DisruptHR London: Interview With Sue Ingram

SueIngramSue Ingram is an Executive Coach, Leadership Facilitator, and Speaker and has been working in the field of Human Development and Corporate Improvement for 26 years; Firstly working within HR departments in City, FMCGs and sales environments, before leading an Adult Career Guidance Centre which led onto a motivational work program with the long-term unemployed.

She became an executive coach in 2000 working with such organisations as Tesco, Hitachi, Bovis Lend Lease, Airbus, BP, Portland Building Society, Babcock, BAE Systems and Further Education Colleges.

Sue will be speaking at the DisruptHR event in London and we have had the pleasure of exploring the topic of her talk and her views on HR, Talent and Tech. For more information about the event, visit the event page here.

HR Gazette: Why did you decide to be a speaker at DisruptHR London?

Sue: I was asked to contribute and at times I feel the need to Disrupt HR, give it a big shake, so this was the perfect platform.

HR Gazette: What will you be speaking about at DisruptHR London?

Sue: How to fire staff in such a way that they thank you for doing so. Though usually there is no need to actually fire staff as they often resign when their managers highlights just how their current role is not working out for them. A resignation is possible to achieve in the majority of situations yet most managers (and dare I say even HR departments!) do not believe it. The commonly held view amongst managers is that ‘Difficult Conversations’ can all too often end up in an expensive dispute and this is simply not true. The strong element of fear and trepidation that many managers experience around tackling performance management issues means that they start out on the wrong path from the outset and increase the likelihood of a negative outcome for all parties.

HR Gazette: What separates DisruptHR from other HR and Talent events which happen in London? 

Sue: The name, Disrupt HR, gives us permission to challenge accepted ways of thinking and with only 5 minutes to present this should be a fun and informative evening!

HR Gazette: Why is your topic important to HR and Talent pros? 

Sue: Forget the importance to HR and Talent pros. This topic is important because it is a gross unkindness to leave any individual in a position at which they are clearly failing and unhappy without someone speaking up and helping them to either reconnect to their job role or identify their skills, talent and enthusiasm to enable them to move onto a position where they will thrive. If we skill our managers in being able to conduct these types of conversations, lives would be significantly changed for the better and, yes, organisational results would definitely improve also.

HR Gazette: The DisruptHR format means you only get 5 minutes to speak to the audience. What unique challenges and opportunities does such a condensed speaking slot offer?

Sue: I need to be very sure of what is the key message the audience would find valuable to hear on my topic! I am excited by the challenge of producing something that delivers real value and is fun within such a small timeframe.

HR Gazette: How does DisruptHR provide you with a platform to talk about Talent, Tech, and HR in new ways?

Sue: It will be short and sweet. I like the playful element of it – 20 slides, 5 minutes.

HR Gazette: You’re a big name in the HR space. Please share 2 or 3 other ‘influencers’ in the space who you follow and tell us why. 

Sue: I would not say I am a big name in HR! I know my area of the HR very well but HR is a truly multi-disciplinary role and there is a lot to become a master at in order to be successful. If we are talking Disrupt HR then I can strongly recommend reading Frederic Laloux’s book Reinventing Organisations which really challenges how we organise our organisations and cultures. It left me very excited and hopeful but also extremely doubtful – can we really create organisations that achieve the cultures he presents in his case studies? I also read and study anything that Brene Brown produces around shame, vulnerability and creating empathy in the workplace along with the courage to say the unsayable – very inspiring.

HR Gazette: The HR Gazette is a big believer in the shift from traditional thoughts of HR to embracing modern HR as part of ‘people and culture‘. What does ‘people and culture’ mean to you? 

Sue: People are individuals and all unique – yet we fundamentally want the same things – to be known, to be respected, to be valued, to feel part of something that is of personal value to us, to be trusted and to be able to trust in return. A culture is simply the way in which things are done in a workplace – which may have nothing to do with the stated aim of the organisation or any printed processes and procedures that may exist.

HR Gazette: What do you think will be the major developments in the UK Talent and Recruitment space to watch out for in the next 12 months and why? For example, how does the growing numbers of Millennials in the workplace shape traditional talent acquisition and people management approaches?

Sue: As always recruitment needs to be creative, flexible and meet the ever-changing needs of the organisation and market place. The best people to comment on a market place are the people in daily contact with it, which is not myself.

HR Gazette: Finally.. if you could be a superhero, which superhero would you be and why? 

Sue: Not sure I want to be a superhero as they seem to always be in battle with the enemy.  Is there a superhero that simply sits down to talk in order to resolve conflict?  If so, that’s the one I want to be.

More About Sue: 

Sue is also an Honorary Teaching Fellow of Lancaster University’s Management Development Division where she has supported the University’s World Class Leader Program and provided coaching support to IEED’s innovative Leadership Development Program for SME Business Owners and Entrepreneurs. Her workshop, Leading Difficult People, was delivered as part of the University’s International MBA program for four years.

In 2010 Sue created the company Converse Well, the training company which specialises in delivering workshops to enable managers to undertake performance management conversations in such a way as to gain positive results. It works to change the mindset of managers from viewing difficult conversations as difficult to being both essential and generous. It shows managers how to fire people and be thanked for doing so.

Sue’s book, ‘Fire Well – How to Fire Staff so they Thank You’, was published in 2015.

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