AHRI CEO Lyn Goodear talks to Dan Gregory, president and CEO of The Impossible Institute and commentator on ABC-TV’s Gruen Planet, who advocates using multiple communication styles (auditory, visual, numerate) to click with employees.
Lyn Goodear: Your concept of ‘contextual blindness’ is about more coherently communicating critical messages to employees. How can we learn to maximise the impact of information?
Dan Gregory: Lyn, you and I have talked before about the power in the economy being not so much about information gathering as it is about information curation.
It’s the idea that you moderate information in such a way that makes it appeal to employees, because we are overloaded with information.
I don’t know about you, but I have more emails in my inbox every day than any human being can possibly give the due amount of diligence to. So curation in this sense is incredibly important. But it’s also about making information complementary to the styles of learning in an organisation.
Let me use myself as an example. I’m an auditory learner and, because I travel a lot, I probably listen to two audiobooks during a trip. I can digest that information very quickly. But I also subscribe to abstract.com, which writes business summaries. They’ll write a five to six-page summary of a book about business, for example, and give insight into the main positive points.
It’s a way of curating information such that I can look at the book summary and then decide which audiobook I want to give more attention to.
Making information available in such a way that people can quickly assess what’s critical, and then go into greater depth where they need to, is incredibly helpful for anyone who’s looking to continue their education and develop in a growth sense. It’s also about catering to different learning styles.
For example, when I first started speaking, I had no words on my slides – it was purely visuals – which is the opposite of ‘death by PowerPoint’. What I found was that there were people in the room who needed something to write down. So every five to 10 slides I would show a simple but critical sentence which gave people something to note down.
Then there are numerate people, so I made sure I put numbers to the points that needed them and structured them in a cohesive order.
What I do now is cater the slideshow to suit every kind of learning style.
LG: How do you suggest HR professionals strengthen their personal brand in today’s market?
DG: I think organisations are very much defined by our capacity to grow and support the people who work for us. This is the fundamental role of HR, and it’s a bottom-line issue.
We have very human-intensive businesses for the most part, and the ability to manage people and help them develop is what leaders should be doing.
As a profession, there’s a need to position HR as leadership critical. And at an individual level, I think it’s about how you manage your own personal brand in such a way that it makes you distinctive.
One of the risks we run in organisations is that we tend to homogenise ourselves. Everyone dresses and looks a little bit the same. So what you need to be aware of is what your personal vision, purpose, meaning and narrative are going to be.
A consciousness around what matters and what actually lights us up drives our own personal branding.
So the two-pronged approach is to amplify the importance of HR as a leadership capacity in the general marketplace and, at an individual level, make our own personal decisions.
Image © Ian Butterworth.