HR Binoculars

When many HR professionals first decide to pursue a career in HR do they really understand the complexity and variety of what it entails? I know I didn’t! I have never, ever regretted my decision to work in this field, and I would go as far as saying that the multidimensional nature of HR in all it’s beauty and complexity, such as the impact HR has on an employee’s growth, and the way HR can add so much business value – these are all attributes that typically HR professionals really enjoy being part of their career story. 

Looking ahead, no matter how much of the way we deliver HR, or the environment that we work in changes, all of these aspects remain core elements to the profession. The journeys that we take as individuals, and as an industry as a whole, are the basis of our stories. And storytelling could not be more important. 

We hear and encounter storytelling more or less daily, through interactions with friends or colleagues, movies and podcasts, and marketing campaigns just to name a few. With the growth of different mediums such as podcasts, and the shift in importance of everyone having the space to tell their story, or the additional time many are finding to dedicate to telling their story, it means there are so many more fantastically packaged, but previously unknown life stories for us all to learn from. The journeys of world famous soccer players, rockstars and movie stars, are of course very interesting, but it’s the dramaturgy that gives the story life. When listening to or reading these stories, for many of us the imagination and ideations instantly take off in a roller-coaster of emotions and inspiration. 

Power of Purpose & Stories

As we evolve into the future, it’s key to understand the past. At Spotify, where change is our constant, we always take the context of where we are in our story into account, at any given moment. This helps us to be able to challenge ourselves, to evolve, and includes everything from understanding product development, business opportunities, all the way through to how we instil growth, provide flexibility, and create autonomy that’s built on trust and transparency. 

When reflecting on the power of career stories, at Spotify, we play a pivotal role for our employees, but also for artists and creators and their fans. The relevance of storytelling, the platform that you give it, and the way you encourage employees to share, reflect upon, and listen to each other’s stories will continue to be critical for any organization to stay relevant. Does this require new ways of working or new leadership traits? No, we don’t think so. But what it does require is making sure your employees have the skills to be intentional about how they package and communicate journeys and stories. How they can be attentive, active listeners. And how they can learn from each other’s stories, but also be the master of their own destiny when it comes to their individual stories. For this to happen, understanding the power of storytelling is key and this is a worldwide shift in mindset that is already happening. Capitalise on this and you’ll be able to take your employees along on the journey. 

For Spotify (or any company for that matter) to better understand our employees, users, artists and creators, we have to be present and attentive where they are, in their career as well as in the world. This appreciation of storytelling and the power of listening to our global audience, alongside daring to be flexible in how and where we are creative and productive, is what has allowed us to meet employees where they are, and continue to look after the business interests at the same time. It’s the foundation of the approach for the employee Incentive Mix, Flexible Public Holidays and most recently our Work From Anywhere program. 

The art of storytelling and the power of active listening is unrivalled, and may be nothing new, but it will continue to grow in importance to the future of HR, and how you as an HR professional can be part of the future stories told by your amazing employees. 

My HR list

In an ever changing and fast moving world, it is important to be informed and inspired about what’s presently happening around us, and what learning we can take from what’s happened around us in the past. The many stories with purpose-driven ambitions, randomly conquered opportunities, or self-evolved life journeys are nothing short of inspirational. This leads to revealing what’s on my HR playlist right now:

  • Renegade: Born in the USA – a series of conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen about their lives, music, and enduring love of America (despite all its challenges).
  • The last episode of Season 1 of SpotOn! with Isa Notermans and guest, Vic Mensa. Talking mental well-being, imagination and personal values.
  • The engaging HR Videos On Demand from HR The Real Deal – check them out but also give them input on what you’d like them to cover next. Tell them the ‘story’ you want to hear!
  • And in my attempt to encourage you to embrace the provocative, the book Be More Pirate: Or how to take on the world and win, by entrepreneur Sam Conniff.