Small Improvements brings DisruptHR to Berlin

On June 28, DisruptHR came to Berlin for the first time.

As an organizer and sponsor, Small Improvements wanted to introduce a new type of event to the Berlin HR community. So we invited 10 speakers from Berlin and across Europe to take on the future of Employee Experience. It was amazing to see the response, as more than 100 HR professionals and industry leaders from Berlin and beyond attended.

What is DisruptHR?

DisruptHR is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower executives, business leaders and people in the HR field. Speakers are invited to share innovative ideas in the “Pecha Kucha” format – which means each speaker has only five minutes to present, with a maximum of 20 slides that rotate every 15 seconds.

In case you missed DisruptHR Berlin 2017 or want a refresher, here are the key takeaways:

Try something new

GREE’s Kellie Egan kicked the night off with a game of “Truth or Dare” – where she challenged common HR assumptions with five truths and shared five dares as calls to action. Her dares included “stop the annual performance review,” “change roles for a day,” and “say no to everything for a day.” The purpose? To encourage the audience to take something they hear and actually do something with it.

Kellie Egan

“Take a dare and do it in 15 days, otherwise it’ll be forgotten,” Kellie said. “Get out of your comfort zone, and do something a little bit different. Because when you play truth or dare, it can lead to some memorable experiences.”

Jennifer Samreny, Head of HR at Contentful, presented agile HR methodologies as a way to respond to our fast-changing VUCA world. She noted that often HR spends a long time to build new processes, only to realize the marketplace has changed by the end and we need to do things differently. Techniques such as A/B testing, building an MVP and pivoting allow HR professionals to test out their thinking and better respond to changes. “In HR, we make a lot of assumptions about what works and what doesn’t. And we need to test our riskiest assumptions so we can measure, learn and slowly change the way we do business.”

Kill the CV to tap into bigger talent pools

Anna Ott, HR Expert at hub:raum shared her dislike for CVs to a general agreement from the audience. She explained her decision to remove CVs by stating culture fit is more important than anything else, so why not put this first instead of fact-checking CVs? Instead, Anna simply invited people to get in touch and record a video. “Because we didn’t care about prestigious universities anymore, more people with diverse backgrounds applied and allowed us to tap into bigger talent pools.”

Anna Ott from hub:raum

The video interview process not only allowed her to get to know people’s personalities first but also helped to remove unconscious bias. She further encouraged attendees to “get rid of the CV, have a conversation with every candidate instead.”

Design a work environment that empowers your people

Zalando’s Justyna Krzych gave a fascinating talk on designing the workplace for self-determination. She explained how self-determination is our natural tendency to behave in a healthy and effective way, given we are provided with the right conditions. To foster this autonomous motivation within employees, “don’t think about directing or incentivizing people, all of it is control,” Justyna stressed. “Instead, think about creating a supportive system that facilitates, rather than controls.”

Zalando’s Justyna Krzych

The key elements to this system involve three essential psychological needs: autonomy (feeling self-directed), competence (having an optimal level of challenge) and relatedness (a sense of belonging). “When you have these three needs covered, is when you have employees wholeheartedly engaged in whatever they’re doing.”

Molly Levinson, who is in charge of Internal Operations at Blinkist, shared that self-managed teams can be 20 percent more productive. “People are happiest when they have personal control over their lives. When you can’t even make the smallest decisions at work, you are not empowered.”

With self-management, employees are responsible for themselves and have accountability for their own decisions and outcomes. Molly has found that distributing authority not only removes bottlenecks but also gets rid of unnecessary hierarchies to allow people to be more productive and get more done.

Don’t believe everything you read

Bill Boorman, the founder of #tru Conferences, encouraged the audience to challenge their existing assumptions about HR. He said that “a lot of what we believe in HR we read somewhere, and most of it are myths”. For example, a common belief is that if you want to attract Millennials, you have to have values that help save the planet. But not all young people want this, because corporations such as Philip Morris and Goldman Sachs receive more student applications than ever. What really drives students in the economical market is student debt. Young people want a route to get out of debt, thus, money is still a huge attractor.

Bill Boorman closing out the evening at DisruptHR Berlin 2017.

Bill also stated that culture fit has caused the biggest damage to diversity. “Culture fit has made our organizations look very similar. Maybe we should be hiring for difference, for people who don’t fit our culture, because that is the only way we will grow and change.”

All in all, it was an inspiring evening filled with mingling and great conversation. We’d like to thank everyone who attended DisruptHR Berlin 2017, as well as co-sponsors Peakon and, for supporting the event. If you’d like to be notified about the next DisruptHR event in Berlin, make sure to subscribe here. Until next time!

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