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Bola Owoade

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Senior Learning and Development Advisor

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Let’s be different

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Happy New Year to you all. I hope and wish that 2014 will be a much more positive and valuable year for learning and development.

For me it's a year when I want to be different, take more risks, move out of my comfort zone and embrace new ways of working. Just yesterday I read a Harvard Business Review article about Netflix, the online video service, written by Patty McCord who was previously the Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. Three interesting things stood out for me from article.

  1. Firstly hire, reward and tolerate only fully formed adults. Sounds strange? Well what it means is that hire people who behave in a reasonable way and will support the company's interests. For instance salaried employees at Netflix don't have a formal policy for holidays, they are told to take whatever time they feel is appropriate. No doubt a runway for abuse of holidays. Not in their case, the employees took holidays in a reasonable way and it is that type of behavior that is referred to as being a fully formed adult. The company also does not have a formal policy for travel and expenses. And majority of the employees were reasonable with the way they handled their expenses. No doubt there were the exception but nothing to worry about.
  2. Tell the truth about performance. Netflix stopped doing formal performance reviews. Why? They were too ritualistic and infrequent. Instead they promote managers and employees to have conversations about their performance as an organic part of their work. They want managers to be honest with the people they manage about their work. For instance if changes mean that an employee can no longer perform a job effectively and it's something that can't be dealt with in the short term, then the manager should be ready to honestly discuss the situation with the employee and be ready to part with them by offering an attractive severance package.
  3. The third one is that good talent people or may I say HR people should think like business people and innovators first and HR people last focusing on what is good for the company and being concerned about helping employees to understand what is good performance. Here is an excerpt from Patty, "At some places entire teams (HR) focus on getting their firm onto lists of "Best places to work." At a recent conference I met someone from a company that had appointed a 'Chief Happiness Officer' - a concept that makes me slightly sick".

Whether you agree with Patty or not, her assertion is that HR should focus on what works for the company even if it is unconventional. You don't have to do what everybody else is doing, just what works for your own business.

So here's my learning - don't be afraid to be different. The majority is not always right for your company. Find out what your company needs, experiment with solutions and keep learning. Don't be afraid to do something different.

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Bola Owoade

Senior Learning and Development Advisor

Read more from Bola Owoade
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