Hello PPMA friends

It’s been another busy week on the PPMA front. We’ve been overwhelmed by applications for Peer Into the Future – I’ll come back to this in a future blog. And, I’ve been at a number of events that have provided yet another opportunity for learning, reflection and meeting old PPMA friends and making new ones.

On Friday 20th I was up in Manchester celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Shelly Rubinstein’s very successful business, Impact. Psychology for Business. Shelly is an amazing woman. She is a trustee of HPMA and for many years she has been a voluble campaigner for equality and inclusivity. Her corporate colours are those used by the suffragette movement, which I think is just great.

We met at this year’s HPMA conference and I was lucky to sit with her at their Gala Dinner. It turns out we have a number of things in common. Perhaps the most exciting one for me is that Shelly is a psychologist – and her business was set up to highlight and practice the benefits of occupational psychology.

When she started the business, Occupational Psychology was still a relatively new discipline. My graduate and post graduate qualifications are in the subject and I am always really pleased to see Occupational Psychology thriving. The field has developed a lot in the last 25 years – the current emphasis on talent, wellbeing and positive psychology has its roots in occupational psychology.

There was a lovely celebratory event in Manchester – although it was quite a shock to realise that it was 25 years ago that the first post-apartheid election was held in South Africa; and President Bill Clinton was calling for a ban on assault weapons in the US.

As well as a quick history of the last 25 years in terms of world events and the development of Occupational Psychology, Shelly had invited Phil Jones MBE to speak. Phil is MD of Brother UK. I confess I had not expected to be as interested in what he said as I was – that is a lesson in keeping an open mind and adopting an attitude that there is always something important to learn!

Phil is a hugely people focused MD – he shared with us some of his learnings in the 6 years since he took over the MD role. Phil’s model of the ‘Correlative Leader’ is interesting, although there are plenty of others out there that we need to fully understand as HR & OD professionals. What I like about the model is the explicit reference to spirit/soul. We’re starting to see people being much more confident in talking about this – ‘woo-woo and fuzzy stuff- has a huge amount of science behind it.

There were two critical takeaways from Phil’s session for me. Firstly:

  • The Health of a leader dictates the health of a business. On the one hand this is blindingly obvious for those of us in the HR & OD field. What is not so obvious is the number of leaders talking about this within and across their organisations. Phil shared with us that he makes very conscious decisions about choosing what he focuses his time on – and sometimes that will involve, for example, choosing whether it will be more productive for him to be in the office, or work from home

And, secondly:

  • Births, marriages and deaths. I just LOVE this. Phil made clear that people and his leadership of them is the most important part of his role. He makes time to make sure that he knows about these significant life events for his employees. Prioritising them sends a profoundly important message to his people, about how valued they are – and of course, they pay Phil back in spades for his loyalty and care.

This leadership approach delivers, Phil was appointed MD in 2012 and in 2014, Brother UK was named by The Sunday Times as one of the 100 Best Places to Work. It is also the second company in the UK to achieve Investors in People Platinum status.

So, there is a lesson here. And whilst there are lots of other factors in what makes a company great, I really hope that you all know the births, marriages and deaths across your own teams and your organisations as a whole. I’m convinced that if we, as a community, role model this really important function of leadership, we will enable the rest of our leadership colleagues to do the same.

All best,

Karen, PPMA President