“DisruptHR” with Candor

By: Julie Johnson, November 8, 2017

I attended an event recently called DisruptHR.  Disrupt is an information exchange designed to energize, inform and empower people in the HR field, but really it attracts all fields, all industries and all people.  The format is 12 speakers (anyone) who want to share on a topic around people talent for five minutes with an automatically rotating PowerPoint slideshow for 15 seconds each.  It’s exhilarating to sit in the audience, watch, listen and learn what these brave speakers think is important enough to share with a roomful of 500 attendees during happy hour.  Social media was highly encouraged and rewarded; you can follow some of the conversation on Twitter by searching “#disrupthrcincy”.

This completely volunteer-run organization started in Cincinnati, OH, but is now in over 100 cities and 25 countries around the world.  #Wow!  If you’re still wrapping your head around this concept, think about a Ted Talk, but more concise.  Not everyone has a knack for this and some speakers might not be your preferred topic, style or vernacular.  However, each person in that room had to walk away learning something and connecting with new people.

My favorite was titled “Scaling a Culture of Candor” by Max Yoder, Co-Founder and CEO of Lessonly.  Lessonly started with 17 employees and has grown to 80 over just a few years.  Max was concerned that Lessonly’s culture of candor wouldn’t or couldn’t last as they necessarily hired more talent to support the growing organization.  Candor is about being open and honest.  For many of us, this is no easy task.  It requires self-awareness, self-confidence, communication skills, comfort with conflict and leaving your ego at the door.  Max shared his quick recipe for candor which is equal to vulnerability and gratitude.  I’ve learned about vulnerability recently from researcher Brene Brown who has a series of Ted Talks on the subject.  This works best in organizations when leaders share first (lead by example) and then the team feels comfortable to follow.  The best relationships come, whether work or personal, after difficult conversations.

I think it’s easy to start this journey and self-assess your workplace.  If everyone is working by themselves in their offices and only say nice things to each other, then you have a long, but achievable, road ahead.