A few months ago, we wrapped up HCI’s Employee Engagement Conference in Seattle, and the experience prompted me to write a blog about why attending conferences and workshops and hearing from thought leaders and colleagues is so important.
It’s that wrap-up time again to discuss the final thoughts from HCI’s Learning & Leadership Development Conference last week in New York City. And while the lessons learned are many, one word was mentioned to me by several attendees on several different occasions: validation.
In time, any position faces the inevitable challenge of isolation. After so many long days and late nights working to solve evergreen talent management problems, it’s natural to question yourself. Are you taking the right approach? Are your other colleagues in the space facing these same dilemmas? Is there a piece of the puzzle that you’ve simply overlooked? Are you and your team dedicating enough time and effort to producing effective solutions?
This kind of second-guessing is familiar to us all, and when your role is about developing people and growing leaders – an admittedly soft science – doubt can quickly cloud your judgment and expertise. At L&LD last week, receiving validation was one of the most important takeaways mentioned by attendees. To intimately discuss these issues with peers and recognize that you are not alone in your talent management endeavors and challenges is invaluable; to walk through the exhibit hall and see the many different organizations that have built businesses around providing talent management solutions. We heard from Hulu about how they are creating a sustainable social learning process, and from Vistage about the need for more executive and c-suite involvement in talent development practices, among many others about the ongoing trials facing organizations and OD practitioners today.
Beyond the validation of challenges though, the speakers and guests at L&LD also demonstrated that stepping outside of the box for innovative thinking and creative solutions should be embraced and promoted more frequently. Arguably, the status quo can only be shifted when we change our approach to solving these talent management challenges. Traditional ways of handling talent issues may have been successful in the past, but they won’t be strong enough to withstand the critical organizational and workforce changes on the horizon.
Perhaps most importantly, I too learned something critical at the Learning & Leadership Development Conference last week, and that is the validation that we are surrounded by wonderful people at these events. The weather up and down the East Coast in the last few weeks has been trying, and especially in New York, Hurricane Sandy and the consequential Nor’easter storm presented us all with more than a few challenges to overcome. From pinch hitters who graciously stepped in to fill speaking slots, to the patience of attendees as we made edits to the event schedule and shuffled times, I speak for all of HCI when I say how much we appreciate the accommodation and resolve conference attendees and speakers showed. A portion of our proceeds will go to the New York City chapter of the Red Cross to continue to help with relief efforts following these storms, and that donation would not be possible without the support from all of our conference guests.
To validate is to “to make valid; substantiate; confirm” and I can think of no better word to describe my experience at HCI’s Learning & Leadership Development Conference. The challenges in talent management today met their match at this event with rich discussions about innovative solutions and brainstorming, and my faith in humanity was bolstered as well. All in all, I validate that it was a pretty great week, and I’m honored to have been a part of it. I'm already looking forward to next year's conference in Boston!