HRM Five: Heard at HR Summit

A selection of quotable learning points from HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018.
By: | May 13, 2018


HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018 was chock-full of great thoughts and insights from the best and brightest HR leaders and business experts from around the world. Here are just a few of the many interesting things we heard at Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre on May 9 and 10.

1. “Workers have been ‘vision-ed’ and ‘mission-ed’ to death.”

Jason Jennings, renowned author and plenary speaker, shot down the idea of vision and mission statements. It’s more useful for companies to think about their purpose, than to waste time coming up with vision and mission statements that no one can remember, he said.

2.“Instead of engagement, think about ownership.”

This does not mean owning shares in the company, said Bernard Coulaty, HR Transformation Expert who has previously worked in companies such as Danone. Rather, it’s about making employees feel invested in the company’s work, such that they think of the company as “we” rather than “them”.

3. “Encourage cohesive dissent to normalise loyal disruption.”

As author Margie Warrell noted, the best ideas sometimes come from people who don’t see eye to eye. She noted the example of Abraham Lincoln, the US president famed for leading the country through the Civil War. Lincoln was known for recruiting his political opponents onto his cabinet, because he wanted the strongest people to help him lead the country.

4. “Distinguish between high performance and high potential incredibly important.”

Someone can be a superstar but they may not necessarily have the potential to progress further, noted Aditi Madhok-Naarden, Asia-Pacific HR Director at The Body Shop. Not every high-performer is suitable for grooming towards leadership positions – but for those who are, organisations must also be prepared to provide the necessary training and guidance.

5.”I’m actually fearful of the future, because scientists say machines can do your job and decide for you what’s important and what’s not.”

Vodafone’s JP Chowdhury turned a few heads during a panel discussion on the latest innovations in HR digital solutions and technology. Asked about the future possibilities in five, or even 10 years’ time, he warned delegates to the Transform and Redesign stream that the natural conclusion to artificial intelligence and machine learning was a world in which robots were programming themselves. That would not just lead to redundancies as human jobs became automated, but also a shift in the power struggle between people and the technology that is supposed to serve them.

To be fair, Chowdhury was the only one to answer the exact question about what the fast-changing future could look like for HR technology. But the other panellists – Unilever’s Tricia Duran and Teledirect Telecommerce’s Gaurav Hirey – were quick to clarify their shared belief that technology and innovation would continue to be designed with the human end user in mind.