This week we have welcomed three new senior leaders at Humankind.
Our vision is to help build the best employee experiences in the world and we know it all starts with us. Building our excellent team by investing in leadership and adding new capability and experience will support the delivery of our strategy. Matt Johns joined Humankind in 2017, bringing a wealth of experience in Customer Experience and Strategy. We have developed our thinking and are as ambitious as ever to grow Humankind.
In Wellington, Michelle brings a wealth of leadership development, organisation development and business leadership talent to our team. Michelles early experience in the Canadian army and leadership roles in a broad range of New Zealand corporates, as well as running her own business makes her perfectly suited to a leadership role with us.
Jenny comes from New Zealand Police, where she sat on the SLT and led the national employment relations team amongst other roles. Jenny brings networks and a deep understanding of the public sector, which we are very excited about after being successful on the AoG panel to deliver services into the public sector last year.
In Auckland, Sandy brings extensive experience in employee engagement and leadership having held senior leadership roles including the Director of IBM Best workplaces programme. Sandy believes for an organisation to be successful, individuals must succeed first, we couldn’t agree more.
Michelle, Jenny and Sandy all share our vision and passion for employee experience and have a strong desire to lead Humankind into the future.
We cant wait to introduce them to our clients and friends very soon.
Nick Lyford February 28th, 2018
Communication shapes who we are. It defines our personality and gives us the ability to form relationships both in the work environment and our personal lives.
Often we forget that communication is not a one way street. It’s a balance, a balance between talking and listening, giving and taking. It’s knowing when to tell your story and when to let others take the stage.
Society today is made up of a culture of interruption. It’s a competition of who can get the last say or say the most.
It’s a time where we believe a good communicator is being able to tell your story better than anyone else. While that’s not wrong, some people are better storytellers than others and therefore incredible communicators, there is more to communication than being vocal and making noise.
People who choose not to listen come across as if they already know everything, as if there is nothing more they can learn to better their self. They switch off as soon as they’ve finished their act with little interest in what you have to say.
If you aren’t learning you aren’t moving forward. If you aren’t moving forward you’ll quickly be over taken. Even if you’re on the right track it’s just a matter of time before you slip to the back of the pack.
People often believe that learning and development is about reading the latest business review, scrolling through blogs or attending a conference to keep ideas fresh and new. While this is true, not everyone is a business fanatic with this keen proactive outlook.
Listening is learning too, every conversation is an opportunity, an opportunity to discover something new. If we all went into our conversations with the purpose to listen we would come out with so much more to know.
Next time you’re catching up with someone over a drink, talking to family members over the Christmas break, or meeting someone for work, start by listening first and talking second. You’ll be amazed both how difficult it is and also how much more you’ll discover.
Go on, listen up.
Nick Lyford November 24th, 2017
Last week we launched Kin, sister company to Humankind – what an exciting time!
We wanted to share some of the backstory and why we decided to create a new business.
About this time last year, we recognised a few opportunities to better support our clients and move us toward our vision of helping to build the best workplaces in the world.
1. Our clients trust us and often ask us to help build their team by finding new talent
2. Often our clients need contract HR specialists, not a consulting solution
3. To support our own growth we need a strong talent pipeline for Humankind.
When I thought about these opportunities and how we might best deliver I immediately thought of contacting Wendy Alexander, my now business partner to build a new generation recruitment business.
Delivering great recruitment outcomes in a tight talent market is a specialist skill, it was important to us we built a team of experienced talent specialists for our clients.
This year we have developed our proposition, built a brand, visual identity, website, a team of amazing people, implemented new technology and all the operational support systems to get a business off the ground. We have also been delivering to clients through all of this. Building a business is never easy, even if it is the second time around – but we are proud of what we have created and excited about what’s next.
The name Kin is derived from Humankind and represents the relationships and connections we want to have with our clients.
Over the next few months we will be introducing Kin to all our clients and sharing some of our ideas on how to recruit the best talent. We can’t wait!
Nick Lyford November 17th, 2017
I very rarely spend any time reflecting on how far our business has come or what we’ve achieved. I am far more focused on what we’re doing next and how we can help New Zealand build the best workplaces in the world. However recently, Humankind turned 5, a milestone that felt so far away in the early days.
It’s fair to say we are out of startup mode. We have a great team of people and our early concerns around ‘will people want to buy what we are selling?’ have been reduced by an amazing group of clients.
Although startup mode is hard, being a ‘stayup’ is just as hard if not harder. I have more responsibility than ever, a bigger team, more clients and each decision has a greater impact.
The only thing that has changed is the growing confidence in my own abilities and willingness to trust my instincts, something I wish I had the confidence to do a few years back.
Learning never sleeps
Along this journey I have made many mistakes, I have tried so many things that haven’t worked and I’m the first to admit those faults. As cliche as it sounds, without the journey we would not be where we are today. It’s the learnings I’ve taken from those fails that have helped us to grow and improve.
I am now an avid reader, something I thought I would never say. I love seeking inspiration from blogs, podcasts, interesting people and often have multiple business books on the go. The job of building a business is never done, it evolves and shifts in so many directions. Everyday I am learning more about this business and don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
Hire people better than yourself
From our very first consultant in 2012, to our most recent addition, I have always sought to hire people with more experience and skills than me. This has served me very well and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the incredible team of professionals who support me everyday.
I share everything with my team – the highs and lows. Being transparent is really import to Humankind. It’s the backbone of this business and I’m a huge believer in being an open book to help fuel an engaged team.
We share all of our financial information and business progress at our monthly update (except individual salaries, which I am hoping will only be a matter of time). We have also had our accountant come in and talk our team through the numbers to build commercial acumen to support our team to learn how to read financial statements like a business owner.
The benefit is a highly engaged and motivated team who feel real ownership over the outcomes and have a deeper appreciation around the commercial levers which make a services business successful.
Trust your gut
Trusting my instinct was really hard in the early days as I was still learning how to get a business off the ground. But now as the business is performing well, I know that no one understands the business as well as I do. Often it came down to trusting my own gut and backing my own ability.
Humankind is now a team of 29 people working across the country with hundreds of organisations. I am so proud of Humankind, our brand, our clients, our team and our culture. I am excited about 2017 as we continue to build amazing experiences for both clients and employees.
The best is yet to come.
Nick Lyford May 12th, 2017
By the time someone walks through the door to the time we’ve already made a judgement, a quick seven seconds has passed, and some would argue that’s too long.
It’s ingrained in our society that first impressions are everything, whether it’s the landing page on a website or the way someone shakes your hand. Jumping to conclusions is just what we do, and that’s not going to change.
In the modern world, businesses place so much emphasis on visual identity, from a slick website to a bold campaign.
Yet, when it comes to the office, the workspace is often left behind. Typically not seen as an investment, but rather a sunk cost.
It’s about having a brand that speaks across all aspects of your business
You wouldn’t rock up to a job interview in your favourite shorts and sneakers, you would do all you can to help those initial impressions. Yet bringing potential clients or future employees to a space that is far from your brand vision is acceptable?
It’s about having a voice that speaks across all aspects of your business, from your website to the way you write your emails and of course your physical workspace. They all play their part in creating a strong employer brand.
Recently we made a visit to Paperkite, a world-class mobile app development agency hidden in the back streets of Wellington tucked up in a building that speaks true character.
The moment you step through the bold blue door you feel a sense of their character, raw brick walls, meeting rooms that are more like an artist’s studio than a place of boardroom strategy and hidden in the corner, a sound system that would put any student flat to shame.
CEO Nic Gibbens wanted the space to be a reflection of who they are, their personalities. As cliche as it sounds there is a true sense of the phrase “work hard play hard.” It was about creating a place where people want to come and spend time, where they can have fun and enjoy themselves while working hard and meeting deadlines all at the same time.
A few take aways after sitting down and talking to Paperkite
We know the physical workspace has a big impact on employee experience. Does your space reflect your employer brand? When was the last time you discussed how it is working with your team?
Tweet us at @HumankindNZ or let us know what’s special about your workplace in the comments below.
Special thanks to Paperkite for letting us into your great space! If you want to find out more head along to the Spaceworks blog, the interior designers involved in the project, for an insight into their process.
Photos taken by Allen Nicholson
Nick Lyford February 12th, 2017
If you ever ask a CEO what their company’s greatest asset is, you will often get the answer ‘brand’, ‘inventory’, ‘product’, and often the most common answer you get is ‘our people’. Essentially the answer is usually something that costs the company financially.
In the professional services industry people are the product, they are the face of the company, the brand and the engine. Without people, what is left?
While none of the above are the wrong answer, there is something else we must consider.
The world of work is changing; we are seeking new ways of working, and remote/flexible working is becoming the standard across many organisations.
For modern organisations to work, Trust, as a valuable business asset sits above all and enables businesses to thrive.
Awareness is growing around the idea that organisational trust is not a soft skill but rather a hard asset. It’s not something you can purchase, it’s something you earn.
Trust is not divided by wealth, or class. Neither earn’t by a merger or an acquisition. It comes down to hard work, an investment of time and the desire to put people at the front of your business.
Consider trust like the oil of a car. You can have the slickest tyres, brightest lick of paint and an engine that purrs. But without oil to keep everything in order, you’re just pouring money down the drain as it will inevitably come to a stop.
Today there is a great lack in trust within our society as a whole, from governments to large multinationals. Volkswagen is a great example, losing a huge amount of trust both internally and towards the public with their gas emissions scandal in 2015. The backlash of this was a 30% drop in their stock price and fines they will continue to pay for years to come.
Trust is the only asset that will make all other investments truly matter.
Trust forms a critical part of your brand – both for customers and employees.
Trust forms the foundation of any business seeking to attract and retain top talent.
As trust isn’t acquired by pulling out the cheque book or calling the bank, there are a few things to consider when leading and managing people.
Being left out sucks, (in a work environment just as much as it does socially.) It’s even worse when you believe you should be involved. When people are genuinely involved, included in making decisions that impact them, they will feel valued and trusted.
When people feel as if they are being trusted with information and believe that you are being open with them, you will start to see this trust reciprocated. Be open and transparent, don’t hold things back just because it’s what you’ve always done.
Be consistent across the business, having multiple standards for various people and roles doesn’t end well and definitely doesn’t help when building trust within an organisation.
What experiences have you had that revolve around trust in an organisation? Is trust a valued asset in your organisation? We would love to hear your thoughts. #WeAreHumankind
Nick Lyford October 30th, 2016
Now more than ever, your people are at the heart of your business success. You might have the slickest processes, a bold strategy, and the latest technology, but if your people aren’t happy – you’ve got a problem.
People want to feel valued, and there are many ways to show them you care during their time working with you.
Technology giant Cisco recently rolled out an initiative they call “Moments that Matter,” which focuses on making employee experiences memorable. Cisco has defined the 10 most important moments that matter in their employee lifecycle and deliberately designed the experience which should accompany each of these moments. It’s about recognising the importance of the times that define your employees time at work: their first day, landing their first sale, or celebrating a work anniversary.
The average worker spends around 2000 hours a year at work. Each one of those hours is made up of experiences, and each one of those experiences is made up of moments. It is up to us to make those moment matter.
Experiences create the bigger picture of what it’s like to work for your company. It’s your employer brand. If these moments don’t match expectations, you’ll probably find it leaves a bad taste in your employees mouth.
These expectations give you the opportunity to make lasting impressions. Go further than people expect. A brand new Macbook and iPhone on their first day is no longer the holy grail, it’s an expectation. Every moment should reflect what your business stands for.
More workers than ever before are working remotely. Dunedin based tech firm, Timely, run their entire team remotely, 31 employees across multiple cities with Dunedin as their main ‘hub’. As part of their one year anniversary they are given the ‘Timely bath robe,’ It is their way of acknowledging their “more than casual work attire.” We think this is a great way to acknowledge the one year work anniversary – a moment that matters.
In our modern world of work, we can’t afford to hope that people will be happy in their job. Visual branding and superior products only go so far. Your brand comes down to your people, those moments you create cannot be left to chance.
Nick Lyford October 10th, 2016
You wouldn’t eat dinner in the laundry, or sleep in the workshop. So why don’t we naturally apply the same logic to the workplace? Each space has its purpose.
Within the workplace we’ve seen very little shift. Workers are often confined to the same seat, surrounded by the same people and look at the same view day in day out.
Each day at work we practice, on average, 21 different tasks
Leesman Activity Based Working Report
Spaces should work around us, not the other way around.
Every day is different and throughout the day we perform on average 21 different tasks, all while the space we work in remains the same.
Our way of working is not as it used to be. Workers want an opportunity in which they can thrive, and with that our physical spaces need to shift.
Some days we need to be fully isolated from distractions, others are all about collaborating with a close few and the rest are a rich blend of the above. The workspace should work around these activities, providing spaces which allow people to work at their best.
Start with your people. They understand how everyone works around them.
We all have very different ideals and creating a space to suit everyone is challenging. This is when choice comes into play. Give people options. Workers place great value being able to choose the space that best suits their current task. This is known as Activity Based Working (ABW).
Open plan offices can’t accommodate for every activity in the workplace. While they are great for some tasks, they often fall short on others.
People need to be able to focus and shut off from distractions. If the only option is an open floor plan, this could be holding your people back and subsequently, the productivity of the business.
No matter what industry you’re in, working with other people on the same project is always going to occur. Some businesses do this more than others, but typically it’s part of a working culture.
Give people space that encourages a collaborating ethos. Desk pods, wall dividers, smaller meeting rooms all play their part in bringing teams together.
Create an environment for meaningful interactions. Chill out zones and social spaces increase happiness, and when your people are happy it broadens their focus and expands their thinking.
Spaces where people can stop and switch off allow people to have a balanced day at work.
However, it’s not as simple as mashing these three spheres together and ‘voila’, you have a workspace that will increase productivity. Each business needs different amounts of each.
A design firm needs more creative collaboration spaces compared with an accounting firm which needs more individual workspaces.
Change for the sake of change will not help the bottom line.
Before diving into buying the latest standing desks or canvas hammocks. Try to understand what balance of focus, collaboration and social spaces your people need to be happy and productive.
Ask your people what they would like to see and allow them to have a say in the way the workplace is used. Consulting your people is the best way to understand what your space needs.
Nick Lyford September 18th, 2016
We live in a hustle culture, where we believe we can’t be successful unless we’re constantly at the brink of exhaustion.
Former Editor-in-Chief of Huffington Post Adrianna Huffington is one of many people on a mission to change the way we work and live. After collapsing from exhaustion she knew she had to change. It was time to shift from knowing what to do to actually doing it.
She is set to launch her start-up Thrive Global later this year. With mindfulness at its focus, the business will provide programmes and resources to improve the wellbeing of employees.
At its core, mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening in the moment. It’s about paying attention and being willing to see everything as it is.
Without looking at the science, we all know that when we feel re-charged and alert we have a ‘good’ day. And by a good day we tend to mean a day where we get things done.
It’s a bit like sport. The best athletes in the world know that to perform they must be fully charged, mentally and physically. The same goes for our everyday lives, personal and professional. No one can be at their best when they’re burnt out.
One of the best forms of communication is listening. We live in a society of interruption, a world where it’s part of our culture to talk over people. By focusing on listening we can take in more. Listen in a way that doesn’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions. We never know what idea, suggestion or piece of advice that we might otherwise miss.
When we’re under the pump, deadlines looming, taking a break is the last thing on our mind. Our instinct is to push through and ignore the obvious signs of exhaustion, just as we put off charging our phones after numerous alerts. Only when there’s nothing left, do we think to do anything. Taking regular breaks will keep your batteries charged for longer.
When we are present with people, we give ourselves the opportunity to understand the now. We have much more control over our thoughts. We can analyse the situation so much better. In business, trusting your gut and questioning the status quo is crucial. If your mind is elsewhere your ability to make good decisions suffer.
This is just a start. Mindfulness has so many layers. We’ll have more to come on this evolving topic. #WeAreHumankind
Nick Lyford September 4th, 2016
Humankind is a name that speaks less about what we do, and more about who we are. It is a name that doesn’t restrain us to the boundaries of Human Resources, but instead opens doors to new service offerings. Humankind not only speaks about the way we do things, but why we do it. It has purpose. Our brand story puts it perfectly.
We are the difference between going to work, and loving it. The difference between saying something, and meaning it. The difference between settling for the status quo, and conquering more.
Humankind brand story extract
Hand written typography created as part of the new name and brand
HR Shop has been great for us, a name that speaks ‘what you see is what you get’. In the early days the HR Shop name helped people understand what we do without having to say a word. Yet, as we have grown, we have become much more than a business offering HR advice.
Our new wooden sign in the Humankind Wellington Offices [image supplied: Tom Pringle]
The world of work is changing. With change and disruption, comes opportunity in spaces not filled before. We want to stay ahead of this change and position ourselves to help New Zealand build the best workplaces in the world.
We have always had a strong vision, and values we were proud of. We haven’t, however, clearly articulated the ‘why’ behind what we do everyday. Through workshops and collaboration, we landed on ‘helping people love what they do and do what they love’. This is a perfectly simple ‘why’ that we feel has been guiding us since the beginning.
Our new brand is about growth, the next step in the journey. Stay tuned, we look forward to sharing exciting developments with you. #WeAreHumankind
Nick Lyford August 14th, 2016