tim Sackett – “What Your CEO Wished HR Would Do”
As a reader of Tim’s blog and writing with Fistful Of Talent, I first decided to not attend his session. I thought I had heard it all from Tim. But, because of other circumstances, I caught Tim’s session half-way into it. I’m pleased that I did. I caught Tim presenting his “twelve step program in five steps”. I won’t explain each step. You can find more on that here. But all of the steps are easy to implement and essential. As an HR Director or CPO, your role is to direct your own department. Your organization and CEO’s role is to achieve business results. These steps will create the link between the two.

Billy Beane

Billy Beane

Billy Beane – “The Moneyball Approach to Talent Management”
Much has been written about the need for analytics and on how to communicate this effectively. Much as been written about Billy Beane and his enormous success in trusting numbers to win baseball games. There’s also a movie where he’s played by Brad Pitt. Even though, Mr. Beane doesn’t resemble a movie star, his story is nonetheless compelling.

The book and movie are called Moneyball. Even though it’s set around the work environment of professional baseball, the story could easily translate to any line of business. Creating hope that regression analysis is worthy and that it works requires patience and great communication skills.

I wondered though what the HR industry would be like if faced with the same type of scrutiny facing professional sports employees. Imagine every day the press reporting on your previous work day, and proclaim your genius when you succeed and your idiocy when you fail. Yuk.

Margaret Morford – “HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn”
Despite I heard this was not a new presentation, I was not familiar with Ms. Morford. After her presentation, I proclaimed on Twitter she was my new HR hero. Fast talking, blunt and unwavering her message was a strong proclamation for HR to carve out a role for themselves.

By being different in your thinking, ignoring fads (at least fully evaluate before fully adopting), get brave, develop talent & skills of creativity and inquisitiveness, get out of HR for awhile, and separate yourself from the pack, HR professionals increase their vitality and necessity.

My favorite takeaway was the question of how can we consider ourselves change agents, if only 31% of organizational leaders consider HR agile. It’s a clear sign our profession must change.

More HR Observations From TLNT Transform 2012

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