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It’s all about performance

Whether that be for employees, organizations or the global economy

By Brian Kreissl 

Last week I mentioned I would be attending the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) Annual Conference and Tradeshow in Toronto. 

I attended the show and divided my time between our booth, Thomson Reuters, and the sessions and I was lucky enough to be able to attend each of the keynote sessions and most of the breakout sessions. Because of that, I can speak to the experiences of both delegates and exhibitors. 

As always, the tradeshow was very large with well over 200 vendors. Traffic was fairly decent — especially during the breaks and dedicated tradeshow viewing times — although it did seem to be a little quieter than previous years. 

My colleagues and I met some great people and enjoyed chatting to customers, prospects and others. There was quite a bit of interest in our giveaways, catalogue and publications — both in terms of Canadian HR Reporter and our various newsletters and books on HR, employment law and occupational health and safety. It was also nice catching up with some of our authors and business partners. 

Still, it would have been nice if more people took some time to browse the tradeshow floor. I understand people are busy and have emails and phone calls to catch up on during breaks, and not everyone is in a position to purchase on behalf of their organizations, but I really think the tradeshow adds to the conference experience. 

I also appreciate that no one really likes being sold to (myself included), but none of the vendors tried to give me the hard sell. Skipping the tradeshow could result in missed opportunities to purchase products or solutions that might help make your work life a little easier or facilitate career advancement and learning. 

Even people who don’t have purchasing authority within their organizations can still make recommendations to their superiors. Skipping the tradeshow also means missing out on all of those cool giveaways and prizes. 

The theme of performance 

Aside from the tradeshow, there were so many excellent and varied keynote and breakout sessions that it was difficult to pick a theme for this year’s conference. Nevertheless, the recurring theme for me — particularly with respect to the keynote sessions — was performance.

Many of the sessions seemed to me to be about performance in one way or another. That applied in relation to traditional employee performance management as well as organizational performance and even the performance of the global economy. 

Of course, I might just be thinking that because the morning keynote on the Wednesday by David Rock was on driving performance through neuroscience. Most importantly, Rock advocated eliminating performance ratings because the process is inherently biased and painful for everyone. Nevertheless, he still believes in retaining other aspects of the performance management system. 

It was certainly an interesting and thought-provoking session, which also focused on adopting a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset — meaning we should foster a mentality where people believe they can learn and grow as opposed to giving them the message that their abilities are fixed and innate. 

Another keynote session featured former submarine captain David Marquet, who explained how he was able to turn the performance of the worst submarine in the fleet to the best through inspiring leadership. Marquet believes in empowering people, pushing decision-making down to the most appropriate levels and treating people as leaders in their own right. 

Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets, provided a fascinating overview of the lacklustre world economy, which ultimately impacts the Canadian job market and HR. For example, his theory behind the recent drop in oil prices relates to OPEC deliberately flooding the market to reduce oil prices to take the focus away from alternative fuels in order to buy OPEC countries some time to diversify their economies. 

Another interesting keynote was presented by Olympian Clara Hughes, who overcame depression and a less-than-ideal upbringing to win medals at both the Winter and Summer Games. While Hughes is a passionate advocate for eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness, her story is also about being a fighter and overcoming the odds through hard work and perseverance. 

Finally, musician David Usher treated us to an entertaining and inspiring session on creativity and innovation focusing on how just about anyone can be creative and the fact that a large part of creativity is about hard work as opposed to innate abilities.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Brian Kreissl

Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.
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