I run Grow the People, a small learning and development business that specializes in communication, creativity and collaboration. We started the company 4 years ago and have people based in London and Manchester, as well as our HQ in Kent. My main role is consulting, designing and facilitating a range of services to all sorts of businesses. My main focus is in how creativity and storytelling can generate behaviour and culture change. I’m fascinated by neuroscience and we work that into our content as much as possible (but in a way people can understand!) Other members of the team specialise in areas from skills workshop design to management and leadership development design/delivery.
2. What are you most proud of in your HR career:
Other than setting up GTP, I would say it was the implementation of management and leadership development programme for Associated Newspapers. I built a 15 course curriculum from scratch. It was wonderful to see the results of the learning, with teams and individuals demonstrating tangible improvement in their skills and behaviours. That’s still the biggest kick I get out of the work, when someone who I’ve worked with contacts me to tell me how they have successfully implemented something they got from one of our workshops.
3. What advice would you give to anyone starting their HR career:
Make sure you look beyond HR. It can be very tempting to focus inward. In my experience the best HR professionals are the ones who have either come from other business areas or who spend the majority of their time with the people they are partnering. Read more than just the CIPD or HR Grapevine (although they’re both good). There are creative models and practices outside of the HR bubble. I think as a profession we can sometimes spend too much time talking to one another in ‘violent’ agreement and not enough time helping our businesses understand our true value.
4. What would you like to be doing in 3 years time
I enjoy public speaking (I know – I’m a freak!) and the last 2 years I’ve done some TED style events and talks. I’d like to do more of these. One way this is developing is through a new initiative I’m part of called Toolshed. This is a conference with a difference. The whole point of the day’s event will be for HR and L&D people to come together to obtain new learning tools that they can implement in their own business. It’s designed for SMEs who perhaps don’t have the budget to hire an external provider, but with some help and support could deliver content themselves. The first event is in early June. I’m really hoping that grows in the future.
5. What do you feel is the most innovative or unique initiative you have introduced at work?
When I was in-house I was always trying to build learning experiences with little or no money. My roles have always bridged HR and Comms (I have a love of creative marketing and work a lot with creative industries) so my interventions have more often than been highly interactive. The most memorable was when I worked for BUPA and I turned an empty floor in our office building into a maze that allowed people to explore the story of the business and the next steps on the strategic journey. You’d be amazed what you can do with some Blue-Tack and some disco lights!
6. Who has had the greatest influence over your career?
So many great people have supported and inspired me to get to where I am, it’s really hard to pick just one. I’ve worked with some awesome people. So I’ll pick a moment rather than a person (cheat!) Two years ago I was lucky enough design and facilitate a Creativity Conference in Los Angeles. It was only a small event for about forty people, but the amazing part of it was that on day one Will.I.Am facilitated a session with us (bragging over – honest!) He said something to the group that has really stuck with me and I keep coming back to when things aren’t working. Someone asked, what does he do when someone says “no” to one of his ideas. He said that he takes the no and just adds two letters to it. “I turn the no into a know” He asks himself what more does he need to know to help this person understand why the idea is good or what else do they need to know to see it for themselves. I loved it and it really made me think about how I communicate ideas and experiences. Just because you can see it doesn’t mean they can.
If you’re interested in speaking to Simon about his work or how Grow the People can help your business, feel free to contact him here: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.growthepeople.co.uk