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All About People – my top 19 tips from two days

Date: Jun 19 2016
All About People – my top 19 tips from two days

Last week I spent two-day s in the company of some amazing people and heard some brilliant talks at the second All About People conference. The event is for anyone interested or working in the fields of HR, workplaces or communication that have an impact on how people work. I left with my head buzzing with new and inspiring ideas from the many conversations I had. I listened to 12 different speakers over the two days. They covered a range of topics and real life case studies about work, people at work and making work better for people.

I am inspired!

The line up of speakers was fantastic. We heard from artists, facilitators, designers, learning consultants and more. You can read about them all here.

There was a lovely mix of people attending from a range of backgrounds and workplaces. The one thing that bound everyone together was the sense of putting people at the centre of work.

It was in Bournemouth, at Pavilion Dance which is a stone’s throw from the beach. Perfect location for break outs and casual discussions with fellow delegates.

I feel lucky to have such a fantastic event happening in my home town.

There’s so much in my head from this event, I thought the best way to tackle it is to just make it simple.

So here goes, my key points to take away:

  1. Be human and let people be themselves.
  2. Seek out the humanness in people. Like the UStwo example of sending a card with a bull-dog on it to a client who love bull-dogs, as a reminder when she was often late to pay.
  3. Be more gentle with our colleagues and ourselves.
  4. No more bull. It’s time for more honesty delivered in a supportive and not in a damaging manner.
  5. Uncover your mission and understand how it connects to what you do.
  6. Embrace learning – grab opportunities, encourage others, challenge the status quo.
  7. Embrace failures – don’t be scared to JFDI.
  8. Let yourself and your colleagues experiment and be creative.
  9. Focus on changing behaviours and not just awareness.
  10. Give people the spaces to be productive. Consider how people need to work in their office spaces and beyond.
  11. Recognise high energy and low energy forces across the organisation. Cultivate what’s needed at a given time. Both high and low energies can be productive and necessary. Both can have negative impacts.
  12. Workshops can be more effective than a meeting in some instances. Participants feel engaged, connected, autonomous, gain a sense of purpose, and progress (gaining a sense of achievement).
  13. Remember what’s most important at work. In order of preference: purpose; autonomy; belonging; achievement; security and status. Status is often last, while purpose and autonomy vie for the top spot.
  14. Teams do not work in linear processes – inside-in, inside-out and outside-in.
  15. Get creative with qualitative measures of communication with principles from ethnography.
  16.   Harness your childlike state in team energisers. We can find 30% more solutions if you are in a childlike state – have a laugh, act like a fool, find the bright spark.
  17. Question everything.
  18. Organisational purpose is important, but not everything. We go to work to achieve our own purposes more than we do to deliver our organisational purposes.
  19. We can all change our relationship with our circumstances. It’s how we view it, relate to it and work with it.



Plus some recommended reads from this event:

  1. The do lectures – various
  2. Working – Studs Terkel
  3. Work, twenty personal accounts. Edited by Ronald Fraser
  4. The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work , Teresa Amabile
  5. Bird by Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life – Anne Lamott


What does this all mean from a comms perspective?

For me the most pertinent points were:

  • I love books. Especially books to help me learn something. So my favourite book recommendation is Work, twenty personal accounts. I’ve already purchased a second-hand copy and it arrived this week. Understanding more about people’s work is critical if you help organisations communicate better with their employees.
  • It’s beyond the bean bags and bars, it’s about having the right ethos from the top. The most exciting company that we heard about was Ustwo. Yes it’s a young and funky place to work. But it was the way they connected with people that stood out. Sending cards with bull dogs on to the late payer who loves bull dogs is so effective but simple. How they celebrate success and how they support their people to undertake personal projects is effective and nice. As communicators we can help our leaders and people move to be more human.
  • Be more childlike – it’s hard as we are programmed to be ‘grown up’. The most fun was the balloon popping team game. I find these ‘games’ hard being a bit of an introvert. So find ways to have fun that suits different personalities. Provide the mix that helps individuals release their playfulness and come up with new ideas.
  • My most favourite phrase I heard over the two days was: ‘Mood Hoover’. It’s a person/place/action that absorbs all the positive vibes. I had never heard this before and it’s now in my repertoire. This needs no further explanation. We’ve probably all worked somewhere where there’s a Mood Hoover and this phrase makes me smile.
  • The most quickly used piece of learning for me is the advice about creating a workshop culture. I’m testing this out in two current projects now. Few meetings are productive, and rarely necessary. Why not have a workshop to collaborate instead?
  • The most intriguing piece of learning for practical work is using ethnographic principles to measure communication. I’m fascinated by the beyond work project that Curtis James has done. I’m keen to learn more about ethnography and how it can inform communication strategies and messages.

It’s true, when people thrive, organisations do too.

Pre-register for next year’s event here